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Such as would make Apollo smile, or wu'd
After the occasional poems, follows a crowd of worthless Elegies and Epigrams, in the rear of which again come Satyrs as worthless as their companions.
Our readers will now be able to judge of Robert Heath at his best. Of the inferior part of this volume it is useless to take up our time and space in giving any specimens. Suffice it to say, that the bad is very bad indeed. The total absence of what is called taste in our poet is very remarkable. The unconscious manner in which he slides from the really beautiful to what is disgusting or ridiculous, prevents us from giving what might be made the most favorable view of his talents. Perhaps some of his most sparkling sentiments and expressions may yet sleep in the little volume which we have just closed : but, if they do, they are so intertwined and united with the worthless matter, that we found it impossible to separate them, or in such small and crumbling fragments only as to render them unfit for introduction here. Though it cannot be said that Heath soars very high, yet his course is unequal. His versification is one while harmonious in the extreme, at another as rugged-his language is sometimes rich, forcible, and copious; at another, flimsy, poor, and bald. He, at one time, discloses glimpses of fancy, feeling, and sentiment, and in the next page goes grovelling on in the dark, as if a ray of light or reason had never by any chance fallen on his path. He may be compared to that species of wine which when brisk is an elegant beverage, but which, when flat and stale, of which there is more than an equal chance, loses all its inspiriting qualities, becomes disgusting to the palate, and excites surprise that in any state it could be thought delightful. Of the history or circumstances of Robert Heath we know nothing, save that Esquire is tagged to his name, and that he says of himself,
“No peasant bloud doth stein or chil my veins.”
Mr. Ellis, in his Specimens, gives two short extracts from him, and we do think that he was not unworthy of the notice of Mr. Campbell, who has included in his British Poets many whose merits we cannot help thinking inferior to those of Robert Heath. It should not be forgotten that these poems were sent out into the world without the consent of the author, who probably was abroad at the time of their publication. This we learn from the address of the “Stationer to the reader,” who confesses the greatness of his presumption in having ventured to the press without the author's knowledge : “but,” says he, “ the gallantness and ingenuity of the gentleman is so eminent in every thing, that I could not imagine but that the meanest of his recreations (for such was this) might carry much in it worthy of public view: besides, the approbation of some friends hath heightened my desire of publishing it; who, upon their revising it, do assure me it is a sweet piece of excellent fancie and worthy to be called the author's own issue."
The commendatory lines which follow, addressed “ to my honoured friend Mr. R. H. on his rich Poems and Satyrs,” by G. H., clearly shew that the author was then abroad, and that he was a person of honour and fortune.
“ Thy dainties are for foreign palates, we
From some of his poems Heath appears to have been a cavalier, and after the execution of Charles probably found it convenient to travel.
ART. III. The Life of the Right Honourable Francis North,
Baron of Guilford, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal under King Charles II, and King James II. ; wherein are inserted the Characters of Sir Matthew Hale, Sir George Jeffries, Sir Leoline Jenkins, Sidney Godolphin, and others, the most eminent Lawyers and Statesmen of that time. By the Hon. Roger North. London, 1742.
This old piece of legal biography, which has been lately republished, is one of the most delightful books in the world. Its charm does not consist in any marvellous incidents of Lord Guilford's life, or any peculiar interest attaching to his character, but in the unequalled naïveté of the writer-in the singular felicity with which he has thrown himself into his subject—and in his vivid delineations of all the great lawyers of his time. He was a younger brother of the Lord Keeper, to whose affection he was largely indebted, and from whom he appears to have been scarcely ever divided. His work, in nice minuteness of detail, and living picture of motive, almost equals the auto-biographies of Benvenuto Cellini, Rousseau, and Cibber. He seems to be almost as intensely conscious of all his brother's actions, and the movements of his mind, as they were of their own. All his
ideas of human greatness and excellence appear taken from the man whom he celebrates. There never was a more liberal or gentle penetration of the spirit. He was evidently the most human, the most kindly, and the most single-hearted, of flatterers. There is a beauty in his very cringing, beyond the independence of many. It is the most gentleman-like submission, the most graceful resignation of self, of which we have ever read. Hence there is nothing of the vanity of authorship -no attempt to display his own powers—throughout the work. He never comes forward in the first person, except as a witness. Indeed, he usually speaks of himself as of another, as though he had half lost his personal consciousness in the contemplation of his idol's virtues. The following passage, towards the conclusion, where he recounts the favours of Lord Guilford to a younger brother, and at last, in the fullness of his heart, discloses, by a little quotation, that he is speaking of himself-this sweet breaking from his usual modest narration into the only personal feeling he seems to have cherished—is beautifully characteristic of the spirit which he brought to his work.
" But I ought to come nearer home, and take an account of his benevolences to his paternal relations. His youngest brother (the honourable Roger North) was designed, by his father, for the civil law, as they call that professed at Doctors' Commons, upon a specious fancy to have a son of each faculty or employ used in England. But his lordship dissuaded him, and advised rather to have him put to the common law; for the other profession provided but for a few, and those not wonderful well; whereas the common law was more certain, and, in that way, he himself might bring him forwards, and assist him. And so it was determined. His lordship procured for him a petit chamber, which cost his father 601. and there he was settled with a very scanty allowance; to which his lordship made a timely addition of his own money: more than all this, he took him almost constantly out with him to company and entertainments, and always paid his scot; and, when he was attorney general, let him into partnership in one of the offices under him; and when his lordship was treasurer, and this brother called to the bar, a perquisite chamber, worth 1501. fell; and that he gave to his brother for a practising chamber, and took in lieu only that which he had used for his studies. When his lordship was chief justice, he gave him the countenance of practising under him at nisi prius ; and all the while his lordship was an housekeeper, his brother and servant were of his family at all meals. When the Temple was burnt, he fitted up a little room and study in his chambers in Serjeant's Inn, for his brother to manage his small affairs of law in, and lodged him in his house till the Temple was built, and he might securely lodge there. And his lordship was pleased with a back door in his own study, by which he could go in and out to his brother, to discourse of incidents; which way of life delighted his lordship exceedingly. And, what was more extraordinary, he went with his lord
ship in his coach constantly to and from the courts of nisi prius at Guildhall and Westminster. And, after his lordship had the great seal, his brother's practice (being then made of the king's.counsel, and coming within the bar) encreased exceedingly, and, in about three years' time, he acquired the better part he afterwards was possessed of. At that time, his lordship took his brother into his family, and a coach and servants assigned him out of his equipages; and all at rack and manger, requiring only 2001, a year; which was a trifle as the world went then.' And it may truly be said, that this brother was as a shadow to him, as if they had grown together. And, to show his lordship’s tenderness, I add this instance of fact. Once he seemed more than ordinarily disposed to pensiveness, even to a degree of melancholy. His lordship never left pumping, till he found out the cause of it; and that was a reflection what should become of him, if he should lose this good brother, and be left alone to himself: the thought of which he could scarce bear; for he had no opinion of his own strength, to work his way through the world with tolerable success. Upon this his lordship, to set his brother's mind at ease, sold him an annuity of 2001. a year, at an easy rate, upon condition to re-purchase it, at the same rate, when he was worth 50001. And this was all done accordingly.
“O et præsidium et dulce decus meum.”
. We will now conduct our readers through Lord Guilford's life-introducing as many of the nice peculiarities of his histórian as our limits will allow-and will then give them one or two of the portraits with which the work is enriched—and add a word on the changes which have taken place in the legal profession, since the time when the originals “ held the noisy tenor of their way” through its gradations.
The Hon. Francis North, afterwards Baron Guilford, was the third son of Dudley, Lord North, Baron of Kirtling, who deserved the filial duty of his children by the veneration which he manifested towards his own father, beyond even the strictness of those times; for, though he was an old man before his father died, he never sate or was covered in his presence unbidden. He sent his son, at an early age, to school, but was not very fortunate in his selection, for the master was a rigid presbyterian, and his wife a furious Independant, who used “to instruct her babes in the gift of praying by the spirit, making them kneel by a bed-side and pray;" but as “ this petit spark was too small for that posture, he was set upon the bed to kneel with his face to the pillow.” This absurd treatment seems to have given the child an early disgust for those who were esteemed the fanatics, which never left him. He finished his scholastic education under a “ cavalier master," with credit. After he left school, he became a fellow-commoner of St. John's College, Cambridge, where he improved greatly in solid learn
garded thas engaged all suppers
ing, and acquired a knowledge of music, which he afterwards used as a frequent solace amidst the toils of his profession.
He next became a member of the Middle Temple, and occupied " a moiety of a petit chamber, which his father bought for him." Here he “used constantly commons in the hall at noons and nights,” studied closely, and derived much benefit from the practice of putting cases, which was followed in the old temple cloisters by the students, and for the convenience of which they were rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in their present form. He, also, diligently common-placed the substance of his reading, having acquired a very small but legible hand“ for," as his biographer observes, “where contracting is the main business, it is not well to write, as the fashion then was, uncial or semi-uncial letters to look like pigs' ribbs.” In his studies, he was wont by turns to read the reports and institutes; “as, after a fullness of the reports in a morning, about noon, to take a repast in Stamford, Crompton, or the Lord Coke's Pleas of the Crown, and Jurisdiction of Courts, Manwood of the Forest Law, and Fitzherbert's Natura Brevium.” He, also, “ dispatched the greatest part” of the year-books, beginning with the book, termed Henry the Seventh, from whence he regarded the common law derived “ as from a copious fountain.” While thus engaged, he did not altogether refuse recreation, but delighted in a small supper and a temperate glass with his friends in chambers, sometimes fancied “ to go about town and see trade-work, which is a very diverting and instructive entertainment,” and visited every thing extraordinary in town, “ as engines, shews, lectures, and even so low as to hear Hugh Peters preach!" The only obstacle to his legal success was his excessive bashfulness, which so oppressed him, that when he dined or supped in the hall of the Middle Temple, he would not walk in alone, but “ used to stand dogging at the skreen till other company came, behind whom he might enter.”
At the bar, he derived great advantage from the favour of Sir Jeofry Palmer, the attorney-general, who gave him many opportunities of shewing his dexterity and knowledge of law, by procuring him to perform some of his own public duties, when he was himself disabled by sickness. Through the good offices of this zealous friend, Mr. North was appointed to argue for the king in the house of lords, on the writ of error in the famous case of the King v. Hollis and others, which was brought by order of the house of commons to reverse a judgment obtained in the time of Charles the First, against five of their members, who had been prosecuted for holding down the speaker in his chair, and other riotous proceedings. In consequence of the ability which he displayed on this occasion, though the commons succeeded, he was, on the recommendation of the Duke
VOL. II. PART II.
Whiled the commoned Henry the of the year boom