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For this misdemeanour they were indicted, and Sedley was fined five hundred pounds: what was the sentence of the others is not known. Sedley employed -Killigrew and another to procure a remission from the king; but (mark the friendship of the dissolute!) they begged the fine for themselves, and exacted it to the last groat. '. In 1665, lord Buckhurst attended the duke of York as a volunteer in the Dutch war; and was in the battle of June 3, when eighteen great Dutch ships were taken, fourteen others were destroyed, and Opdam the admiral, who engaged the duke, was blown up beside him, with all his crew.
On the day before the battle, he is said to have composed the celebrated song, To all you ladies now at land, with equal tranquillity of mind and promptitude of wit. Seldom any splendid story is wholly true. I have heard, from the late earl of Orrery, who was likely to have good hereditary intelligence, that lord Buckhurst had been a week employed upon it, and only retouched or finished it on the memorable evening. But even this, whatever it may subtract from his facility, leaves him his courage.
He was soon after made a gentleman of the bedchamber, and sent on short embassies to France.
In 1674, the estate of his uncle James Cranfield, earl of Middlesex, came to him by its owner’s death, and the title was conferred on him the year after. In 1677, he became, by the death of his father, earl of Dorset, and inherited the estate of his family.
In 1684, having buried his first wife, of the family of Bagot, who left him no child, he married a daughter of the earl of Northampton, celebrated both for 'beauty and understanding.
He received some favourable notice from king James; but soon found it necessary to oppose the violence of his innovations, and with some other lords appeared in Westminster-hall to countenance the bishops at their trial. As enormities grew every day less supportable, he found it necessary to concur in the revolution. He was one of those lords who sat every day in council to preserve the publick peace, after the king's departure; and, what is not the most illustrious action of his life, was employed to conduct the princess Anne to Nottingham with a guard, such as might alarm the populace as they passed, with false apprehensions of her danger. Whatever end may be designed, there is always something despicable in a trick. He became, as may be easily supposed, a favourite of king William, who, the day after his accession, made him lord chamberlain of the household, and gave him afterward the garter. He happened to be among those that were tossed with the king in an open boat sixteen hours, in very rough and cold weather, on the coast of Holland. His health afterward declined; and on January 19, 1705-6, he died at Bath. * He was a man whose elegance and judgment were universally confessed, and whose bounty to the learned and witty was generally known. To the indulgent affection of the publick, lord Rochester bore ample testimony in this remark: I know not how it is, but lord Buckhurst may do what he will, yet is never in the wrong. If such a man attempted poetry, we cannot wonder that his works were praised. Dryden, whom, if Prior tells truth, he distinguished by his beneficenee, and who lavished his blandishments on those who are
not known to have so well deserved them, undertaking to produce authors of our own country superior to those of antiquity, says, I would instance your lordshift in satire, and Shaksheare in tragedy. Would it be imagined that, of this rival to antiquity, all the satires were little personal invectives, and that his longest composition was a song of eleven stanzas 3 The blame, however, of this exaggerated praise falls on the encomiast, not upon the author; whose performances are, what they pretend to be, the effusions of a man of wit; gay, vigorous, and airy. His verses to Howard show great fertility of mind; and his Borinda has been imitated by Pope.
GeoRGE STEPNEY, descended from the Stepneys of Pendigrast in Pembrokeshire, was born at Westminster, in 1663. Of his father’s condition or fortune I have no accoount.” Having received the first part of his education at Westminster, where he passed six years in the college, he went at nineteen to Cambridge,t where he continued a friendship begun at school, with Mr. Montague, afterward earl of Halifax. They came to London together, and are said to have been invited into publick life by the duke of Dorset. His qualifications recommended him to many foreign employments, so that his time seems to have been spent in negotiations. In 1692 he was sent envoy to the elector of Brandenburgh : in 1693 to the Imperial Court; in 1694 to the elector of Saxony; in 1696 to the electors of Mentz and Cologne, and the congress at Francfort; in 1698 a second time to Brandenburgh; in 1699 to the king of Poland; in 1701 again to the emperor; and in 1706 to the
* It has been conjectured that our poet was either son or grandson of Charles, third son of sir John Stepney, the first baronet of that family. See Granger’s History, vol. 11, p. 396, edit. 8vo. 1775: Mr. Cole says, the poet’s father was a grocer. Colc’s MSS. in Brit: Mus. C.
f He was entered of Trinity college, and took his master’s degree in 1689. H.
`states general. In 1697 he was made one of the
On the left hand,
G. S. Ex Equestri Familia Stepneiorum, 1)e Pendegrast, in Comitatu 1°embroehiensi oriundus, Westmonasterii natus est, A. 1). 1663. Electus in Collegium - Santi Petri Westmonast. A. 1671). Sancti Trinitatis Cantab. 1682. Consiliariorum quibas Commercii Cura commissa est 1697. ,• • Chelseiæ mortuus, & comitante Magua Procerum Frequentia, hac elatus, 1707.