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F the Earl of Dorset the character has been drawp
so largely and so elegantly by Prior, to whom he was familiarly known, that nothing can be added by a casual hand; and, as its author is so generally read, it would be useless officiousness to transcribe it.
Charles Sackville was born January 24, 1637. Having been educated under a private tutor, he travelled into Italy, and returned a little before the Restoration. He was chosen into the first parliament that was called, for East Grinstead in Suflex, and soon became a favourite of Charles the Second ; but undertook no publick employment, being too eager of the riotous and licentious pleasures which young men of high rank, who aspired to be thought wits, at that time imagined themselves intitled to indulge.
One of these frolicks has, by the industry of Wood, come down to pofterity. Sackville, who was then Lord Buckhurst, with Sir Charles Sedley and Sir Thomas Ogle, got drunk at the Cock in Bow-street by Covent garden, and, going into the balcony, ex
posed themselves to the populace in very indecent postures. At laft, as they grew warmer, Sedley stood forth naked, and harangued the populace in such profane language, that the publick indignation was awakened; the crowd attempted to force the door, and, being repulfed, drove in the performers with stones, and broke the windows of the house *.
For this misdemeanor they were indicted, and Sed. ley 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 diffolute !) 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 deltroyed, 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 cmployed upon it, and only retouched or finished it on the memorable evening. But even this, whatever it may subftract from his facility, leaves him his courage.
• The particulars of this shameful tranfaction, and the impudent behaviour of Sedley to the Lord Chief Justice Hyde, at the time of pronouncing sentence, are related in the " Athen. Oxon.” II, 1100.
1 He was soon after made a gentleman of the bed. chamber, 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 daugh: ter 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 public 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 chainberlain of the household, and gave him afterwards the garter. He happened to be among those that were toffed with the King in an open boat lixteen hours, in very rough and cold weather, ·
on the coast of Holland. His health afterwards declined ; and on January 19, 1705-6, he died at Bath.
He was a man whose elegance and judgement were ! universally confessed, and whose bounty to the learned and witty was generally known. To the indulgent af. fection of the publick, Lord Rochester bore ample testimony in this remark : 1 know not bow 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 Frior tells truth, he distinguished by his beneficence, 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 inftanie your Lordship in satire, and Shakspeare 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 ?
The blame, however, of this exaggerated praise falls on the encomiast, not upon the author ; whose performances are, what they pretend to be, the effufions of a man of wit ; gay, vigorous, and airy. His verses to Howard shew great fertility of mind, and his Dorinda has been imitated by Pope.
STEPN È Y.
G EORGE STEPNE Y, descended from the
U Stepneys of Pendigrast in Pembrokeshire, was born at Westminster in 1663. Of his father's condi
tion or fortune we have no account. Having received · the first part of his education at Westminster, where he passed six years in the College, he went at nineteen to Cambridge *, where he continued a friendship begun at school with Mr. Montague, afterwards Earl of Halifax. They came to London together, and are faid 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
* He was entered of Trinity College, and took his Master's degree in 1689