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Retirrineut auù Death of a štatesman.
PASSAGES SELECTED FROM TROTTER'S MEMOIRS OF FOX.
Politics have nothing to do with this volume. The reader will have seen, that the questions between Whig and Tory are of no more concern to us, in these delightful lands of compilation, than any other interference which should limit their extent and freedom. There have been amiable and large-hearted men on both sides. Mr. Fox was one of them; and we repeat these accounts of him, as we should of any other human being under the like circumstances, because they suit this portion of our work, and the whole genial intention of it.
Mr. Trotter's book has some faults of style, but not in the passages extracted. He has given a valuable report of the way in which the great statesman passed his time at Saint Anne's Hill; and the account of his own feelings, while occupied in waiting his patron's last hour, especially during the visit to the dressing-room once occupied by the Duchess of Devonshire, is very striking. Saint Anne's Hill is in the neighborhood of Chertsey.
rich and extensive prospect. The house is embowered in trees, resting on the side of a hill, its grounds declining gracefully to a road, which bounds them at bottom. Some fine trees are grouped round the house, and three remarkably beautiful ones stand on the lawn ; while a profusion of shrubs are distributed throughout with taste and judgment. Here
Mr. Fox was the tranquil and happy possessor of about thirty acres, and the inmate of a small but pleasant mansion. The simplicity and benignity of his manners, speaking the integrity of his character, soon dispelled those feelings of awe, which one naturally experiences on approaching what is very exalted.
The domestic life of Mr. Fox was equally regular and agreeable. In summer he rose between six and seven; in winter before eight. The assiduous care and excellent management of Mrs. Fox rendered his rural mansion the abode of peace, elegance, and order, and had long procured her the gratitude and esteem of those private friends whose visits to Mr. Fox, in his retirement at St. Anne's Hill, made them witnesses of this amiable woman's conduct. I confess I carried with me some of the vulgar prejudices respecting this great man! How completely was I undeceived! After breakfast, which took place between eight and nine in summer, and at a little after nine in winter, he usually read some Italian author with Mrs. Fox, and then spent the time preceding dinner at his literary studies, in which the Greek poets bore a principal part.
A frugal but plentiful dinner took place at three, or halfpast two, in summer, and at four in winter; and a few glasses of wine were followed by coffee. The evening was dedicated to walking and conversation till tea-time, when reading aloud in history commenced, and continued till near ten. A light supper of fruit, pastry, or something very trifling, finished the day; and at half-past ten the family were gone to rest.
At breakfast the newspaper was read, commonly by Mr. Fox, as well as the letters which had arrived; for such was the noble confidence of his mind, that he concealed nothing from his domestic circle, unless it were the faults or the secrets of his friends. At such times, when the political topics
of the day were naturally introduced by the paper,
I could observe the least acrimony or anger against that party which so sedulously, and indeed successfully, had labored to exclude him from the management of affairs, by misrepresentations of his motives, rather than by refutations of his arguments.
In private conversation, I think, he was rather averse to political discussion, generally preferring subjects connected with natural history, in any of its branches: above all, dwelling with delight on classical and poetical subjects. It is not to be supposed, however, that, where the interests and happiness of millions were concerned, he preserved a cold silence.
About the end of May, Mrs. Fox mentioned slightly to me that Mr. Fox was unwell; but at this time there was no alarm or apprehension. In the beginning of June I received a message from her, requesting me to come to him, as he had expressed a wish for me to read to him, if I was disengaged. It was in the evening, and I found him reclining upon a couch, uneasy and languid. It seemed to me so sudden an attack, that I was surprised and shocked. He requested me to read some of the Æneid to him, and desired me to turn to the fourth book: this was his favorite part. The tone of melancholy with which that book commences, was pleasing to his mind: he appeared relieved, and to forget his uneasiness and pains; but I felt this recurrence to Virgil as a mournful omen of a great attack upon his system, and that he was already looking to abstract himself from noise, and tumult, and politics. Henceforth his illness rapidly increased, and was pronounced a dropsy! I have reason to think that he turned his thoughts very soon to retirement at St. Anne's H., as he found the pressure of business insupportably harassing; and I have ever had in mind those lines, as very applicable to him at this time:
" And as an hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
Here to return, and die (at home) at last.”
Soon, however, his illness very alarmingly increased; he suffered dreadful pains, and often rose from dinner with intolerable suffering. His temper never changed, and was always serene and sweet: it was amazing to behold so much distressing anguish, and so great equanimity. His friends, alarmed, crowded round him, as well as those relatives who, in a peculiar degree, knew his value and affectionate nature.
Mrs. Fox, whose unwearied attentions were the chief comfort of the sufferer, and myself, read aloud a great deal to him. Crabbe's poems, in manuscript, pleased him a great deal; in particular, the little episode of Phoebe Dawson. He did not, however, hear them all read, and there are parts in which he would have suggested alterations. We thus read,
relieving each other, a great number of novels to him. He now saw very few persons. In truth, he had now every reason to do so,-visitors fatigued and oppressed him. He languished for St. Anne's Hill, and there all his hopes and wishes centered; he thought of a private life, and of resigning his office, and we had hopes that he might be restored sufficiently to enjoy health by abstaining from business. The Duke of Devonshire offered him the use of Chiswick House as a resting-place, from whence, if he gained strength enough, he might proceed to St. Anne's. Preparations for his departure began, therefore, to be made, which he saw with visible and unfeigned pleasure.
Two or three days before he was removed to Chiswick House, Mr. Fox sent for me, and with marked hesitation and anxiety, as if he much wished it, and yet was unwilling to ask it, informed me of his plan of going to Chiswick House, roquesting me to form one of the family there. There was no occasion to request me; duty, affection, and gratitude, would have carried me wherever he went. About the end of July, Mrs. Fox and he went there, and on the following day I joined them. No mercenary hand approached him. Mrs. Fox hung over him every day with vigilant and tender affection: when exhausted I took her place; and at night, as his disorder grew grievously oppressive, a confidential servant and myself shared the watching and labors between us. I took the first part, because I read to him, as well as gave him medicine or nourishment.
We continued our reading of Johnson's Lives of the Poets. How often at midnight, as he listened with avidity, and made the remarks that occurred, he apologized to me for keeping me from my rest, but, still delighted with our reading, would say, “Well, you may go on a little more," as I assured him that I liked the reading aloud. At these times he would de