Page images

be a fact,' that Bolingbroke was gone to "rejoin the Pretender.' Pope characterizes the dean's expression az • a hint in a letter to a friend ;' the Biographia' says only, that Swift concluded it was so; Goldsmith calls it a suspicion.' Mr. Cooke does ' not hesitate? (to use his own phrase) to transform this private hint—this conclusion—or suspicion—into a positive public statement ; and Pope's vague expression motion or action,' he boldly construes to mean a junction with the Pretender: and for all this be refers to a volume which contains but a part of the transaction, and which, in that part, contradicts Mr. Cooke's representation of it. Mr. Cooke should not have censured Goldsmith's life of his hero, and then copied it—and when he copied from it, he should not have concealed the obligation-and what he did copy, he ought not to have garbled or misrepresented.

But we now arrive at the test of Mr. Cooke's diligence and sagacity in this matter. On what evidence does he, with such detail and decision, pronounce that the motives of Bolingbroke's secession were those that Mr. Cooke has stated ?-none that we can discover, but that of the commentary of the Biographia' on Pope's obscure reproof of Swift-repeated by Goldsmith, who states that • Boling broke was too well acquainted with the forlorn state of his party in England, and the folly of its conductors, to embark again in their desperate concerns; and he therefore retired merely to be at leisure from the broils of opposition, for the calmer pleasures of philosophy.'— Goldsmith's Life, Ixiv.

The surmise we admit, is plausible, but we have great doubts that it was correct. In the first place, we do not think that Pope's reproof to the Dean refers to a suspicion about the Pretender: the Dean's letter-or rather we suspect a passage in his letter of the 22nd of April, 1736-has been suppressed, so that we cannot guess at its meaning by the terms of the answer. The thing says Pope, if true, should be concealed.' This assuredly cannot apply to a junction with the Pretender, which could not have been concealed: and it is more likely that Swift had either alluded to some pecuniary* embarrassments of Bolingbroke, or to those political intrigues, upon which Walpole had touched in his speech -or perhaps to both—either of these were causes which might

have been concealed.' But we have a still more distinct-indeed we might almost say decisive-contradiction of Goldsmith's and Mr. Cooke's hypothesis from Bolingbroke himself; for we find him stating, in one of his letters to Lord Marchmont, (which neither the writer in the · Biographia'nor Goldsmith could have known, but which were before Mr. Cooke,) dated 24th July, 1746—

* Mr. Cooke himself has stated, that about this period he was involved in pecuniary difficulties, from which he was at no period of his life entirely free (ii. 924); and although we now know, as will be shown hereafter, that his pressing difficultæs at this juncture were political rather than pecuniary, it is more like that Swift should have heard of the latter-and the Dean often taxes him for want of economy.

• I did not leave England in 1735 till some Schemes which were then on the loom--though they never came into reffect--made me ONE TOO MANY even to my most intimate friends.'—March. Pap. ii. 350.

This seems to us to be a decisive admission that the flight from England was the consequence of some political schemes, the discovery of which placed him in personal danger, and in some degree involved his most intimate friends; and the intelligent and well-informed editor of the Marchmont Papers explains this passage by the following note:

• He had been so marked by Sir Robert Walpole as caballing with foreign ministers against his own country in 1734, that Mr. Pulteney and the other heads of the opposition recommended him to leave England, which he did in 1735, on seeing that the ministers were strong in the new parliament.”—March. Pap. ii. 350.

Pope probably knew the truth, but thought, as he says, that it ought to be, if possible, concealed,' and his excuse of vacare literis was friendly and natural; but what can be said for Mr. Cooke, who having Bolingbroke's own confession before his eyes in the Marchmont Papers, could not seize the clue, but wandered into such vague and unfounded generalities as we have quoted? The extent and exact nature of Bolingbroke's intrigues are still unknown, but there can be no longer any doubt that they were the cause of his secession ; and if Mr. Cooke had used due diligence he might perhaps in the Egremont, or the Hardwicke, or some other family collection of papers, have found means of throwing a fuller light on the subject, instead of, as far as in him lies, involving it in additional obscurity. Our view of the case is corroborated (if, after Bolingbroke's own avowal, any corroboration were necessary) not only by the effect of Walpole's speech - some passages of which no doubt revealed to Bolingbroke the extent of the minister's information—but by the subsequent fact, that neither his literary occupations, nor the health of his lady, prevented Bolingbroke's return to England, when Walpole's fall had assured his personal safety, and his father's death, which occurred nearly at the same time, had relieved his pecuniary embarrassments. But all these indications are lost on Mr. Cooke; and with a pertinacity in misstatement, of which literature affords few examples, he goes on misunderstanding and misrepresenting Lord Bolingbroke even to the end of his life.

Indeed, this indifference to all personal history with which Mr. Cooke writes what he is pleased to call • Memoirs,' is most strongly exemplified in his account of the last years of his hero. For the purpose, we suppose, of supporting the theory he had borrowed from his predecessors-hat Boling broke had in 1795 totally given up politics for literature he tells us that from the date of bis final return to England in July, 1744 , Boling broke really practised the secluded life which he had so often affected. His increasing infirmities forbade any active exertion; and if he was not content with the reputation he had acquired, and the share of power he had enjoyed, he had at least learned that all further attempts were futile.'-p. 225. This however, in a subsequent passage, he slightly modifies :


He still retained some slight connexion with the party which he had lately aided by his writings; but he paid but little attention to their plans, and seldom assisted at their councils.'-p. 240. Now, the first of these statements is wholly untrue, and the latter nearly so; for it is proved by the Marchmont Papers—a work which Mr. Cooke often quotes, but never when he should that Lord Bolingbroke was busy and deep in all the intrigues of that most intriguing period during which Mr. Cooke represents him as having totally withdrawn from public affairs; for instance, we find him, on the 6th November, 1744, conferring with Mr. Pitt for maintaining and extending a coalition of parties, and stating to Lord Marchmont that he found Mr. Pitt so haughty and impracticable that he was obliged to remind him, that as to the existing coalition,

neither Lord Chesterfield nor Mr. Pitt had formed it, but he (Boling. broke) himself!'-Marchmont Papers, i. 72. Nor was it in domestic intrigues alone he busied himself.

* Dec. 23th, 1744-Lord Boling broke told me (Marchmont) that Lord Chesterfield had been with him this morning, and had talked to liim of our situation as to foreign affairs, and that he wanted to see me about them.'— Ibid. 93. Again, in February, 1746, (and indeed passim,) we find Boling, broke very busy about the short-lived' Carteret ministry, (ibid. 173,) and we have, in the same work, an important letter from him so late as July, 1746—(to a passage of which we have already referred, for another purpose)-in which he says, • I did not leave England in 1733 till some schemes which were then on the loon-though they never came to effect-made me one too many even to my most intimate friends; and I have not left off, since I came to resettle here, adrising and exhorting, till long after you saw it was to no purpose.'- Marchmont Papers, ii. 356. And though, of course, a man at seventy would every year rapidly lose some of his vivacity and eagerness in public affairs, we have letters of his down to the eve of his decease, which prove that he still took a lively interest in the business of the political world.


And it is very remarkable that as to the seven last years of Bolingbroke's life, which Mr. Cooke slurs over in seven pages, we have more materials for his private history than as to the rest of his life all put together; and we really are at a loss to guess why Mr. Cooke, who has read and frequently quotes the Marchmont Papers, should not merely have made so little use of them, but should refer to them in the very pages in which they contradict his narrative.

We cannot close our observations without noticing another instance so strange, as to be at first sight incredible, of Mr. Cooke's incompetency, even in point of literary information, for the task he has undertaken. In his observations on Boling broke's philosophical works he states that

• Some years after his death, a little work was published called “ A Vindication of National Society," purporting to have been written during his residence at Battersea. The argument goes to show that the division of mankind into artificial classes, into nations, and tribes, has been productive of the greatest misery to the human race, but what the ultimate object of the work is it is difficult to ascertain. It sufficiently proves, what was never doubted, that all human institutions are imperfect, and that misery exists under every form of government; but if it is attempted to be argued that, because Agricola met with ingratitude, and Anaxagoras lived in exile, anarchy is preferable to democracy, we should rather doubt the author's sanity than attempt to argue him out of his opinion. This work is not Boling broke's-no copy of it was found among his papers-nor was any proof ever offered of its genuineness, &c.'- i. 261.

No, certainly-no such copy was found, and no such proof was ever advanced, because all the world knows that this was a pamphlet written in ironical imitation and real abhorrence of Bolingbroke's principles. It is not only what Mr. Cooke admits it to be, an admirable imitation of his style, but, what he does not seem to suspect, a caustic exposure of the folly and mischief of his doctrines. Yet Mr. Cooke ought to have known this, for this pamphlet which puzzles him so much was written by a man that even Mr. Cooke must have heard of, and is to be found under its proper designation in a collection which we should have thought any one attempting to write any portion of the modern history of England must have consulted. The tract was written by Mr. BURKE, and occupies the first place in the first volume of his collected works.

We have nothing to object to Mr. Cooke's own moral, political, or religious principles. His predilection for his hero leads him too far in apology for some, and in approbation of other parts of his public conduct; but, in the more unpardonable points of his literary and social character, Bolingbroke finds no advocate VOL. LIV. NO. CVIII.

2 D


in Mr. Cooke ; and we are induced, by the present circumstances of the world, to set so high a value on rectitude of principle, that we heartily wish that we could, with truth, have said something in praise of Mr. Cooke as a sagacious and trustworthy his

The work is framed on a plan so fundamentally defective, and on so false (as we think) a conception of the subject, that it would be idle to waste more time upon it, or to make it the groundwork of any general observations on Boling broke and his times.

The review of an imperfect and desultory book can hardly avoid being itself imperfect and desultory. We wish our task had been to lay before our readers a summary view of the conduct and character of a man so super-eminent as a statesman and as a writerto have developed the real causes of his political versatility and his intellectual obliquity—and to have endeavoured to reduce, to some systematic calculation, the erratic course of this moral comet; but Mr. Cooke's hasty and heavy production affords no materials for such an investigation, and our duty, in this instance, has necessarily been limited to an indication of the deficiency of our present data, and to a suggestion of the sources from which it may be remedied by future inquirers.

Art. V.-1. The Rambler in North America; 1839-3. Ву

Charles Joseph Latrobe. London. 2 vols. 12mo. 1895. 2. A Residence and Tour in the United States, with particular

Observations on the Condition of the Blacks in that Country. By E. S. Abdy, A.M. London.

London. 3 vols. 12mo. 1835. 3. Miscellanies. By the Author of The Sketch-Book.' No. I.

Containing a Tour on the Prairies. 1 vol. 12mo. London.

1835. 4. Narrative of a Visit to the American Churches, by a Deputa

tion from the Congregational Union of England and Wales. By Andrew Reed, D.D., and James Matheson, D.D. London. 2 vols. Svo. 1835. THE rapidity with which books of travels in North America

have of late been following each other from the London press, while it amply illustrates the general interest of the subject, must, at the same time, serve as our apology for dismissing with comparative brevity the individual author who, had he come before the public a few years ago, might have been well entitled to occupy a considerable space in these pages. The journals of Messrs. Latrobe and Abdy, in particular, are deserving of far more attention than we can now hope to bestow on tbem: they are the works of able observers, and vigorous writers. The Nar.


« PreviousContinue »