General Dictionary/Lansdowne, George Granville, Lord
LANSDOWNE (GEORGE GRANVILLE, Lord) was deſcended of an antient and noble family derived from Rollo, the firſt Duke of Normandy, and was ſecond ſon of Bernard Granville, who was ſecond ſon of Sir Bevil Granville, killed at the battle of Lanſdowne in 1643, and younger brother of Sir John Granville, who was a chief inſtrument in the Reſtoration, after which he was created Earl of Bath and Viſcount Lanſdowne. The Nobleman, of whom we treat in this article, received the firſt tincture of letters in France under the tuition of Sir William Ellis, a Gentleman bred up under Dr. Buſby, and who has ſince been eminent in many public ſtations. At eleven years of age he was ſent to Trinity College in Cambridge, where he remained five years; but at the age of thirteen was admitted to the degree of Maſter of Arts, having before he was twelve years old ſpoken a copy of Engliſh verſes of his own compoſition to the Ducheſs of York, at his College,[notes 1] when her Royal Highneſs paid a viſit to the Univerſity of Cambridge. October the 6th 1688 he wrote a letter from Mar near Doncaſter to his father upon the expected approach of the Prince of Orange’s Fleet. In 1690 he wrote a copy of verſes to Mrs. Elizabeth Higgons in anſwer to one ſent him by that Lady in his retirement. In 1696 his Comedy called The She-Gallants was acted at the Theatre Royal in Lincoln’s-Inn Fields; as his Tragedy intitled, Heroic Love, was in the year 1696. He wrote likewiſe a Dramatic Poem, intitled, The Britiſh Enchanters: or, no Magic like Love, which was performed at the Queen’s Theatre in the Hay-Market; and altered Shakeſpeare’s Merchant of Venice, under the title of The Jew of Venice, which was acted with great applauſe, and the profits of it were deſigned for Mr. Dryden, but upon his death, given to his ſon. In 1702 he tranſlated into the Engliſh the ſecond Olynthian of Demoſthenes. He was returned Member for the County of Cornwall in the Parliament which met in November 1710, and ſoon after made , next Comptroller of the Houſhold, and then Treaſurer, and ſworn one of the Privy Council. The year following, by Letters Patents bearing date December the 31ſt, he was created Baron Lanſdowne of Biddeford in Devonſhire. In 1719 he made a ſpeech in the Houſe of Lords againſt repealing the Bill to prevent Occaſional Conformity. His Lordſhip died in February 1735. By his Lady, Mary, widow of Thomas Thynn Eſq.; (Father of Thomas Lord Viſcount Weymouth,) and daughter of Edward Villiers Earl of Jerſey, he had iſſue four daughters, Anne, Mary, married March the 14th 1729 to William Graham of Platten near Drogheda in Ireland Eſq.; Grace, and Elizabeth. His Lordſhip’s works have been printed together in London in 4 to. and 12 mo. His Lady died but a few days before him.
- It was written before he was twenty-two years old, and was as follows:
“Your having no proſpect of obtaining a commiſſion for me, can no way alter or cool my deſire at this important juncture to venture my life in ſome manner or other for my King and my country. I cannot bear living under the reproach of lying obſcure and idle in a country-retirement, when every man, who has the leaſt ſenſe of honour, ſhould be preparing for the field. You may remember, Sir, with what reluctance I ſubmitted to your commands upon Monmouth’s Rebellion, when no importunity could prevail with you to permit me to leave the Academy. I was too young to be hazarded; but give me leave to ſay, it is glorious at any age to die for one’s country, and the ſooner, the nobler ſacrifice. I am now older by three years. My uncle Bathe was not ſo old, when he was left among the ſlain at the battle of Newbury; nor you yourſelf, Sir, when you made your eſcape from your tutors to join your brother at the defence of Scilly. The ſame cauſe is now come round about again. The King has been miſled; let thoſe who have miſled him, be anſwerable for it. No body can deny but he is ſacred in his own perſon, and it is every honeſt man’s duty to defend it. You are pleaſed to ſay, it is yet doubtful, if the Hollanders are raſh enough to make ſuch an attempt. But be that as it will, I beg leave to inſiſt upon it that I may be preſented to his Majeſty as one, whoſe utmoſt ambition it is to devote his life to his ſervice, and my country’s, after the example of all my anceſtors. The Gentry aſſembled at York to agree upon the choice of Repreſentatives for the country, have prepared an Addreſs, to aſſure his Majeſty they are ready to ſacrifice their lives and fortunes for him upon this and all other occaſions; but at the ſame time they humbly beſeech him to give them ſuch magiſtrates as may be agreeable to the laws of the land; for at preſent there is no authority, to which they can legally ſubmit. They have been beating for Volunteers at York, and the towns adjacent, to ſupply the regiments at Hull; but no body will liſt. By what I can hear, every body wiſhes well to the King; but they would be glad his Miniſters were hanged. The winds continue ſo contrary, that no landing can be ſo ſoon as was apprehended; therefore I may hope, with your leave and aſſiſtance, to be in readineſs before any action can begin. I beſeech you, Sir, moſt humbly and moſt earneſtly, to add this one act of indulgence more to ſo many other teſtimonies, which I have conſtantly received of your goodneſs, and be pleaſed to believe me always, with the utmoſt duty and ſubmiſſion,
“Your moſt dutiful, and moſt
- That Lady’s verſes were as follow.
Why Granville, is thy life to ſhades confin'd,
Thou whom the Gods deſign'd
In public to do credit to mankind?
Why ſleeps the noble ardour of thy blood,
Which from thy anceſtors, ſo many ages paſt,
From Rollo down to Bevil flowed,
And them appeared again at laſt,
In thee, when thy victorious lance,
Bore the diſputed prize from all the youth of France?
In the firſt trials, which are made for fame,
Thoſe to whom fate ſucceſs denies,
If taking counſel from their ſhame,
They modeftly retreat, are wiſe.
But why ſhould you, who ſtill ſucceed,
Whither with graceful art you lead
The fiery barb, or with as graceful motion tread
In ſhining ball, where all agree
To give the higheſt praiſe to thee?
Such harmony in every motion’s found,
As art could ne’er expreſs by any ſound.
So loved and prais’d, whom all admire,
Why, why ſhould you from Court, and Camps retire?
If Myra is unkind, if it can be,
That any nymph can be unkind to thee;
If penſive made by love, you thus retire,
Awake your muſe, and ſtring your lyre;
Your tender ſong and your melodious ſtrain
Can never be addreſt in vain;
She need muſt love, and we ſhall have you back again.
His Lordſhip’s anſwer begins thus:
“Ceaſe, tempting Siren, ceaſe thy flatt’ring ſtrain,
Sweet is thy charming ſong, but ſung in vain:
When the winds blow, and loud the tempeſts roar,
What fool would truſt the waves, and quit the ſhore?
Early and vain into the world I came,
Big with falſe hopes and eager after fame:
Till looking round me, e’er the race began,
Madmen and giddy fools were all that ran.
Reclaim’d betimes I from the liſts retire,
And thank the Gods, who my retreat inſpire.
In happier times our anceſtors were bred,
When virtue was the only path to tread.
Give me, ye Gods, but the ſame road to fame;
Whate’er my fathers dar’d, I dare the ſame.
Chang’d is the ſcene, ſome baneful planet rules
An impious world, contriv’d for knaves and fools.”
He concludes with the following lines.
“Happy the man, of mortals happieſt he,
Whoſe quiet mind from vain deſires is free;
Whom neither hopes deceive, nor fears torment,
But lives at peace, within himſelf content,
In thought or act accountable to none,
But to himſelf, and to the Gods alone.
O ſweetneſs of content! Seraphic joy!
Which nothing wants, and nothing can deſtroy.
Where dwells this peace, this freedom of the mind?
Where, but in ſhades remote from human kind;
In flow’ry vales, where nymphs and ſhepherds meet,
But never comes within the palace-gate.
Farewell then cities, courts, and camps, farewell,
Welcome, ye groves, here let me ever dwell,
From cares, from buſineſs, and mankind remove,
All but the Muſes and inſpiring love:
How ſweet the morn! how gentle in the night!
How calm the ev’ning! And the day how bright!
From hence, as from a hill, I view below
The crouded world, a mighty wood in ſhew,
Where ſeveral wanderers travel day and night,
By different paths, and none are in the right.”
- He afterwards altered this Comedy, and publiſhed it among his other works under the title of Once a Lover, an always a Lover, which, as he obſerves in the preface, "is a new building upon an old foundation. It appeared firſt under the name of the She Gallant; and by the preface then prefixed to it is ſaid to have been but the Child of a Child. By taking it ſince under examination ſo many years after, the author flatters himſelf to have made a correct Comedy of it. He found it regular to his hand; the ſcene conſtant to one place; the time not exceeding the bounds preſcribed; and the action intire. It remained only to clear the ground; and to plant, as it were, freſh flowers in the room of thoſe, which were grown into weeds, or faded by time; to retouch and vary the characters; enliven the painting; retrench the ſuperfluous; and animate the action, where it appeared the young author ſeemed to aim at more than he had yet ſtrength to perform.”
- Mr. Charles Gildon tell us,[reference] that “this is one of the beſt of our modern Tragedies, and writ after the manner of the antients, which is much more natural and eaſy than that of our modern Dramatiſts.” The Prologue to it was written by Henry St. John Eſq.; and the Epilogue by Bevill Higgons Eſq.; Mr. Dryden wrote a copy of verſes to our author upon this Tragedy, which begins thus:
Auſpicious Poet, wert thou not my friend,
How could I envy, what I muſt commend!
But ſince ’tis nature’s law in love and wit,
That youth ſhould reign, and with’ring age ſubmit,
With leſs regret thoſe laurels I reſign,
Which dying on my brow, revive on thine.
- In the preface our author obſerves, that this “was the firſt eſſay of a very infant muſe, rather as a taſk at ſuch hours as were free from other exerciſes, than any way meant for public entertainment. But Mr. Betterton having had a caſual ſight of it many years after it was written, begged it for the ſtage, where it found ſo favourable a reception, as to have an uninterrupted run of at leaſt forty days. The ſeparation of the principal Actors, which ſoon followed, and the introduction of the Italian Opera put a ſtop to its farther appearance.” Mr. Addiſon wrote the Epilogue.
- It is printed among his works. In this ſpeech, among other things, he ſays thus: “I always underſtood the Toleration to be meant as an indulgence for tender conſciences, not a licence for hardened ones; and that the act to prevent Occaſional Conformity was deſigned only to correct a particular crime of particular men, in which no ſect of Diſſenters was included, but thoſe followers of Judas, who came to the Lord’s Supper for no other end but to ſell and betray him. This crime, however palliated and defended even by ſo many Right Reverend Fathers of the Church, is no leſs than making the God of Truth, as it were in perſon, ſubſervient to acts of hypocriſy; no leſs than ſacrificing the myſtical Body and Blood of our Saviour to worldly and ſiniſter purpoſes: an impiety of the higheſt nature! which in juſtice called for protection, and in charity for prevention. The bare receiving the Holy Euchariſt could never be intended ſimply as a qualification for an office, but as an open declaration, an indubitable proof of being and remaining a ſincere member of the Church. Whoever preſumes to receive it with any other view, profanes it; and may be ſaid to ſeek his promotion in this world, by eating and drinking his own damnation in the next.”
- Theſe verſes are printed in his Genuine Works in Verſe and Proſe, vol. 1., pag. 4, 5, edit. London 1736, in 12 mo.
- ^ Continuation of Mr. Longbaine’s Lives and Characters of the Engliſh Dramatic Poets, p. 66.