Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 41.djvu/277

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

‘Odes and Epistles,’ most of which lauded the talents and aims of the ‘patriots’ in opposition to Sir Robert Walpole. Nugent wrote in 1774 an anonymous poem, entitled ‘Faith,’ which has been described as a strange attempt to depose the Epicurean doctrine for that of the Trinity. A present to the queen, as a new-year's gift for 1775, of some ‘Irish stuff’ manufactured in his native land, and of a set of loyal verses, produced in return an anonymous poem, ‘The Genius of Ireland, a New Year's Gift to Lord Clare,’ and drew from the wits the jest that the queen had thanked him for both his ‘pieces of stuff.’ An anonymous tract, with the title of ‘An Inquiry into the Origin and Consequences of the Influence of the Crown over Parliament’ (1780), is sometimes attributed to Nugent, but with slight probability. An ‘Epistle to Robert Nugent, with a picture of Dr. Swift, by William Dunkin, D.D.,’ is reproduced in ‘Swift's Works’ (1883, ed. xv. 218–21), but his name is more intimately associated with another literary genius. On the publication of the ‘Traveller,’ the acquaintance of Goldsmith was eagerly sought by Nugent, and they lived ever after on terms of close friendship. Goldsmith visited him at Gosfield in 1771, and at his house of 11 North Parade, Bath, and embalmed for all time the name of the jovial Irish peer in the charming lines, ‘The Haunch of Venison, a poetical epistle to Lord Clare,’ as an acknowledgment for a present of venison from Gosfield Park. The character of Nugent is tersely summed up by Glover in the words ‘a jovial and voluptuous Irishman, who had left Popery for the Protestant religion, money, and widows’ (Memoirs, 1813, p. 47).

Two portraits were painted by Gainsborough; one is the property of the corporation of Bristol; the other, which formerly hung over the mantelpiece in the dining-room at Stowe, was, at the sale in 1848, purchased by Field-marshal Sir George Nugent [q. v.] for 106l., and now belongs to his son. The same gentleman owns a portrait by Gainsborough of Lieutenant-colonel Edmund Nugent.

[Gent. Mag. 1788, pt. ii. 938; Albemarle's Rockingham, i. 77–8; Horace Walpole's Letters (Cunningham), passim; Gray's Works (ed. 1884), ii. 220; Wright's Essex, ii. 1–12; Morant's Essex, ii. 382; Wraxall's Memoirs (1884 ed.), i. 88–96, iii. 305; Walpole's Last Ten Years of George II, vol. i. 381; Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. pp. 199–200; Peach's Houses of Bath, i. 27, 92, 151; Grosvenor Gallery, Gainsborough Exhib. Catalogue, 1885, pp. 22, 66, 92; Lord Chesterfield's Letters (Mahon), v. 448; Southey's Later Poets, iii. 290–5.]

W. P. C.

NUGENT, THOMAS, titular Baron of Riverston (d. 1715), chief justice of Ireland, was the second son of Richard, second earl of Westmeath [q. v.], by his wife Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Nugent, bart., of Moyrath. He was bred to the law, but was undistinguished until after the accession of James II, when he was made one of his counsel in September 1685. During the following winter he was in communication with the lord-lieutenant, Henry Hyde, second earl of Clarendon [q. v.], who treated him as a representative of the Irish Roman catholics (Clarendon Correspondence, i. 211, &c.). In March 1685–6 he was made a judge of the king's bench—‘a man of birth indeed,’ says Clarendon, ‘but no lawyer, and so will do no harm upon the account of his learning’ (ib. p. 356). On taking his seat he had a wrangle with another judge about precedence, ‘as brisk as if it had been between two women’ (ib. p. 365). In May he was admitted to the privy council, and in October 1687 became lord chief justice. His court was occupied in reversing the outlawries which pressed on his own co-religionists, and generally in depressing the protestants (King, chap. iii. sec. iii. p. 6). One of his first acts was to present the lord-lieutenant with a list of sheriffs, in which partiality was more regarded than competence. ‘I am sure,’ says Clarendon, ‘several of them, even of those who are styled protestants, are men in no way qualified for such offices of trust’ (Correspondence, ii. 36). An act of Henry VII, forbidding the keeping of guns without license of government, was revived and interpreted so as to deprive the protestants of their arms, and thus leave them at the mercy of the rapparees, for catholics were not disarmed. Nugent said it was treason to possess weapons, though a fine of 20l. was the highest penalty prescribed by the act (King, ch. iii. sect. iii. pp. 6, 12, and sect. viii. p. 19). He declared that robbery of the protestants was unfortunately necessary for the furtherance of King James's policy (ib. sect. x. p. 4). Clarendon records some instances of judicial partiality in Nugent, but he showed humanity in Ashton's case (Correspondence, i. 39).

Early in 1688 Tyrconnel sent Nugent to England with Chief-baron Rice [q. v.], to concert measures for the repeal of the Act of Settlement (KING, ch. iii. sect. xii. p. 2). They were received in mock state by the London mob, who escorted them with potatoes fixed on sticks, amid cries of ‘Make room for the Irish ambassadors’ (ib. sect. xii. p. 2; Dalrymple, pt. i. bk. iv.) They returned to Ireland in April without having been able to persuade James to let Tyrconnel hold