Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/510

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wisdom and self-command which Somers never wanted in the senate, on the judgment seat, at the council board, or in the society of wits, scholars and philosophers, were not always proof against female attractions.[1]

Another director of the Whig party was Charles Montague. He was often, when he had risen to power, honours and riches, called an upstart by those who envied his success. That they should have called him so may seem strange; for few of the statesmen of his time could show such a pedigree as his. He sprang from a family as old as the Conquest: he was in the succession to an earldom; and was, by the paternal side, cousin of three earls. But he was the younger son of a younger brother; and that phrase had, ever since the time of Shakspeare and Raleigh, and perhaps before their time, been proverbially used to designate a person so poor as to be broken to the most abject servitude or ready for the most desperate adventure.

Charles Montague was early destined for the Church, was entered on the foundation of Westminster, and, after distinguishing himself there by skill in Latin versification, was sent up to Trinity College, Cambridge. At Cambridge the philosophy of Des Cartes was still dominant in the schools. But a few select spirits had separated from the crowd, and formed a fit audience round a far greater teacher.[2] Conspicuous among the youths of high promise who were proud to sit at the feet of Newton was the quick and versatile Montague. Under such guidance the young student made considerable proficiency in the severe sciences: but poetry was his favourite pursuit; and when

  1. The eulogies on Somers and the invectives against him are innumerable. Perhaps the best way to come to a just judgment would be to collect all that has been said about him by Swift and by Addison. They were the two keenest observers of their time; and they both knew him well. But it ought to be remarked that, till Swift turned Tory, he always extolled Somers, not only as the most accomplished, but as the most virtuous of men. In the dedication of the Tale of a Tub are these words, "There is no virtue, either of a public or private life, which some circumstances of your own have not often produced upon the stage of the world;" and again, "I should be very loth the bright example of your Lordship's virtues should be lost to other eyes, both for their sake and your own." In the Discourse of the Contests and Dissensions and Athens and Rome, Somers in the just Arisaides. After Swift had ratted, he described Somers as a man who "possessed all excellent qualifications except virtue."
  2. See Whiston's Autobiography.