1813 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Gen. Richard Fitzpatrick

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 88 (May 1813 and Supplement) 494, 672.



April 25. In South-street, in his 66th year, the Rt.-hon. Richard Fitzpatrick, general in the army, colonel of the 47th reg. and M.P. for the borough of Tavistock, which he represented from 1780 to 1806, inclusive. He sat in the last parliament for the county of Bedford. The General was younger brother to the Earl of Upper Ossory, secretary to the duke of Portland, when Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, in 1782; and secretary at war to the ministry of 1783, to which situation he was again appointed in 1806, in the administration of Lord Grenville. He was distinguished for his attainments as a scholar, and his talents as a poet. Gen. F. was presumptive heir to his brother's titles.

The late Right Hon. Richard Fitz-Patrick was a genuine Whig, and a personal friend and intimate of Mr. Fox. He was the last survivor (except the Earl Fitz-william) of those eminent persons to whom Mr. Fox bequeathed some little memorial under the name of his "earliest friends, whom he loved excessively." By the side of Mr. Fox, after his return from America, he declaimed against the war, in which, according to his duties as a soldier, he had fleshed his sword. Though devoted to his party, the General's fine manners attracted the intercourse of his political adversaries. His society was cultivated by many high persons on the other side, of almost all questions; one of whom, the Duke of Queensbury, left to him a useful and noble memorial of regard, in a legacy which reflected honour both upon the Duke and the General. — Had Fitz-Patrick's utterance been equal to his intellect, he could not have failed to attain a prominent place in oratorical classification; but he seldom mixed in debate beyond his official obligation. An occasion, however, occurred, on which Fitz-Patrick gave demonstration that he was capable of bolder flights. This was upon his motion respecting the Marquis de la Fayette. Never was praise more just than the praise of the late Lord Melville on this subject, namely, "that the Hon. General's two friends had only impaired the impression made by his speech." Never was praise more flattering, when those two friends were no other than Fox and Sheridan. But the reputation of that speech, as of every exercise of his mental powers, came upon Fitz-Patrick unlooked for. His excellence, even in his best talent, was the effect of relaxation, not of industry. Instructed by observation, that the proper world of a rational being is his own circle, Fitz-Patrick had formed perhaps the truest estimate of popular acclaim; and to the "crowd below" his philosophy made him almost indifferent. The pursuivants of glory on "Fame's mad voyage" must abide all the chances of the tempest. With a temper divested of every thing abrupt and inflammable, his quiescent nature peculiarly qualified General Fitz-Patrick to survey with clearness, and to judge without passion. He did so, and was so esteemed by those who best knew him. For his powers of judgment Mr. Fox had the highest value. The foremost intellectual enjoyment of Fox assuredly was criticism. It is no wonder, therefore, that the well-stored, highly embellished mind of Fitz-Patrick, should draw still closer to the intimacy and affections of the susceptible heart of Fox, a companionship which began with the beginning of life, which was cemented by family intermarriage, and by thousands of ties and sympathies. Fitz-Patrick, though a reader only for amusement, had read nearly all books. His liberal knowledge extended to every thing, but he pretended to nothing. There was not an atom of foppery in his whole character. Natural, easy, unaffected, supremely well-bred, Fitz-Patrick, like his great friend, neither sought nor shunned any particular subject. Whatever fell from him came without effort. He laboured at nothing, except where labour was wholly invisible — in his poetry. His poetry runs so smoothly, that it serves for an example to prove the rule — that the perfection of artifice is to hide itself. In classic attainment Fitz-Patrick's could not be compared to the master of St. Anne's Hill; but the sound understanding of the General always kept him within his depths. Thousands have feasted on his poetry, in total ignorance of the identity of the gratifier; for, as he was a politician without ambition, so he was a poet without vanity.