1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Sackville

Horace Walpole, in Memoirs of the Reign of King George II (1847) 1:96-98 & n.



The King offered the Princess a Master of the Horse, but told her it must be a Nobleman, and there was one to whom he had an objection. This was Lord Middlesex. She desired none; if she had been disposed to contend, it would not have been of all men in favour of the Lord in question. His figure, which was handsome, had all the reserve of his family, and all the dignity of his ancestors. He was a poet, too, because they had been poets. As little as he came near them in this talent, it was what he most resembled them in, and in which he best supported their honour. His passion was the direction of operas, in which he had not only wasted immense sums, but had stood lawsuits in Westminster Hall with some of those poor devils their salaries. The Duke of Dorset had often paid his debts, but never could work upon his affections; and he had at last carried his disobedience so far, in complaisance to, and in imitation of the Prince, as to oppose his father in his own boroughs.

January 6, 1769. — Yesterday died at his house in St. James's Street, his Grace Charles Sackville, Duke of Dorset, in the 58th year of his age. His Grace received the first rudiments of his education at Westminster School, in which he was introduced by the late celebrated Prior, and there gave strong indication of genius. The Duke afterwards visited France and Italy, with the latter of which countries he was particularly delighted, being accompanied by the late learned and very benevolent Mr. Spence, who cherished the love which his Grace naturally bore to the Polite Arts. At his return from his travels, he encouraged learning and learned men. The Duke was honoured with the esteem and affection of the late much-lamented Prince Frederick, and it was thought that his Grace would have made a very considerable figure in the State. He was skilled not only in the learned languages, but also in the modern. He had not the talent of speaking in public, so was not distinguished in the House of Commons; but he was a fine prose writer, of which (among other pieces) his Treatise concerning the Militia is a proof. Some few printed specimens of his poetry show his happy talent for that engaging art; and especially the manuscript pieces left behind him, which, it is hoped, will not be lost to the world. The Duke had laboured, during many years, under a complication of distempers, and was carried off in a fit. The excruciating pains with which he had been long afflicted made life uncomfortable; however, those who were acquainted with his former days, image to themselves the learned, the polite, and entertaining companion, whose affability was very attractive, as it threw off (in his presence) all distinction, that of superior merit excepted. But, alas! sickness, disgust, and disappointment, are apt to sour the sweetest dispositions. — (Public Journals.)