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Chambers, Robert, 1802-1871 / Chambers's book of days, a miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, including anecdote, biography & history, curiosities of literature and oddities of human life and character
Vol. I (1879)

May,   pp. [unnumbered]-714 PDF (97.6 MB)

Page 710

which he treated with contempt, and openly
avowed his adherence to the Pretender. By a
decree in Chancery his estates were vested in
the hands of trustees, who allowed him an income
of £1200 a-year. In April 1726, his first wife
died, and soon afterwards he professed the
Rcman Catholic faith, and married one of the
maids of honour to the Queen of Spain. This
lady, who is said to have been penniless, was the
daughter of an Irish colonel in the service of the
King of Spain, and appears only to have increased
the duke's troubles and inconsistency ; for
shortly after his marriage he entered the same
service, and fought against his own countrymen
at the siege of Gibraltar.   For this he was
censured even by the Pretender, who advised
him to return to England; but, contemptuous of
advice from every quarter alike, he proceeded to
Paris. Sir Edward Keane, who was then at
Paris, thus speaks of him: ' The Duke of
Wharton has not been sober, or scarce had a
pipe out of his mouth, since he left St Ildefonso.
. . . . . . He declared himself to be the Pre-
tender's prime minister, and Duke of Wharton
and Northumberland. " Hitherto," added he,
my master's interest has been managed by the
Duke of Perth, and three or four other old
women, who meet under the portal of St
Germains. He wanted a Whig, and a brisk one,
too, to put them in a right train, and I am the
man. You may look on me as Sir Philip
Wharton, Knight of the Garter, running a race
with Sir Robert Walpole, Knight of the Bath-
running a course, and he shall be hard pressed,
I assure you. He bought my family pictures,
but they shall not be long in his possession;
that account is still open ; neither he nor King
George shall be six months at ease, as long as I
have the honour to serve in the employment I
am now in." He mentioned great things from
Muscovy, and talked such nonsense and con-
tradictions, that it is neither worth my while to
remember, nor yours to read them. I used him
very cavalibrement, upon which he was much
affronted--sword and pistol next day.    But
before I slept, a gentleman was sent to desire
that everything might be forgotten. What a
pleasure must it have been to have killed a
prime minister!'*
From Paris the duke went to Rouen, and
living there very extravagantly, he was obliged
to quit it, leaving behind his horses and equipage.
He returned to Paris, and finding his finances
utterly exhausted, entered a monastery with the
design of spending the remainder of his life in
study and seclusion; but left it in two months,
and, accompanied by the duchess and a single
servant, proceeded to Spain. His erratic career
was now near its close. His dissolute life had
ruined his constitution, and in 1731 his health
began rapidly to fail.  He found temporary
relief from a mineral water in Catalonia, and
shortly afterwards relapsing into his former state
of debility, he again set off on horseback to
travel to the same springs; but ere he reached
them, he fell from his horse in a fainting fit, near
a small village, from whence he was carried by
some Bernardine monks to a small convent near
* Seward's Anecdotes, ii., 294.
at hand. Here, after languishing for a few days,
be died, at the age of thirty-two, without a
friend to soothe his dying moments, without a
servant to minister to his bodily cufferings or
perform the last offices of nature. On the 1st of
June 1731, the day after his decease, he was
buried at the convent in as plain and humble
manner as the poorest member of the community.
Thus, in obscurity, and dependent on the charity
of a few poor monks, died Philip Duke of
Wharton-the possessor of six peerages, the
inheritor of a lordly castle, and two other noble
mansions, with ample estates, and endowed with
talents that might have raised him to wealth and
reputation, had he been born in poverty and
obscurity. By his death his family, long the
pride of the north, and all his titles, became
extinct. The remnant of his estates was sold
to pay his debts; and his widow, who survived
him   many   years, lived  in  great privacy in
London, on a small pension from     the court of
Spain. Not long before he died, he sent to a
friend in England a manuscript tragedy on
Mary Queen of Scots, and some poems; and
finished his letter with these lines from Dryden:
'Be kind to my remains; and oh! defend
Against your judgment your departed friend!
Let not the insulting foe my fame pursue,
But shade those laurels that descend to you.'
Notwithstanding this piteous appeal, Pope has
enshrined his character in the following lines
'Clodio-the scorn and wonder of our days,
Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise;
Born with whate'er could win it from the wise,
Women and fools must like him, or he dies;
Though wondering senates hung on all he spoke,
The club must hail him master of the joke.
Shall parts so various aim at nothing new?
He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too.
Thus, with each gift of nature and of art,
And wanting nothing but an honest heart;
Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt,
And most contemptible to shun contempt;
His passion still to covet general praise,
His life to forfeit it a thousand ways:
His constant bounty no one friend has made;
His angel tongue no mortal can persuade;
A fool, with more of wit than half mankind,
Too quick for thought, for action too refined;
A tyrant to the wife his heart approves,
A rebel to the very king he loves;
He dies, sad outcast of each church and state,
And, harder still ! flagitious, yet not great.
Ask you, why Clodio broke through every rule?
'Twas all for fear the knaves should call him fool.
What riches give us, let us first inquire
Meat, fire, and clothes. What more? Meat, clothes,
and fire.
Is this too little ? Would you more than live ?
Alas! 'tis more than Turner finds they give;
Alas! 'tis more than-all his visions past-
Unhappy Wharton, waking, found at last!'
At the end of 1847, a novel was published
which quickly passed from professed readers of
fiction into the hands of almost every one who
had any interest in English literature. Grave
business men, who seldom adventured int-i
lighter reading than the Times, found themsAlve4

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