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THESE lines were written by the late Marquis Wellesley in his eighty-first year, and were intended to be engraved on the civic statue of the Duke of Wel lington, erected by the citizens of Lon don, in front of the Royal Exchange, in 1841. They appear in a sinall volume of classical poems, entitled “ Pri. mitiæ et Reliquiæ," privately printed by the noble marquis, and distributed amongst bis intimate friends a short time before his death. The Latin flows easily and is not inelegant, but by no means equal to other specimens in the same collection. Lord Wellesley was an accomplished scholar, who retained his early love of Greek and Roman lore to the latest period of his existence. He valued, and solaced himself in the decline of life with his Etonian reminiscences, as much as he prized the fame and honours derived from his Indian government and other high public offices. A pen so gifted should have resumed the theme, and have composed a more elaborate eulogium on his illustrious brother. We have reason to believe that he meditated something of the kind, but died too soon for its accomplishment. The aim was ambitious, but might have missed the mark. A happy subject and a favouring will do not always produce the desired object. Genius is arbitrary and wayward, and sometimes refuses to be fettered by rule or inclination. Waller was exceed. ingly anxious to propitiate Charles
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II. by a complimentary ode, but it proved tame compared with his ear, lier panegyric on Cromwell ; and when the good-tempered monarch told him this without being affronted, and in. quired the reason, the poet adroitly answered, “ May it please your Majesty, it is much easier to describe fiction than truth.” Personal friends, relatives, or intimate associates, are not always the happiest eulogists. Poets in particular write with more fervour, more genuine estro, when deal. ing with imaginary or remote subjects, than when commemorating events and persons belonging to their own times. Claudian may be quoted as an exception. His praises of his patron, Stili. cho, compete in style and composition with the best efforts of the Augustan age, and drew from Scaliger (no lenient critic) the admission, that he has compensated for the poverty of his matter by the purity of his language, the happiness of his expressions, and the melody of his numbers.
In studying the character and transactions of the gifted few who have held in their hands the destinies of nations, and who may be looked upon as the selected instruments through whom the mighty schemes which regulate the world are carried out to their ordained completion, it is equally instructive and agreeable to turn sometimes from the sustained, solemn seriousness of didactic or his