« AnteriorContinuar »
tures have remained undisturbed ever since at the Grove Park, Herts. The half assigned to the Duchess of Queensberry was sent to their country seat, Amesbury Park, Wilts, and has undergone other changes of place.
The Duchess of Queensberry died in July, 1778;' there is no reason to suppose, from the Duke's disposal of this property, that she desired even a tardy fulfilment of her brother's wishes to preserve the pictures, books, &c., in one collection. The Duke died October 22, 1778. It had been their misfortune to outlive all their children, and the title of Queensberry descended to his cousin, William, third Earl of March and Ruglin, and the pictures at Amesbury were made heirlooms by his will. “The mansion-house at “ Amesbury, and all except the pictures, he bequeathed “ to the Earl of March and Ruglin; these pictures “ (both oil and paintings in water-colour) to descend as “ heirlooms so long as the law will admit.” In the year 1786 they were moved from Amesbury to the Duke of Queensberry's residence at Richmond, and are thus noticed by Horace Walpole in a letter to Lady Ossory. “I went yesterday to see the Duke of Queensberry's “ palace at Richmond, under the conduct of George
| The Duchess of Queensberry does not appear to have made any will ; none at least is to be found in the Prerogative Court.
Horace Walpole again mentions this palace in a letter addressed to Miss Agnes Berry, dated November 29, 1790; he speaks of “ the Prince and “ Mrs. Fitzherbert coming there to dine with the Duke of Queensbury, on - the very spot where lived Charles I., and where are the portraits of his “ principal courtiers from Cornbury.”—Vol. vi. p. 382.
*57 “ Selwyn, the concierge. You must imagine how nobly “ it looks, now the Amesbury Gallery are hung up “ there. The great hall, the great gallery, the eating“ room, and the corridor are covered with whole and “ half lengths of royal family, favourites, ministers, “ peers, and judges, of the reign of Charles I., -not one “ original I think; at least not one 'fine;' yet alto“gether they look very respectable.” In the year 1810 William, fourth Duke of Queensberry, died, and the Wiltshire property passed, by a settlement executed by Charles, third Duke of Queensberry, to Archibald James Edward, first Baron Douglas, son of Sir John Stewart (afterwards Douglas)2 and his wife the Lady Jane Douglas.
The pictures, as heirlooms, became the property of Lord Douglas, and were transferred to Bothwell Castle, his seat in Scotland, where they have since remained in the successive possession of Lord Douglas and his three sons, who have enjoyed the title and estates. Such is
In this criticism Horace Walpole was certainly mistaken ; but though made from an imperfect knowledge or hasty observation of the pictures, it also tends to bear out the fact stated before, that the Chancellor's collection, though very extensive, was neither to be judged nor misjudged on the ground of its costly value in original works. If the pictures that formed the Queensberry portion are less to be admired for their excellence than those contained in the other half of the gallery, it can only be attributed to the want of discrimination and taste in the Duchess of Queensberry, to whom, with greater courtesy than might perhaps have been expected under existing circumstances, Mr. Villiers, then Lord Hyde, gave the power of selection.
2 Vide Sharpe's 'Peerage.'—This Lord Douglas was the subject of the celebrated trial known as “ the Douglas cause."
the history of a collection of portraits which circumstances have invested with an interest to which as a private gallery or family portraits they could never pretend. Their original selection was illustrative of the characteristic tastes of their collector; in later times their possession has been made the subject of reflection upon his conduct; their diminution, partition, and the final separation of one-half of the residue from all connection with his descendants, afford a striking example of the vicissitudes of human possessions.
The constant presence of the images of remarkable persons naturally begets a desire to be well acquainted with their character, their actions, their triumphs, and their trials. Such was the origin of the present work. The meagre notices contained in biographical dictionaries and other works written on too comprehensive a scale to admit of more than a brief or imperfect recital of a few passages in each life, suggested the idea of tracing from contemporary works, Parliamentary Journals, and all other sources of authentic information, a more complete and detailed account of the career of those whose portraits had become familiar.
But to describe the actions of those who, by counsel or by conduct, have influenced the affairs of state, the opinions of the Court, or the fortunes of the field, is unavoidably to enlarge biography into history. To
understand the value of such actions, to appreciate the merits or the defects of particular counsels, to form a just estimate of the difficulties encountered, and to guard against the danger of misconstruing motives from imperfect information, it is absolutely necessary to learn all the circumstances which accompanied, or, perhaps, even preceded, the events to be described.
So intimately connected indeed are the subjects of biography and history, that, whilst the French wisely indite “Memoirs to furnish Assistance to History,” it may be said that, for the right understanding of the lives of men who have moved in the stirring events of the world, history is needed to furnish assistance to memoirs. There is always something cold and unreal in a history when the personal character of those who took part in its course is unknown or undescribed; and on the other hand, the biography that leaves untouched or unexplained the historical circumstances by which its subject was surrounded, fails to give any just idea of his position or conduct. A perfect acquaintance with historical personages, as well as with the historical events to which they contributed, gives at once to the chronicles of the past a tinge of the more glowing interest which belongs to those scenes in which friends and contemporaries have played a part. But a biography that faithfully portrays a person's character, disposition, and principles, and is silent on the events of general importance in which he was called upon to take his share, is
· Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire.
to put the key into the reader's hands by which a cipher might be explained, yet withholding the writing itself. If history may be considered as a true narration of the aggregate actions of many men, and biography of the individual actions of one, it is clear that the materials of biography and history must often coincide; and as, in order to understand how a complicated machine is constructed, it is necessary to begin by taking it to pieces, and thus to learn how wheel within wheel has acted and been brought to contribute its separate power to the general combination by which the greater movement was effected, the task of the biographer may, if faithfully performed, render essential service to the understanding of history.
A well-composed history of a great nation will ever be honoured as a monument of human skill and industry; but while the historian takes the general view of the entire province, the biographer tracks its single paths, and, though deficient in the national importance of history, the work of the latter has the interest which belongs to personal adventure and personal feeling.
To comprehend the part assigned to any one actor in the great drama of history, the reader must bring to mind not only the particular scenes in which he was called upon to perform, but all those other scenes and other characters, without which his part would have had neither shape, nor form, nor purpose.
The more a man has been distinguished above his fellows, the more intimately is he likely to bind their