Boyle, John

, earl of Cork and Orrery, a nobleman who added fresh lustre to his name and family, was the | only son and heir of Charles, the fourth earl of Orrery (the subject of the preceding article), by the lady Elizabeth Cecil, daughter of John earl of Exeter. He was born on the 2d of January, 1706-7, and put early under the tuition of Mr. Fenton, the author of Mariamne, and one of the coadjutors of Mr. Pope in the translation of the Odyssey, by whom he was instructed in English; and carried through the Latin tongue from the age of seven to thirteen. Between this amiable poet and his noble pupil a constant friendship subsisted; and his lordship always spoke of him after his decease, and often with tears, as “one of the worthiest and modestest men that ever adorned the court of Apollo.” After passing through Westminster school, lord Boyle was admitted as a nobleman at Christ-church, Oxford, of which college, as we have already seen, his father had been a distinguished ornament. One of his first poetical essays was an answer to some verses by Mrs. Howe, on an unsuccessful attempt to draw his picture.

When the earl of Orrery was committed prisoner to the Tower on account of Layer’s plot, such was the filial piety of his son, that he earnestly entreated to be shut up with his noble father; but this indulgence was thought too considerable to be granted. Not long after he had completed the twenty-first year of his age, he married, on the 9th of May 1728, lady Harriet Hamilton, the third and youngest daughter of George earl of Orkney. Though this marriage had the entire approbation of lord Orrery, it unfortunately happened that a dissension arose between the two earls, which placed the young couple in a very delicate and difficult situation; but lord Boyle maintained at the same time the tenderest affection for his wife, and the highest attachment to his father. The earl of Orrery, however, was too much irritated by the family quarrel, to see at first his son’s conduct in a proper point of light, although his excellent understanding could not fail in the end to get the better of his prejudices, when a reconciliation took place, and the little coldness which had subsisted between them served but the more to endear them to each other.*

*

In the addenda to the Biog. Brit. we are told that the dissensions between the earl and his son originated in the latter refusing to suffer his wife to sit at table with his father’s mistress. If this be true, it must greatly diminish his lordship’s character.

The earl of Orrery was now so much pleased with lord Boyle, that he could scarcely be easy without | him; and when in town, they were seldom asunder. It is to be lamented, that this happiness was rendered very transient by the unexpected death of lord Orrery and that the stroke was embittered by circumstance peculiarly painful and affecting to his noble son and successor. The father, whilst under the impression of his dissension with the earl of Orkney, had made a will, by which he had bequeathed to Christ-church, Oxford, his valuable library, consisting of above ten thousand volumes, together with a very fine collection of mathematical instruments. The only exceptions in favour of lord Boyle were the Journals of the House of Peers, and such books as related to the English history and constitution. The earl of Orrery left, besides, though he was greatly in debt, several considerable legacies to persons nowise related to him. Upon his reconciliation with his son, he determined to alter his will, and had even sent for his lawyer with that view, when the suddenness of his decease prevented the execution of his just and reasonable design. The young lord Orrery, with a true filial piety and generosity, instead of suffering his father’s effects to be sold, took his debts upon himself, and fulfilled the bequests, by paying the legacies, and sending the books and mathematical instruments within the limited time to Christ-church. The loss, however, of a parent, thus aggravated and embittered, left a deep impression upon his mind, and was succeeded by a fit of illness which endangered his life, and obliged him to repair to Bath. Whilst he was in that city, he received a letter from a friend, with a copy of verses inclosed, exhorting him to dispel his grief by poetry r and to shew that Bath could inspire, as well as Tunbridge;. from which place he had written some humorous verses the year before. To this letter his lordship returned the following answer:

"Nor Bath, nor Tunbridge, can my lays inspire,

Nor radiant beauty make me strike the lyre:

Far from the busy crowd 1 sit forlorn,

And sigh in secret, and in silence mourn:

Nor of my anguish ever find an end;

I weep a father, but I’ve lost a friend."

In a few months lord Orrery so far recovered his health and spirits as to be able to attend his public duty as an English baron. He took his seat in the house of peers in the session of parliament which opened on the 13th of | January, 1731-2, and soon distinguished himself by a speech in opposition to the ministry, against the mutiny-bill; the inconsistency of a standing army with the liberties of a free people being at that period the topic constantly insisted upon by the patriotic party. Though no notice is taken of his lordship’s speech in Timberland’s Debates, it is certain that he acquired considerable credit on this occasion. Mr. Budgell, in the dedication to his Memoirs of the Family of the Boyles, published in 1732, celebrates our noble lord as having displayed the united forces of reason and eloquence; and Mr. Ford, in a letter to Dr. Swift, written in the same year, mentions with pleasure a character which the dean had given of the earl of Orrery, and says, that he was extremely applauded for a speech he made against the army- bill. The approbation which his lordship received in this lirst exertion of his parliamentary talents, did not encourage him to become a public speaker; and we meet with only another instance in which he took any active part in a debate/ on the 13th of February, 1733-4, in favour of the duke of Marlborough’s bill for preventing the officers of the land forces from being deprived of their commissions, otherwise than by judgment of a court martial to be held for that purpose, or by address of either house of parliament. The delicacy of lord Orrery’s health, his passion for private life, and the occasions he had of sometimes residing in Ireland, seem to have precluded him from a very constant and regular attendance in the English house of peers. However, he did not fail to go thither when he apprehended himself to be called to it by particular duty; and we find his name to a considerable number of the protests which were so frequent during the grand opposition to sir Robert Waipole’s administration.

In the summer of 1732 the earl of Orrery went over to Ireland to re-establish his affairs, which were much embarrassed by the villainy of his father’s agent. As the family seat at Charleville had been burnt to the ground by a party of king James’s army in 1690, his lordship resided sometimes with a friend at that place, and sometimes at Cork. Whilst he was in this city, he met with a most severe affliction, in the loss of his countess, who died on the 22d of August, 1732. The character of this amiable lady has been drawn by lord Orrery himself, in his Observations on Pliny. The countess was interred with her | ancestors, at Taplow, in Bucks; and Mr. S. Wesley, in a poem on her death, fully displayed her excellent qualities and virtues. Mr. Theobald did the same, in his dedication of Shakspeare’s Works to the earl. The dedication, it seems, was originally intended for her ladyship; and therefore lord Orrery is represented as succeeding to it by the melancholy right of executorship. Mr. Theobald professes to have borrowed many hints from hearing his patron converse on Shakspeare; and adds, “Your lordship may reasonably deny the loss of the jewels which I have disparaged in the unartful setting.” Such language, however, must be considered as partly complimentary; for if the earl of Orrery had contributed any material criticisms upon our great dramatic poet, they would undoubtedly have been distinctly specified. Some pathetic verses on the death of the countess, dated Marston, Dec. 17, 1734, were addressed by his lordship to Mrs. Rowe, who lived in his neighbourhood, and with whom he had an intimate friendship during the latter part of her life. How much this ingenious and excellent lady valued his esteem and regard, is evident from her observing, that “his approbation would be her vanity and boast, if she could but persuade herself she deserved it.” The house where she was born belonged to him; and he always passed by it, after her decease, with the utmost veneration. It appears from Mrs. Rowe’s posthumous letter to his lordship, that he had charged her with “a message to his Henrietta (Harriet), when she met her gentle spirit in the blissful regions.

Whilst our noble lord resided in Ireland, he commenced a friendship with dean Swift, which produced also that of Mr. Pope. The earl having sent a copy of verses to the dean on his birth-day, they were so pleasing to that celebrated genius, that he begged the author “to accept his most humble thanks for the honour done him by so excellent a performance on so barren a subject.” “In spite,” says the dean, “of those who love me not, it will be said in future ages, that one of lord Orrery’s first essays in poetry was these verses on Dr. Swift.” There are, indeed, several evidences in Pope’s and Swift’s letters, of the sincere esteem they entertained for his lordship.

In October 1733, lord Orrery returned to England, and having now no attachment to London, he disposed of his house in Downing-street, Westminster, as likewise of his | seat at Britwell, near Windsor, and retired to his seat at Marston, in Somersetshire. As this place had been much neglected by his ancestors, and was little more than a shell of a large old house, he amused himself in building offices, in fitting out and furnishing apartments, and laying out gardens and other plantations. Study and retirement being his principal pleasures, he took care to supply the loss he had sustained from his father’s will, by furnishing his library anew with the best authors. In the summer of 1734, probably in his way to France, where he sometimes went, he visited the tomb of his ancestors, Roger Boyle, esq, and Joan his wife, in Preston church, near Feversham. This monument, when the title of earl of Cork devolved upon him, he intended to have repaired, if his life had been prolonged. In the middle of the year 1735, we find him again in Ireland. On the 31st of October, in the same year, an amiable relation, and a most promising youth, Edmund duke of Buckingham, died at Rome, upon which melancholy event, lord Orrery paid a just tribute to the memory of the young nobleman, in an elegiac poem. It was printed in 1736, and is one of the most pleasing specimens which our author has afforded of his poetical abilities. In the winter of 1735-6, the duke of Dorset being then lord lieutenant of Ireland, the eail of Orrery neglected no opportunity of endeavouring to render his administration easy. If Dr. Swift is to be credited, Ireland was about that time in a wretched condition. As a proof of it, the dean asserted in a letter to Mr. Pope, that lord Orrery had 3000l. a year in the neighbourhood of Cork, and that more than three years rent was unpaid. In April 1737, his lordship, who was then at Cork, earnestly pressed Dr. Swift to accompany him to England; but the doctor, who never saw Marston, did not accept the invitation. Lord Orrery took over with him to Mr. Pope all the letters of that great poet to Swift, which the dean had preserved or could find, which were not more in number than twenty-five. About this time, our noble author, that his sons might be educated under his own eye, and also have the benefit of attending Westminster-school, took a small house in Duke-street, Westminster. On the 30th of June, 1738, the earl of Orrery, after having been six years a widower, married, in Ireland, Mrs. Margaret Hamilton, only daughter and heiress of John Hamilton, | esq. of Caledon, in the county of Tyrone, grand-daughter of Dr. Dopping, bishop of Meath, and niece of Dr. Dopping, bishop of Ossory. Swift, in a letter to Miss Hamilton, on her intended nuptials, after pretending a prior claim, as she had made so many advances to him, and confessed “herself to be nobody’s goddess but his,” archly waves it, and politely “permits lord Orrery to make himself the happiest man in the world; as I know not,” he adds, “any lady in this kingdom of so good sense or so many accomplishments.” He gives a great character of her, likewise, in his last printed letter to Mr. Pope. In this lady, the earl of Orrery, with gratitude to Heaven, acknowledged that the loss of his former countess was repaired. In 1739 he published a new edition, 2 vols. 8vo, of the dramatic works of his great-grandfather. Though these volumes cannot be particularly valuable, they are now become exceedingly scarce. In 1741 he published separately, in folio, “The first Ode of the first book of Horace imitated, and inscribed to the earl of Chesterfield;” and “Pyrrha, an imitation of the fifth Ode of the first book of Horace.” In the preface to the last, lord Orrery characterises Dacier’s and Sanadon’s translations, and makes some observations on Horace, which shew that he entered with taste and spirit into the peculiar excellencies of that poet. In 1742 he published in one volume, folio, the “State Letters” of his great-grandfather, the first earl; to which were prefixed Morrice’s memoirs of that eminent statesman. On the 25th of August, 1743, his lordship was presented by the university of Oxford to the honorary degree of D. C. L.; and he was, likewise, F.R. S. Lord Boyle, in 1746, being settled at Oxford, and Mr. Boyle in the college at Westminster, their father quitted London, and fixed his residence at Caledon, in Ireland. During one of his occasional visits to England, after the publication of the second volume of the Biographia Britannica, he thanked Dr. Campbell, “in the name of all the Boyles, for the honour he had done to them, and to his own judgment, by placing the family in such a light as to give a spirit of emulation to those who were hereafter to inherit the title.” Lord Orrery resided in Ireland, with very little intermission, from 1746 to 1750; happy in that domestic tranquillity, that studious retirement and inactivity, from which, as he himself expressed it, he was scarcely ever drawn, but with the utmost reluctance. | Whenever,” as he observed in a private letter, “we step out of domestic life in search of felicity, we come back again disappointed, tired, and chagrined. One day passed under our own roof, with our friends and our family, is worth a thousand in any other place. The noise and bustle, or, as they are foolishly called, the diversions of life, are despicable and tasteless, when once we have experienced the real delight of a fire-side.” These sentiments, which do so much honour to the rectitude of his lordship’s understanding, and the goodness of his heart, reflect, at the same time, a just reproach on the absurd and criminal dissipation that prevails for the most part among persons of rank and fortune. During the earl of Orrery’s residence in Ireland, he employed his leisure in laying out gardens and plantations at Caledon, and in improving and adorning its fine situation. On his return to Marston, he continued his alterations and improvements in the house and gardens at that place, many of the plans for which were designed by lord Boyle, who had a taste for architecture. In the mean while, the amusement of our noble author’s winter evenings was his translation of “The Letters of Pliny the Younger, with observations on each letter, and an Essay on Pliny’s life, addressed to Charles lord Boyle.” The essay is dated Leicester-fields, January 27, 1750-1; and, together with the translation, was published at London, in the following April, in 2 vols. 4to. This work met with so good a reception from the public, that three editions of it in octavo have since been printed. In the summer of the same year, lord Orrery addressed to his second son Hamilton a series of letters, containing “Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Swift, dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin.” This work gave rise to many strictures and censures on his lordship for having professed himself Swift’s friend while he was exposing his weaknesses. Subsequent inquiries into Swift’s character have proved that the portrait he drew was not unfaithful. To this, however, we shall have occasion to recur in our account of Swift.

On the 3d of December, 1753, by the death of Richard the third earl of Burlington, and fourth earl of Cork, without issue male, lord Orrery succeeded to that nobleman’s Irish tides, viz. earl of Cork, viscount Dungarvan, and lord Boyle, baron of Youghall. About this time, Mr. Moore undertook the periodical publication called “The | World;” to which our noble author contributed three papers, viz. No. 47, 68, 161. The two first are papers of some humour, intended to ridicule the practice of duelling, as it prevailed in the last age; and the third is a father’s account of his son, Charles lord Dungarvan, whose weakness of temper was such, that he could not resist the temptation to indulgences which at last proved fatal. The earl of Cork was a contributor, likewise, to the “Connoisseur,” carried on by Mr. Thornton and Mr. Coiman. In the last number of this publication, G. K. which was his lordship’s signature, is distinguished, by the ingenious authors, as their “earliest and most frequent correspondent;” and “we are sorry,” they add, “that he will not allow us to mention his name; since it would reflect as much credit on our work, as we are sure will redound to it from his compositions.” His communications to the “Connoisseur” were the most part of No. 14 and 17 the letter signed Goliah English, in No. 19 great part of No. 33 and 40 and the letters, signed “Reginald Fitzworm,” “Michael Krawbridge,” “Moses Orthodox,” and “Thomas Vainall,” in No. 102, 107, 113, and 129. These papers are chiefly of the humourous kind; and they confirm, in no small degree, Mr. Buncombe’s character of our author, that “for humour, innocent humour, no one had a truer taste, or better talent.” On the 20th of September, 1754, the earl and countess of Cork, with their daughter lady Lucy Boyle, began a tour to Italy. His lordship’s chief object was Florence, in which city and its neighbourhood he resided nearly a year. Whilst he was at that place, he presented to the academy della Crusca, his friend Dr. Samuel Johnson’s English Dictionary. His inveterate enemy, the gout, introduced by a severe winter, overtook him even in Italy, and prevented his attendance on the exercises of the academy. He enjoyed, at Florence, a general esteem; and, by a free conversation with books and men, and the assistance of manuscripts, collected materials for the History of Tuscany, which he intended to write in a series of Letters, twelve of which only he lived to finish. In November 1755; he arrived at Marston, having, in his return to England, on account of the commencement of the war with France, gone through Germany and part of Holland. The situation of public affairs, in this country, at the beginning of the year 1757, being such as required, in our national councils, the | most exertion of wisdom and integrity, one of lord Cork’s friends urged him, in an ode, to exchange his retirement for a more active scene.

When Dr. Swift’s “History of the four last years of Queen Anne” appeared in 1758, and it was reported that our noble lord had consented to the publication of that work, he requested his friends to contradict the report. His opinion was, that the more the work was examined, the less it would answer the end either of the author or of the publisher. In that year he sustained, by the death of his excellent lady, Margaret countess of Cork and Orrery, the severest domestic affliction which could befal him. She departed this life, after a short illness, on the 24th of November, in lodgings at Knightsbridge, to which she had been removed, at her own request, a few days before, from a tender apprehension that her lord would quit his house, just taken, in Marlboro ugh-street, if she died there. This shock, however, he supported with the resignation becoming a man and a Christian. We have already seen the high opinion which Dr. Swift entertained of her ladyship. The earl of Cork, in his distress, took refuge, like Pliny, in his studies, as the best retreat from grief, and published, in the beginning of 1759, in one volume, octavo, from an original manuscript presented to him by a relation, “Memoirs of the Life of Robert Cary, earl of Monmouth,” with a preface, and explanatory notes, and a short but tender dedication to his youngest son. It is dated Marlborough-street, January 13, 1759, and signed, “Now, alas! your only parent.” There is, also, as a frontispiece, engraved from an old painting by Marc Garrard, “The Royal Procession of queen Elizabeth, to visit her cousin german, Henry lord Hunsdon, governor of Berwick.A second edition of the Memoirs appeared in 1760. Mrs. Lennox was considerably indebted to lord Cork, in her translation of Brumoy’s Greek Theatre, published in 1759. The preface was written by him; and he also translated “The Discourse upon the Theatre of the Greeks,” “The Original of Tragedy,” and “The Parallel of the Theatres.” Some smaller things, of his lordship’s writing, are in the Gent. Mag. *

*

In the Gentleman’s Magazine, for 1741, p. 325, are some verses by lord Orrery, to Mrs. Cæsar. In 1751 he wrote the prologue to Mallet’s Alfred. Several of his letters are to be met with in Swift’s Works. In Derrick’s Letters, vol. II. p. 17, there is, likewise, one from his lordship to that gentl-

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man, dated November 25, 1760, and in the —Gent. Mag. vol. LXII. one from him to Dr. Birch on Johnson’s Dictionary. In his Translation of Pliny, besides a poetical version of a number of passages quoted from the ancient classics, there are interspersed several small original pieces. See also Nicholas Poems, vol. VII.

On September | the 16th, 1759, the earl of Cork lost his eldest son, Charles lord viscount Dungarvan, already mentioned. The earl survived him about three years, during which he divided his lime between his house in Great George-street, Westminster, and his seat in Somersetshire. An hereditary gout, which. all his temperance could only parry, not subdue, put a comparatively early period to his life, at Marston house, on the 16th of November, 1762, in the 56th year of his age. His remains were deposited near to those of his second lady, in the burial-place of his family in Frome church.

His last work was posthumous, “Letters from Italy,” written in 1754 and 1755, to William Duucombe, esq. and published, in 1774, by the rev. Mr. John Buncombe, who well knew and highly esteemed lord Cork’s talents and virtues. Mr. Buncombe has prefixed a life of his lordship, with the following particulars of his character: “The character of John earl of Cork, as a writer and as a man, may partly be collected from his own works, and partly from the testimonies which have been given of him by some of the most distinguished among his contemporaries. I shall only beg leave to add, that, in every domestic and social relation, in alltthe endearing connections of life, as a husband, a father, a friend, a master, he had few equals. The lustre which he received from rank and title, and from the personal merit of his family, he reflected back, unimpaired and undhninished; and though ‘the post of honour’ which he chose and preferred was ‘a private station,’ though he was neither a statesman nor a soldier, like the first lord Cork, the first lord Orrery, and his own father; the rival of Palladio, like the late lord Burlington; or the rival of Bacon, like Mr. Robert Boyle; yet in a general taste for literature, or, as they are commonly called, polite studies, he was by no means inferior to his ancestors. Being much in the great world at the beginning of his life, he despised and detested it when he arrived at years of reflection. His constitution was never strong, and he was very thankful that it was not so; as his health was a true and no very irksome excuse to avoid those scenes, by | which his body would have been hurt, and his mind offended. He loved truth even to a degree of adoration. He was a real Christian; and. as such, constantly hoped for a better life, there trusting to know the real causes of those effects, which here struck him with wonder, but not with doubt.

Dr. Johnson, less biassed by friendship, and more discriminating, said of him, “My friend, the late earl of Cork, had a great desire to maintain the literary character of his family: he was a genteel man, but did not keep up the dignity of his rank. He was so generally civil, that nobody thanked him for it.” Warburton, in his letters to bishop Hurd, lately published, employs the full measure of his coarse censure on him for publishing his character of Swift. 1

1

Biog. Brit.—Nichols’s Bowyer.—Nichols’s Poems.—Boswell’s Life of Johnsou, and Journey.—Swift’s Works, passim—Park’s Royal and Noble Authors, —Warburton’s Letters, p. 66, 69, 79, 129, 4to edit.