Hervey, John, Lord Hervey Of Ickworth

, a political and poetical writer of considerable fame, was the eldest son of John first earl of Bristol, by his second wife, Elizabeth, sole daughter and heir to sir Thomas Felton of Playford in the county of Suffolk, bart. He was born Oct. 15, 1696, and educated at Clare-hall, Cambridge, where he took his master’s degree in 1715, previously to which, on Nov. 7, 1714, he had been made gentleman of the bed-chamber to the Prince of Wales. He came into parliament soon after the accession of George I. and was appointed vice-chamberlain to the king in 1730, and a privy counsellor. In 1733 he was called up by writ to the house of peers, as lord Hervey of Ickworth; and in 1740 was constituted lord privy seal, from which post he was removed in 1742. He died Aug. 5, 1743, in the forty-seventh year of his age, a short period, but to which his life had been protracted with the greatest care and difficulty. Having early in life felt some attacks of the epilepsy, he entered upon and persisted in a very strict regimen, which stopped the progress of that dreadful disease, but prevented his acquiring, or at least long enjoying, the blessing of sound health. It is to this rigid abstemiousness that Pope malignantly alludes in the character he has given of lord Hervey, under the name of Sporus, in the line “the mere white curd of asses milk.” But lord Hervey affords a memorable instance of the caution with which we ou^ht to read the characters drawn by Pope and his associates; nor can too much praise be given to his late editors for the pains they have taken to rescue some of them from the imputations which proceeded from the irritable temper and malignity of that admired satirist. In the character of Sporus, Dr. Warton has justly observed, that language cannot afford more glowing or more forcible terms to express the utmost bitterness of contempt. Pope and his lordship were once | friends; but they quarrelled at a time when the poetical world seemed to be up in arms, and perpetually contending in a manner disgraceful to their characters. In the quarrel between Pope and lord Hervey, it appears that Pope was the aggressor, and that lord Hervey wrote some severe lines in reply, and An Epistle from a Nobleman to a Doctor of Divinity.“1733. (Dr. Sherwin). In answer to this, Pope wrote the” Letter to a Noble Lord, on occasion of some libels written and propagated at court in the year 1732-3,“which is printed in his Works, and, as Warburton says,” is conducive to what he had most at heart, his moral character,“to which, after all, it conduced very little, as he Violated every rule of truth and decency in his subsequent attack on lord Hervey in the” Prologue to the Satires,“under the character of Sporus, whic,h, we agree with Mr. Coxe,” cannot be read without disgust and horror disgust at the indelicacy of the allusions, and horror at the malignity of the poet, in laying the foundation of his abuse on the lowest species of satire, personal invective; and what is still worse, on sickness and debility."

The man, however, whom Pope thus affected to despise, possessed very considerable talents both as a statesman and a man of literature. Dr. Middleton, in his dedication to the “Life of Tuily,” has praised his good sense, consummate politeness, real patriotism, his knowledge and defence of the laws of his country, his accurate skill in history, and his unexampled and unremitted diligence in literary pursuits. To Middleton’s work he contributed the translations of the passages from Cicero. Lord Hervey also wrote some of the best political pamphlets in defence of Sir Robert Walpole’s administration, of which lord Orford has given a long list. One attributed to him was entitled, “Sedition and Defamation displayed,‘ 7 and contained a severe invective against Pulteney and Bolingbroke. In answer to this, Pulteney wroteA proper reply to a late scurrilous libel, &c.“and treated lord Hervey with such contempt, that the latter challenged him: a duel ensued, and Pulteney slightly wounded his antagonist. It afterwards appeared that lord Hervey did not compose this pamphlet, and Pulteney acknowledged his mistake. It was written by Sir William Yonge, secretary at war, a circumstance of which lord Orford appears to have bea ignorant. | Though sometimes too florid and pompous, lord Hervey was a frequent and able speaker in parliament, and possessed more than ordinary abilities, and much classical erudition. He was remarkable for his wit, and the number and appositeness of his repartees. Although his manner and figure were, at first acquaintance, highly forbidding, yet he seldom failed to render himself, by his lively conversation, an entertaining companion to those whom he wished to conciliate. Hence he conquered the extreme prejudice which the king had conceived against him; and from being detested, became a great favourite. He was particularly agreeable to queen Caroline, as he helped to enliven the uniformity of a court with sprightly repartees, and lively sallies of wit. His defects were, extreme affectation, bitterness of invective, prodigality of flattery, and great servility to those above him. Of his poetical effusions, which are easy, elegant, and sufficiently satirical to” have made Pope feel, the best are in Dodsley’s collection. The advice of George II. to him must not be forgotten, although in our days it is less likely to be taken than at that period “My lord Hervey, you ought not to write verses ’tis beneath your rank leave such work to little Mr. Pope it is his trade

Lord Hervey married, Oct. 25, 1720, Mary, daughter of brigadier-general Nicholas Lepell, an amiable woman, often mentioned, and always with praise, in Pope’s and lord Orford’s works; and had by her four sons and four daughters. Two of the sons are the subjects of the following articles. 1

1 Collins’s Peerage, by Sir E. Brydges. Bowles’s Pope, see Index. Park’s edition of the Royal and Noble Authors, Coxe’s Memoirs of Walpole. Swift’s Works.