Wharton, Philip, Duke Of

, son to the preceding, was born about 1699. He was educated at home; and, as what was calculated to distinguish him most, his father’s prime object was to form him a complete orator. The first prelude to his innumerable misfortunes may justly be reckoned his falling in love with, and privately marrying at the Fleet, when he was scarcely sixteen years old, a young lady, the daughter of major-general Holmes; a match by no means suited to his birth and fortune, and far less to the ambitious views his father had entertained for him. However, the amiable lady deserved infinitely more happiness than she met with by an alliance with his family; and the young lord was not so unhappy through any misconduct of hers as by the death of his father, which this precipitate marriage is thought to have occasioned about a year after. The duke, being so early free from paternal restraints, and possessed of a fortune of 16,000l. a year, plunged into those numberless excesses which became at last fatal to him; and proved, as Pope expresses it,

"A tyrant to the wife his heart approves,

A rebel to the very king he loves."

In 1716 he indulged his desire of travelling and finishing his education abroad; and, as he was designed to be brought up in the strictest Whig principles, Geneva was judged a proper place for his residence. He took the route of Holland, and visited several courts of Germany, that of Hanover in particular. Being arrived at Geneva, he conceived so great a disgust to the austere and dogmatical precepts of his governor, that he soon decamped, and set out for Lyons, where he arrived in Oct. 1716. His lordship somewhere or other had picked up a bear’s cub, of which he was very fond, and carried it about with him. But, when he determined to abandon his tutor, he left the cub behind him, with the following address to him: “Being no longer able to bear with your ill usage, I think proper to be gone | from you; however, that you may not want company, I have left you the bear, as the most suitahle companion in the world that could he picked out for you.

When the marquis was at Lyons, he took a very strange step, little expected from him. He wrote a letter to the chevalier de St. George, then residing at Avignon, to whom he presented a very fine stone-horse. Upon receiving this present, the chevalier sent a man of quality to the marquis, who carried him privately to his court, where he was received with the greatest marks of esteem, and had the title of duke of Northumberland conferred upon him. He remained there, however, but one day; and then returned post to Lyons, whence he set out for Paris. He likewise made a visit to the queen-dowager of England, consort to James II. then residing at St. Germain*, to whom he paid his court, pursuing the same rash measures as at Avignon. It was reported that he told the queen he was resolved to atone by his own services for the faults of his family, and would exert all his endeavours to subvert the Hanover suecession, and promote the interest of the exiled prince; but as he complained that being underage, and kept out of his estate, he wanted money to carry on the design, the dowager-queen, though poor, pawned her jewels to raise him 2000l. We shall afterwards find that the chevalier accommodated him with the same sum long after the dowager’s death.

During his stay at Paris, his winning address and astonishing parts gained him the esteem and admiration of all the British subjects of both parties who happened to be there. The earl of Stair, then the English ambassador there, notwithstanding all the reports to the marquis’s disadvantage, thought proper to shew some respect to the representative of so great a family. His excellency never failed to lay hold of every opportunity to give some admonitions, which were not always agreeable to the vivacity of his temper, and sometimes provoked him to great indiscretions. Once in particular, the ambassador, extolling the merit and noble behaviour of the marquis’s father, added, that he hoped he would follow so illustrious an example of fidelity to his prince and love to his country: on which the marquis immediately answered, that “he thanked his excellency for his good advice, and, as his excellency had also a worthy and deserving father, he hoped he would likewise copy so bright an original, and tread in his steps.| This was a severe sarcasm, as the ambassador’s father had betrayed his master in a manner that was not very creditable. Before he left France, an English gentleman expostulating with him for swerving so much from the principles of his father and whole family, his lordship answered, that “he had pawned his principles to Gordon, the Pretender’s banker, for a considerable sum, and, till he could repay him, he must be a Jacobite; but, when that was done, he would again return to the Whigs.

In Dec. 1716, the marquis arrived in England, where he did not remain long till he set out for Ireland; in which kingdom, on account of his extraordinary qualities, he had‘ the honour of being admitted, though under age, to take his seat in the House of Peers as earl of Rathfarnham and marquis Catherlough. He made use of this indulgence to take possession of his estate, and receive his rents, asking his tenants “if they durst doubt of his being of age, after the parliament had allowed him to be so?” In the Irish parliament he espoused a very different interest from that which he had so lately embraced. He distinguished himself, in this situation, as a violent partizan for the ministry; and acted in all other respects, as well in his private as public capacity, with the warmest zeal for government *. In consequence of this zeal, shewn at a time when they stood much in need of men of abilities, and so little was expected from him, the king created him duke of Wharton; and, as soon as he came of age, he was introduced into the House of Lords in England, with the like blaze of reputation. Yet a little before the death of lord Stanhope, his grace again changed sides, opposed the court, and endeavoured to defeat the schemes of the ministry. He was one of the roost forward and vigorous in the defence of the bishop of Rochester, and in opposing the bill for inflicting pains and penalties on that prelate; and, as if this opposition was not sufficient, he published, twice a week, a paper called “The True Briton,” several thousands of which were dispersed weekly.


It was probably while the duke was in Ireland that he became acquainted with Swift, who had a high opinion of his great abilities, and was no less esteemed by the duke. It is said that one day dining together, when the duke had recounted several extravagances he had run through, Swift said, “You have had your frolics, my lord, let me recommend one more to you take a frolic to be virtuous; take my word for it, that one will do you more honour than all the other frolics of your whole life.” Delany’s Observations on Lord Orrery’s Remarks.

| In the mean time his boundless profusion had so burthened his estate, that a decree of chancery vested it in the hands of trustees fur the payment of his debts, allowing a provision of 1200l. per annum for his subsistence. This not being sufficient to support his title with dignity at home, he resolved to go abroad till his estate should be clear. But in this he only meant, as it should seem, to deceive by an appearance; for he went to Vienna, to execute a private commission, not in favour of the English ministry; nor did he ever shine to greater advantage as to his personal character than at the Imperial court. From Vienna he made a tour to Spain, where his arrival alarmed the English minister so much, that two expresses were sent from Madrid to London, upon an apprehension that his grace was received there in the character of an ambassador; upon which the duke received a summons under the privy seal to return home. His behaviour on this occasion was a sufficient indication that he never designed to return to England whilst affairs remained in the same state. This he had often declared, from his going abroad the second time; which, no doubt, was the occasion of his treating that solemn order with so much indignity, and endeavouring to inflame the Spanish court, not only against the person who delivered the summons, but also against the court of Great Britain itself, for exercising an act of power, as he was pleased to call it, within the jurisdiction of his Catholic majesty. After this he acted openly in the service of the Pretender, and appeared at his court, where he was received with the greatest marks of favour.

While thus employed abroad, his duchess, who had been neglected by him, died in England, April 14, 1726, and left no issue behind her. Soon after this, he fell vio-r lently in love with madam Obyrne, then one of the maids of honour to the queen of Spain. She was daughter of an Irish colonel in that service, who being dead, her mother lived upon a pension the king allowed her; so that this lady’s fortune consisted chiefly in her personal accomplishments. Many arguments were used, by their friends on both sides, to dissuade them from the marriage. The queen of Spain, when the duke asked her consent, represented to him, in the most lively terms, that the consequence of the match would be misery to them both; and absolutely refused her consent. Having now no hopes of obtaining her, he fell into a deep melancholy, which | brought on a lingering fever. This circumstance reached her majesty’s ear: she was moved with his distress, and sent him word to endeavour the recovery of his health; and, as soon as he was ahle to appear abroad, she would speak to him in a more favourable manner than at their last interview. The duke, upon receiving this news, ima-> gined it the best way to take advantage of the kind disposition her majesty was then in; and summoning to his assistance his little remaining strength, threw himself at her majesty’s feet, and begged of her either to give him M. Obyrne, or order him not to live. The queen consented,’ but told him he would soon repent it. After the solemnization of his marriage, he passed some time at Rome; where he accepted of a blue ribband, affected to appear with the title of duke of Northumberland, and for a while enjoyed the confidence of the exiled prince. But, as he could not always keep himself within the bounds of Italian gravity, and having no employment to amuse his active temper, he soon ran into his Usual excesses; which giving offence, it was thought proper for him to remove from that city for the present, lest he should at last fall into actual disgrace.

Accordingly, he quitted Rome, and went by sea to Barcelona; and then resolved upon a new scene of life, which few expected he would ever have engaged in. He wrote a letter to the king of Spain, acquainting him, that he would assist at the siege of Gibraltar as a volunteer. The king thanked him for the honour, and accepted his service: but he soon grew weary of this, and set his heart on Rome. In consequence of this resolution, he wrote a letter to the chevalier de St. George, full of respect and submission, expressing a desire of visiting his court; but the chevalier returned for answer, that he thought it more advisable for his grace to draw near England. The duke seemed resolved to follow his advice, set out for France in company with his duchess, and, attended by two or three servants, arrived at Paris in May 1728. Here he made little stay, but proceeded to Rouen, in his way, as some imagined, for England; but he stopped, and took up his residence at Rouen, without reflecting the least on the business that brought him to France. He was so far from making any concession to the government, in order to make his peace, that he did not give himself the least trouble about his personal estate, or any other concern in England. The | duke had about 600l. in his possession when he arrived at Rouen, where more of his servants joined him from Spain. A bill of indictment was about this time preferred against him in England for high treason. The chevalier soon after sent him 2000l. for his support, of which he was no sooner in possession than he squandered it away. Asa long journey did not well suit with his grace’s finances, he went for Orleans; thence fell down the river Loire to Nantz, in Britany; and there he stopt some time, till he got a remittance from Paris, which was dispersed almost as soon as received. At Nantz some of his ragged servants rejoined him, and he took shipping with them for Bilboa, as if he had been carrying recruits to the Spanish regiments. PYorn Biiboa he wrote a humorous letter to a friend at Paris, giving a whimsical account of his voyage, and his manner of passing his time. The queen of Spain took the duchess to attend her person.

In Jan. 1731, the duke declined so fast, being in his quarters at Lerida, that he had not the use of his limbs so as to move without assistance; but, as he was free from pain, did not lose all his gaiety. He continued in this ill state of health for two months, when he gained a little strength, and found benefit from a certain mineral water in the mountains of Catalonia; but he was too much exhausted to recover. He relapsed the May following at Tarragona, whither he removed with his regiment: and, going to the above-mentioned waters, he fell into one of those faintingfits, to which he had been for some time subject, in a small village; and was utterly destitute of all the necessaries of life, till some charitable fathers of a Bernardine convent offered him what assistance their house afforded. The duke accepted their kind proposal; upon which they removed tmn to their convent, and administered all the relief in their power. Under this hospitable roof, after languishing a week, the duke of Wharton died May 31, 1731, without one friend or acquaintance to close his eyes. His funeral was performed in the same manner which the fathers observed to those of their own fraternity. Dying without issue, his titles became extinct. His widow survived to a very advanced age, and died in Feb 1777, and was buried in St. Pancras church-yard.

Pope has drawn his character in these masterly lines:

"Wharton, 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;

Tho‘ wend’ring 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.

Then turns repentant, and his God adores,

With the same spirit that he drinks and whores?

Enough, if all around him but admire,

And now the punk applaud, and now the fryer.

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;

flis passion still, to covet gen’ral praise,

His life, to forfeit it a thousand ways;

A constant bounty, which no friend has made:

An angel tongue, which no man can persuade 3.

A fool, with more of wit than half mankind,

Too rash for thought, for action too refin’d:

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.

Like Buckingham and Rochester* says lord Orford, he <c comforted all the grave and dull by throwing away the. brightest profusion of parts on witty fooleries, debaucheries, and scrapes, which may mix graces with a great character, but can never compose one.“It is difficult to understand a sentence composed of such incoherent materials, but his lordship is more intelligible when he tells us that” with attachment to no party, though with talents to govern any party, this lively man exchanged the free air of Westminster for the gloom of the Escurial; the prospect of king George’s garter for the Pretender’s; and with indifference to all religion, the frolic lord who had written the ballad on the archbishop of Canterbury, died in the habit of a capuchin.“For this last particular, however, there appears no foundation. Lord Orford proceeds to mention that there are two volumes in 8-vo, called his” Life and Writings,“but containing of the latter nothing but seventyfour papers of the True Briton, and his celebrated speech in the House of Lords, in defence of Atterbury. But there are two other volumes 12mo, without date and with the same life as in the 2 vols. 8vo. (1731) th title of which is” The Poetical Works of Philip late Duke of Wharton aid others of the Wharton family, and of the duke’s | intimate acquaintance, &c. with original letters, novels, &c.“In this farrago are some few poetical pieces which have generally been attributed to the duke, but the greater part are by other hands, and the whole given without any apparent authority. The late Mr. Ritson had formed the design of publishing Wharton’s genuine poetry, with a life. What he prepared is now before us, but does not amount to much. He probably began the collection in his latter days. Wharton appears to have been at one time a patron of men of letters. He certainly was such to Dr. Young, who dedicated the tragedy of the” Revenge" to him, in a style of flattery which must excite surprise in all who observe the date, 1722, and know that long before that period Wharton’s character was decided and notorious. Young might perhaps blush now, and it is certain that be lived afterwards to be completely ashamed, and to suppress his dedication. 1

1 Life prefixed to his Prose Works. Biog, Brit. Park’s edition of the Royal and Noble Authors. Nichols’s Poems.