Memoirs of Count de Grammont


Lady Muskerry.
Lady Margaret, only child of Ulick, fifth Earl of Clanricarde, by Lady Anne Compton, daughter of William, Earl of Northampton, She was three times married:-- 1. To Charles, Lord Viscount Muskerry, who lost his life in the great sea-fight with the Dutch, 3rd June, 1665. 2. In 1676, to Robert Villiers, called Viscount Purbeck, who died in 1685. 3. To Robert Fielding, Esq. She died in August, 1698. Lord Orford, by mistake, calls her Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl of Kildare. -- See note 149.

Miss Blague.
It appears, by Chamberlayne's Angliæ Notitia, 1669, that this lady, or perhaps her sister, continued one of the duchess's maids of honour at that period. The list, at that time, was as follows:-- 1. Mrs. Arabella Churchill. 2. Mrs. Dorothy Howard. 3. Mrs. Anne Ogle. 4. Mrs. Mary Blague. The mother of the maids then was Mrs. Lucy Wise. Miss Blague performed the part of Diana, in Crown's Calisto, acted at court in 1675, and was then styled late maid of honour to the queen. Lord Orford, however, it should be observed, calls her Henrietta Maria, daughter of Colonel Blague. It appears, she became the wife of Sir Thomas Yarborough, of Snaith, in Yorkshire. She was also, he says, sister of the wife of Sydney, Lord Godolphin. That nobleman married, according to Collins, in his peerage, Margaret, at that time maid of honour to Katherine, Queen of England, fourth daughter, and one of the co-heirs of Thomas Blague, Esq., groom of the bed-chamber to Charles I. and Charles II., colonel of a regiment of foot, and governor of Wallingford during the civil wars, and governor of Yarmouth and Landguard Fort, after the Restoration.

Prince Rupert.
Grandson of James the First, whose actions during the civil wars are well known. He was born 19th December, 1619, and died at his house in Spring Gardens, November 22, 1682. Lord Clarendon says of him, that "he was rough and passionate, and loved not debate; liked what was proposed, as he liked the persons who proposed it; and was so great an enemy to Digby and Colepepper, who were only present in the debates of the war with the officers, that he crossed all they proposed." -- History of the Rebellion, vol. ii. p. 554. He is supposed to have invented the art of mezzotinto. -- See note 151.

Lord Thanet.
This nobleman, I believe, was John Tufton, second Earl of Thanet, who died 6th May, 1664. Lord Orford, however, imagines him to have been Nicholas Tuftori, the third Earl of Thanet, his eldest son, who died 24th November, 1679. Both these noblemen suffered much for their loyalty.

Young wild boar's eyes.
Marcassin is French for a wild boar; the eyes of this creature being remarkably small and lively, from thence the French say, "Des yeux marcassins," to signify little, though roguish eyes; or, as we say, pig's eyes.

Miss Price, one of the maids of honour to the duchess.
Our author's memory here fails him; Miss Price was maid of honour to the queen. Mr. Granger says, "There was a Lady Price, a fine woman, who was daughter of Sir Edmund Warcup," concerning whom, see Wood's Fasti Oxon. ii. 184. Her father had the vanity to think that Charles II. would marry her, though he had then a queen. There were letters of his wherein he mentioned, that "his daughter was one night and t'other with the king, and very graciously received by him." -- Granger, vol. iv. p. 338.

I believe this name should be written Dongan. Lord Orford says, of this house were the ancient earls of Limerick.

Duchess of Newcastle
[Pepys, in his Diary, April llth, 1667, says:-- " To Whitehall, thinking there to have seen the Duchess of Newcastle coming this night to court to make a visit to the queen, the king having been with her yesterday to make her a visit since her coming to town. The whole story of this lady is a romance, and all she does is romantic. Her footmen in velvet coats, and herself in an antique dress, as they say; and was the other day at her own play, The Humorous Lovers,' the most ridiculous thing that ever was wrote, but yet she and her lord mightily pleased with it; and she at the end made her respects to the players from her box, and did give them thanks. There is as much expectation of her coming to court, that people may come to see her, as if it were the Queen of Sweden; but I lost my labour, for she did not come this night."]

This fantastic lady, as Lord Orford properly calls her, was the youngest daughter of Sir Charles Lucas, and had been one of the maids of honour to Charles the First's queen, whom she attended when forced to leave England. At Paris she married the Duke of Newcastle, and continued in exile with him until the Restoration. After her return to England, she lived entirely devoted to letters, and published many volumes of plays, poems, letters, &c. She died in 1673, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Lord Orford says, there is a whole length of this duchess at Welbeck, in a theatric dress, which, tradition says, she generally wore. She had always a maid of honour in waiting during the night, who was often called up to register the duchess's conceptions. These were all of a literary kind; for her grace left no children.

The uncle.
John Russel, third son of Francis, the fourth Earl of Bedford, and colonel of the first regiment of foot guards. He died unmarried, in November, 1681.

The nephew.
William, eldest son of Edward Russel, younger brother of the above John Russel. He was standard-bearer to Charles II., and died unmarried, 1674. He was elder brother to Russel, Earl of Orford.

Henry Howard.
This was Henry Howard, brother to Thomas, Earl of Arundel, who, by a special Act of Parliament, in 1664, was restored to the honours of the family, forfeited by the attainder of his ancestor, in the time of Queen Elizabeth. On the death of his brother, in 1677, he became Duke of Norfolk, and died January 11, 1683-4, at his house in Arundel-street, aged 55.

Toulongeon will die without my assistance.
Count de Toulongeon was elder brother to Count Grammont, who, by his death, in 1679, became, according to St. Evremond, on that event, one of the richest noblemen at court. -- See St. Evremond's Works, vol. ii. p. 237.

A country seat belonging to the family of the Grammonts.

He was extremely handsome.
George Villiers, the second Duke of Buckingham, was born 30th January, 1627. Lord Orford observes, "When this extraordinary man, with the figure and genius of Alcibiades, could equally charm the presbyterian Fairfax and the dissolute Charles; when he alike ridiculed that witty king and his solemn chancellor; when he plotted the ruin of his country with a cabal of bad ministers, or, equally unprincipled, supported its cause with bad patriots,-- one laments that such parts should have been devoid of every virtue; but when Alcibiades turns chemist; when he is a real bubble and a visionary miser; when ambition is but a frolic; when the worst designs are for the foolishest ends,-- contempt extinguishes all reflection on his character.

"The portrait of this duke has been drawn by four masterly hands. Burnet has hewn it out with his rough chisel; Count Hamilton touched it with that slight delicacy that finishes while it seems but to sketch; Dry-den catched the living likeness; Pope completed the historical resemblance." -- Royal and Noble Authors, vol. ii. p. 78.

Of these four portraits, the second is in the text; the other three will complete the character of this extraordinary nobleman.

Bishop Burnet says, he "was a man of noble presence. He had a great liveliness of wit, and a peculiar faculty of turning all things into ridicule, with bold figures, and natural descriptions. He had no sort of literature, only he was drawn into chymistry; and for some years he thought he was very near the finding the philosopher's stone, which had the effect that attends on all such men as he was, when they are drawn in, to lay out for it. He had no principles of religion, virtue, or friendship; pleasure, frolic, or extravagant diversion was all that he laid to heart. He was true to nothing; for he was not true to himself. He had no steadiness nor conduct; he could keep no secret, nor execute any design without spoiling it. He could never fix his thoughts, nor govern his estate, though then the greatest in England. He was bred about the king, and for many years he had a great ascendant over him; but he spake of him to all persons with that contempt, that at last he drew a lasting disgrace upon himself. And he at length ruined both body and mind, fortune and reputation equally. The madness of vice appeared in his person in very eminent instances; since at last he became contemptible and poor, sickly, and sunk in his parts, as well as in all other respects; so that his conversation was as much avoided as ever it had been courted." -- Burnet's Own Times, vol. i. p. 137.

Dryden's character of him is in these lines:--
"In the first rank of these did Zimri stand;
A man so various that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome:
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
Was every thing by starts, and nothing long,
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon;
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Blest madman, who could every hour employ
With something new to wish or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes,
And both, to shew his judgment, in extremes;
So over violent, or over civil,
That every man with him was god or devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;
Nothing went unrewarded but desert.
Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late;
He had his jest, and they had his estate:
He laugh'd himself from court, then sought relief
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief;
For, spite of him, the weight of business fell
On Absalom and wise Achitophel:
Thus wicked but in will, of means bereft,
He left not faction, but of that was left."
Absalom and Achitophel.

Pope describes the last scene of this nobleman's life in these lines:--
"In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half hung,
The floors of plaster, and the walls of dung,
On once a flock-bed, but repair'd with straw,
With tape-tied curtains, never meant to draw;
The George and Garter dangling from that bed,
Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red,
Great Villiers lies: -- alas ! how chang'd from him,
That life of pleasure, and that soul of whim!
Gallant and gay, in Clieveden's proud alcove,
The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love;
Or, just as gay, at council, in a ring
Of mimic'd statesmen, and their merry king.
No wit, to flatter, left of all his store!
No fool to laugh at, which he valued more.
There, victor of his health, of fortune, friends,
And fame, this lord of useless thousand ends."
Moral Essays, Epist. iii. 1. 299.

He died 16th April, 1688, at the house of a tenant, at Kirby Moorside, near Helmsly, in Yorkshire, aged 61 years, and was buried in Westminster-abbey.

Though this note is already long, the reader will hardly complain at an extension of it, by the addition of one more character of this licentious nobleman, written by the able pen of the author of Hudibras. "The Duke of Bucks is one that has studied the whole body of vice. His parts are disproportionate to the whole, and, like a monster, he has more of some, and less of others, than he should have. He has pulled down all that nature raised in him, and built himself up again after a model of his own. He has dammed up all those lights that nature made into the noblest prospects of the world, and opened other little blind loop-holes backward, by turning day into night, and night into day. His appetite to his pleasures is diseased and crazy, like the pica in a woman, that longs to eat that which was never made for food, or a girl in the green sickness, that eats chalk and mortar. Perpetual surfeits of pleasure have filled his mind with bad and vicious humours (as well as his body with a nursery of diseases), which makes him affect new and extravagant ways, as being sick and tired with the old. Continual wine, women, and music, put false values upon things, which, by custom, become habitual, and debauch his understanding so, that he retains no right notion nor sense of things. And as the same dose of the same physic has no operation on those that are much used to it, so his pleasures require a larger proportion of excess and variety, to render him sensible of them. He rises, eats, and goes to bed by the Julian account, long after all others that go by the new style, and keeps the same hours with owls and the antipodes. He is a great observer of the Tartar customs, and never eats till the great cham, having dined, makes proclamation that all the world may go to dinner. He does not dwell in his house, but haunts it like an evil spirit, that walks all night, to disturb the family, and never appears by day. He lives perpetually benighted, runs out of his life, and loses his time as men do their ways in the dark: and as blind men are led by their dogs, so is he governed by some mean servant or other, that relates to his pleasures. He is as inconstant as the moon which he lives under; and although he does nothing but advise with his pillow all day, he is as great a stranger to himself as he is to the rest of the world. His mind entertains all things very freely that come and go, but, like guests and strangers, they are not welcome if they stay long. This lays him open to all cheats, quacks, and impostors, who apply to every particular humour while it lasts, and afterwards vanish. Thus, with St. Paul, though in a different sense, he dies daily, and only lives in the night. He deforms nature, while he intends to adorn her, like Indians that hang jewels in their lips and noses. His ears are perpetually drilled with a fiddlestick. He endures pleasures with less patience than other men do their pains." -- Butler's Posthumous Works, vol. ii. p. 72.

[Pepys, in speaking of the release of the duke after his imprisonment in the Tower for high treason, says: "July 17th, 1667. The Duke of Buckingham is, it seems, set at liberty without any further charge against him or other clearing of him, but let to go out; which is one of the strangest instances of the fool's play, with which all publick things are done in this age, that is to be apprehended. And it is said that when he was charged with making himself popular (as indeed he is, for many of the discontented Parliament, Sir Robert Howard, and Sir Thomas Meres, and others, did attend at the council-chamber when he was examined), he should answer, that whoever was committed to prison by my Lord Chancellor or my Lord Arlington, could not want being popular. But it is worth considering the ill state a minister of state is in, under such a prince as ours is; for. undoubtedly, neither of those two great men would have been so fierce against the Duke of Buckingham at the council-table the other day, had they been assured of the king's good liking, and supporting them therein: whereas, perhaps at the desire of my Lady Castlemaine (who, I suppose, hath at last overcome the king), the Duke of Buckingham is well received again, and now these men delivered up to the interest he can make for his revenge."

Pepys also relates the following anecdote of him: -- "July 22nd, 1667. Creed tells me of the fray between the Duke of Buckingham (at the duke's playhouse the last Saturday) and Henry Killigrew, whom the Duke of Buckingham did soundly beat and take away his sword, and make a fool of, till the fellow prayed him to spare his life; and I am glad of it, for it seems in this business the Duke of Buckingham did carry himself very innocently and well, and I wish he had paid this fellow's coat well.]

Lord Arlington.
Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, principal secretary of state, and lord-chamberlain to King Charles II.: a nobleman whose practices, during that reign, have not left his character free from reproach. Mr. Macpherson says of him, that he "supplied the place of extensive talents by an artful management of such as he possessed. Accommodating in his principles, and easy in his address, he pleased when he was known to deceive; and his manner acquired to him a kind of influence where he commanded no respect. He was little calculated for bold measures, on account of his natural timidity; and that defect created an opinion of his moderation that was ascribed to virtue. His facility to adopt new measures was forgotten in his readiness to acknowledge the errors of the old. The deficiency of his integrity was forgiven in the decency of his dishonesty. Too weak not to be superstitious, yet possessing too much sense to own his adherence to the church of Rome, he lived a Protestant in his outward profession, but he died a Catholic. Timidity was the chief characteristic of his mind; and that being known, he was even commanded by cowards. He was the man of the least genius of the party; but he had most experience in that slow and constant current of business, which, perhaps, suits affairs of state better than the violent exertions of men of grea parts." -- Original Papers, vol. i. Lord Arlington died July 28, 1685 See a character of him in Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham's Works.

He sent to Holland for a wife.
This lady was Isabella, daughter to Lewis de Nassau, Lord Beverwaert, son to Maurice, Prince of Orange, and Count Nassau. By her, Lord Arlington had an only daughter, named Isabella, who married, August 1, 1672, Henry, Earl of Euston, son to King Charles II., by Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland, created afterwards Duke of Grafton; and, after his death, to Sir Thomas Hanmer, Bart. She assisted at the coronation of King George I., as Countess of Arlington, in her own right, and died February 7, 1722-3

Hamilton was, of all the courtiers, the best qualified, &c.
Lord Orford says, this was George Hamilton; but it evidently refers to James Hamilton, the eldest brother, already mentioned at p. 107 and note 50. The whole of the adventures in this book in which the Hamiltons are introduced, evidently relate but to two, James and George; what belongs to each is most clearly and distinctly pointed out by the author.

She was daughter to the Duke of Ormond.
And second wife of the Earl of Chesterfield. She survived the adventures here related a very short time, dying in July, 1665, at the age of twenty-five years.

The queen was given over by her physicians.
This happened in October. 1663. Lord Arlington, in a letter to the Duke of Ormond, dated the 17th of that month, says, "the condition of the queen is much worse, and the physicians give us but little hopes of her recovery: by the next you will hear she is either in a fair way to it, or dead: to-morrow is a very critical day with her: God's will be done. The king coming to see her this morning, she told him she willingly left all the world but him; which hath very much afflicted his majesty, and all the court with him." -- Brown's Miscellanea Aulica, 1702, p. 306.

The Thames washes the sides of a large though not a magnificent palace
This was Whitehall, which was burnt down, except the banqueting-house, 4th January, 1698. -- See Harleian Miscellany, vol. vi. p. 367.

Monsieur de Comminge.
This gentleman was ambassador in London, from the court of France, during the years 1663, 1664, and 1665. Lord Clarendon, speaking of him, describes him as something capricious in his nature, which made him hard to treat with, and not always vacant at the hours himself assigned; being hypochondriac, and seldom sleeping without opium. -- Continuation of Clarendon's Life, p. 263.

Hyde Park, every one knows, is the promenade of London.
The writer already quoted gives this description of the entertainments of this place, at this period:--

"I did frequently, in the spring, accompany my lord N---- into a field near the town, which they call Hide Park; the place not unpleasant, and which they use as our Course; but with nothing of that order, equipage, and splendour; being such an assembly of wretched jades, and hackney coaches, as, next a regiment of carr-men, there is nothing approaches the resemblance. This parke was (it seemes) used by the late king and nobility for the freshness of the air, and the goodly prospect; but it is that which now (besides all other excises) they pay for here, in England, though it be free in all the world besides; every coach and horse which enters buying his mouthful, and permission of the publicane who has purchased it; for which the entrance is guarded with porters and long staves." -- A Character of England, as it was lately presented to a Nobleman of France, 12mo. 1659, p. 54.

Coaches with glasses.
Coaches were first introduced into England in the year 1564. Taylor, the water poet (Works, 1630, p. 240), says, -- "One William Boonen, a Dutchman, brought first the use of coaches hither; and the said Boonen was Queen Elizabeth's coachman; for, indeed, a coach was a strange monster in those days, and the sight of them put both horse and man into amazement." Dr. Percy observes, they were first drawn by two horses, and that it was the favourite Buckingham, who, about 1619, began to draw with six horses. About the same time, he introduced the sedan. The Ultimum Vale of John Carleton, 4to. 1663, p. 23, will, in a great measure, ascertain the time of the introduction of glass coaches. He says, "I could wish her (i.e. Mary Carleton's) coach (which she said my lord Taff bought for her in England, and sent it over to her, made of the new fashion, with glasse, very stately; and her pages and acquies were of the same livery), was come for me," &c. For further information on the history of coaches, see that very interesting work Beckmann's History of Inventions, new edition, in Bohn's Standard Library.

The Prince of Condé besieged Lerida.
This was in 1647. Voltaire says "he, Condé, was accused, upon this occasion, in certain books, of a bravado, in having opened the trenches to the music of violins; but these writers were ignorant that this was the custom of Spain." -- Age of Lewis XIV., chap. 2.

NOTE 100
Marshal de Grammont.
Anthony, maréchal of France. He appears to have quitted the army in 1672. "Le Due de la Feuillade est colonel du regiment des gardes sur la demission volontaire du Maréchal de Grammont." -- Henault's History of France. He died 1678.

NOTE 101
Description of Lord Chesterfield.
Philip, the second Earl of Chesterfield. He was constituted, in 1662, lord-chamberlain to the queen, and colonel of a regiment of foot, June 13, 1667. On November 29, 1679, he was appointed lord-warden and chief-justice of the king's forests on this side Trent, and sworn of the privy-council, January 26, 1680. On November 6, 1682, he was made colonel of the third regiment of foot, which, with the rest of his preferments, he resigned on the accession of James II. He lived to the age of upwards of 80, and died, January 28, 1713, at his house in Bloomsbury-square.

NOTE 102
The Duke of York's marriage.
The material facts in this narrative are confirmed by Lord Clarendon. -- Continuation of his Life, p. 33. It is difficult to speak of the persons concerned in this infamous transaction without some degree of asperity, notwithstanding they are, by a strange perversion of language, styled, all men of honour.

NOTE 103
Lady Carnegy.
Anne, daughter of William, Duke of Hamilton, and wife of Robert Carnegy, Earl of Southesk.

NOTE 104
Afterwards Duke of Tyrconnel. See note on p. 98.

NOTE 105
The traitor Southesk meditated a revenge.
Bishop Burnet, taking notice of the Duke of York's amours, says, "A story was set about, and generally believed, that the Earl of Southesk, that had married a daughter of the Duke of Hamilton, suspecting some familiarities between the duke and his wife, had taken a sure method to procure a disease to himself, which he communicated to his wife, and was, by that means, sent round till it came to the duchess. Lord Southesk was, for some years, not ill pleased to have this believed. It looked like a peculiar strain of revenge, with which he seemed much delighted. But I know he has, to some of his friends, denied the whole of the story very solemnly." -- Burnet's Own Times, vol. i. p. 395, Oxford, 1823. It is worthy of notice, that the passage in the text was omitted in most editions of Grammont, and retained in that of Strawberry-hill, in 1772.

NOTE 106
Lady Robarts.
Lord Orford says, this lady was Sarah, daughter of John Bodville, of Bodville Castle, in Caernarvonshire, wife of Robert Robarts, who died in the lifetime of his father, and was eldest son of John, Earl of Radnor. This, however, may be doubted. There was no Earl of Radnor until the year 1679, which was after the date of most, if not all the transactions related in this work; consequently, no other person, who could be called Lord Robarts, than John, the second lord, who was created Earl of Radnor, with whose character several of the qualities here enumerated, particularly his age, moroseness, &c., will be found to agree. Supposing this to be admitted, the lady will be Isabella, daughter of Sir John Smith, knight, second wife of the above John, Lord Robarts, whose character is thus portrayed by Lord Clarendon: -- "Though of a good understanding, he was of so morose a nature, that it was no easy matter to treat with him. He had some pedantic parts of learning, which made his other parts of judgment the worse. He was naturally proud and imperious, which humour was increased by an ill education; for, excepting some years spent in the inns of court, he might very justly be said to have been born and bred in Cornwall, When lord deputy in Ireland, he received the information of the chief persons there so negligently, and gave his answers so scornfully, that they besought the King that they might not be obliged to attend him any more: but he was not a man chat was to be disgraced and thrown off without much inconvenience and hazard. He had parts, which, in council and parliament, were very troublesome; for, of all men alive, who had so few friends, he had the most followers. They who conversed most with him knew him to have many humours which were very intolerable; they who were but little acquainted with him took him to be a man of much knowledge, and called his morosity gravity." -- Continuation of Clarendon, p. 102.

NOTE 107
The Earl of Bristol.
George Digby. The account here given of the practices of this nobleman receives confirmation from Lord Clarendon, who observes of him, "that he had left no way unattempted to render himself gracious to the king, by saying and doing all that might be acceptable unto him, and contriving such meetings and jollities as he was pleased with." -- Continuation of his Life, p. 208. Lord Orford says of him, that "his life was one contradiction. He wrote against popery, and embraced it; he was a zealous opposerof the court, and a sacrifice to it; was conscientiously converted in the midst of his prosecution of Lord Strafford, and was most unconscientiously a prosecutor of Lord Clarendon. With great parts, he always hurt himself and his friends; with romantic bravery, he was always an unsuccessful commander. He spoke for the Test Act, though a Roman Catholic, and addicted himself to astrology on the birth-day of true philosophy." -- Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, vol. ii. p. 25. The histories of England abound with the adventures of this inconsistent nobleman, who died, neither loved nor regretted by any party, in the year 1676.

NOTE 108
Sir John Denham.
That Sir John Denham "had passed his youth in the midst of those pleasures which people at that age indulge in without restraint," all his biographers seem to admit; but, if our author is to be relied on, Wood's account of the date of his birth, 1615, must be erroneous. He was not loaded with years when he died, if that statement is true; and so far from being seventy-nine when he married Miss Brook, he had not attained the age of more than fifty-three when he died. In this particular, I am inclined to doubt the accuracy of Wood, who omits to mention that Sir John had a former wife, by whom he had a daughter. In the year 1667, he appears to have been a lunatic, either real or feigned. Lord Lisle, in a letter to Sir William Temple, dated September 26th, says,-- "Poor Sir John Denham is fallen to the ladies also. He is at many of the meetings at dinners, talks more than ever he did, and is extremely pleased with those that seem willing to hear him, and, from that obligation, exceedingly praises the Duchess of Monmouth and my Lady Cavendish. If he had not the name of being mad, I believe, in most companies, he would be thought wittier than ever he was. He seems to have few extravagancies besides that of telling stories of himself, which he is always inclined to. Some of his acquaintance say, that extreme vanity was the cause of his madness, as well as it is an effect." -- Temple's Works, vol. i. p. 484. In Butler's Posthumous Works, vol. ii. p. 155, is an abuse of Sir John Denham, under the title of "A Panegyric upon his recovery from his madness." Sir John died 19th March, 1668, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

[Aubrey relates the following anecdotes of him:-- "I have heard Mr. Joseph Howe say that he was the dreamingest young fellow; he never expected such things from him as he hath left the world. When he was at Trinity College, Oxford, he would game extremely; when he had played away all his money, he would play away his father's wrought caps with gold. (His father was Sir John Denham, one of the Barons of the Exchequer; he had been one of Lords Justices in Ireland.) From Trinity College he went to Lincoln's Inn, where (as Judge Wadham Wyndham, who was his countryman, told me) he was as good a student as any in the house. Was not supposed to be a wit. At last, viz. 1640, his play of 'The Sophe' came out, which did take extremely. Mr. Edmund Waller said then of him, that he broke out like the Irish Rebellion -- threescore thousand strong, when nobody suspected it. He was much rooked by gamesters, and fell acquainted with that unsanctified crew to his ruin. His father had some suspicion of it, and chid him severely; whereupon his son John (only child) wrote a little Essay, printed in 8vo., 'Against Gaming,' to shew the vanities and inconveniences of it, which he presented to his father, to let him know his detestation of it; but shortly after his father's death (who left 2,000 or 1,500 lib. in ready money, two houses well furnished, and much plate), the money was played away first, and next the plate was sold. I remember, about 1646, he lost 200 lib. one night at New Cut. Miss Brooks was his second wife, a very beautiful young lady, Sir John being ancient and limping. The Duke of York fell deeply in love with her, and this occasioned Sir John's distemper of madness, which first appeared when he went from London to see the famous free-stone quarries at Portland, in Dorset. When he came within a mile of it, he turned back to London again, and would not see it; he went to Hounslow, and demanded rents of lands he had sold many years before; went to the king and told him he was the Holy Ghost; but it pleased God that he was cured of this distemper, and wrote excellent verses, particularly on the death of Mr. Abraham Cowley, afterwards. One time, when he was a student of Lincoln's Inn, having been merry at the tavern with his comrades, late at night, a frolic came into his head, to get a plasterer's brush and a pot of ink, and blot out all the signs between Temple Bar and Charing Cross, which made a strange confusion the next day, and it was in Term time. But it happened that they were discovered, and it cost him and them some moneys. This I had from R. Estcourt, Esq., that carried the ink-pot. ' In the time of the civil wars, George Withers,. the poet, begged Sir John Denham's estate of the Parliament, in whose cause he was a captain of horse. It happened that G. W. was taken prisoner, and was in danger of his life, having written severely against the king, &c. Sir John Denham went to the king, and desired his Majesty not to hang him, for that whilst G. W. lived, he should not be the worst poet in England."]

Previous Next

Memoirs of Count Grammont