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"DULCE et decorum est pro patria mori," says the poet. He might have added, with equal truth, that to live for the fatherland is neither sweet nor comely. They who live for the fatherland are wont also to live on the fatherland. "Service is obligation, and obligation implies return," says Bubb Dodington, summing up in these few candid words the purpose which has inspired politicians ever since popular government was invented. Dodington, indeed, faithfully respected the ancient tradition of his craft; his example has been piously followed by those who came after him; and if we would understand the strange processes by which the destinies of our country are controlled to-day, we cannot do better than study the industrious fruitless career of him who followed the trade of statesmanship for nearly half a oentury without losing sight of quarter-day, and who finally adopted for his own Rabelais' motto: Et tout pour la trippe.
George Bubb1 was born in 1691, with five boroughs in his mouth. His father, Jere
miah, said to have been a Weymouth apothecary, was lucky enough to marry Mary, the only sister of George Dodington, a Dorsetshire squire. The good fortune of the father descended tenfeld to the son. He was brought up as became his uncle's heir, from Winchester went to Exeter College, Oxford, where he won an easy reputation as a poet, was returned to Parliament by George Dodington's own borough of Winchelsea when he was no more than twenty-three, and a year later set out for Spain as Envoy Extraordinary, that he might see the world and thus prepare for the "statesmanship" which was to be his trade. Nor was his time wasted. If he learned nothing else at Madrid, he learned, in conflict with Alberoni, the ease and value of political corruption, which solved differences of opinion far more speedily than argument ever could have done.
For George Bubb service abroad was but an interlude. After two years' sojourn at Madrid he resumed the duties of member for Winchelsea, and warmly espoused the
1 When Browning wrote a "parleying" with him, Bubb Dodington was fading into forgetfulness. The " parleying," partially intelligible, ends as a couplet, which all can understand
In 'Patriot and Place-Hunter' (London: John Lane), Mr Lloyd Sanders has gathered together all that ever need be known about this master of intrigue, and has commented upon it with the wisdom that comes of wide reading and a balanced judgment.
cause of Walpole. In 1720 the death of his unele made him the master of a large fortune and of the five boroughs, which conferred upon him, during a long life, place and influence and power. And the death of his uncle brought him something more than a ready-made position in politios: it ensured him a change of name. Henceforth he was to be known as Dodington, and the memory of Jeremiah, his offending father, should be as far as possible wiped out. Alas! the Bubb that was in him died hard. The satirists among his enemies-and his enemies were not few-did Etheir best to perpetuate it, and as Bubb, Bubo, or even Bubington, was he known until the end.
When he emerged from the chrysalis of Bubb into the butterfly (or moth) that was Dodington, he was assuredly possessed of many advantages. Wealth was his in abundance, # and the estate of Eastbury, where he spent £140,000 in finishing his uncle's house, gave him a dignity and importance which were felt far beyond the boundaries of his #own county. However illchosen his friends may have been, he had a true gift of hospitality. He delighted to fill Eastbury, and afterwards La Trappe, his famous villa at Hammersmith, with guests and sycophants, and no slur was ever cast upon the quality of his Burgundy. His taste in decoration was opulent rather than refined. He had 8 natural love of marble
pillars and columns of lapis lazuli, of oostly furniture and Greek statues. And yet even in his splendour a kind of tawdriness was always intervening, as though Bubb was still looking over the shoulder of Dodington. His own statebed, for instance, a glory of Eastbury, was surrounded by a carpet embroidered in gold and silver, which betrayed its origin from old coats, waistcoats, and breeches, by the impregnable testimony of pockets, button-holes, and loops. The breeches, turned to the purpose of ornament, were typical of his character. "See! sportive Fate," writes Pope,
"to punish awkward pride Bids Bubo build, and sends him such a guide:
A standing sermon, at each year's expense,
That never coxcomb reached magnificence."
His wit was better than his taste. His reputation for this, the rarest of all gifts, which envious Time does not preserve, is well founded upon the evidence of his foes. Horace Walpole, who had no reason to love him, admits that Lord Hervey and Dodington "were the only two he ever knew who were always aiming at wit, and generally found it," and surely the specimen, which he quotes-a translation of the motto on the caps of the soldiers of the Hanoverians, vestigia nulla retrorsum, “they never mean to go back"-is vastly to his credit. Unfortunately for his memory, his diary is utterly devoid of the one quality in which he ex
celled. He displays in it no glimmer of his wit, and being a politician he had no hint of humour. It is true that Pope dismisses him as "a half-wit." "I wonder not," he writes to Swift, "that Bubb paid you no sort of civility while he was in Ireland. He is too much of a half-wit to love a true-wit, and too much half honest to esteem any entire merit." But so sincere was Pope in his hatred of Dodington, that he shrank from his friendly approach. "I hope, and I think, he hates me too," said he, "and I will do my best to make him. He is se insupportably insolent in his civility to me when he meets me at one third place, that I must affront him to be rid of it." However, in Pope's despite, Dodington still stands among the wits, and ambitious as he was to write verses himself, he took a simple delight in the society of poets. He was constantly on the look-out for talent, and it was part of his coxcomb's magnificence to play the patron's part. There was nothing he loved so much as a dedication, and all were welcome at Eastbury who would sing its owner's praise. Sometimes his importunity met with rebuff, and one failure at least was fortunate for him. He solicited in vain the friendship of Samuel Johnson, and thus escaped an encounter which would not have flattered him. Had the two met in Boswell's presence, we should be the richer for half a dozen pages. But Dodington could never have cajoled the Philosopher with the skill of John Wilkes,
and Johnson would have tolerated his coxcombry as little as he would have borne with his inveterate Whiggishness.
If he missed Johnson, he attached to him, even in undying print, two such great men as Henry Fielding and James Thomson. Truly Fielding was not on oath when he wrote his poem, "Of True Greatness," and yet it cannot have been a happy memory to him. With a lavish hand he covered in flattery the trafficker in boroughs. Let us hope that the genius of satire came to his aid when he penned these lines
"Some greatness in myself perhaps I view;
Not that I write, but that I write to you."
This is bad enough, and the eulogy becomes grosser as it With yet is more precise. greater effrontery Fielding celebrates his patron's poems
"Yourself th' unfashionable lyre have strung,
Have own'd the Muses and their darling young.
All court their favour when by all
brother, Ned, said he
clothes had the same sort of of mind and body. He was magnificence as his houses. very fat. Horace Walpole's Wherever he went he was pointed out with the finger rather of ridicule than of respect. Chesterfield, who was quicker than any of his contemporaries to distinguish between the true and the false in life and manners, gave him an eminence in coxcombry. "With submission to my Lord Rochester," he wrote, "God made Dodington the coxcomb he is; mere human means could not have brought it about. He is a coxcomb superior to his parts, though his parts are superior to almost anybody's. He is thoroughly convinced of the beauty of his person, which cannot be worse than it is without deformity." As Walpole allows him wit, so Chesterfield allows him parts, and then confesses that "what it is difficult for him to do, he even overrates his own parts." He, in truth, was no common coxcomb. "Common coxcombs," says Chesterfield, "hope to impose upon others more than they impose upon themselves; Dodington is sincere, nay, moderate: for he thinks still ten times better of himself than he owns. Blest ooxcomb!"
The fine irony of this passage pictures us Dodington as he was. Of what use were wit and parts, if they were not protected from ridicule and contempt by judgment and discretion? Yet there was something heroio in Dodington's accepting the role of eoxcomb put upon him by Providence. He triumphed over the obstacles
So it came about that he was one of those unfortunate people whom, in Hervey's phrase, "it was the fashion to abuse and ungenteel to be seen with." In spite of his ambition and pertinacity, he had a rare gift of displeasing, a gift for which his boroughs alone were some sort of compensation. His attack upon politics was thus rendered more difficult, and yet his spirit was undaunted. At any rate, he possessed one quality which always stands a politician in good stead,-he was wholly devoid of principles, prejudices, and convictions. He called himself a Whig, as the most of his contemporaries did, and he was an apt pupil of the Devil, the first of his kind.
But had the Tories been strong enough, he would willingly have served them, and he made more than one attempt at a coalition. Backed by no principles, harbouring no opinions, he could be loyal neither to himself nor to the associates whom he could not honestly call friends. Han bury-Williams hit him off in a few lines
"To no one party, no one man,
for laying out forty or fifty shillings on Irish stuff." Not content with supporting Walpole, by a stroke of the illfortune which never deserted him, in 1726 he composed a poem in the Minister's honour, and set his devotion irrevocably upon paper. A year later he had ratted, and one unfortunate line-"in power a servant, out of power a fiend" -olung to him through all his life. Even if the world had been willing to forget it, Pope would not let it fall into obli
Nevertheless there remained vion, and at each new piece
"One-half of Winchelsea is mine,
And so's Bridgewater too;
O'er Wells I cast my shoe."
It was natural, then, that at the outset he should follow the fortunes of Walpole. He saw that Minister safely entrenched in office, as he thought, for the term of his natural life, and the hope of profit followed his inolination. He heaped Walpole with flatteries in exchange for honours and emoluments. He was made a Lord of the Treasury and Clerk of the Polls in Ireland, a pleasant sinecure which he kept until the end of his life. It is characteristic of him that on one of his rare visits to the country which gave him an income he posed as a patriot, and in the true spirit of the coxcomb arrayed himself in a suit made of Irish material. Swift was quick with the retort that "the Irish Parliament made him a present of seven or eight hundred a year
of treachery Dodington was reminded of it.
Dodington's obsequiousness to Walpole lasted until the death of George I., when he prematurely transferred his flattery, his devotion, and his boroughs to Sir Spencer Compton, whom all the world marked down as Walpole's sucoessor. Leicester House, which once seemed like a desert, was packed from morning to night, "like the 'Change at noon,' said an observer. "But Sir Robert Walpole," as Hervey tells us, "walked through those rooms as if they had been still empty; his presence, which used to make a crowd wherever he appeared, now emptied every corner he turned to, and the same people who were officiously a week ago clearing the way to flatter his prosperity, were now getting out of it to avoid sharing his disgrace." In politics it is ever the same "farewell sighing"; and Dodington was among the first to smile a