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Majesty, we may reckon twenty-eight sovereigns, omitting those who died minors. Of these, eighe are esteemed princes of great capacity, viz. the Conqueror, Harry II., Edward I., Edward III., Harry V. and VII., Elizabeth, and the late King William. Now, I believe, every one - will allow, that, in the common run of mankind, there are not eight, out of twenty-eight, who are fitted, by nature, to make a figure either on the bench or at the bar. Since Charles VII. ten monarchs have reigned in France, omitting Francis II. Five of those have been esteemed princes of capacity, viz. Louis XI., XII., and XIV., Francis I., and Harry IV. In short, the governing of mankind well requires a great deal of virtue, justice, and humanity, but not a surprizing capacity. A certain Pope, whose name I have forgot, used to say, Let us divert ourselves, my friends : the world governs itself. There are, indeed, some critical times, such as those in which Harry IV. lived, that call for the utmost vigour ; and a less courage and capacity, than what appeared in that great monarch, must have funk under the weight. But such circumItances are rare; and even then fortune does at least one half of the business.
Since the common profeffions, such as law or phyfic, require equal, if not superior capacity, to what are exerted in the higher spheres of life, it is evident, that the soul must be made of still a finer mould, to shine in philosophy or poetry, or in any of the higher parts of learning. Courage and re
solution solution are chiefly requisite in a commander; jultice and humanity in a statesman, but genius and capacity in a scholar. Great generals and great politicians are found in all ages and countries of the world, and frequently start up, at once, even amongst the greatest barbarians. Sweden was funk in ignorance, when it produced Gustavus Ericson, and Guftavus Adolphus: Muscovy, when the Czar appeared : and perhaps Carthage, when it gave birth to Hannibal. But England must pass through a long gradation of its Spencers, Johnsons, Wallers, Drydens, before it arise at an Addison or a Pope. A happy talent for the liberal arts and sciences is a kind of prodigy among men.
Nature must af. ford the richest genius that comes from her hands; education and example must cultivate it from the earliest infancy; and industry must concur to carry it to any degree of perfection. No man needs be surprised to see Kouli-Kan among the Persians; but Homer in so early an age among the Greeks is certainly matter of the highest wonder.
A man cannot shew a genius for war, who is not so fortunate as to be trusted with command; and it feldom happens in any state or kingdom, that several at once are placed in that situation. How, many Marlboroughs were there in the confederate army, who never rose so much as to the command of a regiment? But I am persuaded, there has been but one Milton in England within these hundred
years; because every one may exert the talents of poetry who is pofsefsed of them; and no
one could exert them under greater disadvantages than that divine poet.
If no man were allowed to write verses, but the person who was beforehand named to be laureat, could we expect a poet in ten thoufand years?
Were we to distinguish the ranks of men by their genius and capacity, more than by their virtue and usefulness to the public, great philosophers would certainly challenge the first rank; and must be placed at the top of mankind. So rare is this character, that, perhaps, there has not, as yet, been above two in the world, who can lay a just claim to it. At least, Galileo and Newton seem to me fo far to excel all the rest, that I cannot admit any other into the fame class with them.
Great poets may challenge the second place ; and this fpecies of genius, though rare, is yet much more frequent than the former. Of the Greek poets that remain, Homer alone seems to merit this character : of the Romans, Virgil, Horace, and Lucretius: of the English, Milton and Pope : Cor neille, Racine, Boileau, and Voltaire, of the French : and Taffo and Ariosto of the Italians.
Great orators and historians are, perhaps, more rare than great poets; but as the opportunities for exerting the talents requisite for eloquence, or acquiring the knowledge requisite for writing history, depend, in some measure, upon fortune, we
cannot pronounce these productions of genius to be more extraordinary than the former.
I should now return from this digression, and thew that the middle station of life is more favourable to happiness, as well as to virtue and wisdom: but as the arguments that prove this seem pretty obvious, I shall here forbear insisting on them.
CHARACTER OF SIR ROBERT WAL POLE.
never was a man, whose actions and character have been more earnestly and openly can. vafled than thofe of the present minister, who have ing governed a learned and free nation for so long a time, amidst fuch mighty opposition, may make a large library of what has been wrote for and against him, and is the subject of above half the paper that has been blotted in the nation within these twenty years. I wish, for the honour of our country, that any one character of him had been drawn with such judgment and impartiality, as to have fome credit with polterity, and to shew that our liberty has, once at least, been employed
to good purpose. I am only afraid of failing in the former quality of judgment; but if it should be so, it is but one page more thrown away,
after an hundred thousand upon the same subject, that have perished and become useless. In the mean time, I shall flatter myself with the pleasing imagination, that the following character will be adopted. by future historians.
SIR Robert WALPOLE, prime minister of Great Britain, is a man of ability, not a genius; good-natured, not virtuous; constant, not magnanimous; moderate, not equitable *. His virtues, in some instances, are free from the alloy of those vices, which usually accompany such virtues. He is a generous friend, without being a bitter enemy. His vices, in other instances, are not compensated by those virtues which are nearly allied to them : his want of enterprize is not attended with frugality. The private character of the man is better than the public; his virtues more than his vices : his fortune greater than his fame. With many good qualities he has incurred the public hatred : with a good capacity he has not escaped ridicule. He would have been esteemed more worthy of his high station, had he never possessed it; and is better qualified for the second than for the first place in any government. His ministry has been more advanta
* Moderate in the exercise of power, not equitable in engrofling it.