Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
The Character of Bolingbroke
By John, Lord Hervey (1696–1743)
From Memoirs of Reign of George II.

AS to Lord Bolingbroke’s general character, it was so mixed that he had certainly some qualifications that the greatest men might be proud of, and many which the worst would be ashamed of: he had fine talents, a natural eloquence, great quickness, a happy memory, and very extensive knowledge; but he was vain, much beyond the general run of mankind, timid, false, injudicious, and ungrateful; elate and insolent in power, dejected and servile in disgrace: few people ever believed him without being deceived, or trusted him without being betrayed: he was one to whom prosperity was no advantage, and adversity no instruction: he had brought his affairs to that pass that he was almost as much distressed in his private fortune as desperate in his political views, and was upon such a foot in the world that no king would employ him, no party support him, and few particulars defend him; his enmity was the contempt of those he attacked, and his friendship a weight and reproach to those he adhered to. Those who were most partial to him could not but allow that he was ambitious without fortitude, and enterprising without resolution; that he was fawning without insinuation, and insincere without art; that he had admirers without friendship, and followers without attachment; parts without probity, knowledge without conduct, and experience without judgment. This was certainly his character and situation; but since it is the opinion of the wise, the speculative, and the learned, that most men are born with the same propensities, actuated by the same passions, and conducted by the same original principles, and differing only in the manner of pursuing the same ends, I shall not so far chime in with the bulk of Lord Bolingbroke’s contemporaries as to pronounce he had more failings than any man ever had; but it is impossible to see all that is written, and hear all that is said of him, and not allow that if he had not a worse heart than the rest of mankind, at least he must have had much worse luck.

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