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were originals of many occasional pieces of poetry written for the amusement of his friends, some of which had probably been published without his name, and cannot now be distinguished. His works, as given in this collection, were published in an elegant quarto volume (in 1777) by captain Edward Thomson, who prefixed Memoirs of his Life, in which we have found very little that had not been published in the Annual Register of 1775. The character Thomson gives of him is an overstrained panegyric,inconsistent in itself, and more so when compared with some facts which he had not the sense to conceal, nor the virtue to censure.
Whitehead's character has never been in much esteem, yet it was not uniformly bad. Those who adopt the severe sentence passed by Churchill, in these lines,
May I (can worse disgrace on manhood fall?)
Be born a WHITEHEAD and baptised a Paul.
will want nothing else to excite abhorrence; but Churchill has taken too many liberties with truth to be believed without corroborating evidence. Besides, we are to consider what part of Whitehead's conduct excited this indignation. Paul's great and unpardonable crime, in Churchill's eyes, was his accepting a place under government, and laying aside a pen, which, in conjunction with Churchill's, might have created wonders in the political world. Churchill could not dislike him because he was an infidel and a man of pleasure. In point of morals there was surely not much difference in the misfortune of being born a Whitehead or a Churchill.
How very erroneous Whitehead's life had been, is too evident from his having shared in those scenes of blasphemy and debauchery which were performed at Medmenham or Mednam Abbey, a house on the Thames near Marlow in Buckinghamshire. His noble patron, (then sir Francis Dashwood,) sir Thomas Stapleton, John Wilkes, Whitehead and others combined, at this place, in a scheme of impious and sensual indulgence unparalleled in the annals of infamy: and perhaps there cannot be a more striking proof of want of shame as well as of virtue, than the circumstance which occasioned the discovery of this refined brothel. Wilkes was the first person to disclose the shocking secret, and that merely out of a pique against one of the members who had promoted the prosecution against him for writing the Essay on Woman. In the same note to one of Churchill's poems in which he published the transactions of this profligate cabal, he was not ashamed to insert his own name as a partner in the guilt.
Captain Thomson, whose notions of right and wrong are more confused than those of any man who ever pretended to delineate a character, says that in these lines Churchill meant "to be neither illiberal nor ill natured." "One would conclude, that he had a very particular enmity to Paul Whitehead, but, to do him justice, he had enmity to no man: very few breasts ever possessed more philanthropy, charity and honour!" C.
After such an account of the indecencies practised at this place as could become the character only of the shameless narrator, captain Thomson sums up the whole in these words, which are an additional specimen of his ability in delineating moral character." Now all that can be drawn from the publication of these ceremonies is, that a set of worthy, jolly fellows, happy disciples of Venus and Bacchus, got occasionally together, to celebrate women in wine: and to give more zest to the festive meeting, they plucked every luxurious idea from the ancients, and enriched their own modern pleasures with the addition of classic luxury."-It may be necessary to inform the reader, that among their modern pleasures, they assumed the names of the apostles, nothing in whose history was sacred from their impious ribaldry. C.
That Whitehead repented of the share he took in this club, we are not told. His character suffered, however, in common with that of the other members: and he appears to have been willing to "buy golden opinions of all men" by acts of popularity, and gain some respect from his social, if he could gain none from his personal virtues. Sir John, Hawkins represents him, as by nature a friendly and kind-hearted man, well acquainted with vulgar manners and the town, but little skilled in knowledge of the world, and little able to resist the arts of designing men. He had married a woman of a good family and fortune, whom, though homely in her person, and little better than an ideot, he treated not only with humanity, but with tenderness, hiding, as well as he was able, those defects in her understanding, which are oftener the subjects of ridicule than compassion. At Twickenham, adds sir John, he manifested the goodness of his nature in the exercise of kind offices, in healing breaches and com. posing differences between his poor neighbours'.
But whatever care Whitehead took to retrieve his character, and throw ob livion over the most blameable part of his life, he unintentionally revived the whole by a clause in his will, in which, out of gratitude, he bequeathed his HEART to lord le Despenser, and desired it might be deposited, if his lordship pleased, in some corner of his mausoleum. These terms were accordingly fulfilled, and the valuable relic deposited with the ceremony of a military procession, vocal performers habited, as a choir, in surplices, and every other testimony of veneration. The whole was followed by the performance of an oratorio in West Wycombe church. The following incantation which was sung at the placing of the urn in the mausoleum, may be a sufficient specimen of this solemn mockery:
From Earth to Heaven WHITehead's soul is fled :
His Muse, concording with resounding strings,
His poems were appended to the last edition of Dr. Johnson's collection, and I have not therefore ventured to displace them. Yet it may be doubtful whether any partiality can assign him a very high rank even among versifiers. He was a professed imitator of Pope in his satires, and may be entitled to all the praise which successful imitation deserves. His lines are in general harmonious and correct, and sometimes vigorous, but he owes his popularity chicfly to the personal calumnies so liberally thrown out against men of rank, in the defamation of whom a very active and extensive party was strongly interested. Like Churchill's, therefore, his works were forgotten when the contending parties were removed or reconciled. But he had not the energetic and original genius of Churchill, nor can we find many passages in which the spirit of genuine poctry is discoverable. Of his character as a poet, he was himself
His biographer, above mentioned, calls her "a most amiable lady." She died, however, young. 9 Hawkins' Life of Dr. Johnson,
very careless, considering it perhaps as only the temporary instrument of his advancement to ease and independence. No persuasions could induce him to collect his works, and they would probably never have been collected, had not the frequent mention of his name in conjunction with those of his political patrons, and the active services of his pen, created a something like perma nent reputation, and a desire to collect the various documents by which the history of factions may be illustrated,
You feast the fancy, and enchant the ear;
Still Welstead tunes his beer-inspired lays,
Shall embrio wits thy studious hours engage,
And, like a Pult'ney, then a Brutus charm'd.
How blest, while we a British Brutus see,
Arise, my tuneful bard, nor thus in vain
• Still Welstead, .... And Ralph.] Two anthors, remarkable for nothing so much as the figure they make in the Dunciad, unjustly, on the part of Welstead, who certainly was not a despicable writer. Whitehead was afterwards very intimate with Ralph, whom he frequently met at Bubb Doddington's.-C.
' Afterwards earl of Eath.