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his mind induced him to pursue. As an orator, he was simple, elegant, prompt, and graceful. His genius was so fertile, and his reading so extensive, that there were few subjects on which he could not instruct, amuse, and persuade. He was frequently (as has justly been observed) “at once entertaining and abstruse, drawing illustrations proiniscuously from familiar life and the recondite parts of science. Nor was it unusual to hear him through three adjoining sentences, in the first witty, in the second metaphysical, and in the last scholastick.” But his eloquence derived its principal power from the quickness of his apprehension, and the philoso. phical profundity of his mind. Of this his speech on Mr. Curwen's bill [May 1809] is an eminent instance; for it unquestionably contains more moral and political wisdom than is found in any similar performance which has appeared since the death of Mr. Burke, and may be placed on the same platform with the most admired productions of that distinguished orator. In private life no man, perhaps, of any age had a greater number of zealous friends and admirers. In addition to his extraordinary talents and accomlishments, the grace and happiness of his address and manner gave an irresistible charm to his conversation; and few, it is believed, of either sex (for his address to ladies was inimitably elegant and graceful) ever partook of his society without pleasure and admiration, or quitted it without regret. His brilliant imagination, his various knowledge, his acuteness, his good taste, his wit, his dignity of sentiment, and his gentleness of manner (for he never was loud and intemperate) made him universally admired and respected. To crown all these virtues and accomplishments, it ma be added, that he fulfilled all the duties of life, the lesser as well as the greatest, with the most scrupu
lous attention, and was always particularly ardent in vindicating the cause of oppressed merit. But his best eulogy is the general sentiment of sorrow which agitated every bosom on the sudden and unexpected stroke which terminated in his death. During the nineteen days of his sickness, his hall was daily visited by several hundred successive inquirers concerning the state of his health; and that part of Pallmall in which his house was situated, was thronged with carriages filled with ladies, whom a similar anxiety brought to his door. Every morning, and also at a late hour every evening, when his physicians and surgeons attended, several apartments in his house were filled with friends, who anxiously waited to receive the latest and most accurate accounts of the progress or abatement of his disorder. This sympathetick feeling extended almost through every class, and even reached the throne, for his majesty frequently inquired concerning the state of his health, pronouncing on him this high eulogy, that “he was a genuine patriot, and a truly honest man.” Of the fatal malady which put an end to his invaluable life, such erroneous accounts have been published in the newspapers, that it may not be improper to give an accurate statement of that most distressful event. An idle story has been propagated that the hon. Frederick North, on his last going abroad, left his library and MSS. in the care of Mr. Windham, and had requested him to remove his books to Mr. Windham’s house in Pallmall; that he had neglected this charge, and thence had the stronger inducement to exert himself to save them. In all this circumstantial detail there is not one word of truth. The fact is, that on the 8th of last July, Mr. Windham, returning on foot, at twelve o'clock at night, from the house of a friend, as he passed by the cind of Conduit-street, saw a house on fire; and, with the same gallantry of spirit, which, on a former occasion, induced him to exert himself to save a part of the venerable abbey of Westminster from destruction, he instantly hastened to the spot, with a view to assist the sufferers; , and soon observed that the house of Mr. North was not far distant from that which was then on fire. He therefore immediately undertook to save his friend’s library, which he knew to be very valuable. With the most strenuous activity he exerted himself for four hours, in the midst of rain and the playing of the fire engines, with such effect, that, with the assistance of two or three persons whom he had selected from the crowd assembled on this occasion, he saved four parts out of five of the library; and before they could empty the fifth book-room, the house took fire. The books were immediately removed, not to Mr. Windham’s house, but to the houses of the opposite neighbours, who took great care of them. In removing some heavy volumes he accidentally fell, and suffered a slight contusion on his hip; but it made so little impression on his mind, that, not being apt to complain of any distress belonging to himself, in giving an account of the transaction the next day, he did not even mention this circumstance, nor for some months did he take notice of it to any friend. When he afterwards did mention it, it was in so slight a manner, that it hardly attracted any attention from those who loved him best. By this accident, however, an indolentincisted, tumour was formed in the part affected. For several months it was attended with no pain whatsoever; yet even in that state he had medical advice, and some slight applications were employed with no great effect. At length, about the beginning of May, the tumour began to increase, and in certain positions of the body, to give him some little pain; and on Vol. Iv. 3 H
mentioning these circumstances to a friend, he strongly exhorted him to have the best surgical advice. Accordingly, on the next day [the 6th of May] Mr. Cline, who had been consulted about two months before, was again called in, to view the part affected; and he then pronounced the tumour to be of such a nature, that Mr. Windham's life might be endangered, if it was not cut out. In consequence of this decision, Mr. Windham acted with the utmost prudence, propriety, and fortitude. He first consulted his own physician, Dr. Blane, who coincided in opinion with Mr. Cline. He then resolved, before he submitted to the operation, to consult six eminent surgeons separately, besides Mr. Cline. Dr. B. having previously given all of them (except one, who, it is believed, was consulted without his knowledge) an accurate account of his constitution and habit of body; and four out of the six thus consulted, were decidedly of the same opinion with Mr. Cline; that is, five were clearly for the operation, and two against it. Mr. Windham having taken these precautions, acted as every wise man would have done, and resolved to submit to the operation. And so far was he from rashness or precipitation, which have been most untruly imputed to him, that after these opinions were obtained, Dr. Bailie, whose great anatomical skill is universally acknowledged, was also consulted; and he too agreed in opinion with Dr. Blane and the five surgeons already alluded to. Here, therefore, was no choice, nor any time for that preparation, which it has been idly supposed was rashly neglected, “ from the quickness and vivacity of his decisions.” With that manly fortitude which distinguished him through life, he now prepared to submit to the requisite operation; and after making a codicil to his will, he visited his friend and contemporary at Oxford, the rev. Dr. Fisher, master of the charter-house; and as appears from one of his diaries, received the sacrament from his hands, Mrs. Fisher being the only other communicant. He bore the operation with the most heroick fortitude; and, even when the pain
was most exquisite, exhibited a vivid
proof of the strength of his mind, by a playful allusion to the language of the vulgar in similar situations. With the most kind and anxious tenderness he had taken care that Mrs. Windham, who was in the country at this time, should not have the slightest suspicion of what was going on; nor was she apprized of the operation, till, on her arrival in town, on the 18th of May, she was informed that it had been successfully performed on the preceding day. But, unhappily, very soon afterwards appearances were such as gave very little ground for hope A morbid ichor appeared, attended with a general inflammation, and with two abscesses; and the wound never suppurated. A fever ensued of course; but it was idle to suppose that this was the malady which proved fatal, it being merely symptomatick; and equally unfounded is the current opinion, that Mr. Windham’s most valuable life was sacrificed to this operation; for the tumour itself was found to be of a schirrous nature, and fully justifies the decision that was made; and the state of his whole frame shows that his death was owing to a morbid habit, and not to the operation. Had it been deferred for a month longer, it would still have been necessary; it would have been performed at a less proper time, and have been attended, meanwhile, with the most distressful circumstances. Having never been guilty of excesses in his youth, and having all his life been extremely moderate both in eating and the use of wine, that his
constitution should have been thus suddenly undermined, is most extraordinary. For several days previous to his death, he seemed to entertain little hope of life, submitting to divine Providence with perfect calmness and resignation. On the night preceding his decease, on the attending surgeon, Mr. Lynn, placing him in the most favourable situation for sleep, he said: “I thank you; this is the last trouble I shall give you.” He then fell into a doze or stupor, and the next morning [June 4] he expired with so little pain, that it was scarcely perceived when he drew his last breath. Great as his loss is to his country and to his friends, it is some consolation that he died in the full maturity of his fame, and has left behind him an imperishable reputation. In 1798 Mr Windham married Cecilia, the third daughter of the late commodore Forrest," a lady whose virtues are above all praise, and whose attainments, joined with the most amiable manners and sweetest disposition, rendered her a suitable companion for one of the most distinguished characters of his time. With what happiness their union was attended, may appear from his will, by which he has devised to Mrs. W. the whole of his estate for her life, amounting to above 6,000l. a year, with remainder to captain Lukin (the eldest son of the rev. Dr. Lukin, dean of Wells, and Mr. Windham's half brother) and the heirs male of his body. His remains were removed from his house in Pall-mall, June 8, for the family vault at Felbrigge, attended by his nephew, Robert Lukin, esq. and Edward Byng, esq. nephew to Mrs. W. The ceremony was conducted in the most private and unostentatious manner, agreeably to Mr. Windham's express desire.
* Who, with the Dreadnought, Edinburgh, and Augusta, beat five sail of the line
and three French frigates, o
Cape-Francois, and who died May 24, 1770, whilst commander in chief at Jamaica.--EDIT,
pictur'd to sight, And woods waving green, and clear streams purling bright, And huntsmen their horns seemed to sound.
Beaten gold all the ceiling’s arched sur-
The columns of stone, that encircled the cave, o
Were fraught with philosophy's lore:
In letters of gold did a sage there engrave
The prince with a lute the slow moments beguiled, Or the target was pierced by his lance; With silent observance the governour smiled At the restless aspirings that wrought in the child, And that flashed in the roll of his glance.
Hark timbrels reecho and dulcimers ring; Songs of triumph, float distant in air:
The Paladins enter: the queen and the
king; Their smiles, their embraces, their blessings they bring, The prince to his people they bear.
The sun shines in gold; the broad heavens are blue; The waves green as emerald roll; The city's bright pinnacles dazzle his view, The crowds thronging thick as the stars or the dew Oppress and bewilder his soul.
O'er the vast, floating multitude, wanders his gaze, O'er the banners, the shields, and the spears: Recovered, at length, from his dazzled amaze, The gifts, which his parents have brought, he surveys, And perplexed in his rapture appears.
There vestments of silver, and vestments of gold, Are gorgeously piled on the plain: In heaps, pearls and rubies and sapphires are rolled,
...And pictures, and statues of exquisite
mould, His choice with their beauties detain,
There stood guilded chariots, and coursers snow white With trappings of crimson arrayed: There mail, rich emblazed, glittered keen on his sight, And helms in the pomp and resplendence of light, Crested dark with the plume's nodding shade.