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Hervey, Baron Hervey of Ickworth
Life Span: 13th
October 1696 - 5th August 1743.
Star Sign: Libra
Famous As: English statesman and writer
Hervey was the eldest son of John, 1st
Earl of Bristol, by his second marriage and was
born at the country seat of Ickworth in Suffolk.
was educated at Westminster School and at Clare
Hall, Cambridge, where he took his M.A. degree
In 1716 his father sent him to Paris, and
thence to Hanover to pay his court to George I.
He was a frequent visitor at the court of the
prince and princess of Wales at Richmond, and
in 1720 he married Mary Lepell, who was one of
the princesss ladies-in-waiting, and a great court
beauty. In 1723 he received the courtesy title
of Lord Hervey on the death of his half-brother
Carr, and in 1725 he was elected M.P. for Bury
Hervey had been at one time on very friendly terms
with Frederick, Prince of Wales, but from '73
he quarrelled with him, apparently because they
were rivals in the favor of Anne Vane. These differences
probably account for the scathing picture he draws
of the princes callous conduct. Hervey had been
hesitating between William Pulteney (afterwards
earl of Bath) and Walpole, but in 1730 he definitely
took sides with Walpole, of whom he was thenceforward
a faithful adherent. He was assumed by Pulteney
to be the author of Sedition and Defamation display'd
with a Dedication to the patrons of The Craftsman
(1731). Pulteney, who, up to this time, had been
a firm friend of Hervey, replied with A Proper
Reply to a late Scurrilous Libel, and the quarrel
resulted in a duel from which Hervey narrowly
escaped with his life.
Hervey is said to have denied the authorship of
both the pamphlet and its dedication, but a note
on the manuscript at Ickworth, apparently in.
his own hand, states that he wrote the latter.
He was able to render valuable service to Walpole
from his influence over the queen. Through him
the minister governed Queen Caroline and indirectly
George II. Hervey was vice-chamberlain in the
royal household and a member of the privy council.
In 1733 he was called to the House of Lords by
writ in virtue of his fathers barony. In spite
of repeated requests he received no further preferment
until after 1740, when he became Lord Privy Seal.
After the fall of Sir Robert Walpole he was dismissed
(July 1742) from his office. An excellent political
pamphlet, Miscellaneous Thoughts on the present
Posture of Foreign and Domestic Affairs, shows
that be still retained his mental vigour, but
he was liable to epilepsy, and his weak appearance
and rigid diet were a constant source of ridicule
to his enemies. He predeceased his father, but
three of his sons became successively Earls of
Hervey wrote detailed and brutally frank memoirs
of the court of George II from 1727 to 1737. He
gave a most un
flattering account of the king,
and of Frederick, prince of Wales, and their family
squabbles. For the queen and her daughter, Princess
Caroline, he had a genuine respect and attachment,
and the princesss affection for him was commonly
said to be the reason for the close retirement
in which she lived after his death. The manuscript
of Hervey's memoirs was preserved by the family,
but his son, Augustus John, 3rd Earl of Bristol,
left strict injunctions that they should not be
published until after the death of George III.
Hervey's bitter account of court life and intrigues
resembles in many points the memoirs of Horace
Walpole, and the two books corroborate one another
in many statements that might otherwise have been
received with suspicion.
& Relationships: The grand
passion of hervey’s life was a wealthy and
good-looking Tory MP, Stephen Fox, later the Ist
Earl of Ilchester, and he would visit Fox’s
estate in Somerset. Until the publication of the
Memoirs Hervey was chiefly known as the object
of savage satire on the part of Pope, in whose
works he figured as Lord Fanny, Sporus, Adonis
and Narcissus (because Hervey was rather effeminate
and more than a bit camp). The quarrel is generally
put down to Pope's jealousy of Hervey's friendship
with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. In the first of
the Imitations of Horace, addressed to William
Fortescue, Lord Fanny and Sappho were generally
identified with Hervey and Lady Mary, although
Pope denied the personal intention. Hervey had
already been attacked in the Dunciad and the Bathos,
and he now retaliated. There is no doubt that
be had a share in the Verses to the Imitator of
Horace (1732) and it is possible that he was the
sole author. In the Letter from a nobleman at
Hampton Court to a Doctor of Divinity (1733),
he scoffed at Pope's deformity and humble birth.
Pope's reply was a Letter to a Noble Lord, dated
November 1733, and the portrait of Sporus in the
Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot (1743), which forms the
prologue to the satires. Many of the insinuations
and insults contained in it are borrowed from
Pulteney's libel. The malicious caricature of
Sporus does Hervey great injustice, and he is
not much better treated by Horace Walpole, who
in reporting his death in a letter (August 14,
1743) to Horace Mann, said he had outlived his
last inch of character. Nevertheless his writings
prove him to have been a man of real ability,
condemned by Walpole's tactics and distrust of
able men to spend his life in court intrigue,
the weapons of which, it must be owned, he used
with the utmost adroitness. His wife Lady Hervey
(1700-1768), of whom an account is to be found
in Lady Louisa Stuart's Anecdotes, was a warm
partisan of the Stuarts. She retained her wit
and charm throughout her life, and has the distinction
of being the recipient of English verses by Voltaire.
In 1740 hervey was appointed Lord Privy Seal and
in this position was able to fix a peerage for
Fox and made him Joint Secretary to the Treasury.
He also helped Fox with his marriage plans and
gave him a house near Green Park (not one of the
most expensive places in London).
Hervey’s last love, after Fox was hitched,
was Count Francesco Algarotti (1712 – 64)
who visited England to research the work of Sir
Isaac Newton. To Algarotti, known as “The
Swan of Padua”, he wrote “if you can
stay or if you go, do not forget me, mon cher.
I shall never forget you for the rest of my life”
The rest of his life was spent in the House of
Lords and writing to Lady Montagu. He died at
Memoirs of the Reign of George the Second.
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