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Baron's account of the state of ancient colonies shewed much information, but did not afford either new or strong arguments; the question not being how ancient states treated their colonies, but how it was right and expedient for Great Britain to treat her colonies in the existing circumstances. A history made its appearance about this time, which, with a considerable degree of intrinsic merit, had the extrinsic advantage of being on a subject analogous to the great matter in dispute: Watson's History of Philip II. comprehending the rise, progress, and successful issue of the assertion of liberty by the Low Countries, and shewing in detail, from recent example, what Burke so frequently pressed on the attention of the house the energy with which men, even before not accustomed to war, fight in vindication of what either are or they think their rights.
Although Burke was not successful in his great object, the prevention of the American war, he exerted his powers to endeavour to
lessen its expensiveness. His details on this subject were very correct, and very important, giving a most exact account of what.. might have been spent, and what was spent ; shewing, that the Minister gave contracts, to answer parliamentary purposes, on terms much worse for Government than some would have offered. On the subject of ex pence, as on every other, he was the oracle that was consulted by his party. There might be among the Opposition several men equal to him in some things, but none in all. In close logical deduction he was, no doubt, equalled by Camden ; in precision by Dunning, in foreign information by Shelburne, in animated eloquence by Chatham ; in strength of reasoning, he, or no man, exceeded Charles Fox: but, on the whole, no man of Opposition, in either house, equalled, or nearly equalled, Edmund Burke; and if we were even to take the two ablest men away froin the Opposition during the American war; if Burke and Fox had been neutral, the balance of talents would still have been in favour of the Whig
party. In the upper house there were three men of very great talents on the one side, and one on the other. Camden had no equal among the friends of Ministry except Mansfield, whom it is evident he fully matched. in logical reasoning, although he fell short of him in graceful oratory, in fascinating and persuasive eloquence; and certainly surpassed him in the knowledge of the constitution. Chatham and Shelburne had no equals, except the same great law lord ; nor were there any of the ministerial members of the House of Commons, whom any one, that knew the history and charactent of the times, would think of placing on a footing with Chatham and Camden. But when to such men we add Burke and Fox, where were their equals to be found?
Highly as I admire the genius of Burke, yet I have repeatedly had occasion to express. an opinion, in which I find I have the happiness to concur with many admirers of that personage :--that the literary and philosophical efforts of the sage are of greater
benefit to society than his parliamentary exhibitions ; and that inore good would have accrued to the world from the exclusive exertion of his powers in discovering truth, and teaching wisdom in the closet, than in the senate. Conversing on this subject with my venerable friend, Mr. Murphy, it was with much pleasure I saw that my sentiments were sanctioned by that veteran leader in genius, taste, and erudition. · He told me that the day after Mr. Burke's first speech in the house, in 1765, an acute and able gentleman, who had been in the gallery, meeting with him (Mr. Murphy), the subject of their conversation, as that of most others in the metropolis, was the maiden speech. The gentleman in question, observed to Mr. Murphy, 'I concur in every praise that can be bestowed on the eloquent oration ; but I think Mr. Burke's talents might be otherwise applied to greater advantage.'- In what way? • Let him have an ample revenue, provided he retires from public life, and exerts his extraordiVOL. I.
nary powers in writing for the instruction of mankind.' *
Indeed, in Parliament, Mr. Burke's principal exertions were rather those of a philosopher than an active senator. Having lately studied the history of Mr. Fox more particularly than was necessary when I wrote the foriner edition, I find in his measures and conduct, during the American war, much more of the practical and active statesman ; in Mr. Burke, the law-giver and philosopher. The legislative measures proposed by Opposition, the various plans of conciliation, reform of expenditure, and other schemes founded upon vast accuracy of detail, comprehensive views, and a generalizing mind, were the offsprings of Mr. Burke's genius. Discussions of executorial plans, and their execution ; inquiries concerning specific measures and conduct, came chiefly from Mr. Fox. Mr. Burke,
* I had not heard the anecdote above recited in sufficient time to bring it in at its proper place.