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oratory: but it is untrue and absurd to suppose that such is the tendency of all factious disturbances of the state. If the tumults of rising states are fitted to provoke the powers of the mind, when society is in its spring, and the sentiment of patriotism awakes only to contests of emulation, and the fierce desire of glory; very different are the effects of those profligate contentions which, in the old age of a nation, are inflamed only by selfish rivalry, and those ungenerous strifes of which avarice, envy, and the baser passions, are the stimulants and fomenters.
We have alluded to the great events which met Mr. Burke at the threshold, and led bim up the steps of the temple, princeps et plane coryphæus, among the votaries of fame. Public events of less magnitude would not have corresponded with the ability of Mr. Burke as an orator and statesman. But if the times had allowed him more leisure for letters and science, the probability is, that the public stock of useful and elegant knowledge would have owed more to the genius and industry of this great man, than to all the collective faculty of his age. Something more of connected disquisition, and of consecutive labour, might have inproved the arrangement, and developed the wisdom of his productions. He would have funded a larger quantity of that floating variety of knowledge, which, consigned to the fugitive eloquence of the hour, eluded, like the Sybil's leaves, the grasp of his countrymen.
Those of his speeches which have been rendered permanent by the press, are the depositories of great intellectual treasure. But whatever lustre and expansion the speeches of Mr. Burke may have derived from his deep acquaintance with all parts of learning, his philosophy may perhaps have been a loser by the partnership. She could scarcely draw out as much as she contributed. Her domicile is the academy and the porch; she is with difficulty dragged into the contentious scene; medium in agmen, in pulverem, in clamorem, in castra atque in aciem forensem. But there is a
span in some intellects that covers attainments, which in practice seem distant from each other. Logic and metaphysics, which occupied a great share of Mr. Burke's attention, were not able to estrange his mind from the politer arts; and though these, in combination, were the favourite objects of his youth, he was determined to be found prepared if the chances of life should throw him into more active scenes,
When arrived at about the age of thirty his country claimed him. With an imagination glowing with the brightest images drawn from classic antiquity, a memory furnished with the best selected materials from every source of knowledge, ancient and modern, private and public, domestic and foreign, local and general; and a judgment fully equal to the application and control of this various accumulation, he stepped into public life, fully accomplished, completely armed, and without an equal in whatever constitutes, adorns, and consummates the statesman and the senator.
Great orators and great politicians came afterwards upon the stage, but they did not come to eclipse his glory, but rather to provoke and illustrate his excellence, and to bear testimony to the creative force of his example. We shall indulge ourselves in very few remarks upon the great parliamentary characters with whom Mr. Burke was destined to act, or to contend. Fully to comprehend his merit, it is necessary for us to view it in comparison with colemporary and surrounding excellence. Having gone a little beyond our warrant in the retrospective view which we have taken of him, we cannot stop short of this ultimate justice to his character. Ready as we are to acknowledge the eloquence of the parliamentary leaders of his time, we claim for him one distinguishing excellence, which raises his fame above comparison with modern orators: we mean the union of philosophy with eloquence. In listening to the efforts of other orators, we have felt all the sympathy and emotion of which the mind is capable-all which the rapid, the argumentative, and the persuasive, can produce on the hearer--all which solidity, pathos, or splendour, whether derived from original or assisted powers, can convey, of pleasure, wonder, or convietion, to the heart or understanding : but that profound delight which fills, invigorates, and refreshes the soul from the fountains of perennial truth, and deep-seated pbilosophy; that serious sober rapture which the consciousness of intellectual expansion, and the feeling of permanent acquisition in science, produce, are the witnesses in our bosons to the substantial superiority of Burke.
For the decoration of these solid materials Mr. Burke had within himself, or within his reach, an exhaustless store of imagery and diction. The whole classic world was in obedience to him; he had visited all its recesses, its groves, its fountains, and its divinities. It is thus that his speeches and compositions, though, for the most part, temporary and local in their leading subjects, have inseparably connected themselves with the permanent literature of his country. While his mind acquired depth and breadth from his early acquaintance with metaphysics, his taste preserved bim from its subtlety. The learning of antiquity was so wrought into the staple of his understanding, as to become his own both for use and ornament, without the pomp or impertinence of quotation. It is on this account that he is distinguishable from all those speakers and writers whose heads are full of other men's thoughts, as well by his abstinence as by his abundance.
His style is unaffected, majestic, and copious; neither rendered obscure by the density of his matter, nor florid by the luxuriance of his imagination. It has sometimes been his fate, as it was the
fate of Cicero, to be charged with being diffuse, Asiatic, and tumid. But such a criticism could come only from those who have been unequal to estimate the value of his matter, and the dignity of his manner. The mean betwixt the magna and the nimia, the plena and the tumida, the sublimis and the abrupta, the severa and the tristis, the læta and the luxuriosa, ought to be felt and understood by him who would properly appreciate the merits of Mr. Burke's writings.
We have often heard it said that Bolingbroke was his model. He was certainly very conversant with his writings at an early age, since the first production of his pen appears to have been the vindication of natural society, in imitation, and in ridicule of the philosopher's levity, insolence, and dogmatism. That he may insensibly have acquired some habits from the profound attention be paid to the works of Bolingbroke, for the sake of exposing him, is not unlikely. But we are of opinion that an original thinker never studiously copies the manner of any other. His thoughts are too impatient and independent to be kept within any prescribed course : like the salient sources of a cataract, they find a channel wherever the soil yields them a passage, or hurry along the proclivities which nature has prepared for them.
In the qualifications which we have principally touched upon, Mr. Burke was plainly superior to Mr. Fox, whose abilities were peculiarly, we had almost said exclusively, parliamentary,
We cannot hesitate to admit, that the latter was in all points and requisites the most accomplished debater that the world has produced. So vast and varied were the powers of his oratory, so astonishing his force and celerity, that though the clearest, and most natural of all speakers, he became sometimes obscure from the difficulty alone of following him. Tantus enim cursus verborum fuit, et sic evolavit oratio, ut ejus vim et incitationem adspexeris, vestigia ingressumque vix videris.
It is not difficult to apprehend the distinction between the species of eloquence in which Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox respectively excelled, however arduous it may be to express it in words. When two persons have risen so near the summit of an art, they must possess many things in common. In all essential qualities each must necessarily abound. The manner and the proportions in which these qualities are mixed, afford, by their results, the practical ground of distinction. To be full of their subject, to see it in all its bearings, to feel all its strength and all its weakness, to illumine what was dark, to raise what was low, to amplify, to condense, to inflame, to mitigate, to control the sources of persuasion, and to command the avenues to conviction, was the prerogative of each of those distinguished persons. A certain vehemence, almost irresistible, belonged to both; though the one seemed to have become irresistible by his bulk, the other by his velocity. The eloquence of either might be compared to a river; but the one was overpowering by the weight of its waters, the other by the impetus of its stream. On the one majestically rode the merchandise of the world, “opimo flumine Ganges;" the other from its crystal sources rushed precipitately down the mountain's sides, carrying fertility to the plains, giving strength and freshness to the colours of nature, and enriching our domestic soil. All that was great was collected in Mr. Burke; all that was strong was generated in Mr. Fox. To the minds of both every thing was present that the occasion demanded: but that compass of thought and knowledge which surrounds and invests a subject; which comprehends its most distant results, and, raising it above party views, exhibits all its grand relations to human nature and society, was, in an eminent degree, the advantage and felicity of Burke. In this, perhaps, he has excelled all other orators, whether ancient or modern.
It cannot be pretended that Mr. Burke was not a party man. For the greater part of his life he acted, and strenuously and cordially acted, with a particular body of men. But it is plain, that while Mr. Fox and himself were associated in opposition to the persons carrying on the business of the state, their fundamental principles and final views were wide asunder. Upon great and radical questions of constitutional policy they entertained very different opinions and maxims. Concerning the national representation, the value of religious establishments, the theory of our constitution, as recognised and settled at the revolution, and in the extent of their reverence for the usages, forms, authorities, antiquities, and prescriptive rights and duties of the government, and those who live under it, their difference of sentiment was manifest during the whole period of their political friendship. In all these things Mr. Burke was provident, calculating, mindful of the infirmity of every human agent, and the fragility of his operations; aud impressed with the danger of speculative innovations, and experiments grounded on visions of unattainable purity. Conscious that his liberty was not the liberty of low malecontents, he disdained to barter his consistency and sincerity for the acclamations of the crowd. And though sometimes an expression culpably deficient in respect for dignities and authorities may be found in his speeches, and even in his writings, yet it would be hard, and absurd in the extreme, to let these weigh against the tenor of his long political life.
The private lives of these distinguished men were at least as different as their politics. The youth of Mr. Burke was passed within the regular bounds of conjugal society, in literary intera course, in severe study, and honourable avocations. The youth of Mr. Fox exhibited the spectacle of a man living after the VOL. II. New Series.
fashion of Epicurus, and speaking in the tones of Demosthenes. And it is but due to the dignity of virtue to presume, that had the youth of Mr. Fox been passed in a manner more like that of Mr. Burke, his genius would have left tavern politics to demagogues and debauchees, and assumed that commanding eminence for which it seened by nature designed.
Mr. Burke's acquaintance with the inspired writings, and the works of the great theologians, supplied him with many lofty themes, and opened as it were a vista in his imagination, which disclosed the prospect of eternity. This source of sublimity seems not to have heen much visited by Mr. Fox, whose knowledge of christianity, as a peculiar system of doctrine, appears to have been very confined. The sketches of his character colJected by Philopatris Varvicensis from the newspapers and magazines, and the tedious diatribes of the doctor himself, not to mention the most amusingly absurd production of Mr. Trotter, and the numerous other silly panegyrics which have sprung up like funguses about the tomb of the departed statesman, have all thought it requisite to add to the list of his perfections the title of sincere christian. It is not for us to deny this title; but we may say, without offence or injustice, if we have any knowledge of the characteristics of the sincere christian, that the biography of Mr. Fox furnishes no certain evidence of his living or dying in the faith of any christian communion.
The omniscient author of the book called Philopatris Varvicensis tell us, “ that it was not for such men as Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt to spend their last breath in dying speeches and confessions they had weightier duties to perform. And Mr. Trotter, the confidential secretary of Mr. Fox, by telling us what duties of the death bed were really performed, has supplied an explanation of what this doctor in divinity means by the weightier duties of a dying.christian. Now, as we have already said in our review of Trotter's Memoirs of C. J. Fox, we presume to think, with great deference to so learned a divine, that listening to the story of Dido and Æneas, or Tom Jones, or the poetry of Swift, were not among the weightier duties of a dying christian. We protest also against this death bed coalition of Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox. The author of the preface to Bellendenus had put such a distance between these statesmen during their lives in every estimable point of character, that one could not but feel surprise at seeing them afterwards, by the same writer, approximated in their deaths. And falsely approximated—for unquestionable authority has informed us, that the great man last mentioned did make a dying confession of his faith in him who is alone able to save, and that he found no consolation in death, but in the hope of that salvation which our religion emphatically teaches us has been purchased for