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qur nature inspire; to call wicked things by their right names, whethen done by princes and statesmen, or by vulgar and more harmless malefactors, was the plan of that work. Longer experience of the world has only excited a stronger desire to see such lessons inculcated, and to help in tearing off the veil which the folly of mankind throws over the crimes of their rulers. But it was deemed better to direct the attention of the people, in the first instance, to more recent times, better knou a characters, and more interesting events. In this opinion these Historical Sketches had their origin. Pp. vii-ix.
We know not whether we are warranted to conclude from this passage, that the design originally contemplated by his lordship is yet entertained. We hope it may be soma more important service he could not render to his country, or to the general interests of the human commonwealth. Such a production composed with leisure—the slow growth of extensive research, a discriminating judgment, deep insight into human nature, and an inflexible adherence to the rules of truth, would constitute a monument more illustrious and imperishable than any which have signalized the heroes of our world.
The more important and interesting of these Sketches having already appeared in the Edinburgh Review, and been thereby familiarised to most of our readers, we are necessarily restricted in our extracts, either to the additions made to these, or to the minor sketches included in the volumes. We trust, in fairness to his lordship, that this fact will be borne in mind in estimating the character of the work from the few extracts we shall make.
Lord Chatham, as might have been expected, is a great favorite with the noble author; and the sketch furnished of his character and policy, is the warm-hearted tribute of an admiring intellect capable of appreciating the high merits of this distinguished man, without being blinded to his few defects. The administration of the first William Pitt is one of the most splendid chapters of English history. The imbecility and weakness of his predecessors had reduced the country to the lowest point of depression. Corruption at home, and defeat abroad, had engendered a state of discontent the most general and alarming. The buoyant spirit of the nation was gone. Its self-confidence was lost, and nothing appeared in prospect but accumulating disasters and irretrievable ruin. With an army insignificant, and still more ineffective; with a navy scarcely able to keep the sea, and officered by men who had eschewed the spirit of their profession; with only one ally, and that ally beset by a combination which threatened his utter and speedy destruction; with a mistrust of public men pervading every class, and hardly to be paralleled in its intensity by the experience of any former age ;—the nation appeared to have outgrown its youth, and to be rapidly tending to the decrepitude and dotage
of age. In such unpropitious circumstances the genius of Chatham was summoned by a reluctant monarch to save the state. To the astonishment of all his triumph was complete. The determination of his character, guided by a sagacity rarely at fault, enabled him not only to throw back the tide of disaster which had set in upon our shores, but to achieve a succession of victories which chastised the insolence and bridled the power of our foes. The success of his foreign administration was equalled by that of his domestic policy: confidence was restored ; the ancient courage of the people was revived; the nation renewed her youth, and prepared for a loftier and bolder flight than she had yet attempted. These services, to which the throne of George III. was so deeply indebted, may well have commanded the gratitude and lasting confidence of that monarch. But his tory prejudices were offended by the liberal policy of his minister, and the base intrigues of the court were therefore put in operation to displace the great com*moner.' Chatham retired from office the victim of royal prejudice, and every hostile court throughout Europe rejoiced at his fall.
This great man partook of our human nature. There were spots which deeply shaded the lustre of his glory, and to these Lord Brougham refers in the following passage which he has now added to the Sketch reprinted from No. 136 of the Edinburgh Review. We need scarcely remind our readers that the extract supplies merely the shading which was necessary to the accuracy of the noble portrait.
* The most severe judge of human actions, the critic whose searching eye looks for defects in every portrait, and regards it as a fiction, not a likeness, when he fails to find any, will naturally ask if such a character as Lord Chatham's could be without reproach ; if feelings so strong never boiled over in those passions which are dangerous to virtue; if fervour of soul such as his could be at all times kept within the bounds which separate the adjoining provinces of vehemence and intemperance ? Nor will he find reason to doubt the reality of the picture which he is scrutinising when we have added the traits that undeniably distigured it. Some we have already thrown in ; but they rather are shades that give effect and relief to the rest, than deformities or defects. It must now be farther recorded, that not only was he impracticable, difficult beyond all men to act with, overbearing, impetuously insisting upon his own views being adopted by all as infallible, utterly regardless of other men's opinions when he had formed his own, as little disposed to profit by the lights of their wisdom as to avail himself of their cooperative efforts in action—all this is merely the excess of his great qualities running loose uncontrolled but he appears to have been very far from sustaining the exalted pitch of magnanimous independance and utter disregard of sublunary interests which we should expect him to have reached and kept as a matter of course, from a mere cursory
glance at the mould in which his lofty character was cast. Without allowing considerable admixture of the clay which forms earthly mortals to have entered into his composition, how can we account for the violence of his feelings, when George III. showed him some small signs of kindness in the closet, upon his giving up the seals of office. • I confess, Sir, I had but too much reason to expect your Majesty's displeasure. I had not come prepared for this exceeding goodnesspardon me, sir,' he passionately exclaimed, 'it overpowers—it oppresses me!' and he burst into tears in the presence of one who, as a moment's reflection must have convinced him, was playing a part to undermine his character, destroy his influence, and counteract all his great designs for his country's good. But some misplaced sentiments of loyalty may have produced this strange paroxysm of devotion. The colour assumed by his gratitude for favours conferred upon his family and himself was of a more vulgar hue, and still less harmonized with the Great Commoner's exalted nature. On learning the King's intention to grant him a pension, (in order effectually to undo him,) he writes to Lord Bute a letter full of the most humiliating effusions of extravagant thankfulness--speaks of being confounded with the King's condescension in deigning to bestow one thought on the mode of extending to him his royal beneficence '—considers any mark of approbation flowing from such a spontaneous source of clemency as his comfort and his glory' —and prostrates himself in the very dust for daring to refuse the kind of provision tendered by the king in a man. ner so infinitely gracious,' and proposing, instead of it, a pension for his family. When this prayer was granted, the effusions of gratitude * for these unbounded effects of beneficence and grace which the most benign of sovereigns has condescended to bestow,' are still more extravagant; and he dares to hope that the same royal benevolence which showers on the unmeritorious such unlimited benefits may deign to accept the genuine tribute of the truly feeling heart with equal condescension and goodness.' It is painful to add what truth extorts, that this is really not the sentiment and the language with which a patriot leaves his sovereign's councils upon a broad difference of honest opinion, and after being personally ill-used by that monarch's favourites, but the tone of feeling, and even the style of diction, in which a condemned felon, having sued for mercy, returns thanks when his life has been spared. The pain of defacing any portion of so noble a portrait as Lord Chatham's must not prevent us from marking the traits of a somewhat vulgar, if not a sordid, kind, which are to be found on a closer inspection of the original.'- Vol. i. pp. 44–47.
We should gladly extract some of the passages which we have marked in the Sketches of Fox, Pitt, and Burke, but for the reasons already stated we desist.
A dark picture—but not more so than truth requires—is furnished in the first volume, of Frederic of Prussia, Gustavus of Sweden, and Catherine of Russia, and in a less degree of Joseph of Austria. The first of these monarchs has been most unduly
magnified, nor is it difficult to account for the fact. Ungrateful, despotic, and heartless; reckless of the feelings of others, but determined at every cost to gratify his own; affecting the character of a philosopher, yet perpetually acting the part of a king; he retained at his court a throng of servile scribes who repaid his patronage by unmerited and fulsome praise. It is to the disgrace of literature, that her votaries have been so frequently the hirelings of kings. The following summary of the charater of Frederic does not include some of its darker and more repulsive features.
• Upon the whole, all well regulated minds will turn from a minute view of this famous personage, impressed with no veneration for his character, either as a member of society, a ruler of the people, or a part of the European community. That he possessed the talents of an accomplished warrior, and an elegant wit, it would be absurd to deny, and superfluous to demonstrate. He has left us, in his victories and writings, the best proofs ; and all that is preserved of his conversation leads to a belief that it surpassed his more careful efforts. He ranked unquestionably in the first class of warriors ; nor is it doubtful that the system by which, when carried to its full extent, Napoleon's victories were gained, had its origin in the strategy of Frederic, --the plan, namely, of rapidly moving vast masses of troops, and always bringing a superior force to bear upon the point of attack. His administration, whether military or civil, was singularly marked by promptitude and energy. Whenever active exertion was required, or could secure success, he was likely to prevail ; and as he was in all things a master of those inferior abilities which constitute what we denominate address, it is not wonderful that he was uniformly fortunate in the cabinets of his neighbours. The encouragements which he lavished on learned men were useful, though not always skilfully bestowed; and in this, as in all the departments of his government, we see him constantly working mischief by working too much. His Academy was no less under command than the best disciplined regiment in his service; and did not refuse to acknowledge his authority apon matters of scientific opinion or of taste in the arts.
His own literary acquirements were limited to the belles lettres and moral sciences; even of these he was far from being completely master. His practice, as an administrator, is inconsistent with an extensive or sound political knowledge ; and his acquaintance with the classics was derived from French translations ; he knew very little Latin, and no Greek. To his sprightliness in society, and his love of literary company, so rare in princes, he owes the reputation of a philosopher ; and to the success of his intrigues and arms, the appellation of Great :-a title which is the less honourable, that mankind have generally agreed to bestow it upon those to whom their gratitude was least of all due.'
- Ib. pp. 344345. The following extract from the Sketch of Sir Philip Francis the whole of which is original-will interest those who have
watched the controversy respecting the authorship of Junius. The evidence on which Sir Philip's claim to this doubtful honor rests, is subsequently stated at length and with much clearness, by Lord Brougham. We should be glad to transcribe the whole passage but it exceeds our limits, and we must therefore confine ourselves to the following.
His education had been carefully conducted by his father, the translator of Demosthenes and Horace, two works of very unequal merit as regards the English language, though abundantly showing a familiarity with both the Latin and the Greek. The acquaintance with classical compositions which the son thus obtained was extensive, and he added to it a still greater familiarity with the English classics. His taste was thus formed on the best models of all ages, and it was pure to vigorous severity. His own style of writing was admirable, excelling in clearness, abounding in happy idiomatic terms, not over. loaded with either words or figures, but not rejecting either beautiful phrases or appropriate ornaments. It was somewhat sententious and even abrupt, like his manner: it did not flow very smoothly, much less fall impetuously ; but in force and effect it was by no means wanting, and though somewhat more antithetical, and thus wearing an appearance of more labor, than strict taste might justify, it had the essential quality of being so pellucid as to leave no cloud whatever over the meaning, and seemed so impregnated with the writer's mind as to wear the appearance of being perfectly natural, notwithstanding the artificial texture of the composition. In diction it was exceedingly pure ; nor could the writer suffer, though in conversation, any of the modish phrases or even pronunciations which the ignorance or the carelessness of society is perpetually contributing, with the usages of parliament, to vitiate our Saxon dialect. The great offender of all in this kind, the newspaper press, and perhaps most of any those half literary contributors to it who, enamoured of their own sentimental effusions and patch-work style, assume the license of using words in senses never before thought of, were to him the object of unmeasured reprobation ; and he would fling from hin such usions with an exclama. tion that he verily believed he should outlive his mother tongue as well as all memory of plain old English sense, unless those writers succeeded in killing him before his time. His critical severity, even as to the language and tone of conversation, was carried to what sometimes appeared an excess. Thus he was wont to say, that he had already survived the good manly words of assent and denial, the yes and no of our ancestors, and could now hear nothing but unquestionably,''certainly,'' undeniably,' or 'by no means,' and • I rather think not ;' forms of speech to which he gave the most odious and contemptuous names, as effeminate and emasculated, and would turn into ridi. cule by caricaturing the pronunciation of the words. Thus he would drawl out'unquestionably,' in a faint, childish tone, and then say, Gracious God! does he mean yes? Then why not say so at once like a man?' As for the slip-slop of some fluent talkers in society,