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who exclaim that they are so delighted,' or 'so shocked,' and speak of things being pleasing or hateful to a degree,' he would bear down upon them without mercy, and roar out, To what degree? Your word means any thing, and every thing, and nothing.''
-Vol. ii. pp. 90–92. Our last extract is from the Sketch of Mr. Horne Tooke, who for many years was the adviser and partisan of greatest weight 'among the high liberal party.' Standing aloof from the aristocratic leaders of the Whigs, whose policy he regarded as but little more patriotic than that of the Tories, this intrepid and upright champion of popular rights, addressed himself directly to the people, and sought to consolidate their forces, as the only effectual means of perpetuating their birthright. Amid the contentions of the two great parties which divide the State, the services of Horne Tooke have been almost forgotten; but in days which are approaching, when the interests of the many will be held paramount to those of the few, when the aristocratic will give way to the popular, and the greatest happiness of the largest number be practically admitted to be the highest purpose of human government, his name will be held in deserved esteem as one of the forerunners of so glorious an era. The following is Lord Brougham's description of his powers of oratory.
• His talents appeared not to be, at least now that he had reached a late period of life, well fitted for parliamentary debate. On the hustings he had shone with great brilliancy. Even in the warfare of the bar he was well calculated to excel. For addressing the multitude with effect he had many of the highest qualifications. Without any power whatever of declamation, with no mastery over the passions, with a manner so far from even partaking at all of vehemence that it was hardly animated in the ordinary degree of conversation, he nevertheless was so clear in his positions, so distinct in his statements of fact, so ready in his repartee, so admirably gifted with the knowledge of what topics would tell best on the occasion, so dexterous in the employment of short, plain, strong arguments, so happy in the use of his various and even motley information, could so powerfully season his discourse with wit and with humour, and so boldly, even recklessly, handle the most perilous topics of attack, whether on individuals or on establishments, that it may be doubted if any man in modern times, when the line has been drawn between refined eloquence, and mob oratory, ever addressed the multitude with more certain, more uniform success. Whoever reads the speeches at the different Westminster elections of 1790, 1796, and 1802, when he stood against both the government candidate and Mr. Fox, will at once perceive how vastly superior his were to those of the other speakers. But, as Mr. Fox was generally very unsuccessful on such occasions, this comparison would furnish an inadequate notion of his great merits in this kind. It is more material to add, that his slow, composed manner,
and clear enunciation, enabling what he said to be easily taken down, the reports which are perused convey a very accurate idea of the sin. gular degree in which he excelled. On the other hand, he was peculiarly fitted for the very different contests of forensic skill, by his learning, his subtlety, his quick and sure perception of resemblances and of diversities, which with his unabashed boldness, his presence of mind, and his imperturbable temper, made him a most powerful advocate, whether before a judge in arguing points of law, or in the conduct of the inquiry for a jury's decision. That he was wholly impregnable in the position which he took, both the court felt when its efforts to stop him or turn aside his course were found to be utterly vain, and the opposing advocate who never for an instant could succeed in putting him down with the weight of authority and of station, any more than in circumventing him by the niceties of technical lore. All that the Mansfields and the Bullers could ever effect, was to occasion a repetition, with aggravating variations, of the offensive passages; all that the Attorney-Generals could attain was some new laughter from the audience at their expense. Unruffled by the vexation of interruptions, as undaunted by power, by station, by professional experience, by the truly formidable conspiracy against all interlopers, in which the whole bar, almost filling the court on great occasions, really is in a great degree, but appears to be in a far greater degree combined, there stood the layman, rejected as a barrister, relying only on his own resources, and in the most plain and homely English, with more than the self-possession and composure of a judge who had the whole court at his feet, uttered the most offensive opinions, garnished with the broadest and bitterest scarcasms at all the dogmas and all the functionaries whom almost all other men were agreed in deeming exempt from attack, and even too venerable for observation.'
-Ib. pp. 111-113. In closing our notice of these volumes we must crave permission to say a word or two on the present position of their noble and gifted author. In perusing his Sketches of illustrious statesmen we have adverted again and again, to what will probably be said on some future occasion, when the historian comes to record the services and to delineate the political character of Henry Lord Brougham. We confess that the anticipation is not just what we could desire, and we are irresistibly impelled to express a hope, that his lordship will yet give to his position the calm review which is due alike to his own character and to the claims of a nation so deeply indebted to his past exertions. We have never suppressed our admiration of the talents and meritorious services of his lordship. These are written on the history of the age, and their memory will be perpetuated long after his decease, by the noble institutions which he has been mainly instrumental in spreading over the land. The intrepid assailant of political profligacy in the palmy days of Toryism, undaunted in spirit, unwearied in labor, exhaustless in resources ; combining beyond
any other man of his day the philosopher and the statesman-the sagacity and intellectual furniture of the former, with the promptitude, and self-reliance, and powers of debate which are essential to the former, Henry Brougham was pre-eminently fitted, in the then state of English society, to be the advocate of popular rights, and the object of a nation's praise. His return for Yorkshire was but a natural expression of the feelings with which he was regarded by all classes of the liberal constituency of the empire. His accession to office on the formation of Earl Grey's administration, removed him from his appropriate sphere. This was not seen for a time. The fact was concealed by the illustrious services which he rendered in the Upper House during the discussions on the Reform Bill; but the secret was gradually elicited, and there is now scarcely a man in the empire, be he Radical, Whig, or Tory, who does not admit it. His exclusion from the Melbourne administration on their return to power in 1835, placed the matter beyond question; while the subsequent career of his lordship has left as little doubt in the minds of all reflecting men, of his being unequal to the peculiarly delicate and trying position in which as a politician he has since been placed. Of the grounds of his exclusion the public are not informed. Rumours have, indeed, been afloat, but how far they are to be received as authority remains yet to be learnt. We trust that this chapter of secret history will not remain unwritten. Wherever the blame rests, the public are entitled to have the mystery solved, and future statesmen may, probably, gather instruction from the disc!osure. We have our suspicions, but let these pass.
It may easily be conceived, that there is an imperiousness and impatience of contradiction, a recklessness of the feelings and a contemptuous disregard of the opinions of others, about Lord Brougham, which renders it exceeding difficult for inferior men to work with him. Incomparably superior in intellectual endowments to his associates, conscious of his own great powers, and flushed with the victories he had already achieved, he may have been wanting in that deference to which aristocratic assumption deemed itself entitled, and have laid himself open to the yet graver charge of attempting to overbear or of treating with indifference the views of respectable and virtuous mediocrity. All this may be admitted, and even more than this, but something further is needed, to justify his exclusion from the ministry which his talents had adorned and his oratory so effectually served. -Such traits of character as we have noticed are deeply to be deplored. They are not the mere irregularities of genius,- to be palliated and excused; but radical defects which seriously militate against the practical worth of the talents enjoyed. There is one passage in Lord Brougham's description of Lord Chatham which could
scarcely have been penned, we are ready to think, without VOL. VI.
an inward turning of the eyema consciousness on the part of the artist that he was sketching himself as well as the Great Com
It relates to the intrigue by which Chatham was supplanted, and is as follows: There can be little doubt that this scheme was only rendered practicable by the hostility which the great Minister's unbending habits, his contempt of ordinary men, and his neglect of every-day matters, had raised against him among all the creatures both of Downing Street and St. • James's. In fact, his colleagues, who necessarily felt humbled ' by his superiority, were needlessly mortified by the constant
display of it; and it would have betokened a still higher reach ' of understanding, as well as a purer fabric of patriotism, if he,
whose great capacity threw those subordinates into the shade, and before whose vigour in action they were sufficiently willing 'to yield, had united a little suavity in his demeanour with bis
extraordinary powers, nor made it always necessary for them to acknowledge as well as to feel their inferiority.'
In the absence of more explicit information, we are led to attribute Lord Brougham's exclusion from the councils of his former associates to the very defects to which he here points attention, and on which he so justly animadverts. The case is singular, and not devoid of instruction : but, admitting all which can justly be urged on these grounds, the country is still entitled to ask why one of the earliest and most consistent, and confessedly the most able of its popular chiefs, was thrown off by his party, at a time when his services was most needed and would have proved most valuable? We wait for the reply which coming times will furnish to this query. Whether it was wise in the Whig ministers to alienate so important an ally; one who had served their party beyond all other men, and stood confessedly in its foremost rank, is now no longer a question of doubt. The parliamentary experience of recent sessions has determined the point, and the ministers themselves must see that it has done so.
It may have been right, for aught we shall say at present, to drive Achilles from their camp, but that it was eminently impolitic, and has proved most disastrous, we need use no words to show. The records of the Upper House-its debates and its votes—fully establish this.
It must not be supposed, from what we have said, that we are any admirers of Lord Brougham's recent doings. We make the confession in
very sadness of heart, but it is extorted from us, and as we have freely expressed our admiration of his talents, and tude for his former services, we now as freely give utterance,
very different feelings, to the mortification awakened by many of his recent exhibitions, in which passion has been strangely mistaken for principle, and the bitterness of a galled and mortified spirit has been thinly veiled under the guise
of patriotism. We regret, deeply regret, that another instance has been added to those previously on record, of great intellectual powers unsustained by a corresponding moral elevation; a long course of enlightened and consistent public conduct marred, if not utterly despoiled, by the predominance of one dark passion, which knows no object, and seeks no gratification, but the indulgence of its own vindictive temper. There is scarcely one of our public men, of whom we would not rather have been compelled to make this admission, than of Lord Brougham. We would rather have given up some dozen others, than have relinquished our confidence in Henry Brougham, the champion of a persecuted and murdered Queen; the unbought advocate of the martyred Smith; the zealous friend of popular education; the very personification of a nation's feelings, when, in a strain of eloquence unrivalled in modern times, he besought the infatuated members of the Upper House not to rouse 'a peace-loving, but a resolute people,' by the rejection of the Bill on which they had set their hearts.*
We do not censure his lordship for being frequently in opposition to her Majesty's present ministers, but for so conducting that opposition as to render his oratory powerless, and to awaken sympathy, rather than otherwise, for the men whose measures he has scattered to the wind. We are only giving utterance to the feeling which is all but universal among true reformers when we say, that the acrimony and vindictiveness, the obvious strugglings of wounded pride and of ungratified ambition recently exhibited by his lordship, have done more to damage his reputation, and to shake the confidence of his friends, than could have been effected by his exclusion from a dozen such administrations as now exists. Determined to make his power felt, where his aid was spurned, he has forgotten the feelings of bystanders, and the regard that was due to his own high character.
We are no admirers of Lord Melbourne's administration, and have now relinquished our last hope of them. For a time we were willing to believe-nay, we thought it certain--that their return to office would be attended with a change in their policy. We did not conceive it possible that any set of men could be found—much less any professed Liberals—to retain office, after having confessedly lost the confidence of the Lower House, unless prepared to bring their policy and their measures into better harmony with the known sentiments of their supporters. Experience, however, has taught us our error; yet we do not regret the hopes we cherished, or the public demonstrations which were made. The country has thus vindicated itself, and left the minister and his associates without excuse. The opportunity proffered them has, indeed, been lost, and history will testify
* Lord Brougham's Speeches, ii. 630.