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this spot had some share in storing which was probably true, in the up those treasures of brightness and sense of a taste for desultory read. beauty, that love for solemn and ing. Leland, then one of the tutors, lofty thoughts, which characterised always admitted that he displayed in subsequent life the spirit of this ability, but, from his retired habits, extraordinary man.
was unlikely to solicit public disFrom wandering among the hills tinction. This also is probably true. and streams of this romantic coun- The evident fact, on all authorities, try, of which the acknowledged pic. is, that while in College, he was a liture still lives in the “ Fairy Queen," terary lounger, satisfied with going Burke was transferred in his twelfth through the routine of the required year to a school, kept by an intelli- exercises, but enjoying himself only gent Quaker at Ballytore, between over novels and newspapers, plays twenty and thirty miles from Dub- and travels, and the general miscellin. The opinion then formed of laneous publications of the day; a him was not unlike that which we style of reading ruinous to all the might conceive from his later career. direct objects of University life, and He was fond of acquiring great di- which nothing but the painful exerversity of knowledge, evinced a re- tions of many an after year, even markable quickness of apprehension, with the most powerful abilities, can and delighted in the display of me. retrieve, but which utterly confuses mory. He read many of the old ro- and dilapidates inferior talents, hamances of chivalry, and much history bituates the mind to frivolous and and poetry. His habits were almost diffuse expenditures of thought and sedentary, but he was gentle, good time, generates all the gossiping and natured, and willing to assist and much of the vice of society, and fills oblige. In a debate, in 1780, after the professions with unemployed the riots, Burke adverted to his edu- barristers, unlearned clergymen, and cation under the roof of the quaker, bobbling physicians. Let no man Abraham Shackleton. “I have been sanction his disregard of the pecueducated,” said he," as a Protestant liar line of effort pointed out to him of the Church of England, by a dissen- by the University, under the examter, who was an honour to bis sect, ple of Burke, unless he can atone though that sect was considered one for his folly by the mind of Burke. of the purest. Under his eye I have And let no man look with negliread the Bible, morning, noon, and gence on the prospects opened out night, and have ever since been the to manly and well-directed exertion happier and better man for such in Universities, unless he is prepared reading. I afterwards turned my to begin life anew when he has passattention to the reading of all the ed without the walls of those noble theological publications on all sides, institutions; turn that career into a which were written with such won- lottery, which might have been a derful ability in the last and present certainty; and prepare himself to centuries. But finding at length that encounter that long period of anxisuch studies tended to confound and ety, toil, defeated hope, and perhaps bewilder rather than enlighten, I bitter despair, which must intervene dropped them, embracing and hold. before he can break through the baring fast a firm faith in the Church riers of professional success, and of England."
pioneer his way through the rugged Burke was sent to the Dublin Uni- ascents and desolate bleaknesses that versity in 1743. There he acquired no lie before even the most gifted and particular distinction. In his third gallant adventurer. Yet, in the imyear he became “a scholar of the mediate instance of the Irish Univerhouse," an honour obtained with- sity, it is unfortunate that the
matheout much difficulty, after an exami- matical sciences form the chief source nation in the classical course of the of distinction ;-unfortunate for the College; and probably one of the double reason, that they are not the premiums at the general examina- best teachers of a national mind, and tions of the students. On the whole, that they are most peculiarly unpahe appears to have been either indo- latable to the prominent tastes of the lent, or adverse to the course of read- Irish mind. The country of Berkeley ing pursued in the Irish University. cannot be suspected of wanting any Goldsmith speaks of him as an idler; acuteness that may be requisite for the more exact sciences; but still been chiefly augmented in Europe, unquestionably the finest efforts of and while she gives the tribute of the national faculties have taken a enlightened and willing homage to different direction. Poetry, elo- the memory of her orators, poets, and quence, vigorous dissertation in the statesmen, her Burkes, Goldsmiths, sciences of politics, morals, theology, Swifts, Sheridans, and the long line and history, have been the favourite of eminent men who have made her triumphs of the Irish mind. The in- name synonymous with all that is dications of natural power in those brilliant, vivid, and vigorous in the pursuits ought to have guided the human mind, let her throw the whole system of the University, and to the force of her collegiate system into extent of largely abandoning the bar. the formation of characters fitted to ren toils of mathematics; a science sustain their office, and render their in which not one Irishman out of mil- services to the empire. lions has ever sought or obtained Some slight records of Burke's li. distinction; a science which, from terary predilections at this period its abstractions, should make the remain. Shakspeare, Addison, Le very smallest portion of a national Sage, Smollett, and Fielding, were course of instruction ; a science his frequent perusal, as they were too, in which, from its peculiar- that of every man of his time. He ity, no individual who is not born praised Demosthenes as the first of with an actual and peculiar adapta- orators, declared Plutarch to be the tion of mind for its study, will ever pleasantest reading in the whole make a productive progress; and a range of Memoirs, preferred the science, too, which in its general use Greek historians to the Latin, and is not merely infinitely below all was attracted by Horace and enathose pursuits which cultivate either moured of Virgil. So far there was the head or the heart for public or nothing singular in his tastes. He private life, but tending absolutely thought as all the world has thought to repress and repel the faculties for these two thousand years. But given for the fulfilment of our duties he also preferred Euripides, in all to society. Of all men, the man least his tameness, to the simple vigour of fitted for a large and liberal view of Sophocles; professed bis admiration things, is the mathematician. Of all of Lucretius, desultory and didactic men, the man most incapable of be- as he is; and even ventured to speak ing reached by any reasoning which of the Æneid, in all its dreary landoes not come in the shape of his guor, perhaps the most inanimate science, is the mathematician. Of poem that ever diffused itself from all men, the most tardy proficient the pen of a real poet, as superior in all the sciences which treat of to the Iliad, of all the works of poethe probabilities of human con- try, the most various, vigorous, and duct, of facts not directly before natural,—the model of living descripthe eye, and of principles not disco- tion, noble sentiment, and mingled verable in curves and right lines, is strength and splendour of character. the mathematician. What nation On those points he might assert his would choose the mere mathemati. full claim to singularity. But those cian for its guide in the intricacies were the opinions of a boy, proud of politics, in the difficulties or the and pleased with the first perception doctrines of religion, in the emergen- of deciding for himself, the first uncies which demand the perspicuous fettered plunge into the wilderness understanding and the animating of criticism. He afterwards grew tongue ? Yet politics and religion are wiser as he grew calm. the great concerns of the present But, even in bis immature age, he world and the future. The value of badlargelyformed the taste for which the exact sciences is indisputable. he was subsequently so distinguishBut the primary object of all insti. ed. Milton's richness of language, tutes for public education should be boundless learning, and scriptural public duty. No University, as such, grandeur of conception, were the teaches the professions; law and phy- first and last themes of his applause. sic are left to their peculiar schools, Young, from whose epigrammatic or are at best but branches and addi- labour of expression, and clouded tions to the general course. Let Ire- though daring fancy, modern taste land reflect, by whom bas her glory shrinks, was a favourite in Burke's day, and Burke followed the public phical turn of his mind, are strikingopinion, and satisfied himself that he jy evinced in a correspondence was cultivating his mind by com- which he held with an Irish friend. mitting a large portion of the dreamy He remarks on his passage to the reveries of the Night Thoughts to metropolis—“The prospects could memory. He also wrote some trans- not fail to attract the attention of lations of the Latin poets, and some the most indifferent; country seats original verses, which exhibiting his sprinkled round me on every side, command of rhyme, exhibit nothing some in the modern taste, some in more.
the style of old De Coverley Hall, all Burke's profession was naturally smiling on the neat but humble cotmarked out by that of his father. In tage. Every village as neat and comIreland, where no man is contented pact as a bee-hive, resounding with with bis own rank, the son of a thri. the busy hum of industry, and inns ving attorney is universally design- like palaces." ed for the bar. Burke put his name He then sketches the metropolis, on the list of the future dispensers intelligently, yet with the ambitious of justice in that country of lawyers, and antithetical touch of clever inexIreland. But, by a custom of the perience—“The buildings are very Irish bar at that time, he also enter- fine, it may be called the Pink of Vice. ed himself of the Middle Temple in But its hospitals and charitable inLondon, a measure now unnecessary stitutions, whose turrets pierce the for the call to the Irish bar, but still skies, like so many electrical congenerally adopted, for its advantages ductors, avert the wrath of Heaven. in acquainting the student with the Her inhabitants may be divided into habits of the English bar, and in al- two classes, the undoers and the unlowing the advocate to transfer him- done! An Englishman is cold and self to English practice whenever distant at first; he is cautious even in circumstances should induce him to forming an acquaintance; he must leave the Irish Courts for Westmin. know you well before he enters into ster Hall. Burke arrived in London friendship with you; but if he does, in 1750. It is remarkable that he he is not the first to dissolve the had already, in some degree, formed sacred bond ; in short, a real Englishthe political views which character. man is one who performs more than ised the most eininent and conclu- he promises; in company, he is rather ding period of his life; thus the fea- silent; extremely prudent in his extures of bis mind, like the features pressions, even in politics, his favourof the body, returned only to their ite topic. The women are not quite first expression, and shewed that so reserved, they consult their glasses his politics were his nature. While to the best advantage, and as nature but a student in the University, he is very liberal in ber gifts to their had been roused, by his indignation at persons, and even to their minds, it fictitious patriotism, to write a pam. is not easy for a young man to escape phlet against Brooke, the author of their glances, or to shut his ears to that much - praised, but infinitely their softly flowing accents. childish romance, the Fool of Qua- “ As to the state of learning in this lity, who aspired to the name of a city, you know I have not been long popular champion, on the credit of enough in it to form a proper judghaving composed an insolent and ab- ment of the subject. i don't think, surd tragedy. His second tribute to however, there is as much respect good order was a letter to Dr Lucas, paid to a man of letters on this side a man who bustled himself into im- of the water, as you imagine. I don't portance with the mob of the ne- find that genius, the rath primrose, tropolis, and after a life of clamour, that forsaken dies,' is patronised by faction, and persevering folly, of the any of the nobility. So that writers demand of rights that were worth of the first talents are left to the nothing, and the complaint of wrongs capricious patronage of the public." that existed only in his own brain, All this is like the letter of any died in the odour of rabble sanctity, other lively observer. But the pasleaving his debts and his family as sage which follows, vindicates itself his bequest to popular benefaction. as the property of Burke. “Notwith
The observant spirit, and philoso- standing discouragement, literature is cultivated in a high degree-Poetry were so many monuments of folly. raises her enchanting voice to Hea- I don't think so. What useful lesven-History arrests the wings of time sons of morality and sound philosoin his flight to the gulf of oblivion- phy do they not exhibit! When the Philosophy, the queen of arts, and bighborn beauty surveys her face in the daughter of Heaven, is daily ex- the polished Parian, though dumb the tending her intellectualempire-Fan- marble, yet it tells her that it was cy sports on airy wing, like a meteor placed to guard the remains of as fine on the bosom of a summer cloud- a form, as fair a face as her own. and even Metaphysics spins her cob- They shew, besides, how anxious we webs and catches some flies.” His are to extend our loves and friendjudgment of that great scene, in which ships beyond the grave, and to snatch he was so early and so long to be dis- as much as we can from oblivion, such tinguished, is curious. “The House is our natural love of immortality. of "Commons not upfrequently ex. But it is here that letters obtain their hibits explosions of eloquence, that noblest triumph; it is here that the rise superior to those of Greece and swarthy daughters of Cadmus may Rome, even in their proudest days. hang their trophies on high.
For Yet, after all, a man will make more when all the pride of the chisel, and by the figures of arithmetic than the the pomp of heraldry, yield to the figures of rhetoric, unless he can get silent touches of time, a single line, into the trade wind, and then he may a half worn out inscription, remain sail secure over the Pactolean sands." faithful to their trust. Blest be the
He then touches on the stage, which, man who first introduced these like every worshipper of the tradi- strangers into our islands, and may tional excellence of the drama, he con- they never want protection or merit. cludes to have fallen off utterly from I have not the least doubt, that the its original merits, a complaint re- finest poem in the English language, newed in every succeeding age, and I mean Milton's Il Penseroso, was probably with much the same forget- composed in the long resounding fulness of the true state of the
former. aisle of a mouldering cloister or ivyed Weare to remember, too, that Burke's abbey. Yet, after all, do you know lamentation was in the days of Gar- that I would rather sleep in the southrick, Barry, Mrs Yates, and a whole ern corner of a little country churchgalaxy of first-rate performers ; sus- yard, than in the tomb of the Caputained by the activity, if not the ta- lets ? I should like, however, that lents, of such dramatists as Murphy, my dust should mingle with kindred the elder Colman, Farquhar, and a dust. The good old expression, 'falong list of ingenious men, who kept mily burying-ground,' bas something the stage in continued exertion, and pleasing in it, at least to me.". whose labours, in not a few instances, At this period of his life he apstill survive for the pleasure and in- pears to have spent some time in terest of posterity. "As for the stage, rambling through England, for his it is sunk, in my opinion, to the lowest recovery from a tendency to con. degree; I mean with regard to the sumption, and to have lingered away trash that is exhibited on it. But I don't the rest of his hours in desultory attribute this to the taste of the au- reading. In this way he passed, or dience, for when Shakspeare warbles perhaps wasted, the years from 1750 his native woodnotes, the boxes, pit, to 1753. But such a mind must have and gallery are crowded, and the gods had many misgivings in such a course, are true to every word, if properly and he was at length stimulated to winged to the heart.” The whole let. effort, by hearing that the Professorter is a striking picture of his feelings ship of logic in Glasgow was vacant; on the subjects of most natural im- and on this prospect he set his heart. pressiveness to a young and suscepti. The founder, or at least the earliest ble mind. “Soon after my arrival in ornament, of the metaphysical school town, I visited Westminster Abbey. of Scotland, was an Irishman, Francis The moment I entered, I felt a kind Hutcheson. This circumstance might of awe pervade my mind, which I have appeared to Burke as some encannot describe; the very silence couragement to an attempt, whose seemed sacred. * * * Some would immediate motives, whether want of imagine that all those monuments money, want of occupation, or thirst
of Scottish celebrity, must now be had given, from youth to age, the unsought for in vain. The attempt it- happy example of genius rendered self has been disputed; but it is fully useless, rank degraded, and opporestablished in evidence, that in 1752, tunities thrown away. Gifted with or 1753, he was a candidate for the powers which might have raised or chair of Logic in Glasgow, and fortu. sustained the fortunes of empire, his nately for his own renown, and the youth was distinguished only by sysreverse for that of the electors and tematic vice, his manhood by unthe college, he was an unsuccessful principled ambition, and his age by
His triumphant rival was a callous infidelity. His life is yet to name, whose laurels seem to have be written, and it would form an been limited to Glasgow, a Mr James unrivalled lesson to those who solicit Clov.
worldly distinction, by giving popuHe had now given up the bar; larity to crime. It would shew the whether through ill health, disin- profligate statesman defeated in all clination to the severe restrictions his objects, and the still more proof its first steps, or the general and Aligate champion of unbelief alike miscellaneous style of life and study stung by the censures and the newhich had become favourite and fa- glect of wiser mankind. Burke's miliar with him. He supped and would have been the pen to have talked at the Grecian Coffee house, done justice to such subject. We then the evening resource of all the should have seen his fine sagacity clever idlers of the Inns of Court. detecting the insidiousness, the smiHe was asked to dinner by Garrick, ling hostility and the inveterate hathen delighting all the world, and tred of the enemy of government whose civilities must have been and religion. His heart would bave highly flattering to an obscure Irish taught him to abhor the sullen mastudent. He made an occasional lignity of the infidel, his loyalty to trial of his powers in old Macklin's expose the restless disaffection of the Debating Society, and in the inter- rebel, and his sense of virtue to vals of his leisure he is said to have scourge the impurity of the man of employed himself in joining the ge- the passions. His singular know, neral war of pamphlets against the ledge of past public transactions, and Newcastle Administration.
his personal experience of the life But this rambling life must have of statesmen, would have given the been insufficient for the vigour of force of maxims to his conclusions ; Burke's mind; it could scarcely have and in the punishment of this shewy received much approbation from his impostor, we should have had the judgment. The idea of shifting the most eloquent, majestic, and instrucscene altogether at length occurred tive of all lessons to the rising mind to him, and the prospect of a situa- of pations. tion in America, whether solicited The“ Vindication” was an attack, by himself, or offered by his friends, not on Bolingbroke's Jacobite poliseems to have engrossed him for a tics, but on his irreligion. A gross while. But his father's dislike to the and pernicious scorn of all the truths idea of his looking for fortune in which man holds sacred, had been lands so remote from Ireland, check the fashion of the age. It had been ed this cherished object; and Burke, generated among the misty metaphyin a letter wbich begins with " Ho- sics of Germany, and was rapidly noured sir,” and expresses with his swelled to its full growth in the pubusual grace the feelings of a gentle lic and personal licentiousness of and dutiful spirit, gave up the de. the court of France. From France, sign.
England, disdaiving to borrow thé He lingered two years longer- meanest implement for the meanest unknown, but not idle ; for at the uses of life, stooped to borrow the end of these two years, in 1756, he favourite notions of party in governpublished his “ Vindication of Na- ment and religion. Boling broke, tural Society," and his celebrated exiled to France for his political in“ Treatise on the Sublime and Beau- trigues, filled up the dreariness of tiful.” The “Vindication” deserves his solitude by copying French infipraise for its authorship, but pane- delity, and paid his debt of gratitude gyric for its intention. Boling broke to England by preparing the poisons