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himself to questions more congenial to his habits of mind, and where the success would be more likely to be proportioned to his zeal and his exertions.
There was a greater degree of power, or of dashing and splendid effect (we wish we could add, an equally humane and liberal spirit) in the Lectures on the Law of Nature and Nations, formerly delivered by Sir James (then Mr.) Mackintosh, in Lincoln's-Inn Hall. He shewed greater confidence; was more at home there. The effect was more electrical and instantaneous, and this elicited a prouder display of intellectual riches, and a more animated and imposing mode of delivery. He grew wanton with success. Dazzling others by the brilliancy of his acquirements, dazzled himself by the admiration they excited, he lost fear as well as prudence; dared every thing, carried every thing before him. The Modern Philosophy, counterscarp, outworks, citadel, and . all, fell without a blow, by “ the whiff and wind of his fell doctrine,” as if it had been a pack of cards. The volcano of the French Revolution was seen expiring in its own flames, like a bon-fire made of straw: the principles of Reform were scattered in all directions, like chaff before the keen northern blast. He laid
about him like one inspired; nothing could withstand his envenomed tooth. Like some savage beast got into the garden of the fabled Hesperides, he made clear work of it, root and branch, with white, foaming tusks
“ Laid waste the borders, and o’erthrew the bowers.”
The havoc was amazing, the desolation was complete. As to our visionary sceptics and Utopian philosophers, they stood no chance with our lecturer-he did not “ carve them as a dish fit for the Gods, but hewed them as a carcase fit for hounds.” Poor Godwin, who had come, in the bonhommie and candour of his nature, to hear wbat new light had broken in upon his old friend, was obliged to quit the field, and slunk away after an exulting taunt thrown out at “ such fanciful chimeras as a golden mountain or a perfect man.” Mr. Mackintosh had something of the air, much of the dexterity and self-possession, of a political and philosophical juggler; and an eager and admiring audience gaped and greedily swallowed the gilded bait of sophistry, prepared for their credulity and wonder. Those of us who attended day after day, and were accustomed to have all our previous notions confounded and struck out of our hands by some metaphy
sical legerdemain, were at last at some loss to know whether two and two made four, till we had heard the lecturer's opinion on that head. He might have some mental reservation on the subject, some pointed ridicule to pour upon the common supposition, some learned authority to quote against it. To anticipate the line of argument he might pursue, was evidently presumptuous and premature. One thing only appeared certain, that whatever
opinion he chose to take up, he was able to | make good either by the foils or the cudgels,
by gross banter or nice distinctions, by a welltimed mixture of paradox and common-place, by an appeal to vulgar prejudices or startling scepticism. It seemed to be equally his object, or the tendency of his Discourses, to unsettle every principle of reason or of common sense, and to leave his audience at the mercy of the dictum of a lawyer, the nod of a minister, or the shout of a mob. To effect this purpose, he drew largely on the learning of antiquity, on modern literature, on history, poetry, and the belles-lettres, on the Schoolmen and on writers of novels, French, English, and Italian. In mixing up the sparkling julep, that by its potent operation was to scour away the dregs and feculence and peccant humours of the body politic, he seemed to stand with his back to the drawers in a metaphysical dispensary, and to take out of them whatever ingredients suited his purpose. In this way he had an antidote for every error, an answer to every folly. The writings of Burke, Hume, Berkeley, Paley, Lord Bacon, Jeremy Taylor, Grotius, Puffendorf, Cicero, Aristotle, Tacitus, Livy, Sully, Machiavel, Guicciardini, Thuanus, lay open beside him, and he could instantly lay his hand upon the passage, and quote them chapter and verse to the clearing up of all difficulties, and the silencing of all oppugners. Mr. Mackintosh's Lectures were after all but a kind of philosophical centos. They were profound, brilliant, new to his hearers; but the profundity, the brilliancy, the novelty were not his own. He was like Dr. Pangloss (not Voltaire's, but Coleman's) who speaks only in quotations; and the pith, the marrow of Sir James's reasoning and rhetoric at that memorable period might be put within inverted commas. It, however, served its purpose and the loud echo died away. We remember an excellent man and a sound critic* going to hear one of these elaborate effusions; and on his want of enthusiasm being accounted for from
its not being one of the orator's brilliant days, he replied, “ he did not think a man of genius could speak for two hours without saying something by which he would have been electrified.” We are only sorry, at this distance of time, for one thing in these Lecturesthe tone and spirit in which they seemed to have been composed and to be delivered. If all that body of opinions and principles of which the orator read his recantation was unfounded, and there was an end of all those views and hopes that pointed to future improvement, it was not a matter of triumph or exultation to the lecturer or any body else, to the young or the old, the wise or the foolish; on the contrary, it was a subject of regret, of slow, reluctant, painful admission
“Of lamentation loud heard through the rueful air."
The immediate occasion of this sudden and violent change in Sir James's views and opinions was attributed to a personal interview which he had had a little before his death with Mr. Burke, at his house at Beaconsfield. In the latter end of the year 1796, appeared the Regicide Peace, from the pen of the great apostate from liberty and betrayer of his species into the hands of those who claimed it as their property by divine right—a work imposing, solid in