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seconded by Fox. Mr Pitt defended Burke, and urged that he was in order.
Mr Fox (observes Mr Prior] followed in a vehement address, alternately rebuking and complimenting Mr Burke, in a high strain, vindicating his own opinions, questioning the truth and consistency of those of his right honourable friend, whom he must ever esteem his master, but who nevertheless seemed to have forgotten the lessons he had taught him, and quoting in support of the charge of inconsistency several sarcastic and ludicrous remarks, of little moment at any time, and scarcely worth repeating then, but which, as they had been expressed fourteen and fifteen years before, seemed to have been raked up purposely for the occasion.
There was an appearance of premeditation and want of generosity in this, which hurt Burke, as he afterwards expressed to a friend, more than any public occurrence of his life, and he rose to reply under the influence of very painful but very strong feelings. He complained, after debating the main question, of being treated with harshness and malignity for which the motive seemned unaccountable-of being personally attacked from a quarter where he least expected it, after an intimacy of more than twenty-two years,—of his public sentiments and writings being garbled, and his confidential communications violated, to give colour to an unjust charge; and that, though at his time of life it was obviously indiscreet to provoke enemies or to lose friends, as he could not hope to acquire others, yet if his steady adherence to the British constitution placed him in such a dilemma, he would risk all, and as public duty and public prudence taught him, with his last breath exclaim, Fly from the French constitution!' Mr Fox here whispered, “There is no loss of friendship.' 'I regret to say, there is,' was the reply—I know the value of my line of conduct; I have, indeed, made a great sacrifice; I have done my duty though I have lost my friend, for there is something in the detested French constitution that envenoms every thing it touches; and, after a variety of comments on the question, previous and subsequent to this avowal, concluded with an eloquent apostrophe to the two great heads of their respective parties, steadfastly to guard against innovation and new theories, whatever might be their other differences, the sacred edifice of the British constitution.
Unusually agitated by this public and pointed renunciation of long intimacy, Mr Fox found relief in tears.—Some moments elapsed before he could find utterance, when, besides touching on the bill and on French affairs, an eloquent appeal burst forth to his old and revered friend-to the remembrance of their past attachment-their unalienable friendship-their reciprocal affection, as dear and alınost as binding as the ties of nature between father and son. Seldom had there been heard in the House of Commons an appeal so pathetic and personal. Yet, at this moment, when seemingly dissolved in tenderness, the pertinacity of the professed, thoroughbred disputant prevailed over the feelings of the man; he gave utterance to unusually bitter sarcasms, reiterated his objectionable remarks, adding others not of the most conciliatory tendency, and of course rather aggravating than extenuating the original offence.
There is much that is remarkable in the character of Fox.
The good and evil in him seem hardly to have blended with and modified each other. They were rather separate principles, and, in the present instance, at bay. He weeps for the loss of a long tried friend, and before the tears are dry, he insults and abuses him.
One cannot but be struck at the decline of Burke's influence, after Mr Pitt came into the administration. We have incidentally alluded to this before. We are the last to explain this, either by accidental advantages possessed by Mr Pitt, or by a momentary admission, that Burke's powers had declined, or were less actively employed. The cause is to be looked for, and it can be found, in the character and administration of Mr Pitt. There were strong points of resemblance between these great men; not so much in their power, modes of thinking, speaking, or even acting, as in the deeper principles of their minds, their ultimate convictions respecting moral and political truth, as well as duty. Pitt had indeed paid the French revolution, at first, his tribute of admiration. This Burke never did. But it was not long before their minds met on the essential character of that revolution, and equally so on the measures to be adopted on the part of the English government and nation. They were thus wholly agreed upon a war with France. They differed about the probable duration of the war, the mode of conducting it, and the amount of means to be used in its prosecution. Pitt thought it would be a short war, and that it might be best waged at a distance, on the skirts of France. Burke said, it would be long in duration, and that it must be carried on in the heart of the enemy's country; and Burke was right. In an earlier period of their history, when Pitt did not see as Burke did the things around them, he nevertheless regarded him at his whole worth; and instead of a vulgar patronage, which might have bought a man poorer in principle than Burke, he awarded to him all that his character and conduct claimed. When Pitt came into power, and when the coalition took place, who in his senses ever believed that Burke was bought, or his principles sold?
Burke's private history is a short one. He had no time to be a private man. The recesses of parliament were spent in laborious study, in writing for the press, or in preparation for the succeeding meeting. He had a power of application, which may well be called intense. The amount of knowledge he could thus acquire on any or all subjects of interest with him, has perhaps never been equalled, and excited the sur
prise and admiration of his contemporaries. His early history offers but little of peculiar interest. The memorabilia of boy hood are often not worth remembering. They consist for the most part of unusual dulness, as contrasted with much distinction in after life ;-in great precocity, which fulfils none of its own promises; or in tolerable attentiveness and acquisition, followed for the most part by mediocrity, or sometimes by a reach of intellect and extent of influence, which neither occasion nor circumstance fully accounts for. This last class comprehends the mass of men, and Burke has his place among the most remarkable of its last division. He was fortunate in his earliest domestic friends. He learned early to value moral purity, and this lost no value to him in after life. He was a singular instance in his time and in his order of singleness and honesty of purpose. His morality no man impeached, and his piety was habitual, unostentatious, and sincere. We were delighted with many of his characteristics, and with the manner in which he displayed them. He loved children with a freshness of interest, which seems hardly possible, when we recollect his rough encounters with men. Sometimes he expressed this interest after a manner almost ludicrous from its circumstances.
Burke never forgot his early friends, if they continued worthy of his memory. His abiding affection for Ballitore appears perpetually. He could show it indeed but rarely, but visits there occupied much of his short leisure. Active benevolence accompanied this feeling whenever the association was necessary. Barry, the painter, experienced largely the benefits of their union. Burke felt a deep interest in the progress and success of this artist. He felt a strong hope and belief that his efforts would be successful in this instance. Many of his letters to Barry appear in this volume, full of wise maxims for the conduct, and showing a true knowledge of the principles of his art. Barry hardly seems to have fulilled any of the promise; and his failure occurred just where Burke had predicted, and against which he had laboured so much to guard his friend.
Burke's great characteristics were excessive ardour and unequalled zeal. Their direct operations were discovered in an unrestrained and strong expression of his convictions. These were not merely qualities of temperament, whether intellectual or physical. They were also, and we believe mainly, the products of his foresight, which in some cases
seems prophecy. He was before and far ahead of the men of his time, because he saw before and beyond them. This troubled his contemporaries. He failed to gain all he might have gained by the fulfilment of his predictions, because they left him still in advance. Men are not always convinced of their errors, or pleased with the proof, however useful both might be for their own minds, and for the wider interests in which they acknowledge the most concern. These characteristics were the external marks, the obvious growth of his mind. These with some other things have been mentioned as causes of his diminished influence, or were offered as an explanation of its not having been greater. But there was another cause in his mind itself. This was either never apprehended in its fulness or depth, or if apprehended, it was not acknowledged. Burke was a philosopher in politics. He did not require expediency in his system, if what was so universally applicable, so wholly practical, could be called a system. He saw things as they were; knew what they had been; and wisely gathered what they would be. This was his philosophy; and all he proposed and did, had a direct correspondence with this. Lesser minds, or less accurate thinkers, his contemporaries, did not, or would not know and admit this; but made occasion of the more obvious and external, for their judgments and value of him.
Burke had an only child, a son. This son was a single object, to which was drawn as if to a point, and by the strongest affinity, his whole moral and intellectual being. He loved this child with a power, which, directed elsewhere, had been the instrument of his wide influence over a whole empire. He was his son's friend; and this son was the friend of his father. In this short sentence we have expressed a relation, which if not at once understood by the reader, we could not make intelligible by any explanation we might offer. He had arrived at full manhood; had appeared in public life as a states. man, and was fulfilling the promise which his own powers had given, and the imagination and deep love of his father had added to. At this moment he died.
We have said nothing of the literary execution of this volume. It is very unequal. It would almost seem the work of more than one writer. There are some excellent sketches of character in it, with much good remark by the author, but with much that is commonplace. It wants continuousness, an essential quality to a perfect work in its class.
Burke would have been created peer had his son lived. We confess, that to us, the loss of the peerage adds but little to the amount of the calamity. We cannot sympathize here at all with Mr Prior. Lord Burke would have sounded no better to us, than Lord Pitt or Lord Fox. Mr Burke belonged to us all. He only asked to be buried near his beloved son, in the simple church of Baconsfield. His mind is with us; and his memory is safe, and his fame secured, in this his own legacy.
The Album. New York. 1825. 12mo. pp. 156. We do not approve of works of this kind. Little use, and many inconveniences result from them. They give the purchaser scraps selected from perhaps fifty different writers, oftentimes not the best specimens of the authors from whom they are taken. If the selections are made from the best authors, they are of course from the most common ones. Those who could or would buy an “ Album,” are generally in possession of the complete works of the originals. To such persons, an
“ Album” can be of no value, unless they buy books on the same recommendation upon which a certain tailor attempted to sell the library of his literary friend, to wit, because they are well proportioned books. Judging by this criterion, the present publication is valuable. In its externals, it is truly a charming volume. We do not remember, that we ever before saw so beautiful a title-page. The picture is admirably designed, and exquisitely engraved. The paper and the typographical execution are in a correspondent style of elegance. We suppose that the price, too, must correspond with the appearance, and really it would be too great a tax upon us poor reviewers, to fill our shelves with books of this kind. We should have to pay twice, and in some instances three times, for the same matter. Thus, there are in this Album several poems of Bryant, which were originally published in our Gazette, and which we hope yet to see in one or other of sundry goodly octavo volumes, lettered “ Bryant's Poetical Works."
Lord Coke says of abridgments, that they are most useful to those who make them," and a proper Album may be a convenient book as a receptacle for those solitary essays and short poems,
which we sometimes meet, the authors of which have written nothing else worthy of preservation.