Imatges de pÓgina

listener felt the strong conviction that it must have seduced, convinced, or terrified any set of men into the necessity it contended for; nay, more, whether he felt certain of a deep earnestness in the speaker's own mind, in favour of that opinion which he sought to introduce into the minds of others. There is something in Lord Brougham's oratory which brings the speech and the speaker too much before us; we admire the eloquence of the one, the voice and action of the other ; but the subject of this eloquence, the cause which calls forth those deep tones and raises that sinewy arm and long outstretched finger, is somewhat too strongly thrown into the shade by its effects.

Nor is this all, the long and involved sentences out of which a fact starts suddenly into life; the discursive manner in which an opponent is attacked; the magnificent embroidery with which truth is adorned; (though each of these things startles and captivates our minds at the time,) wear us out, at length, of any singleness of attention. We are like a traveller setting out on a voyage of business by a beautiful road, who, lost in admiration of the woods, the waterfalls, the rich parks by which he passes, forgets altogether the object of his journey when he has arrived at the end of it.

The extent of the study or preparation which Lord Brougham gives to his speeches, must be a matter of conjecture, and is therefore frequently one of dispute. We have heard anecdotes in proof of their perfect unpremeditation, while we think we remember a letter from Lord Brougham himself, in which the necessity not only of premeditating, but of verbally composing those parts of a speech which are meant to be most effective, is absolutely insisted upon,

be exaggeration in either case, nor is even self-testimony to be perfectly relied upon, since some persons are as fond of exaggerating their labours, as others, more foolishly, are of professing to succeed without effort. There is, however, in the speeches themselves, strong internal evidence in favour of Lord Brougham's own confession, even if it were not a fact that no great orator was ever perfectly extemporaneous. But it by no means follows, that the habit of composition precludes the talent of improvisation; there exist the most splendid proofs to the contrary. The frequent revolving of harmonious periods and splendid images in the mind, render it more likely that such will rush readily to the lips, under feelings of extreme excitement.

For ourselves, we should rather believe as coincident with the ideas we have previously expressed, that Lord Brougham preconceives, and takes much pains with various branches of his intended oration, but that he does not sufficiently meditate upon the manner in which these may be best incorporated into, and united most closely with, the compact body of his discourse. We can never fancy his considering with Phocion in how few words he could express his ideas. It is to this, we imagine, and not to any natural or irremediable cause, that his speeches do not produce that concentrated effect which would make them perfect. In the language he employs, also, there is not sufficient of that purity and simplicity in which sublimity consists. Those antiquated words and inverted phrases, that long Latinity of language, savour too much of the affectation of solemnity to be truly solemn. They are too artificially impressive to produce the deepest, because the most natural impression. If we wished for a figure to express

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our meaning, we should borrow that beautiful expression which the Greek philosophers inversely applied to Plato "If Jupiter spoke our language, he would not speak like Lord Brougham."

The greater part of what we should have to say of Lord Brougham as a political character, has been already said in our enumeration of what he has done for the public. There are those things, however, which affect him more individually—the consistency of his views as a politician--the utility and practicability of his talents as a man of action : for what Demosthenes said of eloquence is true enough, that, like a weapon, it is of little use to the owner unless he have the force and the skill to use it.

The subject on which all minds are now exclusively bent, and on which the noblest exhibition of Lord Brougham's talent has been made, is that one on which his consistency is most called in question.

There can be no doubt that the Reform Bill lately introduced by his Majesty's Ministers, went much farther than men had been in the habit of contemplating of late years. We say of late years, because we have only to go back to the reign of Queen Anne in order to enlist Lord Bolingbroke and Swift, and the whole of the country party of that time, in the ranks of our modern Radicals. It may be doubted, however, whether the opinions those writers broached were formed wisely and conscientiously. We rather believe them to have been the exaggerated doctrines of a faction, similar to that of Monsieur Chateaubriand's now in France, contending for all violent measures, which by change or convulsion were likely to bring themselves and the exiled family into power.

If there is any opinion universal among practical and thoughtful men, it is one against violent and sudden changes in a State when there is no pre-existing cause for it in the public mind. This we believe we have before said, and cannot, as the result of our settled conviction, too seriously repeat. If a people are happy and contented under their form of government, God forbid that any political empiric should make violent experiments for the sake of producing a greater portion of happiness and contentment. A wise statesman may see improvements to be made—there are improvements to be made in all constitutions, for nothing human can remain stationary-it must be in a state of progress or a state of decay; for these improvements he would prepare opinion, advancing gradually and temperately towards them. "But if there be a barrier in his way--if opinion be allowed to acquire a force, to which legislation is insensible--if the consequences of civilization are checked if the stream which flows from that sacred source is dammed up-year by year its mass of waters collect and swell, gradually, insensibly—even to the eye of the political inquirer, who, if he marks their rise, sees nothing threatening in the smooth, unruffled tranquillity in which they sleep. At last the breeze arises ; some violent, unexpected gust, perchance from a foreign shore. The agitation of the wave excites our attention to its depth. We look around us. Lo! the old water-marks are swept out of sight. The stifled torrent is gathering and amassing ; a few inches more, and the banks which have hitherto confined it are overspread and past. What is the safest course? There is but one; the impediment must be cut down, at all hazards; the current freely takes its way --not with its regular tide indeed - with an unnatural and accelerated, ay, a perilous force. Who are to be blamed ? they who saved the country from inundation ? No! There was danger in the course they adopted—who denies it? There was greater danger in the opposite extreme. May not those who resort to the desperate remedy at last be allowed to lament that their earlier advice was not attended to be allowed to regret that this same stream thus unseasonably checked, thus violently let loose, had not been allowed to flow naturally on?

Where is the inconsistency in this? For ourselves, prejudiced or not, we see none.

It is the remark of one who knew as much of parties and politics as most men, that “it would have been to little purpose that Cicero attacked Catiline in the Senate, if he had not made much more use of political prudence, that is, of the knowledge of mankind, and of the arts of government, which study and experience give, than of all the powers of his eloquence.” The same might be said of Demosthenes, of Mirabeau, of all great orators, who were also, and must, as we imagine, always be, what, to adopt the modern term, are called “men of action.” Here is the difference between the mere rhetorician, who speaks for the sake of speaking, and the real orator, who employs his eloquence as one of the means (the most appropriate means at the time) by which a particular end is to be accomplished. We are very much mistaken if in any thing we have said, we have given reason to suppose that we do not consider Lord Brougham most essentially of that class of men who take words as mere engines to work for things. We think, indeed, when he gets hold of his favourite weapon, that he is rather too much enchanted with it; that he frequently fourishes it somewhat idly, but gracefully about, before he gives, or at the time he is giving, the fatal stroke : we think that he puts himself too artfully in all the attitudes and positions of the fencing-master ; but the combat in which he engages is no mock or unreal one.

He may, at first sight, give one the idea that he is merely · at his exercises ; but at the first desperate lunge we see that the button is most assuredly from the foil.

Is any one (as it was once asked of another) better acquainted with our colonies or provinces,—with our allies and enemies,—with the rights and privileges of the former,—with the dispositions and conditions of the latter,— with the interests of them all, relative to the empire, — with the interests of the empire relatively to them? There is also in his character that which it is impossible to approach him without observing,--that bold, daring, and assuming tone, which makes it more difficult for unacknowledged merit to succeed, but which gives to reputed talent an arbitrary sway, a despotic authority over all with whom it comes in contact, which Lord Brougham, more perhaps than any other man since his great predecessor Lord Chatham, holds in public debate over his rivals, in more familiar intercourse over his associates. Hence the curious anecdotes daily in circulation, confused, and, for the most part, false-as they are narrated, having, however, not unfrequently a foundation in truth; and, even when pure fabrications, being strongly indicative of the character of the man. With this character is closely connected that scalding irony, that fierce facility towards satire, by which a friend is sometimes made a foe, when it might be better policy that an enemy should be conciliated ;-and yet place Lord Brougham in the midst of his family,—let him be surrounded by those who worship his superiority, and the superiority can hardly be said to exist : Fond and affectionate to those of his blood, -never forgetful of an old friend-gay, gentle, amiable;-the life and soul of every society in which he finds himself at home, -as ready to play the schoolboy, and talk like the man of pleasure, as if he had a bag of marbles in his pocket, or was going to get up at five o'clock the next morning for a fox chase—he possesses in an eminent degree that conjunction of moral energy, with animal spirits, which startled the traveller when Montesquieu leaped over a stile, and which led Machiavel to a wrestling-match.

As the peculiar vein of his eloquence is satire, so the peculiar feature of his genius is its facility of abstraction, its quick power of digestion, its rapid and sudden turns, its extraordinary variety and elasticity, which, even at the moment that another would be supposed sinking under the unwearied discharge of the most laborious and engrossing employments, procures the Chancellor of England the credit of being the author of every popular pamphlet, and of writing every powerful paragraph in the daily newspapers by which the public attention is arrested.

Lord Brougham's marvellous quickness in doing any thing, as well as his singular happiness in being able to do all things at the same time, furnish many anecdotes to his gossiping acquaintance. We have heard (he can read two pages to the Lord Advocate's one,) of the perfect knowledge he has acquired of two quarto volumes in sixty minutes, as well as of the copulative facility with which he has conjoined the dispatch of three letters, three newspapers, three bottles of wine, and three applicants for livings, in a quarter of an hour 1

Of these marvels every Club has its regular reciters. To us, (we must confess,) as we glance back on what we have hastily written, and think of all with which the public is acquainted, there seems no want of private evidence to prove the rare abilities, the various accomplishments, the restless and indefatigable energies of that illustrious individual, who, though inferior to either in particular points, brings to our recollection, in the united qualities of his character, the two most differing and distinguished persons who ever held his high office,-the man of science, the man of action,-Bacon and Shaftesbury,

Rare are the instances in which the study of the law has not cramped the mind of the philosopher, -in which the doctrines of philosophy have not subtilized the speeches of the orator, and given impracticable theories to the politician. Rarely are moral and physical vigour blended together with so felicitous a harmony, por ever, we may suppose, without some deep design. So many extraordinary qualities,-extraordinary in themselves,-- extraordinary in their combination,—were not given but for some noble end. By their application to that end by their application to the benefit of society,--to the progress of knowledge, their remarkable possessor may eclipse his present by his future renown ;-a future renown which, incorporated with the developement of the human mind, shall develope with it: with the growth and the spread of civilization it shall enlarge and grow; as those characters we see graved on the tender rind of the young oak, which widen and expand with every year that increases the bulk and advances the maturity of the tree.



Royalty and its symbols were abolished in France. A showman of wild beasts had (the pride of his flock) an immense Bengal tiger, commonly called the Royal Tiger. What did our showman do?Why, he knew the world, and he changed the name of the beast, from the Tigre Royal to the Tigre National ! Horace Walpole was particularly charmed with this anecdote, for he knew the world as well as the showman. It is exactly these little things—the happy turn of a phrase-a well-timed pleasantry, that no unobservant man ever thinks of, and that, while seeming humour, are in reality wisdom. There are changes in the veins of wit, as in every thing else. Sir William Temple tells us, that on the return of Charles II. none were more out of fashion than the old Earl of Norwich, who was esteemed the greatest wit of the time of Charles the First. But it is clear that the Earl of Norwich must have wanted knowledge of the world; he did not feel, as by an instinct, like the showman, how to vary an epithet—he stuck to the last to his tigre royal !

This knowledge of the world baffles our calculations—it does not always require experience. Some men take to it intuitively; their first step in life exhibits the same profound mastery over the minds of their contemporaries-the same subtle consideration the same felicitous address, as distinguish the close of their career. Congreve had written his comedies at twenty-five; the best anecdotes of the acuteness of Cyrus are those of his boyhood. I should like, above all things, a veracious account of the childhood of Talleyrand. What a world of shrewdness may he have vented in trundling his hoop! Shakspeare has given us the madness of Hamlet the youth, and of Lear the old man-but there is a far deeper wisdom in the man's thoughts than those of the old man.

Minds early accustomed to solitude usually make the keenest observers of the world, and chiefly for this reason-when few objects are presented to our contemplation, we seize them—we ruminate over them—we think, again and again, upon all the features they present to our examination; and we thus master the knowledge of the great book of Mankind as Eugene Aram mastered that of Learning, by studying five lines at a time, and ceasing not from our labour till those are thoroughly acquired. A boy, whose attention has not been distracted by a multiplicity of objects

who, living greatly alone, is obliged therefore to think, not as a task, but as a diversion, emerges at last into the world—a shy man, but a deep observer. Accustomed to reflection, he is not dazzled by novelty; while it strikes his


it cupies his mind. Hence, if he sits down to describe what he sees, he describes it justly at once, and at first; and more vividly, perhaps, than he might in after-life, because it is newer to him. Perhaps, too, the moral eye resembles the physical-by custom familiarizes itself with delusion, and inverts, mechanically, the objects presented to it, till the deceit becomes more natural than Nature itself.

There are men who say they know the world, because they know



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