« AnteriorContinua »
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
CHARACTER OF THE EARL OF CHATHAM.
THE Secretary stood alone. Modern degeneracy had not reached him. Original and unaccommodating, the features of his character had the hardihood of antiquity. His august mind overawed majesty; and one of his sovereigns thought royalty so impaired in his presence, that he conspired to remove him, in order to be relieved from his superiority. No state-chicanery, no narrow system of vicious politics, no idle contest for ministerial victories, sunk him to the vulgar level of the great; but overbearing, persuasive, and impracticable, his object was England-his ambition was fame. Without dividing, he destroyed party; without corrupting, he made a venal age unanimous. France sunk beneath him. With one hand he smote the House of Bourbon, and wielded in the other the democracy of England. The sight of his mind was infinite; and his schemes were to affect not England, not the present age only, but Europe and posterity. Wonderful were the means by which these schemes were accomplished, always seasonable, always adequate,—the suggestions of an understanding animated by ardour, and enlightened by prophecy.
The ordinary feelings, which render life amiable and indolent, were unknown to him. No domestic difficulties, no domestic weakness reached him; but, aloof from the sordid occurrences of life, and unsullied by its intercourse, he came occasionally into our system, to counsel, and to decide. A
character so exalted, so strenuous, so various, so authoritative, astonished a corrupt age; and the Treasury trembled at the name of Pitt, through all her classes of venality. Corruption imagined, indeed, that she had found defects in this statesman, and talked much of the inconsistency of his glory, and much of the ruin of his victories; but the history of his country, and the calamities of the enemy, refuted her.
Nor were his political abilities his only talents: his eloquence was an era in the senate, peculiar and spontaneous, familiarly expressing gigantic sentiments and instinctive wisdom; not like the torrent of Demosthenes, or the splendid conflagration of Tully, it resembled sometimes the thunder, and sometimes the music of the spheres. He did not, like Murray, conduct the understanding through the painful subtilty of argumentation; nor was he, like Townshend, for ever on the rack of exertion; but rather lightened upon the subject, and reached the point by the flashings of the mind, which, like those of his eye, were felt, but could not be followed.
Upon the whole, there was in this man something that could create, subvert, or reform;—an understanding, a spirit, and an eloquence to summon mankind to society, or to break the bonds of slavery asunder, and to rule the wilderness of free minds with unbounded authority;-something that could establish or overwhelm empires, and strike a blow in the world that should resound through the universe.
ADDRESS TO A MUMMY.
AND thou hast walk'd about (how strange a story?)
Speak! for thou long enough hast acted Dummy,
Thou hast a tongue-come, let us hear its tune; Thou'rt standing on thy legs, above ground, Mummy! Revisiting the glimpses of the moon,
Not like thin ghosts or disembodied creatures,
Tell us, for doubtless thou canst recollect,
To whom should we assign the sphinx's fame? Was Cheops or Cephrenes architect
Of either Pyramid that bears his name?
Perhaps thou wert a Mason, and forbidden,
By oath, to tell the mysteries of thy trade; Then say, what secret melody was hidden
In Memnon's statue, which at sunrise play'd? Perhaps thou wert a Priest-if so, my struggles Are vain, for priestcraft never owns its juggles.
Perchance that very hand, now pinion'd flat,
Has hob-a-nobb'd with Pharaoh glass to glass;
Or doff'd thine own to let Queen Dido pass,
I need not ask thee, if that hand, when arm'd,
Long after thy primeval race was run.
Since first thy form was in this box extended,
We have, above ground, seen some strange mutations; The Roman empire has begun and ended,
New worlds have risen-we have lost old nations, And countless kings have into dust been humbled, While not a fragment of thy flesh has crumbled.
Didst thou not hear the pother o'er thy head,
When the great Persian conqueror, Cambyses, March'd armies o'er thy tomb with thundering tread, O'erthrew Osiris, Orus, Apis, Isis,
And shook the Pyramids with fear and wonder,
If the tomb's secrets may not be confess'd,
A heart has throbb'd beneath that leathern breast,
Statue of flesh-immortal of the dead!
Why should this worthless tegument endure,
Oh, let us keep the soul embalm'd and pure
In living virtue, that when both must sever, Although corruption may our frame consume, The immortal spirit in the skies may bloom.
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer:
Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears
All pay themselves the compliment, to think
At least their own—their future selves applauds:
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor, dilatory man,
And that through every stage! When young, indeed,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise!
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal! All men think all men mortal, but themselves