Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

had more splendour, more imagery, and much more method and discretion. His long, lofty, and reverential

panegyrics of the British constitution, bis eloquent vi35 tuperations of those, whom he described as advocating

the democratic spirit, then let loose on the inhabitants of the earth, and his solemn adjuration of the house, to defend and to assist him, in defending their all against it,

were, in the highest degree, both imposing and concil40 iating. In addition, he had the command of bitter, con

temptuous sarcasm, which tortured to madness. This he could expand or compress at pleasure: even in one member of a sentence, he could inflict a wound that was

never healed. 45 Mr. Fox had a captivating earnestness of tone and

manner; Mr. Pitt was more dignified than earnest. The action of Mr. Fox was easy and graceful; Mr. Pitt's cannot be praised. It was an observation of the

reporters in the gallery, that it required great exertion 50 to follow Mr. Fox while he was speaking; none to re

member what he had said; that it was easy and delightful to follow Mr. Pitt; not so easy to recollect what had delighted them. It may be added, that, in all Mr.

Fox's speeches, even when he was most violent, there 55 was an unquestionable indication of good humour,

which attracted every heart. Where there was such a seeming equipoise of merit, the two last circumstances might be thought to turn the scale; but Mr. Pitt's un

deviating circumspection,-sometimes concealed, some60 times ostentatiously displayed, -tended to obtain for

him, from the considerate and the grave, a confidence which they denied to his rival.

EXERCISE 109.

Death of Lord Chatham.-PERCY.
Lord Chatham entered the House of Lords for the last
time on the 7th of April 1778, leaning upon two friends.
He was wrapped up in flannel, and looked pale and ema-

ciated. His eye was still penetrating; and though with 5 the evident appearance of a dying man, there never was

seen a figure of more dignity; he appeared like a being

of superior species. He rose from his seat slowly, and with difficulty, leaning on his crutches, and supported

under each arm by two of his friends. He took one 10 hand from his crutch, and raised it, casting his eyes

toward heaven, and said, “ I thank God that I have been enabled to come here this day-to perform my duty, and to speak on a subject which has so deeply impressed my

mind. I am old and infirm; have one foot, more than 15 one foot, in the grave. I am risen from my bed, to stand

up in the cause of my country! perhaps never again to speak in this house!” At first he spoke in a very low and feeble tone; but as he grew warm, his voice rose,

and was as harmonious as ever, perhaps more oratorical 20 and affecting than at any former period; both from his

own situation, and from the importance of the subject on which he spoke. He gave the whole history of the American war; of all the measures to which he had objected;

and all the evils which he had prophesied would be the 25 consequence of them; adding, at the end of each, “ And so it proved."

In one part of his speech he ridiculed the apprehension of an invasion; and then recalled the remembrances

of former invasions. “Of a Spanish invasion, of a 30 French invasion, of a Dutch invasion, many noble lords

may have read in history; and some lords (looking keenly at one who sat near him,) may perhaps remember a Scotch invasion!”

When the Duke of Richmond was speaking, he looked 35 at him with attention and composure; but when he rose

to answer, his strength failed him, and he fell backward. He was instantly supported by those who were near him. He was then carried to Mr. Serjent's house in Downing

street; and from thence conveyed home to Hayes, and 40 put to bed from which he never rose. Such was the

glorious end of the great Lord Chatham, who died in the discharge of a great political duty, a duty which he came in a dying state to perform.

EXERCISE 110.

Lord Mansfield.-PERCY. It is yet the traditionary tale of the country that gave this great orator and lawyer birth, that almost in infana cy he was accustomed to declaim upon his native mouno

tains, and repeat to the winds the most celebrated speech5 es of Demosthenes and Cicero, not only in their original text, but in his own translations of them.

Mansfield advanced to the dignities of the state by rapid strides. They were not bestowed by the caprice

of party favour or affection; they were (as was said of 10 Pliny) liberal dispensations of power, upon an object that

knew how to add new lustre to that power, by the rational exertion of his own.

As a Speaker in the House of Lords, he was without a competitor. His language was elegant and perspicu15 ous, arranged with the happiest method, and applied

with the utmost extent of human ingenuity; his images were often bold, and always just; but the more prevail ing character of his eloquence, was that of being flowing,

soft,. delightful, and affecting. Among his more rare 20 qualifications, may be ranked the external graces of his

person; the fire and vivacity of his looks; the delicious harmony of his voice; and that habitual fitness in all he said, which gave to his speeches more than the effect of

the most laboured compositions. He was modest and 25 unassuming; never descending to personal altercation,

or even replying to personal reflections, except when they went to affect the integrity of his public character. When instances of the latter occurred, he evinced that he was

not without a spirit to repel them; of this he gave a 30 memorable proof, in the debate on Wilkes' outlawry,

when, being accused of braving the popular opinion, he replied in the following noble strain of eloquence.

“If I have ever supported the king's measures; if I

have ever afforded any assistance to government; if I 35 have discharged my duty as a public or private officer,

by endeavouring to preserve pure and perfect the principles of the constitution; maintaining unsullied the honour of the courts of justice; and by an upright administration of, to give due effect to, the laws; I have hith

40 erto done it without any other gift or reward, than that

most pleasing and most honorable one, the conscientious conviction of doing what is right. I do not affect to scorn the opinion of mankind; I wish earnestly for pop

ularity; but I will tell you how I will obtain it: I will 45 have that popularity which follows, and not that which

is run after. 'Tis not the applause of a day; 'tis not the huzzas of thousands, that can give a moment's satisfaction to a rational being; that man's mind must, in

deed, be a weak one, and his ambition of a most deprav50 ed sort, who can be captivated by such wretched allure

ments, or satisfied with such momentary gratifications. I say with the Roman orator, and can say it with as much truth as he did, 'Ego hoc animo semperfui ut invidiam

virtute partem, gloriam non infamiam putarem.' But 55 threats have been carried further; personal violence has

been denounced, unless public humor be complied with. I do not fear such threats; I don't believe there is any reason to fear them; it is not the genius of the worst of

men in the worst of times, to proceed to such shocking 60 extremities; but if such an event should happen, let it

be so; even such an event might be productive of wholesome effects; such a stroke might rouse the better part of the nation from their lethargic condition, to a state of ac

tivity, to assert and execute the law, and punish the daring 65 and impious hands which had violated it; and those who

now supinely behold the danger which threatens all liberty from the most abandoned liçentiousness, might by such an event be awakened to a sense of their situation,

as drunken men are often shamed into sobriety. If the 70 security of our persons and property, of all we hold dear

or valuable, are to depend upon the caprice of a giddy multitude, or to be at the disposal of a mob; if, in compliance with the humors, and to appease the clamors of

these, all civil and political institutions are to be disre75 garded or overthrown; a life somewhat more than sixty,

is not worth preserving at such a price, and he can never die too soon, who lays down his life in support and vindication of the policy, the government, and the constitution of his country.”

[ocr errors][merged small]

EXERCISE 111.
Providential Distinctions.—Pollok.
One man there was,—and many such you might
Have met—who never had a dozen thoughts
In all his life, and never changed their course;

But told them o'er, each in its 'customed place, 5 From morn till night, from youth till hoary age.

Little above the ox which grazed the field
His reason rose: so weak his memory,
The name his mother called him by, he scarce

Remembered; and his judgement so untaught, 10 That what at evening played along the swamp,

Fantastic, clad in robe of fiery hue,
He thought the devil in disguise, and fled
With quivering heart, and winged footsteps home.

The word philosophy he never heard, 15 Or science; never heard of liberty,

Necessity; or laws of gravitation:
And never had an unbelieving doubt.
Beyond his native vale he never looked;

But thought the visual line, that girt him round 20 The world's extreme: and thought the silver moon,

That nightly o'er him led her virgin host,
No broader than his father's shield. He lived
Lived where his father lived-died where he died;

Lived happy, and died happy, and was saved. 25 Be not surprised. He loved, and served his God.

There was another, large of understanding,
Of memory infinite, of judgement deep:
Who knew all learning, and all science knew;

And all phenomena in heaven and earth,
30 Traced to their causes; traced the labyrinths

Of thought, association, passion, will;
And all the subtile, nice affinities
Of matter, traced; its virtues, motions, laws;

And most familiarly and deeply talked 35 Of mental, moral, natural, divine.

Leaving the earth at will, he soared to heaven,
And read the glorious visions of the skies;
And to the music of the rolling spheres

Intelligently listened; and gazed far back, 40 Into the awful depths of Deity.

« EdellinenJatka »