« AnteriorContinuar »
voted with him, on the same questions? How are we to explain the notorious fact, that the speeches and writings of EDMUND BURKE are more interesting at the present day, than they were found at the time of their first publication; while those of his illustrious confederates are either forgotten, or exist only to furnish proofs, that the same conclusion, which one man had deduced scientifically, may be brought out by another in consequence of errors that luckily chanced to neutralize each other. It would be unhandsome as a conjecture, even were it not, as it actually is, false in point of fact, to attribute this difference to deficiency of talent on the part of Burke's friends, or of experience, or of historical knowledge. The satisfactory solution is, that Edmund Burke possessed and had sedulously sharpened that eye, which sees all things, actions, and events, in relation to the laws that determine their existence and circumscribe their possibility. He referred habitually to principles. He was a scientific statesman ; and therefore a
For every principle contains in itself the germs of a prophecy; and as the prophetic power is the essential privilege of science, so the fulfilment of its oracles supplies the outward and (to men in general) the only test of its claim to the title. Wearisome as Burke's refinements appeared to his parliamentary auditors, yet the cultivated classes throughout Europe have reason to be thankful, that
he went on refining, And thought of convincing, while they thought of dining. Our very sign boards (said an illustrious friend to me) give evidence, that there has been a TITIAN in the world. In like manner, not only the debates in parliament, not only our proclamations and state papers, but the essays and leading paragraphs of our journals are so many remembrancers of EDMUND BURKE. Of this the reader may easily convince himself, if either by recollection or reference he will.compare the opposition newspapers at the commencement and during the five or six following years of the French revolution with the sentiments, and grounds of argument assumed in the same class of Journals at present, and for some years past.
Whether the spirit of jacobinism, which the writings of Burke exorcised from the higher and from the literary classes, may not like the ghost in Hamlet, be heard moving and mining in the underground chambers with an activity the more dangerous because less noisy, may admit of a question. I have given my opinions on this point, and the grounds of them, in my letters to Judge Fletcher occasioned by his CHARGE to the Wexford grand jury, and published in the Courier. Be this as it may, the evil spirit of jealousy, and with it the cerberean whelps of feud and slander, no longer walk their rounds, in cultivated society.
Far different were the days to which these anecdotes have carried me back. The dark guesses of some zealous Quidnunc met with so congenial a soil in the grave alarm of a titled Dogberry of our neighbourhood, that a spy was actually sent down from the government pour surveillance of myself and friend. There must have been not only abundance, but variety of these “ honorable men” at the disposal of Mi., nisters : for this proved a very honest fellow. After three week's truly Indian perseverance in tracking us (for we were commonly together) during all which time seldom were we out of doors, but he contrived to be within hearing (and all the while utterly unsuspected; how indeed could such a suspicion enter our fancies ?) he not only rejected Sir Dogberry's request that he would try yet a little longer, but declared to him his belief, that both my friend and myself were as good subjects, for aught he could dis
er to the contrary, as any in His Majesty's dominions. He had repeatedly hid himself, he said, for hours together behind a bank at the sea-side (our favorite seat) and overheard our conversation. At first he fancied, that we were aware of our danger; for he often heard me talk of one Spy Nozy, which he was inclined
to interpret of himself, and of a remarkable feature belonging to him ; but he was speedily convinced that it was the name of a man who had made a book and lived long ago. Our talk ran most upon books, and we were perpetually desiring each other to look at this, and to listen to that ; but he could not catch a word about politics. Once he had joined me on the road ; (this occurred, as I was returning home alone from my friend's house, which was about three miles from my own cottage) and passing himself off as a traveller, he had entered into conversation with me, and talked of purpose in a democrat way in order to draw me out. The result, it appears, not only convinced him that I was no friend of jacobinism ; but (he added) I had “plainly made it out to be such a silly as well as wicked thing, that he felt ashamed, though he had only put it on." I distinctly remembered the occurrence, and had mentioned it immediately on my return, repeating what the traveller with his Bardolph nose had said, with my own answer ; and so little did I sus: pect the true object of my tempter ere accuser," that I expressed with no small pleasure my hope and belief, that the conversation had been of some service to the poor misled malcon. tent. This incident therefore prevented all doubt as to the truth of the report, which through a friendly medium came to me from
the master of the village inn, who had been ordered to entertain the Government Gentleman in his best manner, but above all to be silent concerning such a person being in his house. At length, he received Sir Dogberry's commands to accompany his guest at the final interview; and after the absolving suffrage of the gentleman honored with the confidence of Ministers answered, as follows, to the following queries ? D. Well, landlord ! and what do you know of the person in question ? L. I see him often pass by with maister -, my landlord (i.e. the owner of the house) and sometimes with the new-comers at Holford; but I never said a word to him or he to me. D. But do you not know, that he has distributed papers and hand-bills of a seditious nature among the common people! L. No, your honor! I never heard of such a thing. D. Have you not seen this Mr. Coleridge, or heard of, his haranguing and talking to knots and clusters of the inhabitants ?-What are you grinning at, Sir! L. Beg your honor's pardon ! but I was only thinking, how they'd have stared at him. If what I have heard be true, your honor! they would not havé, understood a word, he said. When our yicar was here, Dr. L. the master of the great school and canon of Windsor, there was a great dinner party at maister
's; and one of the farmers,