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' arrangements with a friend in power; late reformations are terms imposed upon a conquered enemy: early reformations are made in cool blood; late reformations are made under a state of inflammation. In that state of things, the people behold in govern'ment nothing that is respectable. They see the abuse, and they will see nothing else: they fall into the temper of a furious populace provoked at the disorder of a house of ill fame; they
never attempt to correct or regulate; they go to work by the shortest way: to abate the nuisance, they pull down the house.
* This is my opinion with regard to the true interest of govern'ment. But as it is the interest of government that reformation should be early, it is the interest of the people that it should be temperate. It is their interest, because a temperate reform is permanent; and because it has a principle of growth. Whenever we improve, it is right to leave room for a further improvement. It is right to consider, to look about us, to examine the effect of what we have done. Then we can proceed with con'fidence, because we can proceed with intelligence.'
' In my opinion, it is our duty, when we have the desires of the people before us, to pursue them, not in the spirit of literal obedience, which may militate with their very principle, much ' less to treat them with a peevish and contentious litigation, as if we were adverse parties in a suit. It would, Sir, be most dishonourable for a faithful representative of the Commons, to take advantage of any inartificial expression of the people's wishes, in order to frustrate their attainment of what they have an undoubted right to expect. We are under infinite obligations to our constituents, who have raised us to so distinguished a trust, and have imparted such a degree of sanctity to common characters. “We ought to walk before them with purity, plainness, and integrity of heart; with filial love, and not with slavish fear, which is always a low and tricking thing.'
* If we should be able, by dexterity, or power, or intrigue, to disappoint the expectations of our constituents, what will it avail us? We shall never be strong or artful enough to parry, or to put by, the irresistible demands of our situation. That situation calls upon us, and upon our constituents too, with a voice which will be heard If all the nation are not equally forward to press this duty upon us, yet be assured, that 'they will equally expect we should perform it. The respectful silence of those who wait upon your pleasure ought to be as powerful with you, as the call of those who require your service as their right.' Some, without doors, affect to feel hurt for your dignity, because they suppose that menaces are held out to you.
* Justify their good opinion, by shewing that no menaces are necessary to stimulate you to your duty.-But, Sir, whilst we may sympathize with them, in one point, who sympathize with us in another, we ought to attend no less to those who approach us like men, and who, in the guise of petitioners, speak to us in
the tone of a concealed authority. It is not wise to force them 'to speak out more plainly, what they plainly mean.—But the petitioners are violent. Be it so. Those who are least anxious about your conduct, are not those that love you most. Moderate affection, and satiated enjoyment, are cold ' and respectful; but an ardent and injured passion is tempered up with wrath, and grief, and shame, and conscious worth, and the maddening sense of violated right. A jealous love lights his torch from the firebrands of the furies. They who call upon you to belong wholly to the people, are those who wish you to return to your proper home; to the sphere of your duty, to the post of your honour, to the mansion-house of all genuine,
serene, and solid satisfaction. We have furnished to the people . of England (indeed we have some real cause of jealousy. Let us leave that sort of company which, if it does not destroy our innocence, pollutes our honour; let us free ourselves at once * from every thing that can increase their suspicions, and inflame “their just resentment; let us cast away from us, with a generous scorn, all the love-tokens and symbols that we have been vain and light enough to accept ;-all the bracelets, and snuff-boxes, and miniature-pictures, and hair devices, and all the other adulterous trinkets that are the pledges of our alienation, and the monuments of our shame. Let us return to our legitimate home, and all jars and all quarrels will be lost in embraces. Let
the commons in parliament assembled be one and the same thing ' with the commons at large. The distinctions that are made to separate us are unnatural and wicked contrivances. Let us identify, let us incorporate ourselves with the people. Let us cut all the cables and snap the chains which tie us to an unfaith* ful shore, and enter the friendly harbour, that shoots far out
into the main its moles and jettees to receive us.—“ War with the world, and peace with our constituents.” Be this our motto, and our principle. Then, indeed, we shall be truly great. Respecting ourselves, we shall be respected by the world. At present, all is troubled, and cloudy, and distracted, and full of anger and turbulence, both abroad and at home; but the air may be * cleared by this storm, and light and fertility may follow it. Let
us give a faithful pledge to the people, that we honour, indeed, 'the crown, but that we belong to them; that we are their auxiliaries, and not their task-masters; the fellow-labourers in the same vineyard, not lording over their rights, but helpers of
their joy : that to tax them is a grievance to ourselves; but to cut off from our enjoyments to forward theirs, is the highest gra“tification we are capable of receiving.
The whole of this admirable speech, which will be found in the first volume of the present edition of the works, we recommend to the special perusal and study of our readers. It abounds at once with splendid passages and homely truths. The reform proposed was of so sweeping a character that it even throws into the shade all that has been hitherto accomplished by a reforming government. Mr. Burke proposed to abolish the Board of Trade, the Board of Works, the Colonial Secretaryship, the expensive office of Surveyor General, with the two chief justices in eyre,
the feudal services of the king's household, and the patent offices in the Exchequer; also, all subordinate treasuries; all ' jurisdictions which furnish more matter of expense, more temptation to oppression, or more means of corrupt influence, than advantage to political administration ; all public estates which are more subservient to the purposes of vexing, over-awing, and influencing those who hold under them, than of benefit to the revenue; and in a word, all offices which bring more charge than proportional advantage to the state.' • When the reason of old establishments is gone, it is absurd,' he maintained, 'to preserve nothing but the burden of them. This is superstitiously to - embalm a carcass not worth an ounce of the gums that are 6 used to preserve it. It is to burn precious oils in the tomb; 'it is to offer meat and drink to the dead; not so much an
honour to the deceased as a disgrace to the survivors.' (Vol. I. p. 239.)
The contrariety between sentiments and principles like these, and those to which Mr. Burke afterwards prostituted his eloquence,
is so total and violent, that neither the lapse of years nor the progress of events could warrant or explain it, apart from the change of party connexion which, in the mean time, he had undergone. Our object, in giving these lengthened extracts, has not been, however, to expose the inconsistency or to lower the authority of this great man, but to reclaim him from himself ;-to vindicate the fame of the political philosopher from the self-misrepresentations of the partisan ;-and, instead of attempting to prove that he underwent no revolution, to accomplish his restoration. Consistent in his political opinions, he was not; and upon this point we must differ entirely from the ingenious Author of this critical memoir, who fails in shewing anything more than that the character of Burke's mind remained the same under every change of his opinions. An anxiety to vindicate his integrity and pa
* Speeches. Vol. II. pp. 21–23; 88-90. See also pp. 231, 2; 254, 5 of vol. I. of the present edition.
triotism could alone, we think, have led the writer to attempt the establishment of what is more than a paradox,--an incompatibility, - the sameness of opposites. In other respects, his critical estimate of Burke is extremely discriminating, acute, and we might say, profoundly
, just. The analysis of the great orator's intellectual character is a fine specimen of philosophical biography; and the brilliant composition, sparkling with illustrations, seems to have caught a glow and richness of tint from the object of the Writer's admiration. We must make room for the following remarks upon the splendid faults of Burke's oratory.
A man who, with a very philosophical mind, has somehow or other become an orator, must always find it hard to struggle against the bias of his nature, especially if nature has been fixed by long habit; his mind will be sure to indicate its tendencies, and often just when they ought to be repressed; he will be fond of tracing particular instances to general rules, and of ascending from the particular circumstances of the case before him to maxims of universal application ; of doing this formally and explicitly, even where such a reference is already tacitly admitted; of entering into elaborate disquisition on the abstract excellence, beauty, and grandeur of such principles, and their mutual harmony Such disquisitory matter as this has become his delight, and he cannot refrain from it. To give it up, would be to do violence to all the tendencies of his nature and all the habits of his life; he would sooner hazard his success as an orator, than sacrifice his tastes as a philosopher. He forgets, or remembers to no purpose, that others have no sympathy with these peculiar pleasures ; that his intellect is, perhaps, the only one in the audience, which dwells with delight on such abstractions ; and that where the great principles which he is so fond of explaining and illustrating, are viewed only in their practical relation to the matter in hand, and not as subjects of speculative interest, any elaborate statement of them must necessarily be tedious.
The speeches of Burke, considered merely as speeches, are full of splendid errors of this description. He can seldom confine himself to a simple business-like view of the subject under discussion, or to close, rapid, compressed argumentation on it. On the contrary, he makes boundless excursions into all the regions of moral and political philosophy; is perpetually tracing up particular instances and subordinate principles to profound and comprehensive maxims; amplifying and expanding the most meagre materials into brief, but comprehensive, dissertations of political science, and incrusting (so to speak) the nucleus of the most insignificant fact with the most exquisite crystallizations of truth ; while the whole composition glitters and sparkles again with a rich profusion of moral reflections, equally beautiful and just. Indeed it may be said, that in adorning and illustrating a dry or common-place topic, in making even the most barren subject of disquisition suddenly and miraculously fertile, scarcely any author has even approached Burke. These very peculiarities, however, were often unfavourable to his success as an orator.
· But there was another quality of Burke's mind, almost as unfavourable to the attainment of the highest oratorical excellence, as his excessive tendency to philosophical speculation : we mean the exuberance of his fancy. Where this faculty is not used merely for the purpose of illustration, subordinated to the great object of conviction, it is sure to exert a pernicious influence; and where it is so used, it will be used sparingly. When a speaker indulges in very lengthened or elaborate imagery, a suspicion is sure to be engendered, (and, except in one or two instances of very extraordinary mental structure, that suspicion is uniformly just,) that he is scarcely in earnest ; that if he has an object, it is to commend his own eloquence, rather than to convince his audience; that his inspiration is not the inspiration of nature ; and for this
very sufficient reason, that it is not natural for intense emotion to express itself in the fantastic forms of laboured imagery. It has no business to go in search of remote or curious analogies. "It will often express itself figuratively, indeed, but the figures will be comparatively rare, briefly expressed, and in the condensed form of metaphor. Ulysses-like, the true orator is resolutely bent on pursuing his voyage, and the syrens of imagination sing in his ear in vain.
• When illustration is very abundant and elaborate, even the admiration it may excite will often be anything but friendly to the speaker's professed object, nay, the very reverse; the admiration will resemble that which is excited by a fine piece of poetry. If the orator be really successful, his hearers will be, at the moment of his success, quite unconscious of his oratorical merits.
• That it is possible to indulge in such exuberance of illustration, as to suspend the current of strong passions, and defeat the orator's avowed object, it is needless to
Such compositions, however beautiful the flowers of rhetoric which cover their surface, resemble some country brooks, whose beds shoot up such luxuriant vegetation, as almost to choke the channel of the waters. The rivers ceased to flow, said the fable, at the lyre of Orpheus ; and the music of the imagination will sometimes operate with equal power on the tide of passion.
· Burke's imagination does not often betray him into such excesses; yet it cannot be denied, that in his speeches it is often abused: the faults are of the same kind, they differ only in degree. It must at the same time be acknowledged, that the profuse employment of imagination is, in Burke, without affectation; he is one of the few above referred to, in whom prodigality of illustration was natural, and was perfectly compatible with intense emotion. Still, this does not affect the observations just made on his character as an orator. An exuberant imagination will produce the same effect on the audience, whatever the idiosyncracies of the speaker ; simply because they will judge from what they know to be the average of human nature, and not from individual peculiarities; they know and feel that such exuberance is not usually the natural ally of strong emotions. As human nature is generally constituted, it must be unfavourable to the exercise of intense passion.
• To illustrate these observations, it is only necessary for the reader to compare two or three passages of Demosthenes—who is universally admitted to be far superior to every other orator, and in nothing so much as in his sternly subordinating every thing to the great purpose