Obrazy na stronie

His sentiments too, were apparently simple; but sen25 timents were never adopted or uttered with greater skill;

he was often familiar and even playful, but it was the familiarity and playfulness of condescension - the lion that dandled with the kid. The terrible, however, was

his peculiar power. Then the whole house sunk before 30 him.--Still he was dignified; and wonderful as was his

eloquence, it was attended with this most important effect, that it impressed every hearer with a conviction, that there was something in him even finer than his

words; that the man was infinitely greater than the or35 ator. No impression of this kind was made by the elo quence of his son, or his son's antagonist.

Still,—with the great man,--for great he certainly was,-manner did much.

One of the fairest specimens which we possess of his lordship’s oratory, is his speech,

in 1776, for the repeal of the stamp act. 40 Most, perhaps, who read the report of this speech, in

Almon's Register, will wonder at the effect, which it is known to have produced on the hearers; yet the report is tolerably exact, and exhibits, although faintly, its lead

ing features. But they should have seen the look of in45 effable contempt, with which he surveyed the late Mr.

Grenville, who sat within one of him, and should have heard him say with that look,-"As to the late ministry, -every capital measure they have taken, has been

entirely wrong" They should also have beheld him, 50 when addressing himself to Mr. Grenville's successors,

he said, -- "As to the present gentlemen, - those, at least, whom I have in my eye,” -(looking at the bench on which Mr. Conway sat, "I have no objection; I

have never been made a sacrifice by any of them.55 Some of them have done me the honour to ask my poor

opinion, before they would engage to repeal the act:they will do me the justice to own, I did advise them to engage to do it,—but notwithstanding—(for I love to be

explicit,)-I cannot give them my confidence. Pardon 60 me, gentlemen,”—(bowing to them,) confidence is a

plant of slow growth.” Those, who remember the air of condescending protection, with which the bow was made, and the look given, when he spoke these words,

will recollect how much they themselves, at the moment, 65 were both delighted and awed, and what they themselves then conceived of the immeasurable superiority of the orator over every human being that surrounded

him. In the passages which we have cited, there is 70 nothing which an ordinary speaker might not have said;

it was the manner, and the manner only, which produced the effect.


Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt.—BUTLER. On his first separation from the ministry, Mr. Fox assumed the character of a whig.

Almost the whole of his political life was spent in opposition to his majesty's ministers. In vehemence and 5 power of argument he resembled Demosthenes; but

there the resemblance ended. He possessed a strain of ridicule and wit, which nature denied to the Athenian; and it was the more powerful, as it always appeared to

be blended with argument, and to result from it. To 10 the perfect composition which so eminently distinguish

es the speeches of Demosthenes, he had no pretence. He was heedless of method:-having the complete command of good words, he never sought for better; if

those, which occurred, expressed his meaning clearly 15 and forcibly, he paid little attention to their arrangement or harmony.

The moment of his grandeur was, when, after he had stated the argument of his adversary, with much greater

strength than his adversary had done, and with much 20 greater than any of his hearers thought possible, he

seized it with the strength of a giant, and tore and trampled on it to destruction. If, at this moment, he had possessed the power of the Athenian over the pas

sions or the imaginations of his hearers, he might have 25 disposed of the house at his pleasure; but this was de

nied to him; and, on this account, his speeches fell very short of the effect, which otherwise they must have produced.

It is difficult to decide on the comparative merit of 30 him and Mr. Pitt; the latter had not the vehement reasoning, or argumentative ridicule, of Mr. Fox: but he

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

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

the democratic spirit, then let looșe 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 concil 40 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

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.

55 was


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 nel, 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. 4 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 foots 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.


Lord Mansfield.—Percy. It is yet the traditionary tale of the country that gave this great orator and lawyer birth, that almost in infancy he was accustomed to declaim upon his native moun

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 prevailing 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

« PoprzedniaDalej »