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face of it seemingly opposed to old tenets ; and never attended to," so, after that event, but the statesman must not, while maintain- made him into a sort of political hermit. It ing new dogmas, seem to have abandoned was, at all events, the kind of character than the old. Burke was in the right at both pe- which none could be more unsuitable to a riods of his parliamentary career; but he political leader. stood somewhat in the position of a rene- It may indeed be objected that a man can gade in the eyes of his contemporaries, be- be scarcely reckoned among unpractical cause, in the triumph of Liberalism abroad, men, who always effected that which he he threw himself, with his whole weight, into attempted; who harangued against the the opposite scale, as though the iniquities American War, and helped to crush the of a party in one country could ever justify Cabinet which supported it; who led the the desertion of the analogous party in an- onslaught upon pensions and places, and other. Burke argued as though Liberals curtailed that form of bribery; who took were, if not to abnegate, at all events to up the cause of India in a scornful, neglectpreserve complete silence about their princi- ful House of Commons, and made them ples in England, because those principles take up that cause as their own ; who, lastly, abroad had been perverted. It was this when repudiated by his old friends, could that alienated from him and enraged his old teach them that, " if his support was of no companions, not altogether without reason ; account, his hostility was to be dreaded, for and it was a character which led him at dif- that he held their political fortunes in his ferent periods of his life into conduct of possession, and was to strike a blow from this sort, which has, without detracting from which the party would not recover for more his greatness in the eyes of posterity as a than a generation.” But success is not alphilosophical statesman, justified, at the ways a proof of practical abilities. These same time, the demeanor of men like Fox are shown, not so much by the energy of an towards him.
onslaught upon hostile views, as by the use Persons who assert that he was guided by made of opportunities, and the power, in corrupt motives in acting as he did, by of- new circumstances, of maintaining the same fended vanity, if not by the grosser incen- relation to old friends. Burke was right in tives of self-interest, are not worth reason- his dislike of the excesses of the French ing with. In no sense of the term can he be reformers, but wrong in that he manifested called a selfish man; but yet he was the prey his aversion, not by carrying his party along of an absorbing, however noble, egotism: a with him in condemning, as a party, these feeling that his own sentiments were the excesses, but by passing over in spirit, as true standard by which all true patriots well as in fact, and “squeezing himself in should guage theirs. This is a common between Pitt and Dundas,” at the head of accompaniment of that literary type which the English Conservatives. When he did is observed to predominate, not merely in this, he did in effect retire from active politprofessional men of letters, but even in some ical life, as the Whig newspaper organs, in lawyers and statesmen. It is a tone of their insolent way, gave out. Henceforth, thought which redeems their words and writ- he only did in Parliament what he might ings from the risk of superannuation ; but have accomplished as well out ; viz., deliver it is, in almost every case, indicative of some eloquent and often profound essays. The want of capacity for adaptation to the exi- very fact, mentioned by his latest biogragencies of the time. It was this egotism pher, as though to demonstrate his influence which “broke into fragments,” as Lord as a practical statesman, that “no great John Russell confesses in his “ Life of Fox," debate passes now without Burke being “the great and firm body of the English appealed to as the most unexceptionable auWhigs.” It was this same quality, or rather thority by one side or the other, and genercolor of disposition and temperament, which, ally by both sides," proves too much, indias before the French Revolution it had cating his true position as being, perhaps, caused him to be, as Mr. Macknight says above both parties, but certainly not at the was the case, “not on the best of terms head of either. with his party, particularly Sheridan and That his contemporaries should not have Fox, his advice boing scarcely ever asked, clearly recognized his isolated grandeur, while acutely detecting his impracticability mind of the extravagances of the French as a leader was to be expected. Mr. Mack- Revolution, he wrote and spoke in a way to night accounts it a gross crime. Literary men justify the charge of Francis, that "it was are rather too fond of assuming that it is the easy to pity sufferings of individuals, but no bounden duty of all of practical abilities to bow tears were shed for nations ; " or Fox's redown to those who can accomplish results tort upon him of an expression used by himonly in the future. Fox was but little of a self in the interest of our revolted colonies, philosopher, and perhaps still less of a lit-" I do not know how to draw up a bill of erary man. Pitt has left no works behind indictment against a whole people.” We him but the great one of the national debt; must repeat, that his error as a politician and, consequently, when the latter came lay, not in the fact that he ever consciously, into collision with Burke on the matter of if sometimes unconsciously, said what was Şir Elijah Impey, we are told that such con- false, or disguised the truth; but that he did duct was "unbecoming in one who was so not care to temper one conviction of his mind much the inferior in years, in attainments, with another, but now threw his whole weight and in genius,” while Fox's opposition to a into the one scale, now into the other. We tone which seemed to compromise English who have before us his whole career as a liberalism is denounced as obviously incon- statesman, can see that he was never, or very sistent with his former generous assertion rarely, in sentiment inconsistent, for that that he had learned more from Burke than one impulse of aversion for tyranny balanced from all the books he ever read; and he is another impulse of loathing for a raw fervor held up to reprobation as clearly the ag- of innovation. His contemporaries may be gressor in an indefensible quarrel. We do pardoned for not laboriously weighing against not see this. Some great men’s greatness a furious burst of invective against the one produces its fruits at once, and that of oth- an equally violent assault upon the other. ers ripens more slowly. Let both have their It is a rather ungrateful task to attempt propor ate praise and rank. It is unfair to discover in grand a statesman's own for those who are to reap innumerable har- temperament a reason for his own personal vests of fame and sympathy in futurity, to insignificance in the midst of the triumph of require homage from the men who can give his tenets and schemes. It is ungrateful, their age but one impulse, and then are not merely because it appears to imply a gone.
depreciation of this wonderful genius, but While Lord Rockingham lived, the defects still more as liable to be regarded as a deof Burke's political character were not very fence of the parties which, at the same time, apparent. He was able—no one better profited by and maltreated him. We have to spy out a weakness in the adversary's ar- endeavored to show why it was that his comguments, and point an attack; and his def- panions dared to spurn and ridicule his erence for his great and docile patron made counsels ; but the explanation of the cause him submit readily to the directions fur- is no apology for the fact. Those hootings nished by that nobleman's characteristic and obstinate determination to hear nothing caution as to the proper time and objects opposed to their own favorite dogmas, are a for the onslaught. He never learned that dsigrace upon not only the Whig interest, for one object he should not sacrifice all but the House of Commons as a deliberative others; but, during that earlier period, he assembly. acquiesced in such views when taken by his The same intemperateness which made colleagues. Subsequently, when emanci- him, while so far-sighted in perceiving obpated from patrons, and independent, he jects at any distance in a straight line, utacted as though every thing ought to be neg- terly incapable of reconnoitring the circumlected and thrown aside till the one topic of jacent circumstances, followed him into prihis mind was thoroughly exhausted. Con- vate life. The death of an only son almost siderateness for the accused, during the deprived him of reason ; and the love of prosecution of Hastings, he regarded as splendor and good taste made him, for rearsympathy with his imputed crimes ; and, ing a mansion with a beautiful wings and with his imagination and passions kindled stately colonnades," accumulate debts the almost into frenzy by the reflection in his discharging of which tasked and occupied the residue of his widow's days, and forced ently desperate. But with the analogy of the the overthrower of pension-lists to receive contrast in both between their tone of feeling thankfully part of the royal or national and the policy, of effectuating which they were bounty. It need scarcely be said that we the chief instruments, the resemblance besee no crime in Burke's accepting of this fa-tween them stops. The Englishman-for it vor at the hands of the ministers ; yet it is is impossible to think of Burke as an Irishunpleasant to find that this unselfish patriot man—was never the agent in carrying out put himself by uncalled-for extravagance the plans which he made triumph. He perinto an apparently equivocal position: and suaded practical men of their practicability; we must protest against Mr. Macknight's and his pupils, now a Fox and now a Pitt, argument, that they have no right to ac- brought them into operation. He ever held cuse Burke of prodigality who can see noth- himself out as a man of action ; but his acing in Hastings' pecuniary transactions to tivity seldom ever extended beyond words. blame. The expenses of Hastings' trial He controlled opinion, but not votes. The were forced upon him ; but surely the free American leader propounded no theories ; hospitality and magnificence of Beaconsfield but he gave to ideas form and substance. were voluntary luxuries on the part of his Men learned what were his thoughts only great accuser.
from his deeds. Other men's words explain Yet Burke, such as he was, will always be their life ; his life was its own interpreter. reckoned, whether from the potentiality of his About a man of this type every contempogenius or the actual effects produced by him, rary record and reminiscence possesses an among the really great men of Europe. He inestimable value. We are interested in in England, and Washington in America, minute particulars respecting Burke. It is have set their mark ineffaceably upon the pleasant to hear of his efforts at farming, of eighteenth century. Nevertheless, the re- his reproof of the condemnation of indissults which were mainly due to their exer- criminate charity, because its broken-down tions in neither case seem to have been in object might spend the alms in gin—“if gin exact accordance with the general tenor of will give him comfort, let him have gin ; " their author's temperament. Burke was but it is only, after all, the objectless curiossurely an ardent lover of his country's great- ity, which dwells eagerly on every detail ness; but it was his eloquent voice which, about those we admire, and whom we alby pleading against the advocates for the ready have thoroughly scanned, which is justice of the colonial war, damped the na- gratified. It is like the pleasure at dwelltional enthusiasm, gave the sympathies of ing on every feature of a scene we can see half the land to the insurgents, and so made any day we please, as compared with the eventual success hopeless; for who can sup- very different sentiment of a man planning pose that however just the revolutionary emigration, looking at a photograph of an cause, had Great Britain determined to con- Australian prairie. In Burke's works we quer, it could not have done so ? He was have all the essential materials for a comequally a friend of liberty; yet his passion- plete insight into his character. Every deate denunciations revived Toryism, and were tail of his private domestic life and habits is appealed to, most undeservedly it is true, as only useful as corroborating a foregone conauthorities for tyranny by all the despots of clusion. If those furnished in a biography Europe. Washington, on the contrary, was were opposed to the clear inferences derived by birth and connections, by antecedents, from his works, the reader would be inclined and, still more, by disposition, a Conserva- rather to put the stories on one side as untive, a born friend of aristocracy, and hater true, or as capable, were the circumstances of democracy. Further, he disliked theory, fully narrated, of bearing a different conand seemed to understand only the practi-struction, than to adandon in their favor the cal bearing of measures. Yet to him almost conclusion already come 10. But Washingexclusively the United States are indebted ton's character is to be translated, as it for the triumph of their Revolution, and the were, entirely out of the cipher of his acfavorers of revolution for a proof of the tions; and as no interpretation of bieropracticability of schemes, however appar-glyphics can be accepted which is completely
irreconcilable with one inscription in the emperor raised to the dignity of consul. same character, every portion of his life re- This sorrel was of fierce, ungovernable naquires to be held up to the closest scrutiny. ture, and resisted all attempts to subject
One of the most striking characteristics of him to the rein. He had reached his fullthis great man is his entire absence of re-est size and vigor unconscious of a rider; semblance to the majority of his country- he ranged free in the air which he snuffed in men. These Recollections of him by his triumph, tossing his mane to the winds, and adopted son, while suggesting most vividly spurning the earth in the pride of his freehis character, themselves contain most ter- dom. It was a matter of common remark rible evidence of the tawdry love of the that a man never would be found hardy stilted and mock-poetic which has so long enough to back and ride this vicious horse. been the besetting sin of American litera- Several had essayed, but, deterred by the ture. Why should all American authors, fury of the animal, they had desisted from with but two or three undoubted exceptions, their attempts, and the steed remained unharangue on the topics of every-day life in broken. The young Washington proposed the style of Choctaws in their war paint ? to his companions, that if they would assist As the beauteous Melusine, in the fairy tale him in confining the steed, so that a bridle had to atone for her unnatural exchange of could be placed in his mouth, he would enher original form for feminine loveliness, by gage to ride this terror of the parish. Acre-assuming, on periodical occasions, her cordingly, early the ensuing morning, the ashereditary snakehood, is the national genius sociates decoyed the horse into an enclosure, of the New World doomed to expiate its pre- where they secured him, and forced a bit cocious practical-mindedness, its propensity into his mouth. Bold, vigorous, and young, for wooden nutmegs, and such pleasant ex- the daring rider sprang to his unenvied seat, uberances of a trafficking enthusiasm, by and bidding his comrades remove their reverting in its literature to the petty pom- tackle, the indignant courser rushed to the posities of the aborigines of its backwoods ? plain. As if disdaining his burden, he at Two exceptions there certainly are to this first attempted to fly; but soon felt the rule of majestic trifling-Irving and Long- power of an arm which could have turned fellow. We might have supposed that the his Arab grandsires in their wildest courses precociousness of the national hero in the on their native deserts. The struggle now first case, and the circumstance of having became terrific to the beholders. But the inhabited the general's quarters at Cam- youthful hero, that 'Spirit-protected man,' bridge in the second, had protected them clung to the furious steed, till, centaur-like, from the pervading infection, but for the in- he appeared to make part of the animal itauspicious appearance of the plague-marks self. Long was the conflict; and the fears thick on the effusions of Washington's own of the associates became more relieved as, child by adoption and education.
with matchless skill, the rider preserved his The reader of this otherwise interesting seat, and with unyielding force controlled volume is again and again nauseated by ro- the courser's rage, when the gallant horse, mantic garnishings of a really heroic career. summoning all his powers to one mighty efWe cannot get through twenty pages with-fort, reared and plunged with tremendous out being informed of some apocryphal In- violence, burst his noble heart, and died in dian chief's declaration, that “the Great an instant.” We further learn, in various Spirit protected that man, that he might places, that Washington's mother, “the become the chief of nations," or being told Mother of Romans," “who first bent the that he was “Pater Patriæ," and also“ first in twig to incline the tree to glory,” war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his made of sterner stuff than to be moved by countrymen.” The following episode in the all the pride that glory ever gave, and all boyhood of Washington may be quoted, both the pomp and circumstance of power ; " that as instancing his firm courage from the first, the modern Cincinnatus” “gave to liberand as a fair sample of the diction of the ty's drooping eagles a renewed and bolder book : “One colt there was, a sorrel, des- flight, when a mercenary foe aimed against tined to be as famous (?), and for much bet- him the fatal blow ;” that, "on seeing his ter reason, as the horse which the brutal commander standing amidst a roar of mus
ketry, alive, unharmed, and without a wound, made the brand “ George Washington " exhis aid, a gallant and warm-hearted son of empt a barrel of flour from the customary Erin, a man of thews and sinews, and albeit inspection in the West India ports ; the inunused to the melting mood, wept like a variable toast, “ All our friends," after din. child for joy;" that when he went to bed, ner; his honest exactness in doing a day's he was visited, not by plain sleep, but by work in the day, his love of domestic social " tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep;" conversation, his cheerful piety, the Sunday that “his physiognomy did not in its type readings of old-fashioned standard English express the reckless ambition of the broad- divines, the frequent walk to his watchfronted Cæsar, or the luxurious indulgence maker when in Philadelphia to regulate his of the curled Anthony, but rather the bet- watch, the moving of the lips and raising of ter age of Rome, the Fabius Maximus, Mar- the hand, marking meditations very differcellus, or the Scipios; that, in short, he had ent from the scene around him; even the a form upon which every god did seem to kindly grasp of a coach-maker's hand by the set his seal, to give the world assurance of president of a great nation, and the evera man; " that when he was a few minutes thoughtful care for his old servants and solbehind his time, "'twas strange, 'twas pass- diers ; the otherwise most trifling details, of ing strange;" and that the Father of his which this volume has certainly its full Country's epoch was “the awful period that share, all borrow dignity from their subject, tried men's souls.” But it is useless attempt- and are as interesting as the greatest events ing to give the reader a conception of the in the lives of ordinary statesmen. inflation of style in this volume; for in every The “ Recollections” embrace all the four page-nay, almost in every line-we see, as divisions of Washington's life his career it were, the writer's intellect and fancy poised previous to the War of Independence, the upon tiptoe, trying, it may be imagined, to war itself, his demeanor as President, and look over into a vessel of certainly very dis- finally, his happy retirement till his death, proportionate dimensions to his adopted full of years, honors, and love, at Mount son's genius. The ludicrousness of this vast Vernon. Many most interesting particulars expenditure of rhetoric is made the more -interesting spite of the air of burlesque manifest by the conspicuous reserve and spread over them by the author's ambitious simplicity of character in the subject of its ultra-Homeric style--are narrated about the “ Recollections," which it is their great merit earliest of these times; but Sparkes and to have especially brought to light and dis- Washington Irving have already culled most played. In a life of Patrick Henry, of Jef- of the flowers. In the second period we ferson, or of Webster, we have no right to discover everywhere suggestions for a conbe startled at finding the Æneid or Phar- futation of the popular depreciation of Washsalia done into English blank verse, with the ington's generalship. It has been the habit divisions of the lines not marked, and the to represent him as accomplishing every title of Biography prefixed; but à priori thing, as it were, by the perfection of his one might have hoped to have had memo- moral character, or through the miserable rials of Washington at least treated as sa- mismanagement of the British. It is very cred ground, not to be desecrated by plaster true that, without assistance from the latter monuments to the eloquence of their pre-cause, the germ of a nation like the Amerserver or compiler.
ican colonies could not have wrenched themIt is pleasant to find that, in this nation selves free from a great empire such as ours; of talkers, Washington was distinguished, but it was not at all so sufficiently greater in even in his youth, when he sat in the Pre-extent than the gross incapacity of many of revolutionary House of Burgesses, as a si- the colonial commander's dictators in Conlent rather than a speaking member. But gress, and his coadjutors elsewhere, as to even much more minute particulars have a explain the final result without the recognisignificance as respects this great character. tion, as essential in accomplishing this, of The regularity of his taste, even at a luxu- the genius of Washington himself. Lord rious Virginian breakfast-table, when he al- Stanhope, in the narrative of these events ways chose simply Indian cakes, honey, and contained in his most judicious history, aptea; the veracity in all his dealings, which pears to find, in the conduct at home of Lord ·