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Memoir. OF The LATE FRANCIS HORNER, Esq. M. P.
Of the many eminent and good men whom Great Britain may proudly boast of having produced,—who have dedicated their lives to the service of the state, and have ministered to the improvementand the happiness of their countrymen, not less by the exercise of splendid talents in the public councils of the nation, than by the bright example they have afforded in private life, of inflexible integrity, and the practice of every amiable virtue, there is certainly not one whose death has excited a deeper or more universal regret, than that of MR FRANCIs HoRNER. To the nation at large, as well as to those fortunate, though now afflicted, individuals, who were attached to him by the dearer ties of consanguinity and friendship, the loss of this excellent man is indeed irreparable. Statesmen beheld in him an example ever to be admired, and ever to be emulated, of great parts, and still greater worth, wholly and sincerely devoted to the attainment of the noblest of objects, our country's good, and the general improvement of mankind. It was their delight to contemplate, in this highly-gifted individual, a combination almost without a parallel,-of every virtue, and every acquirement, which can dignify and adorn the character of a public man;–a powerful understanding,<-various and profound knowledge, a sound and penetrating judgment,<-original and enlightened views, a correct and elegant taste,<an impressive yet modest eloquence,— a fervent but chastened zeal,—neverfailing discretion,-a high and independent feeling,<-and, above all, a Vol. I.
most unimpeachable honour. Where now, alas! shall good men search for, or searching find, a union so inestimable of intellectual and moral excel. lence, to cheer their hopes, and confirm their virtuous purposes, in these times of political difficulty and of relaxing principle. Splendid, however, as these his public virtues were, the knowledge of them served only to enhance the pleasure, which it was the peculiar happiness of his relations and friends to enjoy, from the contemplation of his private worth. , Dutiful, effectionate, and social; gentle, cheerful, and unassuming; full of kindness and full of charity; he was the joy and pride of his family, dear to every friend, and a perfect pattern of goodness in all the relations of domestic life. For these sorrowing individuals, this only consolation, now remains,—silently to dwell on the remembrance of his numerous virtues, and to fix the love of them for ever on their hearts. Of the exalted estimation in which Mr HoRNER's character was universally held, no testimony can be more gratifying or more unequivocal, than the tone of deep' and feeling regret with which his death was announced in all the public prints; and the strain of unexampled eulogy which was poured forth on his high attainments, and his generous nature, in the House of Commons, by political opponents as well as by private friends, on the melancholy occasion of moving for a new writ for the borough which he represented in Parliament. The following paragraph, admirable alike for its elegance and its truth, appeared in the Morning Chronicle of Friday, the 28th of February 1817.
“It is with deep concern we have to announce the death of Francis Horner, Esq. Member of Parliament for St Mawes. This melancholy event took place at Pisa on the 8th instant. We have had... seldom to lament a greater loss; or to bewill & more irreparable calamity. With an inflexible integrity, , and ardent attachmeht to liberty, Mr Horner, conjoined a tem
I am authorised in saying that the course is not wholly unprecedented. “My lamented friend, of whom I never can speak without feelings of the deepest regret, had been rendered incapable for some time past, in consequence of the bad state of his health, of applying himself to the labours of his profession, or to the discharge of his parliamentary duties. He was
pérande and discretion not always found..prevailed upon to try the effects of a
to accompany these virtués. Theiro pect in which he was held, and the deference with which he was listened to in the House of Commons, is a striking proof of the effect of moral qualities in a popular assembly. Without the adventitious aids of station or fortune, he had acquired a weight and influence in Parliament, which few men, whose lives were passed in opposition, have been able to obtain; and for this consideration he was infinitely less indebted to his eloquence and talents, eminent as they were, than to the opinion universally entertained of his public and private ractitude. His understanding was strong and comprehensive, his knowledge extensive and accurate, his judgment sound and clear, his conduct plain and direct. His eloquence, like his character, was grave and forcible, without a particle of vanity or presumption, free from rancour and personality, but full of deep and generous indignation against fraud, hypocrisy, or injustice.—He was a warm, zealous, and affectionate friend—high-minded and disinterested in his conduct—firm and decided in his opinions—modest and unassuming in his manners. To his private friends his death is a calamity they can never cease to deplore. To the public it is a loss not easily to be repaired, and, in times like these, most severely to be felt.” In the House of Commons, on Monday, March 3d, 1817, Lond MoRPETH rose, and spoke as follows:– “I rise to move that the speaker do issue his writ for a new member to serve in Parliament for the borough of St Mawes, in the room of the late Francis Horner, Esq. “In making this motion, I trust it will not appear presumptuous or officious, if I address a few words to the House upon this melancholy occasion. I am aware that it is rather an unusual course; but, without endeavouring to institutea parallel with other instances,
: milder and more genial climate—the '-hope was vain, and the attempt fruitless : he sunk beneath the slow but destructive effect of a lingering disease, which baffled the power of medicine and the influence of climate; but under the pressure of increasing infirmity, under the infliction of a debilitating and exhausting malady, he preserved undiminished the serenity of his amiable temper, and the composure, the vigour, and firmness of his excellent and cnlightened understanding. I may, perhaps, be permitted; without penetrating too far into the more sequestered paths of private life, to allude to those mild virtues—those domestic charities, which embellished while they dignified his private character. I may be permitted to observe, that, as a son and as a brother, he was eminently dutiful and affectionate; but I am aware that these qualities, however amiable, can hardly, with strict propriety, be addressed to the consideration of Parliament. When, however, they are blended, interwoven, and incorporated in the character of a public man, they become a species of public property, and, by their influence and example, essentially augment the general stock of public virtue. “For his qualifications as a public man I can confidently appeal to a wider circle—to that learned profession of which he was a distinguished ornament—to this House, where his exertions will be long remembered with mingled feelings of regret and admiration. It is not necessary for me to enter into the detail of his graver studies and occupations. . I may be allowed to say generally, that he raised the edifice of his fair fame upon a good and solid foundation—upon the firm basis of conscientious principle. He was ardent in the pursuit of truth; he was inflexible in his adherence to the great principles of justice and of right. Whenever he delivered in this House the ideas of his clear and intelligent mind, he employed that chaste, simple, but at the same time, nervous and impressive style of oratory which seemed admirably adapted to the elucidation and discussion of important business : it seemed to combine the force and precision of legal argument with the acquirements and knowledge of a statesman. “Of his political opinions it is not necessary for me to enter into any detailed statement; they are sufficiently known, and do not require from me any comment or illustration. I am confident that his political opponents will admit, that he never courted popularity by any unbecoming or unworthy means; they will have the candour to allow, that the expression of his political opinions, however firm, manly, and decided, was untinctured with moroseness, and unembittered with any personal animosity or rancorous reflection. From these feelings he was effectually exempted by the operation of those qualities which formed the grace and the charm of his private life. “ But successful as his exertions were, both in this House and in the Courts of Law, considering the contracted span of his life, they can only be looked upon as the harbingers of his maturer fame, as the presages and the anticipations of a more exalted reputation. But his career was prematurely closed. That his loss to his family and his friends is irreparable, can be readily conceived; but I may add, that to this House and the country it is a loss of no ordinary magnitude; in these times it will be severely felt. In these times, however, when the structure of the constitution is undergoing close and rigorous investigation, on the part of some with the view of exposing its defects, on the part of others with that of displaying its beauties and perfections, we may derive some consolation from the reflection, that a man not possessed of the advantages of hereditary rank or of very ample fortune, was enabled, by the exertion of his own honourable industry—by the successful cultivation of his native talents, to vindicate to himself a station and eminence in society, which the proudest and wealthiest might envy and admire. “I ought to apologize to the House, not, I trust, for having introduced the subject to their notice, for of that I
hope I shall stand acquitted, but for. having paid so imperfect and inadequate a tribute to the memory of my departed friend.” Mr CANNING.—“Of all theinstances wherein the same course has been adopted, as that which my Noble Friend has pursued with so much feeling and good taste on this occasion, I do not remember one more likely than the present to conciliate the general approbation and sympathy of the House. “I, Sir, had not the happiness (a happiness now counterbalanced by a proportionate excess of sorrow and regret) to be acquainted personally, in private life, with the distinguished and amiable individual whose loss we have to deplore. . I knew him only within the walls of the House of Commons. And even here, from the circumstance of my absence during the last two sessions, I had not the good fortune to witness the later and more matured exhibition of his talents; which (as I am informed, and can well believe) at once kept the promise of his earlier years, and opened still wider expectations of future excellence. “But I had seen enough of him to share in those expectations, and to be sensible of what this House and the country have lost by his being so prematurely taken from us. “He had, indeed, qualifications eminently calculated to obtain and to deserve success. His sound principles— his enlarged views—his various and accurate knowledge—the even tenor of his manly and temperate eloquence —the genuineness of his warmth, when into warmth he was betrayed—and, above all, the singular modesty with which he bore his faculties, and which shed a grace and lustre over them all; these qualifications, added to the known blamelessness and purity of his private character, did not more endear him to his friends, than they commanded the respect of those to whom he was opposed in adverse politics; they ensured to every effort of his abilities an attentive and favouring audience; and secured for him, as the result of all, a solid and unenvied reputation. “I cannot conclude, sir, without adverting to a topic in the latter part of the speech of my Noble Friend, upon which I most entirely concur with him. It would not be seemly to mix with the mournful subject of our present contemplation any thing of a controversial nature; but when, for the second time within a short course of years, the name of an obscure borough is brought before us as vacated by the loss of conspicuous talents and character,” it may be permitted to me, with my avowed and notorious opinions on the subject of Parliamentary Constitution, to state, without offence, that it is at least some consolation for the imputed theoretical defects of that constitution, that in practice it works so well. A system of representation cannot be wholly vicious, and altogether inadequate to its purposes, which sends to this House a succession of such men as those whom we have now in our remembrance, here to develope the talents with which God has endowed them, and to attain that eminence in the view of their country, from which they may be one day called to aid her counsels, and to sustain her greatness and her glory.” Mr MANNERs Su TTo N.—“ I know not whether I ought, even for a moment, to intrude myself on the House: I am o incapable of adding any thing to what has been so well, so feelingly, and so truly stated on this melancholy occasion; and yet I hope, without the appearance of presumption, I may be permitted to say, from the bottom of my heart, I share in every sentiment that has been expressed. “It was my good fortune, some few years back, to live in habits of great intimacy and friendship with Mr Horner: . change of circumstances, my quitting the profession to which we both belonged, broke in upon those habits of intercourse; but I hope and believe I may flatter myself the feeling was mutual. For myself, at least, I can most honestly say, that no change of circumstances—no difference of politics—no interruption to our habits of intercourse, even in the slightest degree diminished the respect, the regard, and the affection I most sincerely entertained for him. “This House can well appreciate the heavy loss we have sustained in him as a public man. In these times, indeed in all times, so perfect a combination of commanding talents, indefa
* Mr Windham, who represented St Mawes in 1806, died member for Higham Ferrers in 1810.
tigable industry, and stern integrity, must be a severe public loss; but no man, who has not had the happiness —the blessing, I might say—to have known him as a friend; who has not witnessed the many virtues and endearing qualities that characterized him in the circle of his acquaintance, can adequately conceive the irreparable chasm in private life this lamentable event has made. “In my conscience, I believe, there never lived the man, of whom it could more truly be said, that, whenever he was found in public life, he was respected and admired—whenever he was known in private life, he was most affectionately beloved. “I will no longer try the patience of the House: I was anxious, indeed, that they should bear with me for a few moments, whilst I endeavoured, not to add my tribute to the regard and veneration in which his memory ought, and assuredly will be held; but whilst I endeavoured, however feebly, to discharge a debt of gratitude, and do a justice to my own feelings.” Mr WYNN said, “ that his Noble Friend (Lord Morpeth), and his Right Hon. Friend who had last spoken (Mr M. Sutton), had expressed themselves concerning their departed friend with that feeling of affection and esteem which did them so much honour, and which was heightened by their habits of intimacy, and their opportunities of observing his character; but the virtues by which he was distinguished were not confined within the circle of his acquaintance, or concealed from the view of the world. Every one who saw Mr Horner had the means of judging of his temper, his mildness, and his personal virtues; for they were seen by all. He carried with him to public life, and into the duties and the business of his public station, all that gentleness of disposition, all that amemity of feeling, which adorned his private life, and endeared him to his private friends. Amidst the heats and contests of the House, amidst the vehemence of political discussion, amidst the greatest conflicts of opinion and opposition of judgment, he maintained the same mildness and serenity of disposition and temper. No eagerness of debate, no warmth of feeling, no enthusiasm for his own opinions, or con