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careful of kicking away and despising the ladder (if an unseemly one) by which he climbs to opulence, as the English. Let it be the humblest profession in the world — the sale of carrion, or the collecting of rags or rubbish, and that in consequence of success in it he is able to retire to his box, and set up his equipage in the purlieus of the metropolis:-John Bull never despises the carrion or the dust; they are the best of all possible things, and, in his estimate, for the best of all possible reasons, “they made him a warm man, and he is now as snug as a lord.”
His pride, too, is a plant of English growth ; and though he boasts a good deal, his boasts are not of the kind met with in the rest of the world. You never hear him giving himself airs on account of his ancestry; for if John be what he calls warm, he cares not a straw whether his grandfather was a duke or a dustman, “ Every man is himself, and no man is his father,” is John's theory; and upon this theory he acts very steadily. It is true that he does boast of being an Englishman,—that he does reckon his being born somewhere between Lowestoff and St. David's, and between Penzance and Berwick, as being a much more fortunate circumstance than if he had drawn his first breath in any other locality in the solar system. Old England is his, and he is Old England's : there is nothing like it in all the world; it can enrich the world, instruct the world, and, if properly provoked, conquer the world!
CHARACTER OF MR. WILBERFORCE.
ANONYMOUS. He whose wish is to emancipate opinion from penalty, will rejoice to have for his companion the man who has so eloquently pleaded the Catholic cause, and who for years stood forth the irrepressible champion of the rights of the Negro. Indeed, when I consider the ardent and persevering struggle which Mr. Wilberforce so long maintained against the united strength of power and prejudice, and contemplate his final success in that noble work, I feel it to be a humiliation to descend to scan petty defects, and the mere errors of our common humanity. Who that looks upon an abundant harvest, ripened by the rays of a summer sun, will sit down to calculate how often that sun has been overclouded ? Or, to come more to men and things, who would estimate Locke by his prolixity, or Shaks
peare by his puns ? Yet such is the rage for analyzing faults ;the common mind is so much more fitted to seize a flaw, than to comprehend an excellence, that a writer would be thought most blind and partial who would suffer even a saint to pass by unreprehended. What then can be alleged against Mr. Wilberforce? Want of decision (arising, some think, from timidity) seems to be his principal foible. Often will he support a position in a strain of eloquence to which the House is but little accustomed, and end in persuading almost every mind but his
He has at length, however, broken the chain of his scruples, and, with a warmth of language and manner quite his own, unequivocally recommended the abolition of penal statutes in religion. The speeches of Mr. Wilberforce, indeed, are among the
very few good things now remaining in the British Parliament: his diction is elegant, rich, and spirited: his tones are so distinct and so melodious, that the most hostile ear hangs on them delighted. Then his address is so insinuating, that, if he talked nonsense, you would feel yourself obliged to hear him. I recollect when the House had been tired night after night with discussing the endless questions relating to Indian policy, when the commerce and finances and resources of our oriental empire had exhausted the lungs of all the speakers, and the patience of all the auditors—at that period, Mr. Wilberforce, with a just confidence in his powers, ventured to broach the hackneyed subject of Hindoo conversion. He spoke three hours, hut nobody seemed fatigued: all, indeed, were pleased—some with the ingenious artifices of his manner, but most with the glowing language of his heart. Much as I differed from him in opinion, it was impossible not to be delighted with his eloquence : and though I wish most heartily that the Hindoos might be left to their own trinity, yet I felt disposed to agree with him, that some good must arise to the human mind, by being engaged in a controversy which will exercise most of its faculties. Mr. Wilberforce is now verging towards age, * and speaks but seldom ; he, however, never speaks without exciting a wish that he would say more ; he maintains, like Mr. Grattan, great respectability of character, by disdaining to mix in the daily paltry squabbles of party: he is no hunter after place, though it has been said he is a little too much haunted with a passion for which he may quote the authority of St. Paul, of
* Written in 1814 or 1815,
pleasing all men, and of being all to all.— I was sorry that the representative of the greatest county in the kingdom condescended to sit as member for a borough. But something must be forgiven to an old man whose habits are formed. Parliament has been to him the scene of all his active exertions, of his pleasures and his glory. We can pardon the old dramatist who goes every night to take his unviolated seat in the pit : we sympathize with the old soldier, who would hobble a whole day's march to see a review : and shall less indulgence be given to the man who shows a fondness to cling to the place ennobled by the memory of great men now no more, and endeared by the recollection of his own triumphs ! I confess I always look with equal respect and pleasure on this eloquent veteran, lingering among his bustling, but far inferior posterity; and well has he a right to linger on the spot where he achieved one of the greatest laurels that ever brightened in the wreath of fame: a laurel better than that of the hero, as it is not stained with blood or tears : better even than that of the statesman who improves the civilization of his country, inasmuch as to create is better than to improve. And the man whose labours abolished the Slave Trade, at one blow struck away the barbarism of a hundred nations, and elevated myriads of human beings, degraded to the brute, into all the dignified capacities of civilized man,—to have done this is the most noble, as it is the most useful work, which any individual could accomplish !*
CHARACTER OF SIR WILLIAM SCOTT,
ANONYMOUS. Among the men of cultivated understanding who have directed their powers to the public service, it would not be easy to find one who has brought more natural and acquired energies into action than Sir William Scott. His understanding is acute and inquisitive, and full of that excellent quality, good sense, by which the mind is enabled to detect imposition, and to
• This eminent Christian, unwearied philanthropist, and distinguished Parliamentary orator, whose memory posterity will revere in more than one quarter of the globe, died in 1833, aged 73 years.
stand firm against the violence of enthusiastic declamation : it is also ambitious and comprehensive, never content with picking its way through small details, but seizes at once the whole subject matter with all its possible appendages, conscious that it can manage it all with the easiest mastery, arranging every compartment, and dovetailing every joint. Besides this, his mind is stored with the best ancient and modern learning, philosophical, polite, and technical ; and the whole is corrected and adorned with the finest taste. So gifted and so improved, he is a person to whom it would be difficult to find a parallel, even on the bench of English judicature, though that bench has been frequently adorned with the most learned and accomplished men. Lord Coke is so mere a unique, that it would be ridiculous to compare him with any living thing, unless indeed he would come to earth, and furnish me with one of his own ludicrous and inimitable similes. The mind of the great and good Sir Matthew Hale was disfigured with bigotry, and perhaps with ostentation. Lord Somers was an honest man, of various and extensive learning, and with a very elegant taste : but he showed, occasionally, an infirmity of mind that corresponds but too accurately with that unhappy deprivation of his intellect that visited his later years.
Next to these, and in some respects greater than these, was Lord Mansfield, a man who at one time was the idol of all parties, and who even to the last, and in the midst of political animosities, retained the admiration of his enemies. sessed a more extended fame than usually falls to the lot of a lawyer: yet I think that, judging solely from the Books of Reports, no man could fairly say that any one of them could be put on an equality with some of those masterly interpretations of the law of nations, which are reported to have come from the lips of Sir William Scott. There is one judgment, and on a different subject, which strikes me as the finest combination of well-digested learning and elegant taste that can be found in the range of our literature. It is the decision in the case of Dalrymple and Dalrymple, where he has thought proper to discuss the whole doctrine of Scotch marriages, as well as to reason on the particular facts of the transaction laid before him. The quantity of reading there displayed is, perhaps, no more than should be expected from every judge; but who else could have distributed it with a skill which enforces conviction, and alone amounts almost to eloquence ? Who else could have
supplied the deep thinking and discriminative view of human character ? Who else could have handled the nicer parts of the subject with a delicacy from which the purest mind would not shrink? To speak a little of his Parliamentary conducthe is an enemy to the claims of the Catholics, and this, no doubt, with many, detracts much from the enlargement of his understanding. The Catholic Question, though not to be treated as some affect to treat it, as the easiest and the most a matter of course of any thing in the world, certainly does seem one on which it is difficult for enlightened men long to doubt. I wish too well to that cause to go out of my way to explain and justify a conduct which is so positively hostile: but it is only justice to Sir W. Scott to observe that his perseverance is not that of a vulgar bigot. He takes higher ground, and seems to think that the predominant party in a state should not suffer another to rise to sufficient strength to be able to conflict with it for the superiority. The reasoning may perhaps be correct, but the fear, on which in this case it is founded, seems entirely visionary, and arises probably from early habits and prejudices. Perhaps, as he owes his elevation to the present system (though indeed such a man must have risen under any system), he may view innovation with distaste, and cling to the existing order from mere gratitude. I am aware that this concession will
open a thousand mouths against me. “What! (I hear them exclaim) is your enlightened man degraded by the commonest prejudices of the commonest men ?” This question admits a very extended answer, but I shall content myself with a very short one: Yes, gentlemen, it may be so; and now make the most of the concession : deduct from his intellect all that even your anger shall think ought to be deducted on this score ; and when you
have so done, I will defy you to produce,—nor do I say this in spleen, for I am your friend,—but I defy you to produce in the ranks of your champions one who, even after these deductions are made, possesses so comprehensive and so enlightened a mind.”
Sir W. Scott began life as the tutor of his College, and his many improvements, together with his superior style of instruction, are still remembered there with gratitude and respect. He then became an active and learned Advocate, and has since presided in two courts, with an ability that has been equally serviceable to his country and to his own fame : for his name is not confined to this island, but is as much respected abroad aş