« PreviousContinue »
three years, the oppressions had continued for twenty years? whether, after all, there were hour-glasses for measuring the grievances of mana? kind? or whether those whose ideas never trati velled beyond a nisi prius cause, were better i calculated to ascertain what ought to be the length of an impeachment, than a rabbit who breeds six times in a year had to judge of the time proper for the gestation of an elephant?” Mr. Fox was equally severe in his strictures upon the legal profession.
The other chief public measures in which Mr. Burke took part were, by an eloquent speech, seconded by Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt, in support of Mr. Mitford's bill, granting indulgence to protesting Roman Catholic dissenters, or those who denied the Pope's supremacy in temporal matters ; on the slave trade; and on the Russian armament.
During the early part of the summer he paid a visit to Margate, for the benefit of the warm salt-water baths for Mrs. Burke, when an anecdote is related indicative of his strict sense of propriety in religious duties. At church, one day, he was unexpectedly saluted with a political seres mon, which, though complimentary to his own views of public affairs, was so little suited in his opinion to the place, that he displayed unequivocal symptoms of disapprobation by rising frequently, taking his hat as if to depart, and re-seating himself with evident chagrin. “ Surely,” said he, on another occasion, “ the church is a place where : one day's truce may be allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.",
Toward the end of August Sir Joshua Reynolds published a print of him, engraved by Benedetti, from his best portrait painted in 1775; underneath it the President caused to be engraved the following lines from the fifth book of Paradise Lost--the conduct of the good Abdiel; a strong allusion, it will be perceived, to the recent quarrel, and ex: pressing his sense of the proceedings of Opposition as well as of their treatment of his friend :
****sunt .“ So spake the fervent Angel, but his zea None seconded, as out of season judged,
1 1: 3,1 HIT Or singular and rash
at, Initiation and
the distans unmoved, but Unshaken, upseduced, unterrified; ;!!! His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal; Nor number nor example with him wrought To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind bound Though single. From amidst them forth he pass'd, fix Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustain'd Superior, nor of violence fear'd aught;... vi, And with retorted scorn his back he turn'd On those proud towers to swift destruction doom'."' t...) *}}}+3701*3is wat
Mr. Burke, whose humility was as distinguished as any other of his qualities, and who did not see the plate until a considerable number of impres: 1 sions had been worked off, urged the strongest remonstrances against the applicatioy of such lines to him ; and insisted, almost as the condition of cona. tinued friendship, that they should be obliterated, or the plate destroyed, as well as all the impressions, which had not been distributed. Sir Joshua com. plied with great reluctance, and very few are now: to be found. So far did Mr. Burke carry this
feeling, that whenever he met with one of the prints in the house of a friend, he used to beg it as a particular favour, in exchange for one without the lines, and it was no sooner obtained than destroyed.
At this period also it may be remarked, that the war of caricatures which had been carried on against him for many years with some wit and address, as well as against Mr. Fox and others of the Opposition, now turned in some degree in his favour. The Jesuit's dress, by which and by his spectacles he had hitherto been represented by them, was omitted, and he was afterwards.commonly drawn as confounding or exposing the apologists of the Revolution. A collection of these sketches, made by an admirer of Mr. Burke and an acquaintance of the writer, affords some amusing scenes at this period of time; the likeness is as faithful as caricature pretends to be, and some of his oratorical attitudes are very correctly caught. ::
Writings connected with French Affairs, and the Catholic Claims.-Sir Joshua Reynolds.-Negro Code.--Letter on the Death of Mr. Shackleton.War. Conduct of the Minority, and Policy of the Allies. Letter to Mr. Murphy. Preface to Brissot's Address.
In December 1791, Mr. Burke keeping his eye steadily fixed on the progress of the Revolution, as the great centre of interest to a statesman, drew up a paper, " Thoughts on French Affairs,” which was submitted to the private consideration of Ministry, and is marked by the same spirit of foreknowledge as his other writings on the subject. He arrives at three conclusions of which subsequent experience has taught us the truth that no counter-revolution in France was to be expected from internal causes only; that the longer the system existed it would become stronger both within and without; and that while it did exist, it would be the interest of the rulers there to disturb and distract all other governments.
The communication to him alluded to from the Empress of Russia, through Count de Woronzow, and Mr. Fawkener the British Minister produced in return a dignified and complimentary letter from Mr. Burke, dated from Beaconsfield, November the 1st, insinuating forcibly the necessity for her adopting, by active exertion as well as declaration, the cause of all Sovereigns, all churches, all no
bility, and all society; that the debt due by her predecessors to Europe for civilizing a vast empire, should not be repaid by that empire to rescue Europe from the new barbarism.'' An air of doubt, however, pervades this letter, as if he had some suspicion of her zeal ; and, if so, the result proved he did not mistake her character, as she did no. thing, and probably never meant to do any thing, against the revolutionary faction." Catherine, who possessed many of the qualities of a great Monarch, , was nevertheless the most selfish of politicians; to crime and selfishness, in fact, she owed her crowy; and feeling that no danger to it existed among her own subjects, where the first elements of freedom were unknown, she had not generosity enough to assist others in distress, where there appeared no prospect of immediate profit from the exertion. The purpose of her communication to Mr. Burke was probably to extract from him a letter of admiration and praise, being always ambitious of the notice of the great literary names of Europe; but in returning the courtesy due to a Sovereign and a female, it may be questioned whether he did not inflict some violence on his inclination.
of her private character there could be but one opinion. To the general politics of her court, as evinced toward Turkey and Poland, he was no greater friend, particularly in the business of the partitions of the latter, of which he avowed that honest detestation which every man, not a profligate politician or a robber by profession, must ever entertain.
The grievances of the Irish Catholics exciting