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panies, and actuates, and is even auxiliary to å powerful understanding; and when they both conspire and act harmoniously, their force is great to destroy disorder within and to repel injury from abroad.” “No revolution in public sentiment), civil or religious," says Sir Gilbert Elliott, writing in 1758 to the historian Robertson, “can be accomplished without that degree of ardour and passion which in a later age will be matter of ridicule to men who do not feel the occasion and enter into the spirit of the times."
Useful as this peculiar frame of mind is--and nothing great was ever accomplished without it-it is frequently prejudicial when carried into the discussion of ordinary affairs, or the common routine of opposition in the House of Commons, as Mr. Burke himself now and then experienced. It sometimes led him to undue warmth and positiveness in matters of inferior moment, which by seeming to master his temper, was also believed by those who did not know him well to bias his judgment. To many who neither saw so far nor so clearly into the tendency of measures as himself, it had the appearance of arrogance; to many, of dictation, obstinacy, or intractibility. It gave rise not unfrequently to illiberal surmises that he must have some personal interest in what he urged with so much heat and pertinacity; and impaired the effect of his eloquence in the opposite benches of the body whom he had to address, by an opinion, however unjust, that his views at times sprang from momentary passion or impetuosity rather
than from mature deliberation. Convinced in his own mind of being right, he was somewhat impatient of not being able to convince others equally soon; he did not perhaps make sufficient allowance for inferior understandings, for duller apprehensions, for more defective information; or always consider that as even obvious truths are of slow progress among the mass of mankind, so political truth, as involving a greater variety of interests, is received · with still more caution from those who do not possess power. He was early informed of this peculiarity in his public temperament, and expresses an intention to amend it so far back as 1777: the passage which is remarkable for advising Mr. Fox to beware of the same error, is contained in the letter written to him to Ireland—“I remember some years ago when I was pressing some points with great eagerness and anxiety, and complaining with great vexation to the Duke of Richmond of the little progress I made, he told me kindly, and I believe very truly, that though he was far from thinking so himself, other people could not be
persuaded I had not some latent private interest in pushing these matters, which I urged with an earnestness so extreme and so much approaching to passion. He was certainly in the right. I am thoroughly resolved to give both to myself and to my friends less vexation on these subjects than hitherto I have done ;-much less indeed. If you should grow too earnest, you will be still more inexcusable than I was. Your having entered into affairs so much younger ought to make them too familiar to you to be the cause of much agitation.” On another occasion he adverted in the House to his peculiarity—“an earnest and anxious perseverance of mind which with all its good and all its evil effects is moulded into my nature.” In private life it was never offensive, and only visible when employed in pushing the interests of his friends or in the duties of humanity.
Contemporary Opinions entertained of Mr. Burke.- His Elo
quence.--His Writings.-His leading Principles as Statesman.-Mr. Burke, Mr. Fox, Mr. Pitt.
OPINIONS FORMED OF MR. BURKE.
In adverting to a few of the features which particularly inarked the mind of this eminent man, there are to be found in them peculiarities which distinguish him from most others ; qualities which are almost inconsistent with each other, or which have been so seldom conjoined in any one person as to be thought inconsistent; a variety almost unbounded, a brilliancy which imposes upon the imagination, a solidity which convinces the judgment, a fancy singularly excursive in pursuit of striking and alluring figures, the presents of genius to the service of persuasion and truth, and a wisdom which when employed in the affairs of mankind was rigidly pinned down to the plain and straight-forward, and that which was founded upon experience and practice. This is so unusual a combination that perhaps another instance is not to be found. He not merely excelled all his contemporaries in the number of his powers, but some in the peculiar excellence belonging to each; a tolerable poet even while a boy, a penetrating philosopher, an acute critic, and a judicious historian when a very young man, a judge of the fine arts whose opinions even Reynolds valued, a political economist when the science was scarcely knowp here or known to very few, a statesman often pronounced one of the wisest that ever adorned our country, an orator second to none of any age, a writer of extraordinary powers on every subject, and on politics the first for depth and eloquence in our language ; and in addition to these, possessed of a vast and multifarious store of knowledge of which all who had any intercourse with him, whether friend or opponent, have spoken in terms of strong admiration and surprise. Like the celebrated Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, whose philosophy regarding matter he had once set himself the task to refute, there was nothing useful of which he could be said to be ignorant.
The testimony borne to his talents and acquirements during so many years by Dr. Johnson, a few of which have been repeated in this work, and more are to be found in Boswell's amusing volumes, would alone stamp the fame of any man. Even while travelling in the Hebrides this favourite topic of the great moralist was not forgotten : “I do not,” said he to Boswell, alluding to what he considered inferior minds who had acquired a lead they did not deserve in public affairs, “grudge Burke being the first man in the House of Commons, for he is the first man everywhere."
Lord Thurlow, after so many years of political bickerings, and whose judgment in consequence was not likely to be biassed by undue partiality,