« PreviousContinue »
Many stand there in the pride of manhood, with the glow of health upon the cheek, the fire of energy beaming from the eye. Ah ! time will come with its ever-craving touch, will alter each line of grace and feature, and will bring, at last, its companion-reflection. The young politician must think that he will look back in years to come, and turn page by page, leaf by leaf, from the book of the past.
In old age he dreams that he stands again, for the first time, within Parliamentary walls -he was dreaming then—now he is wide awake; awake to the reflection that it has not been a fashionable, unimportant life which he has led, but that he has gone through a conflict of deep responsibility; that by healing the miseries of the sick at heart, he has drawn them nearer to their God, in thankfulness to the wise decree which has placed
the great over the poor, not to tyrannize, but to assist and befriend them.
Then, in such an hour of calm reflection, when the world is closing, when the dearlyprized joys of earth are retreating dimmer and dimmer down the receding panorama, when the fleeted years seem like some distant ship momentarily bearing further and further down the stream, then conscience is the only criterion by which a politician can judge whether he is worthy to say, “I stood in the House as a man watching over the interests of my fellow-man; I have done my duty ; I am worthy of being called a British Politician.”
It cannot be supposed that all our statesmen are desirous of cultivating literary pursuits, or that they be all possessed of the “furor scribendi :" but, although we are not at liberty to blame those noblemen who are not literary, we certainly, by the same rule, are allowed to praise those who employ their leisure hours in enriching our libraries, enlarging our understanding, and expanding our hearts. Not only do statesmen rationally employ their time by penning their well-digested opinions, but they also raise literature to that standard from whence too many persons are willing to pull it down. They evince by their example that cultivated minds are they who ought to pen the immortal page; they show that they have sympathy, feelings, and thoughts, which none save the educated can possess; the mere nobleman is unheeded, or rather the man of letters has raised the nobleman still higher.
No one can better understand at the same time the essential worldly difference, and yet the bond of paternal equality, between the rich and the poor, as those who make literature their pursuit.
To write well, we must think; and to think well, we must be just; to be just, we must be generous; and to be generous, we must have the conscious feeling of the equality of all flesh.
There are many, too many poor authors, leading a life of unrequited labour, dying a death of undeserved misery; but that circumstance should not deter the man of wealth and aristocratic birth from following the same industrious career. He need not fear to lose caste, for the distinction between the classes of society has ever been acknowledged. Those who put down the sovereign and the nobility are not only foolish, but egregiously selfish,— look at all republics, ye lovers of national equality, and tremble for the consequence !
From ages past statesmen have been busy in recording the annals of their time, or how do we learn that Theseus was to Athens what Alfred the Great was to Britain, and we are told that both acknowledged the necessity of dividing society into classes.
Statesmen need not fear that the word “Author" attached to their name can possibly detract from the highest nobility.