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youth ; had he been induced to reproduce in writing and bear more severe mental drudgery, great deeds would have been easy to him in after-days. He acquired such a habit of receiving from books and reproducing only a small part of what he received, and this, too, in slight and daily efforts, that the stimulus of others' thoughts became necessary for his comfort to an enervating degree. Books cease to be food, and become no better than cigars, or gin and water, when indulged in to excess after a certain period. It is distressing to see half the hours of such a man as Sir James Mackintosh for so many years consumed in reading of a desultory, though always interesting nature. We remember no diary that could in this respect vie with his, unless it be Lady M. W. Montague's after she retired from the world. For her it was very suitable, but we cannot excuse it in him, even beneath the burning Indian sky. We cannot help wishing he had been provided, as Mirabeau always was, with a literary taster and crammer; or that, at least, he might have felt that a man who means to think and write a great deal, must, after six and twenty, learn to read with his fingers. But nothing can be more luxuriously indolent than his style of reading. Reading aloud too, every evening, was not the thing for a man whom Nature had provided with so many tasks. That his apprenticeship had not been sufficiently severe, he himself felt and some. times laments. However, the copious journals of his reading are most entertaining, full of penetrating remarks and delicate critical touches. What his friend Lord Jeffrey mentions, “ firmness of mind," is remarkable here. Here, carelessly dashed off in a diary, are the best criticisms on Madame de Staël that we have
She had that stimulating kind of talent which is hardly possible for any one to criticise calmly who has felt its influence. And, as her pictures of life are such as to excite our hidden sympathies, a very detailed criticism upon her resembles a persural confession, while she is that sort of writer whom it is very easy to praise or blame in general terms. Sir James has seized the effect produced upon her works by the difference be. tween her ideal and real character. This is one great secret of her eloquence; to this mournful tone, which vibrates through all her brilliancy, most hearts respond without liking to own it. Here Sir James drew near to her; his feminine refinement of thought enabled him to appreciate hers, while a less impassioned temperament enabled him coolly to criticise her dazzling intui tions.
How much is comprehended in these few words upon Priestley.
“I have just read Priestley’s Life of himself. It is an honest, plain, and somewhat dry account of a well-spent life. But I never read such a narrative, however written, without feeling my mind softened and bettered, at least for a time. Priestley was a good man, though his life was too busy to leave him leisure for that refinement and ardor of moral sentiment, which have been felt by men of less blameless life. Frankness and disinterestedness in the avowal of his opinion were his point of honor. In other respects his morality was more useful than brilliant. But the virtue of the sentimental moralist is so over-precarious and ostentatious, that he can seldom be entitled to look down with contempt on the steady, though homely morals of the household.”
And those upon Mirabeau, to whom it is so very difficult for a good man to do justice. There is something of even Socratic beauty in the following:
“The letters of this extraordinary man are all full of the highest flights of virtuous sentiment, amidst the grossest obscenities and the constant violation of the most sacred duties. Yet these declarations of sentiment were not insincere. They were only useless, and perhaps pernicious, as they concealed from him that depravity which he could scarcely otherwise have endured.
“A fair recital of his conduct must always have the air of invective. Yet his mind had originally grand capabilities. It had many irregular sketches of high virtue, and he must have had many moments of the noblest moral enthusiasm.”
say Socratic beauty, for we know no one since the Greek, who seems to have so great a love for the beautiful in human nature with such a pity-(a pity how unlike the blindness of weak charity or hypocritical tenderness)—for the odious traits which are sometimes so closely allied with it. Sir James, allowing for all that was perverting in Mirabeau's position acting upon elements so fraught with good and ill, saw him as he was, no demon, but a miserable man become savage and diseased from circum. stances.
We should like to enrich this article with the highly finished miniature pictures of Fox, Windham, and Francis Xavier ; but here is little room, and we will content ourselves with these striking remarks
the Hindoo character. " The Rajpoots are the representatives of Hinduism. In them are seen all the qualities of the Hindu race, unmitigated by foreign mixture, exerted with their original energy, and displayed in the strongest light. They exhibit the genuine form of a Hindu community, formed of the most discordant materials, and combining the most extraordinary contrasts of moral nature, unconquerable adherence to native opinions and usages, with servile submission to any foreign yoke or unbelieving priesthood, ready to suffer martyrdom for the most petty observances of their professed faith; a superstition which inspires the resolution to inflict or to suffer the most atrocious barbarities, without cultivating any natural sentiment or enforcing any social duty; all the stages in the progress of society brought together in one nation, from some abject castes more brutal than the savages of New Zealand, to the polish of manners and refinement of character conspicuous in the upper ranks; attachment to kindred and to home, with no friendship, and no love of country; good temper and gentle disposition; little active cruelty, except when stimulated by superstition; but little sensibility, little compassion, scarcely any disposition to relieve suffering or relieve wrong done to themselves or others. Timidity, with its natural attendants, falsehood and meanness, in the ordinary relations of human life, joined with a capability of becoming excited to courage in the field, to military enthusiasm, to heroic self-devotion. Abstemiousness in some respects more rigorous than that of a western hermit, in a life of intoxication ; austerities and self-tortures almost incredible, practised by those who otherwise wallow in gross sensuality, childish levity, barefaced falsehood, no faith, no constancy, no shame, no belief in the existence of justice.”
But to return. Sir James's uncommon talents for conversation proved no less detrimental to his glory as an author or as a statesman, than the want of early discipline. Evanescent as are the triumphs, unsatisfactory as are the results of this sort of power, they are too intoxicating to be despised by any but minds of the greatest strength. Madame de Staél remarks: “Say what you will, men of genius must naturally be good talkers; the full mind delights to vent itself in every way.” Undoubtedly the great author, whether of plans or books, will not be likely to say uninteresting things; and unless early habits of seclusion have deprived him of readiness, and made it difficult for him to come near other minds in the usual ways, he will probably talk well. Put the most eloquent talkers cannot always converse even pleasingly; of this Madame de Staël herself was a striking instance. To take up a subject and harangue upon it, as was her wont, requires the same habits of mind with writing ; to converse, as could Sir J. Mackintosh, supposes habits quite dissimilar. The ready tact to apprehend the mood of your companions and their capacity for receiving what you can bestow, the skill to touch upon a variety of subjects with that lightness, grace, and rapidity, which constantly excite and never exhaust the attention, the love for sparkling sallies, the playfulness and variety, which make a man brilliant and attractive conversation, are the reverse of the love of method, the earnestness of concentration, and the onward march of thought, which are required by the higher kinds of writing. The butterfly is no less active than the eagle ; his wings of gauze move not less swiftly than those stronger pinions, he loses no moment, but visits every flower in the garden, and exults in the sunlight which he enriches : meanwhile the noble, but not more beautiful, winged one is soaring steadily upward to contemplate the source of light from the highest fields of ether. Add to this, that writing seems dry work, and but a languid way of transmitting thought to one accustomed to the electric excitement of personal intercourse; as on the other hand, conversation is generally too aimless and superficial to suit one, whose mental training has been severe and independent of immediate action from other intellects.
Every kind of power is admirable, and indefinitely useful ; if a man be born to talk, and can be satisfied to bring out his thoughts in conversation only or chiefly, let him. Sir James did so much in this way, stimulated so many young, enchanted and refined so many mature minds, blessed daily so many warm hearts; as a husband and a father, he appears so amiable, probably so much more so than he would if his ambition had glowed with greater intensity; what he did write, was so excellent, and so calculated to promote the best kind of culture, that if he could have been satisfied, we might; but he could not ; we find himself in his journals perpetually lamenting that his life was one of “ projects and inactivity.” For even achievements like his will seem mere idleness to one who has the capacity of achieving and doing so much more. Man can never come up to his ideal standard; it is the nature of the immortal spirit to raise that standard higher and higher as it goes from strength to strength, still upward and onward. Accordingly the wisest and greatest men are ever the most modest. Yet he who feels that if he is not what he would, he “ has done what he could,” is not without a serene self-complacency, (how remote from self-sufficiency!) the want of which embittered Sir James's latter years. Four great tasks presented themselves to him in the course of his life, which, perhaps, no man was better able to have performed. Nature seems to have intended him for a philosopher; since, to singular delicacy and precision of observation, he added such a tendency to generalization. In metaphysics he would have explored far, and his reports would have claimed our confidence ; since his candour and love of truth would have made it impossible for him to become the slave of system. He himself, and those who knew him best, believed this to be his forte. Had he left this aside, and devoted himself exclusively to politics, he would have been,