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unravelling of some perplexity, which, though of consequence possibly to the completeness of the history, is not of the smallest importance to its use, must have consumed the labour and time which might have produced a powerful illustration of some subject immediately momentous to the public welfare, and prevented inore mischief than all histories of England ever did good
During this whole career, the favourite of our imagination keeps far aloof from all personal turpitude; and Howard was just as capable of insulting misery, or John de Witte of carrying on a paltry intrigue, or Eustace St. Pierre of betraying his fellow-citizens, as our statesman of mingling with the basest refuse of human nature at Newmarket and the gambling house, not to mention houses of any other description. We should have suspected ourselves of some feverish dream or transient delirium, if our fancy had ever dared so monstrous a representation, as that of the eloquence which could fascinate and enlighten every tender and every intelligent friend, and influence senates whose decrees would influence the destinies of the world, expending itself in discussions with jockies, and debates with black-legs; of the intellect which could hold the balance of national contests, or devise schemes for the benefit of all mankind, racked with calculations on dice and cards; of the vehement accuser of public prodigality transferring thousands upon thousands, at the cast of these dice and cards, to wretches who deserve to be cauterized out of the body politic, without making, at the same time, any very careful inquiry, whether the claims of all his industrious tradesmen had been satisfied. If the virtue of other statesmen and patriots was found melting away in the arms of wantons, or suffocated with the fumes of wine, or reduced to that last consummation of dishonour, a subscription of friends to repair a fortune dissipated in the most ignoble uses, our patriot would have been incensed that such men should presume to make speeches against corruption, and profane the name of public virtue.
If, in pursuing his career to a conclusion, we placed him in office towards the close of his life, we beheld him
most earnest, we will say devoutly earnest, to render the last part of his course more useful than all that had preceded, by a bold application of those principles which he had maintained through life, to the purposes in which alone they can be of any use, the practical schemes of reform ; and if he found it impossible to effect, or even to propose, those reforms he had so many thousand times averred to be essential to the safety of the state, indignantly abandoning, before death summoned him, all concern in political office, with an honest, and public, and very loud declaration, of its incurable corruption, In virtue of the privilege belonging to all creators of fictitious personages, we should certainly have invoked death to a premature removal of our favourite, if we could have fancied the remotest possibility that he might, in the last, and what ought to be the most illustrious period of his life, sink into the silent witness of aggravated and rapidly progressive corruptions, the approver of oppressive taxes on people of slender means, and the eloquent defender of sinecures held by lords. But we could not suffer the thought, that the personage whose course we had followed through every triumph of virtue, could at last, for the sake of a few sickly months of office, deny his degraded country the consolation of being able to cite, after he was gone, the name of one consistent and unconquerable patriot at least, in contrast to the legion of domestic spoilers and betrayers; or refuse himself the laurels which were ready to be conferred on him by the hand of death : no, we beheld him retaining to the last stage, the same decisive rectitude which ennobled all the preceding; and after humbly committing himself to the Divine mercy, in the prospect of soon removing to a state for which no tumults of public life had ever been suffered to interrupt his anxious preparation, realising what the poet predicted of a former statesman,
Oh, save my country, Heaven !" shall be thy last.' How pensive has been the sentiment with which we have said, all this is no more than what Fox might have been : nor has this feeling been in the least beguiled by
the splendour of all the eulogiums, by the fragrance of all the incense, conferred and offered since his death. His name stands conspicuous on the list of those, who have failed to accomplish the commission on which their wonderful endowments would seem to tell that they had been sent to the world, by the Master of human and all other spirits. It is thus that mankind are doomed to see a succession of individuals rising among them, with capacities for rendering them the most inestimable services, but faithless, for the most part, to their high vocation, and either never attempting the generous labours which invite their talents, or combining with these labours the vices which frustrate their efficacy. Our late distinguished statesman's exertions for the public welfare were really so great, and in many instances, we have no doubt, so well intended, that it is peculiarly painful to behold him defrauding such admirable powers and efforts of their effect, by means of those parts of his conduct in which he sunk to a level with the least respectable of mankind; and we think no man within our memory has given so melancholy an example of this self-counteraction. It is impossible for the friends of our constitution and of human nature not to feel a warm admiration for Fox's exertions, whatever their partial motives and whatever their occasional excesses might be, in vindication of the great principles of liberty, in hostility to the rage for war, and in extirpation of the slave-trade. This last abomination, which had gradually lost, even on the basest part of the nation, that hold which it had for a while maintained by a delusive notion of policy, and was fast sinking under the hatred of all that could
pretend to humanity or decency, was destined ultimately to fall by his hand, at a period so nearly contemporary with the end of his career, as to give the remembrance of his death somewhat of a similar advantage of association to that, by which the death of the Hebrew champion is always recollected in connexion with the fall of Dagon's temple. A great object was accomplished, and it is fair to attribute the event, in no small degree, to his persevering support of that most estimable individual who was the leader of the design : but as to his immense display of talent on the wide ground of general politics, on the theory of true freedom, and popular rights; on the great and increasing influence of the crown; on the corruption and reform of public institutions; on severe investigation of public expenditure ; on the national vigilance proper to be exercised over the conduct of government; and on the right of any nation to change, when it judges necessary, both the persons and the form of its government, we have observed with the deepest mortification, times without number, the very slight and transient effect on the public mind of a more argumentative and luminous eloquence, than probably we are ever again to see irradiating those subjects, and urging their importance. Both principles and practices, tending toward arbitrary power and national degradation, were progressively gaining ground during the much greater part of the time that he was assaulting them with fire and sword; and the people, notwithstanding it was their own cause that he was maintaining by this persevering warfare, though they were amused indeed with his exploits, could hardly be induced to regard him otherwise than as a capital prize-fighter, and scarcely thanked him for the fortitude and energy which he devoted to their service. He was allowed to be a most admirable man for a leader of opposition, but not a mortal could be persuaded to regard that opposition, even in his hands, as bearing any resemblance to that which we have been accustomed to ascribe to Cato, an opposition of which pure virtue was the motive, and all corruptions whatever the object. If the very same things which were said by Fox, had been advanced by the person whose imaginary character we have sketched in the preceding pages, they would have become the oracles of the people from Berwick to Land's End ; corrupters and intriguers would have felt an impression of awe when he rose to speak ; no political doctors or nostrums could have cured their nerves of a strauge vibration at the sound of his words, a vibration very apt to reach into their consciences or their fears; there would have been something mysterious and appalling in his voice, a sound as if a multitude of voices articulated in one; and though his countenance should have looked as candid and friendly as Fox's did, these gentlemen would have been sometimes subject to certain fretful peevish lapses of imagination much like those in which Macbeth saw the apparition of Banquo, and would have involuntarily apostrophised him as the dreaded agent of detection and retribution. They would have felt themselves in the presence of their master, for they would have been taught to recognise, in this one man, the most real representative of the people, whose will would generally be soon declared as substantially identical with his opinions.
How then did it come to pass, that Fox had no such influence on the national mind, or on the government ? The answer is perfectly obvious, and it forms a very serious admonition to all patriots who really wish to promote the welfare of the people, by an opposition to corruptions of the state. The talents, and the long and animated exertions, of the most eloquent of all our countrymen failed, plainly because the people placed no confidence in his virtue, or in other words because they would never be persuaded to attribute virtue to his character.
A signal notoriety of dissipation accompanied the outset of his public career. While the political party which he opposed might be very reasonably astonished that the engagements of the turf, of the bagnio, and of the sanctuaries dedicated to the enshrined and associated imps of chance and fraud, should seem to divert no part of the energy with which they were attacked in their quarters at St. Stephen's, and while the tribes of bloods, bucks, rakes, and other worthy denominations and fraternities might be proud to have for their leader a genius, who could at the same time beat so many grey-beards of the state on their own ground, the sober part of the nation deplored or despised, according to the more generous or more cynical character of the individuals, the splendid talent which could degrade itself to so much folly and