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immorality. Too great a share of the same fatal reputation attended the distinguished statesman, with whatever truth, during the much greater part of his life. We say, with whatever truth ; for we know no more of his private history than what has been without contradiction circulated in the talk and the printed chronicles of scandal; with exaggerations and fictions, no doubt; but no public man can have such a reputation without having substantially such a character. " And by a law, as deep in human nature as any of its principles of distinction between good and evil, it is impossible to give respect or confidence to a man who habitually disregards some of the primary ordinances of morality. The nation never confided in our eloquent statesman's integrity ; those who admired every thing in his talents, and much in his qualities, regretted that his name never ceased to excite in their minds the idea of gamesters and bacchanals, even after he was acknowledged to have withdrawn himself from such society. Those who held his opinions, were almost sorry that he should have held them, while they saw with what malicious exultation they who rejected them could cite his moral reputation, in place of argument, to invalidate them. In describing this unfortunate effect of the character, we are simply asserting known matter of fact. There is not one advocate of the principles or of the man, who has not to confess what irksome and silencing rebuffs he has experienced in the form of reference to moral character; we have observed it continually for many years, in every part of England which we have frequented; and we have seen practical and most palpable proof, that no man, even of the highest talents, can ever acquire, or at least retain, much influence on the public mind in the character of remonstrant and reformer, without the reality, or at any rate the invulnerable reputation, of virtue, in the comprehensive sense of the word, as comprising every kind of morality prescribed by the highest moral code acknowledged in a Christian nation. Public men and oppositionists may inveigh against abuses, and parade in patriotism, as long as they please ; they will find that even one manifest vice will preclude all public confidence in their principles, and therefore render futile the strongest exertions of talent; a slight flaw, in otherwise the best tempered blade of Toledo, will soon expose the baffled wight that wields it to either the scorn or pity of the spectators, and to the victorious arm of his antagonist. It has possibly been said, that a man may maintain nice principles of integrity in the prosecution of public affairs, though his conscience and practice are very defective in matters of private morality. But this would never be believed, even if it were true: the universal conviction of mankind rejects it when it is attempted, in practical cases, to be made the foundation of confidence. So far is this from being believed, that even a conspicuous and complete reformation of private morals if it be but recent, is still an unsatisfactory security for public virtue ; and a very long probation of personal character is indispensable, as a kind of quarantine for a man once deeply contaminated to undergo, in order to engage any real confidence in the integrity of his public conduct; nor can he ever engage it in the same degree, as if an uniform and resolute virtue had marked his private conduct from the beginning. But even if it were admitted, that all the virtues of the statesman might flourish in spite of the vices of the man, it would have been of no use, as an argument for confidence in the integrity of Fox's principles as a statesman, after the indelible stigma which they received in the famous coalition with Lord North. In what degree that portion of the people, that approved Fox's political opinions, really confided in his integrity as a firm and consistent statesman, was strongly brought to the proof, at the time of his appointment as one of the principals of the late administration. His admirers in general expressed their expectations in terms of great reserve; they rather wished, then absolutely dared, to believe, that it was impossible he should not prefer a fidelity to those great principles and plans of extensive reform, which he had so strenuously inculcated, to any office or associates in office that should require the sacrifice of those plans, and that he would not surely have taken a high official station, without some stipulations for carrying them, at least partially, into effect. But they recollected the tenor of his life; and though they were somewhat disappointed, and deeply grieved, to find him at his very entrance on office proposing and defending one of the rankest abuses, and afterwards inviolably keeping the peace with the grand total of abuses, in both the domestic and the Indian government, they did, at least many of them, confess, that they had always trembled for the consequence of bringing to such an ordeal a political integrity which, while they had sometimes for a moment almost half believed in it, they had always been obliged to refer to some far different principle from a firm personal morality, supported by a religious conscience.
We have remarked on the slight hold which our great orator had on the mind of the nation at large ; it was mortifying also to observe, how little ascendancy his prodigious powers maintained over the minds of senators and ministers. It was irksome to witness that air of easy indifference, with which his most poignant reproaches were listened to; that readiness of reply to his nervous representations of the calamities or injustice of war; the carelessness often manifested while he was depicting the distresses of the people: and the impudent gaiety and sprightliness with which arrant corruption could show, and defend, and applaud itself in his presence. It is not for us to pretend to judge of what materials ministers and senators are composed; but we did often think, that if eloquence of such intensity, and so directed, had been corroborated in its impetus by the authoritive force which severe virtue can give to the stroke of talent, some of them would have been repressed into a very different kind of feeling and manners from those which we had the mortification to behold : we did think that, a man thus armed at once with the spear and the ægis, might have caused it to be felt, by stress of dire compulsion, “ How awful goodness is.”
On the whole, we shall always regard Fox as a memorable and mournful example of a gigantic agent, at once determined to labour for the public, and dooming himself to labour almost in vain. Our estimate of his talents precludes all hope or fear of any second example of such powerful labours, or such humiliating failure of effect. We wish the greatest genius on earth, whoever he may be, might write an inscription for our eminent statesman's monument, to express, in the most strenuous of all possible modes of thought and phrase, the truth and the warning, that no man will ever be accepted to serve mankind in the highest departments of utility, without an eminence of virtue that can sustain him in the noble defiance, Which of you convicts me of sin ?
We can see that a good life of Fox will never be given to the public. If his biography is written by any of his intimate friends, who alone possess competent materials, they will suppress, and may even be excused on the ground of affection and propriety for suppressing, many things which are of the very vitality of the character. The historian of such a man ought to be at once knowing, philosophical, and impressed with the principles of religion; and it may easily be guessed whether such a writer is likely to be found, or likely, if he were found, to be put in possession of all the requisite information. We must notice a sentence in Lord Holland's preface. (p. xlv.)
“ It is true, that at the melancholy period of his death, advantage was taken of the interest excited by all that concerned him, to impose upon the public a variety of memoirs and anecdotes (in the form of pamphlets), as unfounded in fact, as they were painful to his friends and injurious to his memory. The confident pretensions with which many of those publications were ushered into the world, may have given them some little circulation at the time, but the internal evidence of their falsehood was sufficiently strong to counteract any impression which their contents Inight be calculated to produce. It is not therefore with a view of exposing such misrepresentation, that any authentic account of the life of Mr Fox can be deemed necessary.”
His Lordship is quite mistaken. These publications lave produced a permanent effect on the generality of their readers. They may not indeed implicitly believe every particular these pamphlets contain, but there is not one reader in twenty that doubts of their being mainly true. How should the case be otherwise ? Persons remote from the sphere of Mr. Fox's acquaintance, can detect no internal evidence of falsehood. They have all heard anecdotes, which they have never heard contradicted, of his earlier habits, adventures, companions, and places of resort ; and when they are furnished with a large addition of what seems to them quite of a piece with what they have heard or read before, how are they to perceive any internal evidence of falsehood ? or who can blame them for believing straight forward, if there be no contradiction between one part of the production they are reading and another, and no material contradiction between the several productions they happen to meet with ? The substance of these pamphlets is so settled in the minds of the great majority of their readers, as the true history and character of Mr. Fox, that a formal work from one of his friends would have no small difficulty in displacing the belief. They will judge, however, whether they ought not to attempt it, and whether justice to him be not a superior consideration to any points of delicacy relating to his surviving associates or opponents in political concerns.
“ Telling the story of those times," was Mr Fox's description of history. But if we try, by a strong effort of imagination, to carry ourselves back to any given period of past times, and if we take back along with us the history which professes to tell the story, it will be striking to consider how little it is in the power of history to perform. Let our own country be the scene, and any past age the time. That country at the time, perhaps, contained seven or eight millions of human beings. Each one of these had his employments, interests, and schemes, his pleasures and sufferings, his accidents and adventures, his youth and the changes of advancing life; and these pleasurable and painful interests had an infinite importance to the individual whose thoughts they filled, and whose heart they elated or afflicted. Of this immense crowd, and all their distinct,