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and much of his discourse was too elaborate, too learned, too philosophical, too ornate, to be appreciated by the general run of commonplace sort of men that drift into the halls of legislation. During the thirty years he participated in affairs, there fell from his lips and pen an amount of political sagacity, farseeing statesmanship, philosophical disquisition, and oratorical display, all set off and adorned by an amplitude of learning, a majesty of diction, and a brilliancy of imagery, the fourth of which would have carried their author's name to posterity as one of the remarkable men of his time. He who thinks this eulogium extravagant has only to find its confirmation in the mines of intellectual wealth which lie embedded in the sixteen volumes of the works he has given to his country and the world, to his cotemporaries and to posterity. True, there will be found, mingled with these strata of pure gold, veins of impracticability, sophistry, prejudice, extravagance, and violence. His later writings, and in many respects his most grand and beautiful, are disfigured by a morbid dread of change, and obscured by a gloomy distrust of the capacities of man for self-government; proving, that though gifted with genius beyond most mortals, he was not endowed with the Divine spirit of prophecy. But it is equally true, that while the English language is read, the speeches and writings of Edmund Burke will be classed with the richest treasures of the statesman, the philosopher, and the scholar.
Next to the curse of a military chieftain attempting to adapt the tactics of the camp to the regulations of the cabinet, is the nuisance of a narrow-minded lawyer carrying the prim rules of the bar into the councils of the State, and aiming to be a statesman when he is only capable of being a pettifogger. On the downfall of the Grenville-Fox ministry, MR. PERCEVAL took the leading place in his Majesty's Government. He was a lawyer with a keen intellect, and a soul shriveled by the most limited views and bigoted prejudices. When ruling England, he looked upon her position in reference to Conti
nental affairs, and the part she was to perform in the drama of nations, much as he was wont to regard the ten-pound case of a plaintiff whose brief and retainer he held. He argued the great questions which nightly agitated the House of Commons, and whose decisions were to affect not only his own time, but coming ages, like a mere lawyer struggling for a verdict. His weapon was sharp, and he applied its edge in the same way, whether analyzing the title of James Jackson to a ten-acre lot in Kent, or of Louis XVIII to the throne of France. He discussed a financial scheme in Parliament to raise twenty millions sterling to carry on the war, just as he argued the consideration of a twenty-pound note before a jury of Yorkshire plowmen. Yet he was a good tactician; saw a point readily and clearly, though he saw nothing but a point ; knew how to touch the prejudices of bigots; was great at beating his opponents on small divisions; rarely lost his temper under the severest provocations; was quick at a turn and keen at a retort; and spoke in a lively, colloquial, straight-forward style, which pleased the fat country gentleinen much better than the classical allusions and ornate periods of Mr. Canning. He kept on the even tenor of his way till assassinated by a madman in the lobby of the House, in 1812.
And this is the man who shaped the financial policy of England during six of the most eventful years of her existence, and whom she permitted to plunge her into debt to the amount of £150,000,000!
“How could this be?" The answer is plain. Mr. Perceval stood firmly by the King and the Bishops, flattering the prejudices of the one and the bigotry of the other; and never flinched from eulogizing royalty, when the rude hand of popular clamor drew the vail from the immoralities of the Prince Regent and his brother of York. Then he was a thorough business man; never alarmed “ Church and State" by wandering, like Canning and Peel, out of the beaten Tory track; and, so far from giving up a bad cause in the worst of times, he raised his voice the more sternly as the storm of
public discontent whistled louder, and cheered his flagging comrades to their daily round of degrading toil. Such a minister was fit to be beloved by a bigoted king and his profligate heir.
Pitt's Continental Policy--Mr. Tierney-Mr. Whitbread-Lord Cas
tlereagh-Lord Liverpool-Mr. Canning.
In examining a little further among the statesmen who opposed the continental policy of Mr. Pitt and his successorsthough by no means intending to notice all who thus distinguished themselves—a less notorious person than Mr. Sheridan attracts the eye; but one who, when we regard the solid, everyday qualities of the mind, greatly surpassed the showy blandishments of that celebrated orator. I allude to Mr. TIERNEY. Like Mr. Perceval, he was bred to the bar ; but unlike him, he was not a mere lawyer, nor was his comprehension hemmed in by narrow prejudices, nor his soul shriveled by bigotry. Though his reputation in this country is dim when compared with other luminaries that shone in that Whig constellation in the dawn of the present century, yet it would be difficult to name one who shed a more steady and useful light along the path of the liberal party, during the first ten years of that century-always excepting Mr. Fox. Mr. Tierney was foremost among the reformers in the perilous times of the treason trials, in 1794-was a prominent member of the society of “ Friends of the People”-penned the admirable petition to Parliament, in which that association demonstrated the necessity and safety of an enlarged suffrage, and an equal representation-and, having attained a highly respectable standing at the bar, entered Parliament in 1796, the year before Fox and the heads of the Opposition unwisely abandoned their attendance upon the House, because they despaired of arresting the course of Pitt. Mr. T. was at once brought into a prominent position. He took up the gauntlet, and during two or three sessions was the main leader of the remnant of the Whigs, who stood to their posts; and he showed himself competent to fill the occasion thus opened to him. Night after night he headed the diminished band, arraying the rigid reasoning powers and tireless business habits which he brought from the bar, against the haughty eloquence of Pitt and the dry arguments of Dundas, blunting the cold sarcasms of the former with his inimitable humor, and thrusting his keen analytical weapon between the loose joints of the latter's logical harness. He was solicitor general of Mr. Addington's mixed administration; but the dissolution of that compound soon relieved him from a cramped position, whence he gladly escaped to the broader field of untrammeled opposition. Here he did manful service in the popular cause, effectually blocking up all avenues to advancement, both in the comparatively secluded walks of the profession which he ornamented, and the more rugged and conspicuous paths of politics, which he delighted to tread. During a part of the dark night of the Continental Coalition, he guided the helm of his party with a skill and vigilance which its more renowned chiefs might have profitably imitated. His ability to master the details, as well as trace the outlines, of a complicated subject, (so essential to success at the bar,) induced his colleagues to devolve upon him the labor of exposing those exhausting schemes of finance by which Pitt and his successors drained the life-blood of England's prosperity, and swelled a debt which the sale of its every rood of soil could hardly discharge. Thus he acquired a knowledge of trade and finance, second only to that of the later Mr. Huskisson. It is meet that the unassuming talents and services of such a man, “ faithful among the faithless,” should not be overlooked when naming the modern reformers of England.