Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

genious gentleman compared Burke's efforts on this and other occasions. He custes was a true Procrastes; whatever argument came in his way, he forced, by cutting and stretching, to his instant purpose. The proposal of making the Heir Apparent assume the Government without consent of Parliament, was, doubtless, a very long stretch of inference from the Act of Settlement. Much obloquy was attached to Burke on account of the violence of his conduct, and still more, of his expressions. Impartial truth obliges me to acknowledge that his language was very intemperate ; it was indeed so much so as to excite the blame of his friends and associates. In estimating character, however, we must take THE WHOLE of action, not PART of expression. Burke conceived that it was the intention of Ministry to make the Regent dependent on a party, of which they were the heads; and certainly displayed very extraordinary abilities in opposing their plans, whether they were selfish or patriotic. There was,' he said, a partition of power, in which

·

the Prince was destined to have an official, a mere nominal character; while all the places and real dignities were given to another. This partition was more odious and offensive than the famous Partition Treaty, relative to the succession, on the death of the last Prince of the house of Austria. It was a partition founded on the most wicked and inalicious principle: every thing that was degrading and restrictive, every thing that could stamp suspicion and indignity on the Prince's character, was implied in what the bill withheld from him; while, on the other hand, all that was graceful, all that was calculated to hold up a character as great, as virtuous, and meritorious, was given where an opposition was set up to cour.teract the Executive Government.' Burke's intemperance in debate appeared, perhaps, more during the Regency discussion than at. any other time. Once, when he was called to order, he made the following reply: Order is an admirable thing, perfect in all its limbs, only unfortunately it squints, and wants the aid of some expert oculist to enable it to see

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

straight. I also wish to preserve the utmost delicacy; but Delicacy, though a being of perfect symmetry like the former, is only a subsidiary virtue, and ought always to give way to truth, where the case was such, that the truth was infinitely of more consequence than the delicacy.' Burke drew Burke drew up the questions addressed to Mr. Gill, the Lord Mayor, containing very bitter invectives against Administration. He also wrote an answer to Mr. Pitt's Letter to the Prince of Wales. Indeed he, however reprehensible in the violence of his expressions, displayed his talents during the Regency bills fully as much as at any other period of his life. The view he took of circumstances and pro-. ceedings was great and comprehensive, whether just or not; if there were too frequently sallies of passion, there was always effusion of genius.

While the Regency was the subject of serious consideration in Parliament, it occasioned several very humorous compositions Of these, the Regency out of doors.

[ocr errors]

"

·

Cauldron,' in imitation of that of Macbeth's witches, was the most distinguished. So forcible, indeed, was its humour, and bril liant its wit, that by many it was imputed either to Courtenay or Sheridan. There were, indeed, a number of very laughable and ingenious writings subsequent to the Rolliad' and Birth-day Odes; such as the Cabinet Stud,' Royal Recollections," and many others. On the side of Opposition there was certainly greater versatility and variety of powers than on the side of Ministry. For Administration there were extensive knowledge, comprehensive understanding, strong reasoning, masculine and dignified eloquence; there were industry and practical ability in the conduct of affairs. In the other party, there were, besides the materials and powers of serious reasoning and eloquence, the materials and powers of sportive exhibitions. From the one you. could derive information and instruction: from the other, information, instruction, and entertainment. In both you met with the equals of Cicero and Demosthenes. In

T

VOL. II.

R.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the Minority you met with Congreve and Swift. Burke, who was one of the wittiest of men himself, was also the cause* of wit in others, as Simkins's Letters to his Brother

Simon in Wales' can testify.

This versified attack on Burke's proceedings against Hastings made its first appearance in The World,' a fashionable paper of the day, conducted by Edward Topham, Esq. the same gentleman, I believe, who before undertook to answer Burke's Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol.' The World' teemed with paragraphs, apparently intended to be severe on the conduct of the Managers of Hastings's trial, and especially on Burke. The strictures on that subject, both in prose and verse, were usually very inferior to Simkins's Letters.'

·

The com

position of The World' + was evidently

·

The Monthly reviewers, who have done me ample justice in essentials, have here made a trifling mistake as to quotation.

+ About the same time that The World' was so much distinguished for sonorous trifles in prose, there was an

« AnteriorContinuar »