Imágenes de páginas

him, endeavoured to renew their intercourse. Mr. Gerrard Hamilton had always retained a very warm regard for Mr. Burke. He fully admitted his reasons for discontinuing their political connection, and uniformly praised the letter that Burke wrote on the occasion, as one of the finest compositions he had ever perused. He venerated the disinterestedness that had resigned the pension. His admiration of the talents of his late friend rose higher and higher as they more fully unfolded themselves, and many of his exhibitions he contemplated with astonishment. When the abilities of Fox, more exclusively parliamentary, raised him to be the leader of Opposition, Hamilton said, In Parliament only would Mr. Fox be the first man; in Parliament only would Mr. Burke NOT be the first man. The discriminating mind of Hamilton distinguished between that combination of cognitive and active powers that fits the possessor for leading men, and those intellectual powers and attainments which fit the possessor for delighting, informing, and instructing men; between a Themistocles and a So


[ocr errors]

crates, a Demosthenes and a Homer, a Cecil and a Bacon. Hamilton did not enter much into any of the political parties during the American war, nor afterwards. He was, indeed, supposed to have been the author of some, at least of one of the letters of Junius, from the well known circumstance of his having, one morning, very accurately discussed to a nobleman the merits of a letter that he conceived to be that day in the Public Advertiser, which he had not then seen; and that it was found afterwards that the insertion of the letter had been that day neglected, but the next morning appeared in it, and was exactly what he had described. His knowledge of it antecedent to publication proves that he either wrote it himself, or had been informed of it by the author. This inference, however, applies to that letter only; and if he embraced any party, le did not publicly embrace it with ardour. As an impartial observer, he perceived the tendency of measures more accurately than those who were actively engaged. When Mr. Fox brought forward his East-India bill, Hamil


ton immediately saw that the project of administering the commercial and territorial affairs of the Company by a junto, (however individually respectable) appointed by the proposer, would alarm the court, and turn the supporters of the bill out of office. He advised some of the members of the coalition party to dissuade the leaders from persisting in their plan. Mr.Sheridan, Mr. Courtenay, and several other men of high rank in the party, are understood to have privately signified their apprehensions of the consequences; and recommended to the Ministers to leave the management of their commercial concerns to the Company, as some of" the Directors had, on that condition, intimated an acquiescence in the rest of the scheme. The advice of Hamilton, and the representation of those members, had not the desired effect. The consequence was as Hamilton had predicted.. Soon after the Regency, he expressed an cager desire that Burke and he should return to the footing of former times. Mr. Courtenay, who was

[ocr errors]

very intimate with both, was one of those who signified to Burke the wish of Hamilton. Burke said that there were several circumstances which would render it impossible for him to have the same pleasure in the company of Hamilton that he had formerly felt; and that he thought, without that, their meeting would not answer any purpose to either. It does not appear that Burke meant to throw any blame on Hamilton himself: but their separation had caused much obloquy, (tho' very unjustly) that made a great impression on the sensibility of Burke, in so much, that though he knew it not to proceed from Hamilton, he could not help associating that gentleman with a subject of uneasiness and displeasure.

I have carried the private history of Mr., Burke somewhat farther than his public, as I am now coming to a momentous subject of his inquiry and portion of his conduct, the series of which I did not wish to interrupt.,

Soon after the close of the Regency deliberation commenced the


To enable us to estimate the conduct and reasoning of Burke respecting the French revolution, it is necessary to recall to our minds the old government; the causes and operations that produced and effected a change; the change itself; the actual state of opinions, sentiments, and affairs, after it had taken place. From the consideration of these subjects only can it be evinced, whether Burke's proceedings were or were not conformable to wisdom and rectitude. Subordinate to this general subject of discussion is the more special inquiry, whether they were. or were not consonant to his former prin-ciples and actions? The object of the first inquiry is THE INTEGRITY OF HIS INTELLEC TUAL AND MORAL EXERTIONS, relatively to most momentous concerns of a great portion of mankind, whether his plans and counsels tended to the melioration of the human race;

« AnteriorContinuar »