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any of his political opponents. Like Chatham, he had never advocated the separation of the colonies, but their conciliation; and it was only when he saw, as he thought, the liberties of his own country in danger that he came to look upon their independence as a necessity. As Mr. Morley puts it*:

“All his reflections upon the subject of America, notwithstanding his conviction that her independence was the necessary price of the maintenance of free government in England, must have been tinged with bitterness. Great as America might become, and as he honestly wished her to become, her greatness would bring no renown or laud to the mother-country or its incomparable constitution. Though above the narrow vices incident to patriotism in weaker and less loftily moral souls, it could not have been more grievous to him to look back upon the circumstances under which England and her sons parted company, than it was mortifying to look forward to a glory for America, which, if statesmen had been prescient and nations just, might have been added to the abundant glories of England. Burke, we may be sure, had none of that speculative fortitude which enabled Adam Smith to anticipate with compo sure the possible removal of the seat of empire to that part of the empire which in a century (from 1776] would probably contribute most to the general defence. He was intellectually capable of foreseeing much which he was not morally capable of allowing himself fully to realise, and certainly not of constraining himself to dwell upon.”

The intellectual activity of Burke was almost as wonderful as is that of our greatest living statesman. He seemed to make every subject his own, and to have something to say upon it better than any specialist could

* John Morley,

“ Edmund Burke: a Historical Study,” pp. 162163.

say. His mind was ever open to new impressions, and of each rising movement he became, as if by some natural and unconscious act, the brain and heart. In 1780, he surprised the House by the breadth and solidity of bis views upon commercial reform, of which he may be said to have been the Parliamentary pioneer. He declared his object to be “the reduction of that corrupt influence which is itself the perennial spring of all prodigality and all disorder; which loads us more than millions of debt; which takes away vigour from our arms, wisdom from our councils, and every shadow of authority and credit from the most venerable parts of our constitution.” It is sometimes unwise, or at least dangerous, for a man to be in advance of his contemporaries.

Burke had been returned for Bristol in 1774, but when his constituents found him protesting against the corruption on which so many of them fattened, advocating toleration for Roman Catholics, and denouncing the restrictions which English jealousy had unfairly imposed upon Irish commerce, they would have no more of bim; his enlightened and liberal policy offended them; and he was glad to take shelter in his former seat for the little borough of Malton, which, during the remainder of his political career, he continued to represent.

When, in the spring of 1782, it became evident that the American war could no longer be prosecuted, Lord North resigned (March 20); and the king was reluctantly compelled to recall to his councils the Marquis of Rockingham. Through Thurlow, the Lord Chancellor, he endeavoured at first to make such conditions as would preserve unimpaired his personal power; but Rockingham insisted upon a change of measures as well as of men; and that the measures, of which he would require

the king's acceptance, should be those he had advocated while in Opposition. The king, he said, must agree to the recognition of the Independence of the American colonies. Peace and Retrenchment, he said, would form the cardinal principles of his policy; and among the bills which the Cabinet would introduce and press forward would be one for the exclusion of contractors from the House of Commons; another, disqualifying revenue officers from voting at elections; and a third, Burke's great scheme for the better security of the independence of Parliament, and the economical reformation of the civil and other establishments. After some vapouring talk about abdication, the king sent for the Earl of Shelbourne, the leader of the Chatham Whigs, and afterwards for Earl Gower, the leader of the Bedford section; but finding each to be pledged to the union of the party, he was forced to accept Rockingham on his own terms. Charles James Fox took the seals of Secretary of State and the leadership of the Commons. Dunning, an admirable debater, received the Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster, and was created Baron Ashburton. The Chancellorship of the Exchequer devolved upon Lord John Cavendish. Shelbourne was made Secretary of State for Home, Irish, and Colonial affairs. To Burke was given the Paymastership of the Forces, but without a seat in the Cabinet.

There is no doubt that Burke resented this exclusion, and felt indignant at the aristocratic superciliousness of the Whig nobles, who “almost avowedly regarded power as an heirloom in certain houses. But Rockingham probably felt that in the Cabinet he would be dangerous to its amenity; he was impetuous, apt to be dominated too completely by a pre-conceived opinion, hasty in his conclusions, and too easily influenced by a warm and luxuriant imagination. But while these were grave faults, which would certainly have unfitted him for such a post as that of Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary—to neither of which, however, did he aspire—they were just the faults which the responsibility of a Cabinet office would have corrected. And his claims to such promotion were indisputable. Inferior to Charles James Fox in parliamentary tact, in persuasiveness, in the debating faculty, he was his superior in the higher qualities of the highest eloquence. As a philosophic statesman he towered head and shoulders above his contemporaries. He was emphatically a man of ideas, and those ideas were always broad, enlightened, progressive, and exalted. The question of religious freedom, the question of freedom of commerce, the question of the rights of the citizen—these he had made his own, and so completely that most of us now-adays, like bis fellow-candidate at Bristol, do but say “ ditto to Mr. Burke.” Then, again, he had untiringly advocated the introduction of greater purity and a more rigid economy into every department of the administration Moreover, not only by his voice and his pen had he zealously and ably served his party, but for years he had been the friend and trusted adviser of its leader; so that we cannot but marvel that that leader, when he assumed the reins of government, could find for such a man no seat in his Cabinet.

At no time, however, was Burke's influence in the House or with the country-except, perhaps, during the paroxysm of terror caused by the outbreak of the French Revolution—commensurate either with bis genius or his services. He never attracted towards himself any of that personal popularity which attended Pitt and Fox, as in

He was


our own day it has attended Palmerston and Gladstone. His name fell coldly on the public ear; to his eloquence the heart of the people made no response. respected by many, admired by not a few, and his great speeches frequently drew a large and approving audi

His legislative proposals were adopted by the Government; and yet his name was never on the lips of the people. I suppose the explanation of this apparent phenomenon is to be found in the character of his oratory, which appealed to the limited circle of the cultured rather than to the uneducated masses. Gradually his style became cumbrous with ornament, and obscure through excessive redundancy. What is more surprising is, that it was sometimes

Lord Brougham, noticing Burke's want of success in his later Parliamentary career, endeavours to explain it on the score of Burke's deficiency in judgment =



“ He regarded not,” he says " the degree of interest felt by his audience in the topics which deeply occupied himself; and seldom knew when he had said enough on those which affected them as well as him. He was essentially didactic, except when the violence of his invective carried him away, and then he offended the correct taste of the House of Commons. His declamation was addressed to the head, as from the head it proceeded-learned, fanciful, ingenious, but not impassioned.

Of him, as a combatant, we may say what Aristotle said of the old philosophers, when he compared them to unskilful boxers, who hit round about, and not straight forward, and fought with little effect, though they may by chance sometimes deal a hard blow.”

His redundance of statement and elaboration of argument justified Goldsmith's good-humoured satire in the “ Retaliation :”

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