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"He has noble and generous sentiments, rather than fixed reflected principles of good nature and friendship; but they are more violent than lasting, and suddenly and often varied to their opposite extremes, with regard even to the same persons. He receives the common attentions of civility as obligations, which he returns with interest; and resents with passion the little inadvertencies of human nature, which he repays with interest too. Even a difference of opinion upon a philosophical subject, would pro. voke and prove him no practical philosopher, at least.
“ Notwithstanding the dissipation of his youth, and the tumultuous agitation of his middle age, he has an infinite fund of various and almost universal knowledge, which from the clearest and quickest conception, and happiest memory, that ever man was blessed with, he always carries about him. It is his pocket-money; and he never has occasion to draw upon a book for any sum. He excels more particularly in history, as his historical works plainly prove. The relative political and commercial interests of every country, particularly of his own, are better known to him than perhaps to any man in it; but how steadily he has pursued the latter in his public conduct, his enemies of all parties and denominations tell with joy.
“ He engaged young, and distinguished himself in business; and his penetration was almost intuition. I am old enough to have heard him speak in parliament; and I re. member, that, though prejudiced against him by party,
I felt all the force and charms of his eloquence. Like BELIAL, in MILTON," he made the worse appear the better cause." All the internal and external advantages and talents of an orator are undoubtedly his. Figure, voice, elocution, knowledge, and, above all, the purest and most florid diction, with the justest metaphors and happiest images, had raised him to the post of secretary at war, at four and twenty years old, an age, at which others are hardly thought fit for the smallest employments.
“ During his long exile in France, he applied himself to study with his characteristical ardor; and there he formed, and chiefly executed the plan of a great philosophical work. The common bounds of human knowledge are too narrow for his warm and aspiring imagination. He must go extra flammantia mænia mundi, and explore the unknown and unknowable regions of metaphysics, which open an unbounded field for the excursions of an ardent imagination ; where endless conjectures supply the defect of unattainable knowledge, and too often usurp both its name and influence.”
A just censure of Lord BOLINGBROKE's philosophical works could not be expressed with greater delicacy; but it is the style of his political writings which merits the attention of the young orator. He will find them as animated as the noble Lord's speeches in parliament; for we may say of him with greater truth, perhaps, than of any other celebrated orator, either ancient or modern, that he had the most masterly command both of the pen and the tongue; and that, when he took up the former, it seemed endued with all the powers of an electrical conductor, and transfused the fire of his genius into every sentence with undiminished force and ardor.
The other cotemporary orators above-named were little inferior to SOMERS or to BOLINGBROKE ; and it is farther remarkable, that many of our most admired writers in every department of useful and polite learning flourished nearly at the same period. The art of thinking, of judging, of reasoning was reduced to a few plain principles by LOCKE, whose Essay on the Human Understanding ought to supersede for ever all the former subtilties and barbarous jargon of the Schools. Newton, about the same time, excited still greater astonishment by his discoveries in Natural Philosophy, and by explaining the “ sublimely simple” laws of the Universe with the utmost clearness and precision. SWIFT, ADDISON, Pope, and their friends, formed, as it were, a constellation of wit and genius, the lustre of which will never fade. By the emanation of this pure light, we instantly distinguish real beauties from meretricious ornaments; and we are not liable to be dazzled by the gaudy plumage of the peacocks of Parnassus, nor to be led astray from the paths of Nature by the meteors of pedantry, affectation, perverted talents, or false taste.
Almost all the celebrated writers in the reign of Queen ANNE continued their equally brilliant and useful exertions during the government of her successor. Some of the former orators also remained ; and the names of a WYNDHAM, a WALPOLE, a TOWNSHEND, a SHIPPEN, a RAYMOND, an ATTERBURY, and a BATHURST may be added to the illustrious list.
In the reign of GEORGE II. the oratorical catalogue was considerably enlarged; and we know not which most to admire, the extraordinary height to which Eloquence was then carried, or the numberless variety of forms in which it appeared. But it would require the glowing pencil of a Cicero to do justice to the energy and vehemence of an ARGYLE;-to the extensive knowledge and vigorous genius of a CARTARET;-to the commanding simplicity of a SCARBOROUGH, whose voice was said to have been borrowed by Truth and Virtue, which never want, and seldom wear ornaments ;-~-to CHESTERFIELD's elegance both of style and delivery, to his uncommon union of perspicuity with conciseness, of genteel humor with sound reasoning, of purity, precision, and a happy choice of words with the utmost ease and fluency ;-to the irresistible force and poignancy of a PULTENEY, whose tongue was more dreaded by the minister than any other man's sword;—to the plausible reasoning; the calm, sweet-toned, insinuating persuasiveness of a MURRAY ;-and to the transcendant powers of a Pitt, who, though more indebted to Nature than any other orator that ever existed, was not under less obligation to good fortune in having appeared on the great theatre of the world at a time when there was a GRATTAN to draw the following portrait of him.
The historical painter fixes upon the moment when Mr. Pitt's advice to disconcert the perfidious designs of France and Spain by a well-timed blow being over-ruled in the cabinet, he resigned the seals rather than remain in a situation that made him responsible for measures which he was no longer allowed to guide. “ The Secretary,” says Mr. GRATTAN, " stood alone. Modern degeneracy had not reached him. Original and unaccommodating, the features of his character had the hardihood of antiquity. His august mind overawed majesty; and one of his sovereigns thought royalty so impaired in his presence, that he conspired to remove him, in order to be relieved from his superiority. No state-chicanery, no narrow system of vicious politics, no idle contest for ministerial victories sunk him to the vulgar level of the great; but overbearing, persuasive, and impracticable, his object was England,his ambition was fame. Without dividing, he destroyed party; without corrupting, he made a venal age unanimous. France sunk beneath him. With one hand he smote the House of Bourbon, and wielded in the other the democracy of England. The sight of his mind was infinite ; and his schemes were to affect not England, not the present age only, but Europe and posterity. Wonderful were the means by which these schemes were accomplished, always seasonable, always adequate, the suggestions of an understanding animated by ardot, and enlightened by prophecy.
" The ordinary feelings, which render life amiable and indolent, were unknown to him. No domestic difficul.
. ties, no domestic weakness reached him; but, aloof from the sordid occurrences of life, and unsullied by its inter
course, he came occasionally into our system, to counsel, and to decide.
“ A character so exalted, so strenuous, so various, so authoritative astonished a corrupt age; and the Treasury trembled at the name of Pitt through all her classes of venality. Corruption imagined, indeed, that she had found defects in this statesman, and talked much of the inconsistency of his glory, and much of the ruin of his victories; but the history of his country, and the calamities of the enemy refuted her.
“ Nor were his political abilities his only talents : his eloquence was an æra in the senate, peculiar and spontaneous, familiarly expressing gigantic sentiments and instinctive wisdom ; not like the torrent of DEMOSTHENES, or the splendid conflagration of TULLY, it resembled sometimes the thunder, and sometimes the music of the spheres. He did not, like MURRAY, conduct the understanding through the painful subtilty of argumentation ; nor was he, like TOWNSHEND, for ever on the rack of exertion ; but rather lightened upon the subject, and reached the point by the flashings of the mind, which, like those of his eye, were felt, but could not be followed.
“ Upon the whole, there was in this man something that could create, subvert, or reform ;-an understanding, a spirit, and an eloquence to summon mankind to society, or to break the bonds of slavery asunder, and to rule the wilderness of free minds with unbounded authority ;something that could establish or overwhelm empires, and strike a blow in the world that should resound through the universe.”
Among the orators and statesmen of the last reign, and particularly in connection with the names of MURRAY and Pitt, we cannot overlook that of Henry Fox, who, like the two former, was raised to the honors of the peerage by the sovereign now on the throne. His talents have been very faithfully described as less brilliant than solid :