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requisite is, that he shall have the perfect command of himself; and if he has this, he will have little difficulty in acquiring the command of his audience. If a speaker is possessed of this presence of mind, he may command attention, indeed, although he has neither clear ideas nor powerful language. This has been remarkably instanced in the parliamentary oratory of the late Lord Londonderry, in which polished manner, presence of mind, and fluency, not merely supplied the want of distinct ideas, correct diction, and all the higher qualities of eloquence, but gave a certain success and effect to a copious stream of magniloquent nihility. There is a vast difference between a skilful debater, or even a powerful declaimer, and a great orator, notwithstanding they have some obvious qualities in common. Shrewdness will often talk like wisdom, readiness and dexterity will in many situations do as well as intellectual power, and a certain modest assurance is, perhaps, the most successful mimic of that moral courage which is the attribute of true greatness.
We have somehow brought into juxta-position, without any invidious intention, the names of two statesmen between whom the disparity is too immense for fair comparison. But having done so, we cannot forbear to remark on the strange mismatch, if we may be allowed the phrase, of the times and the men. With the exception of the American War, Lord Chatham had scarcely an occasion afforded him worthy of his transcendent powers. To Lord Castlereagh it was assigned to assist at a congress of sovereigns, the partitioners of Europe, and for a long period, to be, in a sense, the political antagonist of Bonaparte. There would have been a sphere for the mighty mind of Chatham! There would have been a representative of England, to be brought into contact with the Metternichs, the Hardenbergs, and all the pettifogging statesmen of Europe! There would have been a man for sovereigns to have vailed to! But it was not to be so; and it becomes us submissively to respect the mysteries of Providence.
Lord North was a debater; and the House of Commons never possessed, says our Reminiscent, a more powerful one. No one could avail himself of the strong part of a cause with greater ability, or defend its weak points with greater skill. He was, like the late manager of the House, a perfect gentle
No speaker,' it is said, was ever more conciliating, or enjoyed a greater proportion of the love and esteem of the house. Among his political adversaries, he had not a single enemy. With an unwieldy figure and a dull eye, the quickness of his mind seemed in
tuition. His wit was never surpassed, and it was attended with this singular quality, that it never gave offence.'
We must give, without comment, in a compressed form, our Reminiscent's observations on the illustrious rivals, Fox, Pitt, and Burke.
It may be said of Mr. Fox, as of Lord North, that he had political adversaries, but no enemy. Goodnature, too easily carried to excess, was one of the distinctive marks of his character. In vehemence and power of argument he resembled Demosthenes; but there, the resemblance ended. He possessed a strain of ridicule and wit, which nature denied to the Athenian, and it was the more powerful as it always appeared to be blended with argument,, and identified in a manner with it. The moment of his grandeur was, when,—after he had stated the argument of his adversary with much greater strength than his adversary had done, and with much greater strength than any of his hearers thought possible,-he seized it with the strength of a giant, and tore and trampled on it to destruction. If, at this moment, he had possessed the power of the Athenian over the passions or the imaginations of his hearers, he might have disposed of the house at his pleasure ;-but this was denied to him, and, on this account, his speeches fell very short of the effect which, otherwise, they must have produced.
It is difficult to decide on the comparative merit of him and Mr. Pitt: the latter had not the vehement reasoning or argumentative ridicule of Mr. Fox; but he had more splendour, more imagery, and much more method and discretion. In addition, he had the command of bitter contemptuous sarcasm, which stung to madness. It was prettily said by Mr. Gibbon, "Billy's painted galley will soon sink under Charles's black collier." But never did horoscope prove more false. Mr. Fox said more truly, "Pitt will do for us, if he does not do for
Mr. Fox had a captivating earnestness of tone and manner; Mr. Pitt was more dignified than earnest: it was an observation of the reporters in the gallery, that it required great exertion to follow Mr. Fox while he was speaking, none to remember what he had said; that it was easy and delightful to follow Mr. Pitt, not so easy to recollect what had delighted them. It may be added, that, in all Mr, Fox's speeches, even when he was most violent, there was an unquestionable indication of good humour, which attracted every heart. Where there was such a seeming equipoise of merit, the two last circumstances might be thought to turn the scale: but Mr. Pitt's undeviating circumspection,-sometimes concealed, but sometimes ostentatiously displayed,-tended to obtain for him from the prudent and the grave, a confidence which they denied to his rival. Besides, Mr. Pitt had no coalition, no India bill to defend. Both orators were verbose; Mr. Fox by his repetitions, Mr. Pitt by his amplifications. Mr. Grattan observed to the Reminiscent, that no one beard Mr. Fox to advantage, who did not hear him before the coalition; or Mr. Pitt, who did not hear him before he quitted office. Each defended himself on these occasions with surprising ability, but each felt
he had done something that required defence:-the talent remained, the mouth still spoke aloud, but the swell of soul was no more. The situation of these eminent men at this time put the Reminiscent in mind of a remark of Bossuet on Fenelon: " Fenelon," he said, "has great talents; "much greater than mine; it is his misfortune to have brought him"self into a situation in which all his talents are necessary for "his defence."
Greatly inferior to either of these extraordinary men, if we are to judge of him by his speeches as he delivered them, but greatly superior to both, if we are to judge of him by his speeches as he published them,—— Edmund Burke will always hold an eminent rank among the most distinguished characters of his country. Estimating him by his written speeches, we shall find nothing comparable to him till we reach the Roman orator. Equal to that great man in dialectic, in imagery, in occasional splendour, and in general information, exceeding him in political wisdom, and the application of history and philosophy to politics; he yields to him in grace and taste, and even in that which was not the forte of Cicero, in discretion. A philosophical review of his speeches and writings, keeping his politics, as his inferior gift, in the background, might serve for the subject of an useful and interesting discussion.
In familiar conversation, the three great men whom we have mentioned, equally excelled. But even the most intimate friends of Mr. Fox complained of his too frequent ruminating silence. Mr. Pitt talked, and his talk was fascinating. A good judge said of him, that he was the only person he had known, who possessed the talent of condescension. Yet his loftiness never forsook him; still, one might be sooner seduced to take liberties with him, than with Mr. Fox. Mr. Burke's conversation was rambling, but splendid, rich, and instructive beyond comparison.'
Mr. Butler gives an anecdote of Fox, which confirms the idea we have always been led to entertain, that his habits of thinking were practical rather than speculative, and that his gift was intuition rather than profundity. He confessed to the • Reminiscent,' that he had never read Smith's Wealth of Nations, adding: There is something in all these subjects which passes my comprehension; something so wide, that I could never embrace them myself or find any one who did.' His great rival would not, probably, have made so frank a confession, but he is suspected to have been not more deeply versed in the science. His bill for the relief of the Poor is stated to have been suggested by an accidental visit to a town in Essex, at that time suffering an extreme degree of depression and wretchedness. He had every assistance in forming and arranging the bill which the experience of others could supply; yet a slight discussion of the measure discovered the impracticability of it in all its parts! The study of political economy, if not
the science, has certainly made considerable progress since that time, and Adam Smith, if not read, is at least cited as an authority with reverence. Yet, some of the leading men of either House, may be suspected of not being much better acquainted with the science, than the great men above referred to: they are men of intuition, not men of study; or men neither gifted with intuition nor addicted to study, but men of business. Lord Lansdown is a brilliant exception among the Peers; Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Ricardo, Mr. Brougham, and a few more must be admitted to understand these matters, so far as they possess the tangibility of science, in the Commons' House.
Lord Thurlow, Sheridan, Lord Melville, and Grattan, our Reminiscent thinks, deserve to rank next in eminence to the mighty three. Of Sheridan, he says:
• Strange as it may appear, it nevertheless is true, that common sense and dignity were possessed by him in an extraordinary degree; but they were so counteracted by habitual procrastination and irregularity, that he was scarcely known to possess them. He had very little information; had even little classical learning: but the powers of his mind were very great. He had a happy vein of ridicule. He could, however, rise to the serious and the severe; and then his style of speaking was magnificent; but even in his happiest effusions, he had too much of prettiness. He required great preparation for the display of his talents: hence he was not a debater,-one who attacks and defends on every occasion that calls him forth. It is observable that, of this kind of oratory, antiquity has left us no specimen; and that, in modern Europe, it has not existed out of England. Lord North, Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Fox excelled in it: the first, perhaps, surpassed the two others in this useful-it may, perhaps, be called most useful-species of oratory. But, though Mr. Sheridan was no debater, he was sometimes most felicitous in an epigrammatic reply.'
Mr. Butler's estimate of Grattan is pretty nearly the same as we have recently had occasion to express.* • Nature had • denied him,' he remarks, many of the most important quali⚫fications of an orator, and his taste was not that of Cicero ;
but she gave him genius and industry.'- Nothing,' he adds, can shew more strongly than a comparison between • Mr. Grattan and his imitators, the vast space which is ever ⚫ discernible between a man of real genius, philosophy, and business, and a mere artist in language.'
We have dwelt so long on this seductive topic, that we must very slightly advert to the other contents of the volume. There is a great deal about Junius, whom Mr. Butler seems half inclined to identify with Lord George Sackville. But it will not
Eclectic Review for July. Art. Grattan's Speeches.
do. As to Sir Philip Francis, he admits that all external evidence is for him, but contends that all internal evidence is against him, and, therefore, the argument on each side being, as he imagines, equally strong, the pretension of Sir Philip vanishes! We humbly submit that this is not sound logic. The external evidence is positive; as positive as circumstantial evidence can be: the internal evidence is purely negative, and rests upon opinion. We deny, however, that all internal evidence is against Sir Philip's being Junius. His reports of: speeches and his political tracts have been deemed by competent judges corroborative of his claim. It is only begging the question, to argue that Sir Philip Francis did not write the letters of Junius, because he was incompetent to the task. We have on record the opinions of Sir Philip's talents which were entertained by his most illustrious contemporaries, and these justify the belief that he was equal to the performance. Had Burke been known to us only through the newspapers, he would have been thought unequal to it: that he might have been Junius, so far as ability is concerned, appears only from his published writings.
A biographical notice occurs of the Author of the Essay on Contingent Remainders, which we could have wished more extended. Mr. Fearn appears to have been a very extraordinary man. He was a general scholar, profoundly versed in mathematics, chemistry, and mechanics; obtained a patent for dying scarlet, and solicited one for a preparation of porcelain; composed a treatise on the Greek Accents, and another on the Retreat of the Ten Thousand; and was, finally, the author of one of the most profound and useful works that have issued from the legal press in this country.
• A friend of the Reminiscent having communicated to an eminent gunsmith, a project of a musket of greater power and much less size than that in ordinary use, the gunsmith pointed out to him its defects, and observed, that "a Mr. Fearne, an obscure law-man "in Breame's Buildings, Chancery lane, had invented a musket which, "although defective, was much nearer to the attainment of the "object."
This obscure law-man,' whose versatility of genius and extensive acquirements we have mentioned above, told Mr. Butler, that when he resolved to dedicate himself to the study of the law, he burned his profane library, and wept over its flames; and that the works which he most regretted were the Homilies of St. John Chrysostom to the people of Antioch, and the Comedies of Aristophanes.' This was a costly and magnanimous sacrifice: it wanted only a nobler object to entitle him to rank with the Ephesian confessors of