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We cannot resist the temptation of adding to these extracts a singular testimony in favour of Law Reform, and from a quarter the least liable to the suspicion of desiring reckless innovation, or underrating our ancient institutions. They who have heard Mr Burke so often cited as the solemn and eloquent panegyrist of the existing system of our laws, must be amused when they contrast with his speculative declamations on their perfection, the following groans uttered by him in his capacity of a suitor, suffering under their practical effects.
But no wonder that such villains as Owen should proceed as they do, when our courts of justice seem by their proceedings to be in league with every kind of fraud and injustice. They proceed as if they had an intricate settlement of 10,000l. a-year to discuss in an affair that might as well be decided in three weeks as in three hundred years. They let people die while they are looking for redress, and then all the proceedings are to begin over again by those who may think they have an interest in them. While one suit is pending, they give knaves an opportunity of repeating their offences, and of laughing at them and their justice, as well they may. I wish heartily that, if the lawyers are of opinion that they may spin out this mockery a year or two longer, I may not vex my dying hours in fruitless chicane, but let the villany, which their maxims countenance, take its course. As to any relief in the other courts, I have been in them, and would not trust the fame and fortune of any human creature to them, if I could possibly help it. I have tried their justice in two cases of my own, and in one, in which I was concerned with others in a public prosecution, where they suffered the House of Commons in effect to have the tables turned on them, and under colour of a defendant to be criminated for a malicious prosecution. I know them of old, and am only sorry at my present departure, that I have not had an opportunity of painting them in their proper colours. Why should not the Court of Chancery be able to know, whether an author gives an imperfect copy to a printer to be published whether he will or no, and has not left himself master of his own thoughts and reflections? This is the very case made by the wretch himself, but a court can't decide in years whether this thing ought to be done or not. In the meantime he enjoys the profits of his villany, and defies them by villanies of the same kind and to the same person. But I allow that it is better that even this kind of justice should exist in the country, than none at all.'
It gives us sincere pleasure to adduce a testimony against West India Slavery, from a quarter as little likely to be charged with fanaticism, as the last authority was open to the suspicion of restless discontent.
'On Mr Ellis's late motion, (Dr Laurence writes,) Windham paid your name some very just and handsome compliments, very honourable both to the subject and the panegyrist. The planters will not take the essential part of your regulations in the colonies; the connexion of the slave with the soil; his consequent right to the spot, once assigned
him, around his hut; and his right to purchase his freedom at a certain fixed price, with the fruits of his own industry. Their pretences are weak, as I heard them privately discussed; but that last point, which is most important for the gradual abolition of slavery as well as the slave trade, will I trust hereafter follow.'
In these letters appear two painful circumstances: the dreadful, nay, almost diseased irritation of his mind, not merely upon the subject of his severe affliction, but on all matters that interested him; and the pressure of pecuniary embarrassment. Such expressions, as the following portion of a letter from Dr Laurence to the Duke of Portland contains, are only to be explained by supposing, that the writer felt an uncommon anxiety about his friend's mental health, and considered his mind as more affected by the subjects of discussion than it ought to have been.
'MY DEAR LORD,
Beaconsfield, Oct. 20th, 1794.
When your Grace did me the honour of a long and confidential conversation on Saturday evening, I mentioned to you the anxiety, agitation, dismay, and horror, which afflicted the mind of our unhappy friend here on the subject of publick affairs. On my return yesterday, I did not find him more tranquil; neither did anything which I thought myself at liberty to communicate, give him much relief. It is true, he felt a considerable degree of pleasure in finding your Grace's sentiments so fully agree with his as to the principle and mode of opposing the Jobbing of the College, by taking up the person, who alone is regularly qualified under the statutes, and who seems designated for the Provostship by his present situation: He was also gratified to be told of your firmness in resisting the improper disposal of the late Mr Hutchinson's other office; and above all he conceived some little hope from learning, that the great mischief which he dreaded has not yet actually taken place. Yet his mind is still overwhelmed by the contemplation of the terrible prospect before us; at this moment too, immediately before the meeting of Parliament, when they, who alone feel no terror of French principles in this country, are perplexed and confounded, but will derive new hopes and therefore new activity from the destruction of a Ministry formed for the very purpose of eradicating those principles; when abroad, all the old Governments of Europe are shaken to their very centre, and are every day more and more showing their own internal debility and the insufficiency and indecision of their rulers; when they can only be confirmed and strengthened by the unanimity of all good men in this country, if even that will effect it, and consequently must be wholly lost, if there be an appearance of weakness and distraction here. Still, terrible as this prospect truly is, he would not sacrifice the honour and characters of yourself and Lord Fitzwilliam to a false appearance of unanimity; because your country and all Europe have an interest in your honour and characters. Were you deprived of them, every reasonable hope of the permanent security of this country, and through X
VOL. XLVI. NO. 92.
this country, of all Europe, would just in that proportion be lessened and impaired.'
The passages which follow relate evidently to difficulties of another kind, the first apparently to his expected pension.
‹ MY DEAR LAURENCE,
22d May, 1795.
It was indeed a very considerable time since we heard from you: But we considered your silence as a proof that you had remembered us, not that you had forgot us. You know that we are not stout enough for bad news; and there was nothing good to be told. You visited us, however, with the lark and the first peep of day. God knows it is a poor crepusculum-a small advantage, very dearly bought, and not promising, I think, the consequences which some accounts led us to expect. But we must take what God gives. As to me, I believe my affair is out of the question. He has delayed it so long, that he is partly ashamed, partly afraid, and partly unwilling to bring it on. -But in that, too, submission is my duty and my policy. It signifies little how these last days are spent-and on my death-I think they will pay my debts. The best is, that we are soon to see you and the Kings. Adieu, God Almighty bless you!
Your unhappy friend,
'But it signifies nothing: what I wrote was to discharge a debt I thought to my own and my Son's memory, and to those who ought not to be considered as guilty of prodigality in giving me what is beyond my merits, but not beyond my debts, as you know. The public -I won't dispute longer about it has overpaid me-I wish I could overpay my creditors. They eat deep on what was designed to maintain me.'
It is possible, that men in their sympathy for the fate of genius, as they will phrase it, may lament over the sight of a man like Mr Burke thus feeling the ordinary inconvenience of straitened circumstances. We do not allow of any feelings of this caste, unless they be the very same which the spectacle of imprudence and its result excites towards other men. Genius, so far from having any claim to favour when it neglects the ordinary precautions or exertions for securing independence, is in truth doubly inexcusable, and far less deserving of pity than of blame. Mr Burke ought to have earned his income in an honest calling. Every man of right feeling will prefer this to the degrading obligations of private friendship, or the precarious supplies, to virtue so perilous, of public munificence. It is certain that he chose rather to eat the bitter* bread of both these bakings, than
* Tu proverai siccome sa di sale
to taste the comely-the sweet-the exquisite fruit, however hard to pluck, of regular industry. He was a politician by trade; a professional statesman. There is no such craft recognised in this state; all our institutions are ignorant of it-all our habits averse to it; nor is there one of a British statesman's functions which may not be conjoined with the cares of an industrious life. We have said that this Collection contains two letters from the late Duke of Portland. One of them is extremely interesting, and does infinite honour to that distinguished person. It is an answer apparently (for here, as usual, the editor renders us no help) to the letter afterwards published by Mr Burke, when a surreptitious copy had got abroad, and entitled Observations on the Conduct of the Minority. The letter was sent to his Grace with those Observations; they reflected severely on Mr Fox and his friends; they extolled the Duke, and his family, and party, to the skies; their burden was an accusation brought against Mr Fox and his friends, of ill behaviour towards the Duke and his party, and, in particular, his relations; yet, let the reader mark and admire the high-minded candour, the truly generous spirit, with which that noble person gently, and yet firmly, rebukes his partizan's forward zeal, and avows his love and respect for the man whom he no longer could act with, but had never seen cause to distrust.
In conformity with the principles I have ever professed, in this great cause, and indeed in all its appendages, my support, such as it may be, will be given completely and unreservedly to those, be they who they may, who appear to conduct it to the best of their abilities. Farther than this I cannot go-and so far seems to me to be advancing no farther than I have done, and should consider it my duty to do, in any occasion of peril or importance to my country. In this I may be mistaken, as I may have been in other instances. But I must acknowledge that where I have been in long habits of intimacy and friendship, where I have observed many and striking instances of very superior talents and judgment, the most incorruptible integrity, the most perfect disinterestedness, I am much disinclined to impute to bad motives a conduct, however different and opposite it may be to that which I feel myself obliged to hold. This may be a great weakness, but it is a weakness I am not ashamed of confessing, and less so to you than to any friend I have.'
Let it be recollected that this was a private letter, written during the utmost heat of those political contentions, and that it never was meant to see the light, nor in fact has for the third of a century afterwards been disclosed, when all the persons concerned have long slept in their graves.
ART. II.-1. Die Poesie und Eeredsamkeit der Deutschen, von Luthers Zeit bis zur Gegenwart. Dargestellt von Franz Horn. (The Poetry and Oratory of the Germans, from Luther's Time to the Present. Exhibited by FRANZ HORN). Berlin, 1822-23-24. 3 vols. 8vo.
2. Umrisse zur Geschichte und Kritik der schönen Litteratur Deutschlands während der Jahre 1790-1818. (Outlines for the History and Criticism of Polite Literature in Germany, during the Years 1790-1818). By FRANZ HORN. Berlin, 1819. 8vo.
THE HESE two books, notwithstanding their diversity of title, are properly parts of one and the same; the Outlines,' though of prior date in regard to publication, having now assumed the character of sequel and conclusion to the larger work,-of fourth volume to the other three. It is designed, of course, for the home market; yet the foreign student also will find in it a safe and valuable help, and, in spite of its imperfections, should receive it with thankfulness and good-will. Doubtless we might have wished for a keener discriminative and descriptive talent, and perhaps for a somewhat more Catholic spirit, in the writer of such a history; but in their absence we have still much to praise. Horn's literary creed would, on the whole, we believe, be acknowledged by his countrymen as the true one; and this, though it is chiefly from one immovable station that he can survey his subject, he seems heartily anxious to apply with candour and tolerance. Another improvement might have been a deeper principle of arrangement, a firmer grouping into periods and schools; for, as it stands, the work is more a critical sketch of German Poets, than a history of German Poetry.
Let us not quarrel, however, with our author: his merits as a literary historian are plain, and by no means inconsiderable. Without rivalling the almost frightful laboriousness of Bouterwek or Eichhorn, he gives creditable proofs of research and general information, and possesses a lightness in composition, to which neither of these erudite persons can well pretend. Undoubtedly he has a flowing pen, and is at home in this province; not only a speaker of the word, indeed, but a doer of the work; having written, besides his great variety of tracts and treatises biographical, philosophical, and critical, several very deserving works of a poetic sort. He is not, it must be owned, a very strong man, but he is nimble and orderly, and goes through his work with a certain gaiety of heart; nay, at times, with a frolicsome alacrity which might even require to be pardoned. His