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and to suffer the real scourges of the human race-tyrants, intriguers, conquerors, the enemies of freedom, and virtue, and peace to go free from all reprobation; nay, if their detestable efforts are only crowned with success, to award them a monopoly of the public respect?
Next to Pulteney, the most powerful of Walpole's antagonists was Sir William Windham. This distinguished personage yielded to none of his contemporaries in dignity of character, and whatever most confers weight upon men of talents in a political party; to few in sterling ability, whether as a counsellor or a debater while he surpassed most men of his time in honesty and in steadiness of principle. It is the striking remark of Speaker Onslow, that every thing about him seemed great.' He was in my opinion,' said the Speaker, the most made for a great man of any one I have known in this age.' All the parts of his character suited and helped each other. In his conduct there was no inconsistency or variation; in his speech no deviation from the sustained dignity, and force, and gravity of its tone; in his manner, as in his person, the same dignity, tempered and set off with much grace. Originally little educated, he had, from his intimacy with Bolingbroke, acquired a kind of second-hand or reflected classical tone; but there was no display of ornament about him, nor any affectation of any kind. From a bad speaker he had, by practice, become an easy and fluent one; but his style was peculiarly solid and argumentative, insomuch that Onslow describes his reasoning to be, by a sort of induction, peculiar to himself;' and he bears this strong testimony to its effect, that it had a force beyond any man's he ever heard in 'public debate.' Nor must it be supposed that, as in the writings of his kinsmen the Grenvilles, weight, and statement, and argument, were studied at the expense of animation. If he had as little fancy as they, of whom it has been remarked that they were never known to use, even by chance, a figurative expression, he had abundantly more spirit; and though he made no pretence at all to wit or pleasantry, which indeed would have lowered his tone, yet the same witness testifies to the spirit and power that 'always animated himself and his hearers; and with the decoration of his exceedingly ornamental manner, produced not only 'the most attentive and respectful, but even a reverent regard 'to whatever he spoke.' If,' says the Speaker, I have spoken of him too highly, it must be imputed to the opinion I conceived ' of him in the House of Commons, where I never saw him fail of being a great man.'
Add to all this, that he had a high and dauntless spirit, worthy of the long line of ancestry from which he was descended. His
temper, naturally impetuous, and his pride, which in his younger days gave him an aspect of haughtiness, had mellowed down with years, and only sat gracefully to dignify, or stimulated to inspire his manner. The indulgences of youth, too, in which his passions had been wont to overflow with his licentious Mentor St John, though at one time they stained his manners, seem never to have corrupted his heart; and an undeviating integrity, public and private, united in him with a kindly disposition, which even the heats of party were unable to sour.
As were his private, so did his public principles prove incorruptible and unchanged. The High Tory sentiments of his family he inherited with their possessions, and his alliance by marriage was with the loftier, the wealthier, the more Tory house of Somerset. At an early age he mingled in the councils of the Jacobites, and was imprisoned on suspicion of treason during the Rebellion 1715. It is, however, very creditable to the sterling vigour of his understanding, that he overcame many of his most deep-rooted prejudices, became convinced of the strength of popular rights, was a convert to the necessity of a free government on the basis of the Revolution settlement, abandoned all connexion with the Jacobite party, and persevered to the end of his truly honourable life in the faith and in the lead of the constitutional Tory party.
When we read the remains of Pulteney and Windham in the meagre records of the parliamentary prints, we are led to one or other of two conclusions, and they are drawn from considering the cases of other orators as well as them: Either the records preserve nothing like the eloquence of those eminent persons; or much of the effect produced by it was made by their fine manner, by the appropriate topics which they handled, and by their using the very mode of illustrating and of enforcing their opinions, the best suited to the time and the place. Which of these is the sound view of the matter?-or must we partly resort to both explanations? For assuredly what we do read of their spoken compositions, falls immeasurably below the fame which they have left behind them. Now we incline to the opinion, that, though something is undoubtedly due to the scantiness of our older debates, and though some kinds of oratory thus lose much more than others; yet far more is owing to the other circumstance which we have mentioned, the magical power of spirit, voice, gestureall we call manner-and to the perfect appropriateness of the topics, what the French call the a propos,' of every thing they said. It seems fair to draw this conclusion, from the undoubted fact, that many fine passages remain of Lord Chatham's speeches, and nothing very striking can be pointed out in those either of
Walpole, Pulteney, or Windham. Thus the occasion on which the latter most signalized himself was his famous attack on Walpole, which Smollett says, spoke him the unrivalled orator, the uncorrupted Briton, the unshaken patriot;' and which he adds nor do other accounts at all differ-excited unbounded admira'tion by the sudden burst of eloquence.' Yet he and the other panegyrists have preserved this passage; and the part which is the most pointed and vigorous reads sufficiently tame after such praises, absolutely flat after the more pointed and more effective invectives of later times. Here are the passages most charged with epigram, and most vigorous: Let us suppose a man aban'doned to all notions of virtue or honour, of no great family and ' of but a mean fortune, raised to be chief minister of state by the concurrence of many whimsical events; afraid or unwilling to trust any but creatures of his own making, and most of them ' equally abandoned to all notions of virtue and honour; ignorant of the true interest of his country, or consulting nothing but that of enriching and aggrandizing himself or his favourites.'Suppose him next possessed of great wealth, the plunder of the nation, with a Parliament of his own choosing, most of the seats purchased, and their votes bought at the expense of the 'public treasure.' He then supposes enquiry to be called for, and goes on- Suppose these lightly refused, these reasonable requests rejected by a corrupt majority of his creatures, whom 'he retains in daily pay, or engages in his particular interest by 'granting them those posts and places which ought never to be given to any but for the good of the public.-Upon this scan'dalous victory let us suppose this chief minister pluming him'self in defiances, because he finds he has got a Parliament, like a packed jury, ready to acquit him at all adventures. Let us further suppose him arrived to that degree of insolence and 'arrogance as to domineer over all men of ancient families, all the men of sense, figure, or fortune in the nation; and, as he has no virtue of his own, ridiculing it in others, and endeavouring to destroy or corrupt it in all.' He then supposes With such a minister and such a Parliament, a prince upon the throne, either for want of true information, or for some other 'reason, ignorant and unacquainted with the inclinations and interests of his people, and hurried away by unbounded ambi'tion and insatiable avarice. This case,' he adds,' has never hap'pened in this nation. I hope, I say, it will never exist; but as it is possible it may, could there any greater curse happen to a nation than such a prince on the throne, solely advised by such a minister, and that minister supported by such a Parliament?' Then comes what must be admitted to be fine, because
it fits in admirably and naturally with the argument which he uses for the repeal of the Septennial Act. The nature of man'kind cannot be altered by human laws; the existence of such a ' prince or such a minister we cannot prevent by Act of Parlia'ment; but the existence of such a Parliament I think we may; and as such a Parliament is much more likely to exist, and may do more mischief while the Septennial law remains in 'force than if it were repealed, therefore I am most heartily for the repeal of it.' The success of this concluding passage, applying the whole, and closely applying it to the matter in question, was quite assured, and must at any time have been very great. But if we examine all the rest of this celebrated burst, we shall find that there is but a single clearly felicitous expression, (scandalous victory')-another of very doubtful correctness, (pluming himself in defiances,') but which must have produced much effect, because Walpole cites that phrase alone; one period which is distinguished by any point at all, that where he speaks of ridiculing and corrupting virtue; and one passage of any energy at all before the application, namely, the description of the curses accruing from such a prince, such a minister, and such a Parliament. We may also certainly conclude from these things being well preserved, that little or nothing has been lost by the way; and then we must allow the merit of the whole piece to be greatly exaggerated, or at least that its effect depended upon the manner, the boldness, and the application, far more than upon the excellence of the oratory as a composition.
If any additional proofs were wanting that our solution of the question is the right one, it might be easily supplied by the unerring test which the publications of these statesmen afford. There is nothing happy or striking in the pamphlets which they published at the time. Both Walpole and Pulteney have left several such tracts, and tracts which had much vogue in their day. But now they command as little interest from their composition, as from the questions of which they treat. They are generally distinguished by hardihood of assertion; often disfigured with coarseness and violence; seldom remarkable for any beauty or even correctness of diction. This test may be applied to some of the other statesmen who flourished in those times, and applied with perfect safety to their reputation. Chesterfield and Bolingbroke have left behind them a reputation for eloquence on which no doubt can rest; because, independent of all contemporary opinion, we have in their writings imperishable proofs that they are, the latter assuredly, to be classed with the great masters of speech.
But before any thing is said of these celebrated men, or rather
of Bolingbroke, on whom alone it may be worth while to dwell, we may here pause to state why so large, as it may appear so disproportioned, a space has been allotted to Walpole, the centre figure in this group. It is because there is nothing more wholesome for both the people and their rulers, than to dwell upon the excellence of those statesmen, whose lives have been spent in furthering the useful, the sacred, work of peace. The thoughtless vulgar are ever prone to magnify the brilliant exploits of arms, which dazzle ordinary understandings, and prevent any account being taken of the cost and the crime that so often are hid in the guise of success. All merit of that shining kind is sure of passing current for more than it is really worth; and the eye is turned indifferently upon, and even scornfully from, the unpretending virtue of the true friend to his species, the minister who devotes all his cares to stay the worst of crimes that can be committed, the last of calamities that can be endured, by man. To hold up such men as Walpole in the face of the world as the model of a wise, a safe, an honest ruler, becomes the most sacred duty of the impartial historian; and, as has been said of Cicero and of eloquence by a great critic, that statesman may feel assured that he has made progress in the science to which his life is devoted, who shall heartily admire the public character of Walpole.
Few men, whose public life was so short, have filled a greater space in the eyes of the world during his own times than Lord Bolingbroke, or left behind them a more brilliant reputation. Not more than fifteen years elapsed between his first coming into Parliament and his attainder; during not more than ten of these years was he brought before the public in the course of its proceedings; and yet as a statesman and an orator his name ranks among the most famous in our history, independently of the brilliant literary reputation which places him among the best classics of our Augustan age. Much of his rhetorical fame may certainly be ascribed to the merit of his written works; but had he never composed a page, he would still have come down to our times as one of the most able and eloquent men of whom this country ever could boast. As it is upon his eloquence that his great reputation now rests, as upon that mainly was built his political influence, and as upon it alone any commendation of his political character must proceed, we shall do well to begin by examining the foundation before we look at the superstructure.
And here the defect, so often to be deplored in contemplating the history of modern oratory, attains its very height. Meagre as are the materials by which we can aim at forming to ourselves some idea of the eloquence of most men who flourished before