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creatures, and impels them to alleviate the one, and to perpetuate or heighten the other. But in Mr. Fox we behold the last, greatest, best, and rarest of its effects—we behold them in the disposition which he manifested, not only to love and encourage virtue, but upon every proper occasion to admit and to enforce every possible extenuation of “all the sins, negligences, and ignorances” to which man is made subject by the will of his Creator ; subject, dear Sir, for purposes, sometimes, I grant, inscrutable, but in numberless instances, I contend, visibly righteous and wise.
To the peering and stern genius of modern loyalty, Mr. Fox might have transferred the language of Dr. Jortin, in his propitiatory address to the majesty of modern orthodoxy
“ Invitus, Regina, tuo de littore cessi. But “alas, opinion," says the same writer, “is a Queen whọ will not accept of such excuses."*
Suspicion, a lowering and sleepless centinel, keeps eternal watch at the door of her council chamber-Treachery wafts every whisper of complaint from every quarter to her ear-Dogmatism stands tiptoe with all the engines of interpretation at hand, to torture dissent into impiety or treason, before her tribunal--Intolerance gives the signal to her body guards, and when Persecution waves the banner of destruction, legions of frantic and ruthless vassals are ready to sally forth from their dark ambuscade, to raise the war-whoop, unsheath their
* Remarks on Eccles. History, vol. ii. p. 307.
ing the substantial and specific merits of the cause in which he was engaged ; eager for victory only as the prize of truth; holding up the most abstruse and uncommon principles in the most glowing colours, and dignifying the most common by new combinations ; at one moment incorporating it with argument, and at the next ascending from historical details to philosophical generalization ; irresistible from effort, captivating without it, and by turns concise and copious, easy and energetic, familiar and sublime.
Furnished you certainly are with such delicacy of perception and such fulness of information, as qualify you to appreciate that assemblage of intellectual faculties, which in Mr. Fox was characterised by variety without disproportion, and by splendour without glare. But you must surely have been charmed again and again with those manners which in him were the native expressions of his thoughts, and with that temper which preserved him from the weakness of vanity, the corrosions of envy, and the asperities of pride; struck you must have been, equally with that tranquillity and firmness of soul which appeared so conspicuously through the whole career of his political life. Amidst the fiercest animosities of party contention never did the infidelity of associates, nor the calumnies of foes, destroy his equanimity. In the most alarming state of public ferment, never did the intreaties of his friends nor the menaces of his accusers, induce him to slacken his exertions in the cause of public liberty. Never was his piercing and ready wit so
employed as to violate the delicacies or abuse the freedom of friendship. Never did the loftiness of his nature permit him to treat any opponent with insolence, or any inferior with contempt. Even amidst the enthusiastic applause of popular assemblies, he never lost for one moment that sobriety and that magnanimity which forbade him to exult? in the conscious pre-eminence of his powers, and attract admiration towards himself at the hazard of the common weal.
I am sure that you will not refuse me your attention, when I endeavour to assuage both your grief and my own, by entering upon a large and, I hope, an impartial view of Mr. Fox's attainments as a scholar, his powers as a public speaker, and his merits as a statesman.
You, dear Sir, have not ceased to admire the easy flow of numbers and the varied tints of expression which adorn bis poetical effusions. The clearness and purity of his English prose have not often been surpassed, and they may be well described in the language of Suetonius 3 upon the eloquence of Augustus.
Aware of the extraordinary responsibility which a great politician incurs, when he undertakes to reeord and explain the events of a great political æra, he would have given to his projected History 4 all the advantages, which multa dies and multa litura could have procured it. If he had lived to complete that work we should have seen many proofs of his capacity to soar into the loftiest style, where the dignity of his subject required amplification and
grandeur. Contempt of perfidy, and indignation against cruelty would have called forth those powers in the writer, which we have again and again witnessed with astonishment in the speaker, and when his taste 5 had come in to the aid of his other intellectual attainments, we should have found that his education as a scholar, and his pursuits as a statesman, peculiarly qualified him for the most arduous and exalted duties of an historian. His memory seems never to have been oppressed by the number, or distracted by the variety of the materials which he had gradually accumulated.
Never indeed will his companions forget the readiness, correctness, and glowing enthusiasm with which he repeated the noblest passages in the best English, French, and Italian poets, and in the best epic and dramatic writers of antiquity. But that he should look for relaxation to his understanding, or amusement to his fancy in the charms of poetry, is less remarkable than that he should find leisure and inclination to exercise his talents on the most recondite, and I add the most minute topics of criticism. He read the most celebrated authors of Greece and Rome, not only with exquisite taste, but with philological precision, and the mind which had been employed in balancing the fate of kingdoms seemed occasionally like that of Cæsar when he wrote upon grammatical Analogy, to put forth its whole might upon the structure of sentences, the etymology of words, the import of particles, the quantity of syllables, and all the nicer distinctions of those metrical canons, which some of our ingenious countrymen have laid down for the different kinds of verse in the learned languages. Even in these subordinate accomplishments he was wholly exempt from pedantry. He could amuse without ostentation, while he instructed without arrogance. He enlarged his own knowledge of real life by reflecting upon fictitious representations of characters and manners; and by the productions of the comic and the tragic Muse he was prepared to give greater compass to his arguments, greater vivacity to his illustrations, and greater ardour to his remonstrances and warnings in parliamentary discussions. Thus he turned to the most important uses in practice those acquisitions in which the generality of men are content to look only for the gratification of harmless curiosity, or the employment of vacant hours, for speculative improvement or literary fame.
I ought particularly to notice that in Euripides and Aristophanes he found the richest treasures of that political wisdom, which in common with other enquirers, he sometimes drew from other sources in the works of orators and historians. Critics must often have observed a peculiar resemblance between Mr. Fox and Demosthenes in their disregard of profuse and petty ornaments, in their application of the sound, the salutary, and sometimes homely maxims which common life supplies for the elucidation of politics, in the devotion of all their mind, and all their soul, and all their strength, to a great subject, and in their eagerness to fix upon some pertinent and striking topic, to recur to it frequently," suddenly, forcibly, and upon each recurrence to hold