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it up in a new light, and point it in a new direction. But biographers will do well to record that in conversing with a learned friend he professed to receive more delight from Cicero than from Demosthenes. 8 Experience in this, as in other instances, puts to flight the conclusions which theorists might be prone to draw from apparent likeness in the characteristic traits of style. Similitude is not always the effect of voluntary and conscious imitation, nor does approbation always imply direct and general preference for the purposes of composition. We have been told that Euripides was the favourite writer of Milton in his closet ; but in Milton's poetry we often meet with the bolder features and the more vivid colouring which enrapture and astonish us in the tragedies of Æschylus.
From our own experience, you and I can rectify the mistakes into which persons unacquainted with Mr. Fox have fallen, when they supposed his talent for conversation to be wholly disproportionate to his excellence in public speaking.
He that on no occasion would have borrowed “ Garagantua's mouth,"9 may not have been much disposed to summon the whole force of his mind in the presence of Dr. Johnson, whose Toryism he could endure, because he respected his genius. The plain truth is, that Mr. Fox had neither the general taciturnity of Mr. Addison, who,“ without having nine-pence in his pocket, could draw for a thousand pounds;" nor the general felicity of Mr. Burke, who, “take him up where you would, was ready to meet you; who talked, not from the desire of distinction, but because he was full; whose conversation, beyond that of any other man, corresponded with his general fame ; and yet who, upon some occasions, was satisfied with ringing the bell” to our indefatigable, inexhaustible, indomitable lexicographer. But you and I can look back to many hours when Mr. Fox was not content to be auditor tantum-when, with the utmost alacrity, he would take his share in the liveliest and the gravest discussions—when he trifled without loss of dignity, or disputed without loss of temper—when he opposed, only because he really dissented, and yielded as soon as he was convinced—when, without prepation, he overcame the strong, and without display he excelled the brilliant. Sometimes indeed he was indolent, but never dull; and sometimes reserved, but never morose. He was swift to hear, for the purpose of knowing and examining what scholars and men of sense were disposed to communicate, and slow to speak, from unwillingness to grapple with the ostentatious, and to annoy the diffident. Though he commanded the attention of senates, he was not therefore presumptuous enough to slight the good opinion of wise and learned companions. But he might often meet them with spirits exhausted by intense exertion in public debate, or private reflection. He might carry with him trains of thinking, which were connected with political subjects of high importance, and which produced in him a temporary indifference to literary discussions. He might, in the society even of literary men, have sometimes looked for opportunities of relaxation,
resemblance, and he could calculate with exactness all the properties of causation, whether simple or complex, proximate or remote. He did not disdain to estimate the force of local and temporary cir. cumstances. But in guiding his audience to ultimate decision, he taught them to look beyond those circumstances to the broader character stamped upon human events and human actions by the general laws of the physical and the moral world. For part of this excellence he perhaps was indebted to the habit which pervaded both his private conversation and his public speeches, and which never permitted his words to stray beside the course, or vary from the form, or swell beyond the size, of the conceptions they were intended to convey.
In addition to the cause which I have just now assigned for the intellectual endowments of Mr. Fox, other causes equally efficacious might be adduced with equal propriety. But it is of more importance for me to remark, that many of those endowments afforded the most direct, constant, and powerful aid to his moral qualities. True benevolence is not merely guided, but enlarged and invigorated by true wisdom. It derives from practice that activity and that consistency, the want* of which we are often compelled to deplore in the conduct and even the tempers of philosophers, who have employed the greatest talents in the investigation of moral theories. It teaches all men to sympathize with the sorrows and joys of their fellow
* Vid. Cicero, Tusculan. Quæst. lib. i. parag. 4.
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 iş 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 loy, alty, 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, be fore 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.
sabres, and imbrue themselves in the blood of every offender who presumes to investigate the rights of the usurper, hesitates to obey her merciless decrees, or refuses to echo and re-echo her senseless jargon. We cannot therefore wonder, that from bigots in politics Mr. Fox was in danger of incurring the same rough treatment, which Jortin and other worthies have often deprecated from the doughty champions of theology • What, I would ask, are the offences which subjected him to so much obloquy? Did he debase the dignity of any important cause by the affectation of singularity, or disturb the course of grave discussion by perverse cavils or ostentatious refinements ? No. -But in pleading for the social rights of man, beset as they were by perils seen, and unseen, and assailed at once by powerful enemies and perfidious friends, he paid little deference to authority without reason, and to assertion without proof-He looked with equal distrust upon romantic paradoxes, which dazzle superficial observers under the imposing name of discovery, and upon trite and shewy generalities, which are rarely applicable to such new modifications of duty, or such new opportunities for action, as arise from new, blended with the old, relations of individuals and communities-He shewed peculiar dexterity in unravelling the webs of technical sophistry, and peculiar zeal, too, in scattering to the winds all the mischievous fallacies wrapped up in them by certain disputants, who, from the mechanical influence of their daily employment, direct their attention to the darker side of