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unprofitable topics of controversy, Mr. Fox watched the effects of the controversial spirit upon religious establishments and sects; and, while he respected the ancient and salutary privileges of the one, he paid a proper regard to the civil rights of the other. This impartiality arose, not from a secret and criminal indifference to religion itself, but from his attention to the various kinds and degrees of influence which the more and the less rational modifications of it appear to have, under various circumstances, upon private morals and the public peacefrom his knowledge of the instructive lessons which history furnishes, upon the inefficacy as well as the injustice of multiplied restraints, and from his dread of the mischievous consequences which have arisen in our own, and in other countries, when persecution, direct or indirect, has long preyed upon the spirits of honest men, and when opportunities have suddenly started up for religious zeal to unite with political discontent, in avenging by one effort, without discrimination and withouc mercy, the real or supposed wrongs of many preceding generations. He therefore acted, as well as reasoned, in conformity to the well-founded observation of Mr. Burke, that “our constitution is not made for great, general, proscriptive exclusions,”—and that, “sooner or later, it will destroy them, or they will destroy it.” *
Bent upon promoting the solid interests of his countrymen, by intelligible as well as honourable
* Vid. Mr. Burke's Letter to Sir H. Langrish.
expedients, and unwearied in surmounting the obstacles which passion, or prejudice, or selfishness might have raised around them, Mr. Fox was neither awed by prescription, nor beguiled by novelty
-he made no surrender of his conviction to his ambition-he entered into no compromise between his duties to the higher and to the lower classes, nor did his employments and connections as a politician blunt his sensibility as a man. Ready he was, not to irritate nor delude, but by regulations, or perhaps indulgencies, to protect those fellow-subjects who are inevitably doomed to toil and die without the cheering hope of distinction, and who, suffering much, may be pardoned for the infirmity of fearing more, from “the scornfulness of the wealthy, and the despitefulness of the proud”—ready to procure for them the attentions and aids which substantial justice would grant without reluctance, and sound discretion even proffer without solicitation, to their wants, their numbers, their rights from nature, and their usefulness to society — ready to put their reason, their gratitude, and their instinctive sense of self-preservation, and self-interest, on the side of a government, by which they experimentally found themselves to be mildly and equitably treated, and thus to soothe many of the galling and dismal feelings which lurk and throb within the breast of man, from the consciousness of neglected indigence, slighted merit, and weakness alarmed by insult bordering upon oppression.
Doubtless he discerned with equal sagacity, and would have opposed nearly with equal steadiness, the silent encroachments, and the rapid strides of tyranny, but he never expressed, nor entertained, any unseemly, or fantastic, or virulent prejudice against royalty. He praised with ardour, the memory of good kings 17 in every age-he unfeignedly and uniformly approved of the kingly office as established in this country, where by the provisions of law, and with the concurrence of general opinion, directed and animated by general experience, it confers great power, connected with great duties, and where the discharge of those duties is most honourable to the Sovereign, and most beneficial to the people.
That “negligentia non ingrata” * which Cicero and our friend admired in style was diffused through his behaviour to persons of all ranks. It was the native ease and frankness of a mind reposing on the consciousness of its own strength, and disdaining to force attention by turbulent self-importance, or to conciliate favour by appearing to be what it was not. Among judicious observers of the real man, it had the same effect which artists ascribe to wet drapery on well-wrought statues. It delighted his friends, it softened for a while his enemies, and it offended only vain and testy persons, who overrated perhaps their own consequence, and who had been taught to estimate the propriety of demeanour by its studied and multiplied formalities. But even the chronicles of slander furnished by court gossips, were never tainted with a fouler calumny than that
* Vid. Cicero, in Orator. 77.
which charges Mr. Fox with want of personal respect to his royal master.
Though Demosthenes, * before he went on his embassy, had boasted that he would “sew up Philip's mouth with a dried bulrush,” yet he was scared into confusion and silence by that grandeur of mien which he for the first time witnessed in the man of Macedon, and by the novelty of his own situation, when speaking, not before a coarse and giddy populace, but a resolute, sagacious, and mighty monarch. Mr. Fox, on the contrary, had not learned his manners, as Demosthenes did, in the school of tumultuous assemblies, or from the lessons of noisy demagogues—he was himself a gentleman much above the common level, both by birth and connexions-he, from his boyhood, had lived with ministers, and the adherents of ministers—in his youth he had visited the most polished courts in Europe, and as the society of princes and nobles was familiar to him, he had acquired the habits of politeness without servility, and freedom without impertinence-in the
f he, in all probability, would not have carried one shoulder too high, nor have imitated the soothsayer, who, for the purpose of adulation, violated 18 the idiom of the Greek language*- in the palace of Augustus he would not have meanly cast down
* Vid. Leland's Life of Philip, book iii. section 2, and the marginal references to Æschines.
+ Vid. Preface to Pope's Satires.
his head 19 to gratify an emperor who prided himself on the piercing brightness of his eyes-in transacting business of state with Charles the Sixth, he would not have gone away satisfied with the confused, inarticulate, unmeaning gibberish 20 which that sovereign employed to disguise his own thoughts, and to put ambassadors under the necessity of standing aloof. Though free from the arrogant temper of Chrysippus,* he might have so far resembled that philosopher, as not to dedicate any of his writings to sceptered patrons. But surely the man in whom the “asperitas agrestis et inconcinna" of was never seen in his intercourse with equals or inferiors, was the most unlikely person in the world to gratify his pride or his spleen by presuming to tell a king not “to stand between himself and the sun.” 21. He had been accustomed to pay honour to persons of all ranks, wheresoever honour was due, nor could he upon any occasion forget that in this country, where the kingly office is the great fountain of external distinction, usage and laws have wisely appointed every mark of external homage which gesture or language can express. He had not, I must acknowledge, the saine pretensions to urbanity with that smooth courtier, the humble servant to “all human kind, who, when his tongue could scarce stir, brought out this, ‘If where I'm going, I could serve you, Sir?'” He is
* Vid. Diogen. Laert. lib. vii. segn. 185. + Vid. Horace, Epistle 18. lib. i.
See Pope's Moral Essays, Epistle 1.