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take aim at our happiness, in a war of hollow and ambiguous words. He was sensible of no weakness in believing that politicians who, after all, “ know only as they are known,” may, like other human beings, be at first the involuntary creatures of circumstances, and seem incorrigible from the want of opportunities or incitements to correct themselves ; that, bereft of the pleas usually urged in vindication of deceit, by men who are fearful of being deceived, they, in their official dealings with him, would not wantonly lavish the stores they had laid up for huckstering in a traffic which, ceasing to be profitable, would begin to be infamous ; and that possibly, here and there, if encouraged by example, they might learn to prefer the shorter process, and surer results of plain dealing, 23 to the delays, the vexations, and the uncertain or transient success, both of old-fashioned and new-fangled chicanery.
In these sentiments, which evinced at once his penetration and his liberality, Mr. Fox had the concurrence of a friend who had reached, I believe, his sixtieth year, without having had recourse to deceit in his own personal or professional intercourse with society, and without envying the exploits of the most skilful and fortunate deceivers. Many, he would say, are the errors, and many the faults, which leave room for a man to rally after detection, and to regain the good opinion of others, or to bear up against their censures. But forlorn indeed is the condition of cunning, when, left defenceless by the failure of its own spells, it has been dragged into open day. In a moment the sorceress shrinks into
a crippled, ugly, dwarfish hag, excites contempt without appeasing suspicion, and is hunted down with derision, by the brave for its deformity, and by the timorous for its impotency.
For political investigation, in which principles and the practical decisions resting on them often hinge upon a single phrase, Mr. Fox was qualified, not merely by his prompt recollection of parallel cases recorded in history, or preserved in state papers, but by his just and distinct conceptions of those abstract terms which, though employed very frequently, are sometimes understood very imperfectlyPower, he was well aware, though it does not enter as an integral part, into our notion of right, is an inseparable adjunct to it, and in scholastic language may be denominated the conditional cause ; for who would seriously insist upon a right, without having any present, or expecting any future power to use that which he now possesses, or that which he would hereafter obtain ? Would not right, if under such circumstances it deserved the name, be at once barren to individuals and injurious to society? While it produced no materials for additional advantage to the claimant, would it not lessen the general stock of happiness, by excluding other occupiers, whose talents or labours employed upon the object, would contribute to the increase of that stock? In practice, then, mischief arises, not from the mere act of uniting the idea of power with the idea of right, but from the untoward propensity of mankind to make their own rights co-extensive with their own powers-from their propensity to envy and undermine the superior pretensions of others, when they can be enforced by superior might-from their propensity to despise, and to tread under foot such pretensions, while they lean for support upon reason alone. The propensities here enumerated, and other causes which more or less co-operate with them, the absence of an intelligent, patient, and upright mediator, dissembled ambition in the stronger party, ill-timed sturdiness in the weaker, habits of inveterate jealousy in both, caprice roving after experiments, obstinacy clinging to precedents, stern commands from sovereigns, and wry instructions from ministers—these are the obstacles, which, for the most part, clog political negociations, and which occasion astonishment and chagrin to superficial observers, at their tardy progression, sudden interruptions, and unexpected or unwelcome issues.
Whatsoever subtlety some men may affect, and whatsoever distinctions other men may confound in their words, yet in their actions they rarely contend for rights, without looking directly or indirectly to expediency, to good to be now enjoyed and protected, or good to be hereafter attained and secured. In public, no doubt, as in private affairs, the general fact is that utility,24 upon the whole, is the measure of duty; and the general rule is, that duty itself is to be preferred to some immediate gratification supposed to be within our reach, upon the ground of its tendency to procure some distant gratification of higher value. But the difficulty lies in seeing the ultimate connection between uti.
lity and duty, in marking the intermediate relations of their several parts, in forming right judgments upon the objects which successively present themselyes to our minds before we choose finally, in keeping our attention steadily fixed upon those judgments, and in guarding against the undue influence of circumstances fortuitously or slightly conjoined, in our apprehensions, with means, during the process of deliberation, or with ends, at the moment of election.
Now, dear Sir, if Mr. Fox, in his discussions upon State affairs, opened to each party a safe and honourable path, by which the expectations of each might be gratified, without the ignominy of compulsory flight, or the hazards of protracted contest
-if, in asserting rights, he not only looked to their origin and past effects, but was disposed to modify them in prudent and honest accommodation to the present interest and the present condition of the parties—if he heard without impatience the proposals, or objections, or pretensions of men grown hoary in watching and working the complex machinery of politics—if he answered them without haughtiness, or indecision, or duplicity—if he set before them the clearest and largest views of expediency itself-let us not judge so harshly of our common nature as to imagine that he was indebted for his success solely and exclusively to the operation of principles unmixedly selfish. By enabling men to understand more than they understood before, he got the power of persuading them to act better than they would otherwise have acted. By meeting them fairly and dispassionately on the grounds upon which they had been accustomed to reason, he induced them to follow him the more readily when he went on to other and stronger grounds. He drew their assent to his opinions in a current of thinking so smooth, or with transitions so easy, as to make their very conversion appear to themselves the legitimate effect of their own knowledge and their own reflection. He gradually, and almost imperceptibly, loosened the bonds which held them in captivity to prejudice, to habit, or even to confused and narrow perceptions of their real good. He thus prepared them for being directly and voluntarily actuated by that sense of justice, which is suspended, not destroyed, by the first tumultuous suggestions of selfinterest, which engages pride, not vanity, as an auxiliary to sound discretion, and which infuses even into political measures a kind of conscious security, and conscious dignity, not very often derived from calculations of loss and gain- from a spirit which, let it resist systematically or irregularly, may itself be resisted indefinitely—from rampant eagerness to grasp, and from churlish reluctance to concede.
Looking upon force as the first expedient usually adopted by coarser minds, but the last upon which men truly enlightened will fix their choice, and sensible of the illusions and reciprocal injuries which arise from the want of a common umpire in enforcing the laws of nations, Mr. Fox always found a faithful arbiter within his own bosom. To the decisions of that arbiter he appealed, in some per