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sun of peace is about to “rise with healing in its wings,” to “ destroy the face of the covering cast over all people,” and to spread around them the pure and refreshing irradiations of justice and truth,
The subjects discussed in some of the foregoing paragraphs, painfully bring to my recollection other matters, which as they immediately concern the memory of Mr. Fox, must not be passed over in silence. In a very elaborate and masterly sketch of Mr. Fox's character, which lately appeared in the newspapers, and which has excited a considerable degree of attention, we are informed, that in the estimation of Mr. Burke, “ Mr. Fox, to be sure, was a man born to be loved,” and that “ by slow degrees he became the most brilliant and accomplished debater Mr. Burke had ever seen.”
If Mr. Burke spoke of Mr. Fox as “ a man born to be loved,” he spoke the truth, but he at the same time passed a sentence of condemnation upon himself, for the severe invectives he had uttered against one who must have been destitute of every property which entitles him to our love, if he really had been, as Mr. Burke in effect declared him to be, the shameless and remorseless advocate of the worst agents in the worst cause, of libertines, plunderers, murderers, and the enemies of God and man-against one whom he had endeavoured to convict of a “high treasonable misdemeanour," in a pamphlet said to have been enlarged and shortened, corrected and re-corrected, during a long and agonizing struggle between rage without fortitude, and self-reproof without self-command, where many changes reported to have been made in the matter and style indicated no change in the vindictive purpose of the writer-against one whose courteous and affectionate proposal for an interview he is said to have rejected on the approach of those awful moments, when the interrupted or forfeited endearments of friendship are regretted most painfully, when the wonted causes of enmity and competition drop their hold upon hope and fear, and when the good and the bad are alike anxious to forgive and be forgiven, before “they go hence, and are no more seen.”
In the preceding paragraph I have adverted to “ a Letter from the Right Honourable Edmund Burke to his Grace the Duke of Portland, on the Conduct of the Minority in Parliament; containing fifty-four articles of impeachment, against the Right Hon. C. J. Fox, from the original copy in the possession of the noble Duke."
This terrific title, 40 I believe, proceeded from the editor; but the book itself contains such evidence as left no doubt about the author. The effect produced by this book in separating Mr. Fox entirely from Mr. Burke, and the effects intended by it to blacken Mr. Fox with indelible disgrace, in the mind of the king, the parliament, and the country, never can be forgotton by you or by myself. It appeared in 1796;41 it refers to events which had occurred some years before; it has every internal mark of deliberation. The writer, in page 6, “ that he may avoid the imputation of throwing out even
privately any loose random imputations against the public conduct of a gentleman for whom he once entertained a very warm affection, and whose abilities he then regarded with the utmost admiration, professes to put down distinctly and articulately some of the objections which he felt to his late doctrines and proceedings.” Again, in page 81, he speaks of “a full, serious, and he thinks, dispassionate consideration of the whole of what Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan had acted, said, and written, in the sessions of 1792, 1793.” The interval between the charge and the crimes compels us then to look upon Mr. Burke'as delivering his real sentimentsI will therefore produce several of them to justify my opinion, that they tend to do away every favourable impression which may be made by the two observations that have lately appeared in the sketch of Mr. Fox's character. In page 7, Mr. Burke tells us, that “Mr. Fox, without the knowledge or partiticipation of any one member of parliament, with whom he was bound by every party principle, in matters of delicacy and importance, confidentially to communicate, had thought proper to send Mr. Adair as his representative, and with his cypher, to St. Petersburgh, there. to. frustrate the objects for which the minister for the crown was authorized to treat."
I am not enough acquaintedwith the circumstances of this transaction, either to justify or to condemn the whole of it. “ Scelus * illud vocat Tubero,"
* Vid. Orat. pro Ligario.
and Tubero, as we once heard from many quarters, is “ an honourable man.” But the conduct of the accuser leads me to suspect that the accusation is at once vague and exaggerated.
Much as may be said about the awful secrets of cabinets, and the profound contrivances of statesmen, men of reading and observation will sometimes be tempted to apply to them, what a great politician once told us of certain Legum Carmina. Dum erant occulta necessario ab eis, qui ea tenebant, petebantur; postea vero pervulgata atque in manibus jactata et excussa, * inanissima prudentiæ reperta sunt, fraudis autem et stultitiæ plenissima. Folly will not be hastily imputed to Mr. Fox; but his well-wishers will be anxious to enquire, what are the grounds upon which Mr. Burke ventured to charge him with the worst kind of fraud. I remember that about the time when Mr. Adair went to Russia, the storm of war which had been gathering passed over. And I farther remember, that this event did not produce any loud complaints that the country had incurred any loss of its honour, or its security. Mr. Burke, indeed, tells us in 1796, that Mr. Adair “ had frustrated the king's minister in some of the objects of his negociation.” But he does not tell us that the objects themselves were very salutary, or very important. The means of frustrating them he pronounces unconstitutional and illegal. But how does he know it? Or at least, how has he proved it, if he knew it? His tenderness to Mr. Fox was not
* See Cicero's Speech for Muræna, paragr. 6.
always such as to make him very thrifty in imparting this kind of knowledge to other men. If he could have proved it, the anxiety which he professed to feel for his king aud country, and the indignation which he avowed against their foes, whether foreign or domestic, were such, that he would have been justified to himself and to the world in producing the whole store of his proofs. In an exuberance of zeal similar to that he upon a well-known occasion had formerly manifested for impeachment,
“ Did he appeal our friend on secret malice,
Or, worthily, as a good subject should,
On some known ground of treachery in him?" If, to adopt the language of Mr. Burke in another passage, “ the intentions of Mr. Adair were pure,” was Mr. Adair under an error so great as to imagine, that his end being the attainment of peace, would consecrate unconstitutional, and even unlawful means? Did Mr. Fox, after the return of Mr. Adair communicate to his friends the measure he is said to have taken without their knowledge? Did he leave them satisfied or dissatisfied with the reasons he assigned for taking it? Did they view his conduct in the same strong light in which Mr. Burke holds it up to public reprobation? Did Mr. Adair give to the Russian court any false or any dangerous information about the resources of the government, or the temper of the people? Had he discovered the secret designs of the English cabinet, and after discovering, did he betray more of them than a man quite unconnected with the members of administration, and honestly adverse to their mea