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more in request at the circulating libraries than shock us more than this Supplement. The the last novel.
Memoir contains much that is worth read. Sir James was not, we think, gifted with ing; for it contains many extracts from the poetical imagination. But the lower kind of compositions of Sir James Mackintosh. Bui imagination which is necessary to the histo- when we pass from what the biographer has rian, he had in large measure. It is not the done with his scissors, to what he has done business of the historian to create new worlds with his pen, we find nothing worthy of approand to people them with new races of beings. bation. Instead of confining himself to the He is to Homer and Shakspeare, to Dante and only work which he is competent to performMilton, what Nollekens was to Canova, or that of relating facts in plain words-he fa Lawrence to Michel Angelo. The object of vours us with his opinions about Lord Bacon, the historian's imagination is not within him; and about the French literature of the age of it is furnished from without. It is not a vision Louis XIV.; and with opinions, more absurd of beauty and grandeur discernible only by the still, about the poetry of Homer, whom it is eye of his own mind; but a real model which evident, from his criticisnis, that he cannot he did not make, and which he cannot alter. read in the original. He affects, and for aught Yet his is not a mere mechanical imitation. we know, feels something like contempt for The triumph of his skill is to select such parts the celebrated man whose life he has under as may produce the effect of the whole, to bring taken to write, and whom he was incompetent out strongly all the characteristic features, and to serve in the capacity even of a corrector of to throw the light and shade in such a manner the press. Our readers may form a notion of as may heighten the effect. This skill, as far the spirit in which the whole narrative is comas we can judge from the unfinished work now posed, from expressions which occur at the before us, Sir James Mackintosh possessed in beginning. This biographer tells us that Mackan eminent degree.
intosh, on occasion of taking his medical deThe style of this Fragment is weighty, man-gree at Edinburgh, “not only put off the writing ly, and unaffected. There are, as we have of his Thesis to the last moment, but was an said, some expressions which seem to us hour behind his time on the day of examina. harsh, and some which we think inaccurate. tion, and kept the Academic Senate waiting These would probably have been corrected, if for him in full conclave.” This irregularity, Sir James had lived to superintend the publi- which no sensible professor would have thought cation. We ought to add that the printer has deserving of more than a slight reprimand, is by no means done his duty. One misprint in described by the biographer, after a lapse of particular is so serious as to require notice. nearly half a century, as an incredible instance Sir James Mackintosh has paid a high and “not so much of indolence as of gross neglijust tribute to the genius, the integrity, and gence and bad taste.” But this is not all. Our the courage of a good and great man, a dis- biographer has contrived to procure a copy of tinguished ornament of English literature, a the Thesis, and has sate down with his As in fearless champion of English liberty, Thomas præsenti and his Propria quæ maribus at his side, Burnet, Master of the Charter-House, and au- to pick out blunders in a composition written thor of that most eloquent and imaginative by a youth of twenty-one, on the occasion al. work, the Telluris Theoria Sacra. Wherever luded' to. He finds one mistake-such a mise the name of this celebrated man occurs, it is take as the greatest scholar might commit when printed “Bennet," both in the text and in the in haste, and as the veriest schoolboy would index. This cannot be mere negligence: it is detect when at leisure. He glories over this plain that Thomas Burnet and his writings precious discovery with all the exultation of a were never heard of by the gentleman who has pedagogue. " Deceived by the passive termi. been employed to edite this volume; and who, nation of the deponent verb defungor, Mackinnot content with deforming Sir James Mackin- tosh misuses it in a passive sense.” He is tosh's text by such blunders, has prefixed to it not equally fortunate in his other discovery. a calumnious Memoir, has appended to it a “ Laude conspurcare,” whatever he may think, is most unworthy Continuation, and has thus not an improper phrase. Mackintosh mant succeeded in expanding the volume into one to say that there are men whose praise is a of the thickest, and debasing it into one of the disgrace. No person, we are sure, who has worst that we ever saw. Never did we see so read this Memoir, will doubt that there are admirable an illustration of the old Greek pro- men whose abuse is an honour. verb, which tells us that half is sometimes But we must proceed to more important more than the whole. Never did we see a matters. This writer evidently wishes to imcase in which the increase of the bulk was so press his readers with a belief that Sir James evirently a diminution of the value.
Mackintosh, from interested motives, abanWhy such an artist was selected to deface so doned the doctrines of ihe “Vindiciæ Gallicæ." fine a Torso, we cannot pretend to conjecture. Had his statements appeared in their natural We read that, when the Consul Mummius, after place, we should leave them to their natuthe taking of Corinth, was preparing to send ral fate. We would not stoop to defend Sir to Rome some works of the greatest Grecian James Mackintosh from the attacks of fourthsculptors, he told the packers that if they broke rate magazines and pothouse newspapers. But his Venus or his Apollo, he would force them here his own fame is turned against him. A to restore the limbs which should be wanting. book, of which not one copy would ever have A head by a hewer of milestones, joined to a been bought but for his name in the title-page, losom by Praxiteles would not surprise or is made the vehicle of the slander. Under such circumstances we cannot help exclaim- à aucune forme de gouvernement. Il pense ing, in the words of one of the most amiable que la meilleure constitution pour un peuple of Homer's heroes,
est celle à laquelle il est accoutumé.
Le vice fondamental des théories sur les con& Νυν τις ενηειης Πατροκληος δειλοιο
stitutions politiques, c'est de commencer par Μνησασθω, πασιν γαρ επιστατο μειλιχος ειναι Ζωος εων', νυν δ' αυ θανατος και μοιρα κιχανει.”
attaquer celles qui existent, et d'exciter tout au
moins des inquiétudes et des jalousies de pouWe have no difficulty in admitting that, dur-voir. Une telle disposition n'est point favor. ing the ten or twelve years which followed the able au perfectionnement des lois. La seule appearance of the “Vindiciæ Gallicæ,” the époque où l'on puisse entreprendre avec sucopinions of Sir James Mackintosh underwent cès de grandes réformes de législation, est some change. But did this change pass on celle où les passions publiques sont calmes, et him alone? Was it not common? Was it où le go!ıvernement jouit de la stabilité la plus not almost universal? Was there one honest grande. L'objet de M. Bentham, en cherchant friend of liberty in Europe or in America whose dans le vice des lois la cause de la plupart des ardour had not been damped, whose faith in the maux, a été constamment d'éloigner le plus high destinies of mankind had not been shaken? grand de tous, le bouleversement de l'autorité, Was there one observer to whom the French les révolutions de propriété et de pouvoir.” Revolution, or revolutions in general, appeared To so conservative a frame of mind had the exactly in the same light on the day when the excesses of the French Revolution brought the Bastille fell and on the day when the Girond- most uncompromising reformers of that time. ists were dragged to the scaffold—the day when And why is one person to be singled out from the Directory shipped off their principal oppo- among millions and arraigned before posterity nent for Guiana, or the day when the Legisla- as a traitor to his opinions, only because events tive Body was driven from its hall at the point produced on him the effect which they proof the bayonet? We do not speak of enthu- duced on a whole generation? This biographer siastic and light-minded people--of wits like may, for aught we know, have revelations from Sheridan, or poets like Alfieri, but of the most Heaven like Mr. Percival, or pure anticipated virtuous and intelligent practical statesmen, cognitions like the disciples of Kant. But such and of the deepest, the calmest, the most im- poor creatures as Mackintosh, Dumont, an 1 partial political speculators of that time. What Bentham had nothing but observation and reawas the language and conduct of Lord Spen- son to guide them, and they obeyed the guidance ser, of Lord Fitzwilliam, of Mr. Grattan? What of observation and reason. How is it in phyis the tone of Dumont's Memoirs, written just sics ? A traveller falls in with a fruit which at the close of the eighteenth century? What he had never before seen. He tastes it, and Tory could have spoken with greaier disgust finds it sweet and refreshing. He praises it, and contempt of the French Revolution and its and resolves to introduce it into his own coun. authors ? Nay, this writer, a republican, and try. But in a few minutes he is taken violently the most upright and zealous of republicans, sick; he is convulsed; he is at the point of has gone so far as to say that Mr. Burke's death; no medicine gives him relief. He of work on the Revolution had saved Europe. course pronounces this delicious food a poison, The name of M. Dumont naturally suggests blames his own folly in tasting it, and cautions that of Mr. Bentham. He, we presume, was not his friends against it. After a long and violent ratting for a place; and what language did he struggle he recovers, and finds himself much hold at that time? Look at his little treatise exhausted by his sufferings, but free from some entitled “Sophismes Anarchiques.” In that trea-chronic complaints which had been the torment tise he says, that the atrocities of the Revolu- of his life. He then changes his opinion again, tion were the natural consequences of the ab- and pronounces this fruit a very powerful resurd principles on which it was commenced;- medy, which ought to be employed only in exthat while the chiefs of the constituent assem-treme cases, and with great caution, but which bly gloried in the thought that they were pull- ought not to be absolutely excluded from the ing down an aristocracy, they never saw that Pharmacopæia." And would it not be the their doctrines tended to produce an evil a height of absurdity to call such a man fickle hundred times more formidable-anarchy ;- and inconsistent because he had repeatedly that the theory laid down in the “ Declaration altered his judgment? If he had not altered of the Rights of Man” had, in a great measure, his judgment, would he have been a rational produced the crimes of the Reign of Terror;-- being ? It was exactly the same with the that none but an eye-witness could imagine French Revolution. That event was a new the horrors of a state of society in which com- phenomenon in politics. Nothing that had ments on that Declaration were put forth by gone before enable) any person to judge with men with no food in their bellies, with rags on certainty of the course which affairs might their backs, and with arms in their hands. He take. At first the effect was the reform of great praises the English Parliament for the dislike abuses, and honest men rejoiced. Then came which it has always shown lo abstract reason- commotion, proscription,confiscation, the bank ings, and to the affirming of general principles. ruptcy, the assignats, the maximum, civil war In M. Dumont's preface to the “Treatise on the foreign war, revolutionary tribunals, guillotin Principles of Legislation"--a preface written ades, noyades, fusillades. Yet a little while, under the eye of Mr. Bentham and published and a military despotism rose out of the con: with his sanction--are the following still more fusion, and threatened the independence of remarkable expressions :--“ M. Bentham est every state in Europe. And yet again a litto bien loin d'attacher une préférence exclusive / while, and the old dynasty returned, followed by a train of emigrants eager to restore the old his course through those times. Exposed sucabuses. We have now, we think, the whcle cessively to two opposite infections, he took before us. We should therefore be justly both in their very mildest form. The constiaccused of levity or insincerity is our lan- tution of his mind was such that neither of the guage concerning those events were constant- diseases which committed such havoc all ly changing. It is our deliberate opinion that around him could, in any serious degree, or for the French Revolution, in spite of all its crimes any great length of time, derange his inteland follies, was a great blessing to mankind. lectual health. He, like every honest and But it was not only natural, but inevitable, that enlightened man in Europe, saw with delight those who had only seen the first act should be the great awakening of the French nation. ignorant of the catastrophe, and should be al- Yet he never, in the season of his warmest ternately elated and depressed as the plot went enthusiasm, proclaimed doctrines inconsistent on disclosing itself to them. A man who had with the safety of property and the just authori. held exactly the same opinion about the Revo- ty of governments. He, like almost every lution in 1789, in 1794, in 1804, in 1814, and honest and enlightened man, was discouraged in 1834, would have been either a divinely in- and perplexed by the terrible events which fol. spired prophet or an obstinate fool. Mackin- lowed. Yet he never, in the most gloomy tosh was neither. He was simply a wise and times, abandoned the cause of peace, of liber. good man; and the change which passed on ty, and of toleration. In that great convulsion his mind was a change which passed on the which overset almost every other understand. mind of almost every wise and good man in ing, he was indeed so much shaken that he lean. Europe. In fact, few of his contemporaries ed sometimes in one direction and sometimes in changed so little. The rare moderation and the other; but he never lost his balance. The calmness of his temper preserved him alike opinions in which he at last reposed, and to from extravagant elation and from extrava- which, in spite of strong temptations, he adgant despondency. He was never a Jacobin. hered with a firm, a disinterested, an ill-reHe was never an Antijacobin. His mind os- quited fidelity, were a just mean between those cillated undoubtedly; but the extreme points which he had defended with a youthful ardour of the oscillation were not very remote. Here- and with more than manly prowess against in he differed greatly from some persons of dis- Mr. Burke; and those to which he had inclined tinguished talents who entered into life at near- during the darkest and saddest years in the ly the same time with him. Such persons we history of modern Europe. We are much have seen rushing from one wild extreme to mistaken if this be the picture either of a weak another-out-Paining Paine--out-Castlereagh- or of a dishonest mind. ing Castlereagh-Pantisocratists--ultra-Tories What his political opinions were in his lat--Heretics-- Persecutors--breaking the old ter years is written in the annals of his country. laws against sedition--calling for new and Those annals will sufficiently refute the calum. sharper laws against sedition--writing demony which his biographer has ventured to pubcratic dramas--writing laureate odes--pane. lish in the very advertisement to his work. gyrizing Marten-panegyrizing Laud-consist“Sir James Mackintosh,” says he,“ was avoi. ent in nothing but in an intolerance which in edly and emphatically a Whig of the Revoany person would be offensive, but which is lution : and since the agitation of religious altogether unpardonable in men who, by their liberty and parliamentary reform became a naown confession, have had such ample experi- tional movement, the great transaction of 1688 ence of their own fallibility. We readily con- has been more dispassionately, more correctly, cede to some of these persons the praise of elo- and less highly estimated.”—While we tranquence and of poetical invention, nor are we scribe the words, our anger cools down into by any means disposed, even where they have scorn. If they mean any thing, they must been gainers by their conversion, to question mean that the opinions of Sir James Mackintheir sincerity. It would be most uncandid to tosh concerning religious liberty and parliaattribute to sordid motives actions which ad- mentary reform went no further than those of mit of a less discreditable explanation. We the authors of the Revolution,-in other words, think that the conduct of these persons has that Sir James Mackintosh opposed Catholic been precisely what was to be expected from Emancipation, and quite approved of the old men who were gifted with strong imagination constitution of the House of Commons. The dad quick sensibility, but who were neither allegation is confuted by twenty volumes of accurate observers nor logical reasoners. It parliamentary debates, nay, by innumerable was natural that such men should see in the passages in the very fragment which this wri. victory of the third estate in France the dawn ter has done his little utmost to deface. We of a new Saturnian age. It was natural that tell him that Sir James Mackintosh has often the disappointment should be proportioned to done more for religious liberty and for parliathe extravagance of their hopes. Though the mentary reform in a quarter of an hour than direction of their passions was altered, the vio- the feeble abilities of his biographer will ever lence of those passions was the same. The effect in the whole course of a long life. force of the rebound was proportioned to the The Continuation which follows Sir James force of the original impulse. The pendulum Mackintosh's Fragment is as offensive as the swung furiously to the left because it had been Memoir which precedes it. We do not predrawn too far to the right.
tend to have read the whole, or even one half We own that nothing gives us so high an of it. Three hundred quarto pages of such idea of the judgment and temper of Sir James matter are too much for human patience. It Mackirtosh as the manner in which he shaped / would be unjust to the writer not to present
our readers, few of whom, we suspect, will be this omninescience-if we may carry the his readers, with a sample of his eloquence. “hardihood of our vocabulary” so far as to We will treat them with a short sentence, and coin a new word for what is to us quite a new will engage that they shall think it long entugh. thing. We take the first page on which we • Idolairy ! fatal word, which has edged more open as a fair sample, and no more than a fair swords, lighted more fires, and inhumanized sample, of the whole. more hearts, than the whole vocabulary of the passions besides.” A choice style for history,
“Lord Halifax played his part with deeper we must own! This gentleman is fond of the perfidy. This opinion is expressed without reword “vi cabulary.” He speaks very scorn
ference to the strange statement of Bishop Burfully or Churchill's “vocabulary," and blames net, which seems, indeed, too inconsistent to be Burnet for the “ hardihood of his vocabulary." true. It should be cited, however, for the judg. What this last expression may mean, we do ment of the reader. The Marquis of Halifax, not very clearly understand. But we are quite says he, (on the arrival of the commissioners sure that Burnet's vocabulary, with all its hardi- at Hungerford,) ósent for me; but the prince hood, would never have dared to admit such a
said, though he would suspect nothing from word as “inhumanized.”
our meeting, others might; so I did not speak of the accuracy of the Continuation as to Yet he took occasion to ask me. so as nobody
with him in private, but in the hearing of others. matters of fact we will give a single speciinen. observed it, if we had a mind to have the king in With a little time we could find twenty such. “ Bishop Lloyd did not live to reap, at least our hands. I said by no means, for we would to enjoy, the fruit of his public labours and had a mind to go away? I said nothing was
not hurt his person. He asked next, what if he secret intrigues. He died soon after the Re
so much to be wished for. This I told the volution, upon his translation from St. Asaph prince, and he approved of both my answers.' to Worcester.” Nobody tolerably well ac
“ Is it credible that Lord Halifax started an quainted with political, ecclesiastical, or literary history, can need to be told that Lloyd was overture of the blackest guilt and infamy in a not made Bishop of Worcester till the year an inferior personage, who had little credit and
room with others, in a mere conversation with 1699, after the death of Stillingsleet; that he
no discretion, and whilst he had, it has been outlived the Revolution nearly thirty years; shown, more suitable vehicles of communicaand died in the reign of George I. This blun- tion with the Prince of Orange! Such a step der is the more inexcusable, as one of the most curious and best known transactions in the outrages all probability when imputed to a time of Anne, was the address of the House of should Burnet invent and dramatize such a
statesman noted for his finesse. But why Commons to the queen, begging her to dismiss
scene? It may be accounted for by his disLloyd from his place of almoner.
tinctive character. As we turn over the leaves, another senience his history a subaltern partisan, conscious of
He appears throughout catches our eye. We extract it as an instance both of historical accuracy and philosophical others and himself, that he was a personage of
his inferiority, and struggling to convince profundity. “Religion in 1688 was not a ra- the first pretension. Such a man, whose vanitional conviction, or a sentiment of benevolence and charity; but one of the malignant having heard of the intrigue of Lord Halifax,
ty, moreover, was notoriously unscrupulous, passions, and a cause of quarrel. Even in the would seize and mould it to his purpose as a next age, Congreve makes a lying sharper, in one of his plays, talk seriously of fighting for proof of his importance, and as an episode in
his history." his religion.” What is meant by “even in the next age?” Congreve's first work, the novel And this is the man who has been chosen to of “Cleophil,” was written in the very year complete a work which Sir James Mackintosh 1688; and the “ Old Bachelor," from which the left unfinished! Every line of the passage quotation is taken, was brought on the stage proves the writer to be ignorant of the most noonly five years after the Revolution. But this torious facts, and unable to read characters of great logician ought to go further. Sharper which the peculiarities lie most open to supertalks of fighting, not only for his religion, but ficial observation. Burnct was partial, vain, for his friends. We presume, therefore, that credulous, and careless. But Burnet was quite in the year 1688, friendship was “one of the incapable of framing a deliberate and circummalignant passions, and a cause of quarrel." stantial falsehood. And what reason does this But enough and too much of such folly. writer assign for giving the lie direct to the
Never was there such a contrast as that good bishop? Absolutely none, except that which Sir James's Fragment presents to this Lord Halifax would not have talked on a deliContinuation. In the former, we have scarcely cate subject to so “inferior a personage." been able, during several close examinations, Was Burnet then considered as an insignifito detect one mistake as to matter of fact. We cant man? Was it lo an insignificant mau never open the latter without lighting on a ri- that Parliament voted thanks for services ren• diculous blunder which it does not require the dered to the Protestant religion? Was it assistance of any book of reference to detect against an insignificant man that Dryden put The author has not the smallest potion of the forth all his powers of invective in the most state of England in 1688; of the feelings and elaborale, though not the most vigorous of his opinions of the people ; of the relative position works? Was he an insignificant man whoin of parties; of the character of one single pub- the great Bossuet constanily described, as the lic man on either side. No single passage can most formidable of all the champions of the give any idea of this equally diffused ignorance, Reformation? Was it to an insigniñcant map
that King William gave the very first bishopric the old times, as to deny that medicine, surge that became vacani after the Revolution ? Til- ry, botany, chemistry, engineering, navigation, lotson, Tennyson, Stillingfleet, Hough, Patrick, are better understood now than in any former all distinguished by their exertions in defence age. We conceive that it is the same with of the reformed faith, all supporters of the new political science. Like those other sciences government, were they all passed by in favour which we have mentioned, it has always been of a man of no weight-of a man so unimport- working itself clearer and clearer, and depositant that no person of rank would talk with him ing impurity after impurity.
There was a about momentous affairs ?. And, even granting time when the most powerful of human intelthat Burnet was a very “inferior personage,' lects were deluded by the gibberish of the did Halifax think him so? Everybody knows astrologer and the alchymist; and just so there the contrary—that is, everybody except this was a time when the most enlightened and writer. In 1680 it was reported that Halifax virtuous statesmen thought it the first duty of a was a concealed Papist. It was accordingly government to persecute heretics, to found moved in the House of Commons by Halifax's monasteries, to make war on Saracens. But stepfather, Chichley, that Dr. Burnet should be time advances, facts accumulate, doubls arise. examined as to his lordship's religious opi- Faint glimpses of truth begin to appear, and nions. This proves that they were on terms shine more and more unto the perfect day. of the closest intimacy. But this is not all. The highest intellects, like the tops of mounThere is still extant among the writings of tains, are the first to catch and to reflect the Halifax a character of Burnet, drawn with the dawn. They are bright, while the level below greatest skill and delicacy. It is no unmixed is still in darkness. But soon the light, which panegyric. The failings of Burnet are pointed at first illuminated only the loftiest eminences, out; but he is described as a man whose very descends on the plain, and penetrates to the failings arose from the constant activity of his deepest valley. First come hints, then fragintellect. · His friends," says the Marquis, ments of systems, then defective systems, then “ love him too well to see small faults, or if they complete and harmonious systems. The sound do, think that his greater talents give him a opinion, held for a time by one bold specuprivilege of straying from the strict rules of lator, becomes the opinion of a small minority, caution.” Men like Halifax do not write ela- of a strong minority, of a majority-of manborate characters, either favourable or unfa- kind. Thus, the great progress goes on, till vourable, of those whom they consider as schoolboys laugh at the jargon which imposed “inferior personages." Yet Burnet, it seems, on Bacon,-till country rectors condemn the was so inferior a personage, that Halifax would illiberality and intolerance of Sir Thomas not trust him with a secret! And what, after More. all, was the mighty secret? This writer calls Seeing these things-seeing that, by the conit“ an overture of guilt and infamy.” It was session of the most obstinate enemies of inni. no overture of guilt and infamy. It was no vation, our race has hitherto been almost overture at all. It was, on the face of it, a very constantly advancing in knowledge, and not simple question, which the most devoted adhe- seeing any reason to believe that, precisely at rent of King James might naturally and pro- the point of time at which we came into the perly have asked.
world, a change took place in the faculties of This, we repeat, is only a fair sample. We the human mind, or in the mode of discovering have not observed one paragraph in the vast truth, we are reformers: we are on the side of mass, which, if examined in the same manner, progress. From the great advances which would not yield an equally abundant harvest European society has made, during the last of error and impotence.
four centuries, in every species of knowledge, What most disgusts us is the contempt with we infer, not that there is no more room for which the writer thinks fit to speak of all improvement, but that in every science which Things that were done before the coming in of deserves the name, immense improvements the very last fashions in politics. What he may be confidently expected. thinks about this, or about any other matter, is But the very considerations which lead us of little consequence, and would be of no con- to look forward with sanguine hope to the fusequence at all, if he had not deformed an ex- ture, prevent us from looking back with concellent work, by fastening to it his own specu- tempi on the past. We do not flatter ourselves Jations. But we think that we have sometimes with the notion, that we have attained perobserved a leaning towards the same fault in fection, and that no more truth remains to be persons of a very different order of intellect found. We believe that we are wiser than from this writer. We will therefore take this our ancestors. We believe, also, that our posopportunity of making a few remarks on an terity will be wiser than we.
It would be gross error which is, we fear, becoming common; injustice in our grandchildren to talk of us with and which appears to us not only absurd, but contempt, merely because they may have suras pernicious as any error concerning the passed us—to call Watt a fool, because metransactions of a past age can possibly be. chanical powers may be discovered which
We shall not, we hope, be suspected of a may supersede the use of steam–10 deride the bigoted attachment to the doctrines and prac- efforts which have been made in our time to tices of past generations. Our creed is, that improve the discipline of prisons, and to en. "he science of government is an experimental lighten the minds of the poor, because future science, and that, like all other experimental philanthropists may devise better places of sciences, it is generally in a state of progres- confinement than Mr. Bentham's Panopticon, sjon No man is so obstinate an admirer of land better places of education than Mr. Lan