« AnteriorContinuar »
have ventured or would have wished to do.' tered into Pitt's consideration. Perhaps to The active and able sovereign of Prussia re- would be more correct to say, that the cost of ceived such pecuniary assistance as enabled his victories increased the pride and pleasare him to maintain the conflict on equal terms with which he contemplated them. Unlike against his powerful enemies. On no subject other men in his situation, he loved to exag had Piti ever spoken with so much eloquence gerate the sums which the nation was laying and ardour, as on the mischiefs of the Hano- out under his direction. He was proud of the verian connection. He now declared, not sacrifices and efforts which his eloquence and without much show of reason, that it would be his success had induced his countrymen to unworthy of the English people to suffer their make. The price at which he purchased faithking to be deprived of his electoral dominion sul service and complete victory, though far in an English quarrel. He assured his coun- smaller than that which his son, the most protrymen that they should be no losers, and that fuse and incapable of war ministers, paid for he would conquer America for them in Ger-treachery, defeat, and shame, was severely felt many. By taking this line he conciliated the by the nation. king, and lost no part of his influence with Even as a war minister, Pitt is scarcely enthe nation. In Parliament, such was the as- titled to all the praise which his. contempocendency which his eloquence, his success, his raries lavished on him. We, perhaps from high situation, his pride, and his intrepidity ignorance, cannot discern in his arrangements had obtained for him, that he took liberties any appearance of profound or dexterous comwith the House, of which there had been no ex-bination. Several of his expeditions, parti. ample, and which has never since been imi. cularly those which were sent to the coast of tated. No orator could there venture to reproach France, were at once costly and absurd. Our him with inconsistency. One unfortunate man Indian conquests, though they add to the splen. made the attempt, and was so much discon- dour of the period during which he was at the certed by the scornful demeanour of the minis- head of affairs, were not planned by him. He .er that he stammered, stopped, and sat down. had great energy, great determination, great Even the old Tory country gentlemen, to whom means at his command. His temper was enche very name of Hanover had been odious, terprising, and, situated as he was, he had only gave their hearty ayes to subsidy after subsidy to follow his temper. The wealth of a rich in a lively contemporary satire, much more nation, the valour of a brave nation, were lively indeed than delicate, this remarkable ready to support him in every attempt. aonversion is not unhappily described.
In one respect, however, he deserved all the
praise that he has ever received. The succesy No more they make a fiddle-saddle About a Hessian horse or saddle;
of our arms was perhaps owing less to the No more of continental measures;
skill of his dispositions, than to the national No more of wasting British treasures.
resources and the national spirit. But that the Ten millions, and a vote of credilTis right. lle can't be wrong who did it." national spirit rose to the emergency, that the
national resources were contributed with un The success of Pitt's continental measures exampled cheerfulness—this was undoubtedly was such as might have been expected from his work. The ardour of his spirit had set the their vigour. When he came into power, whole kingilom on fire. It infiamed every sol. Hanover was in imminent danger; and before dier who dragged the cannon up the heights he had been in office three months, the whole of Quebec, and every sailor who boarded the electorate was in the hands of France. But French ships amidst the rocks of Brittany. the face of affairs was speedily changed. The The minister, before he had been long in office, invaders were driven out. An army, parily had imparted to the commanders whom he English, partly Hanoverian, partly composed employed his own impetuous, adventurous, of soldiers furnished by the peily princes of and defying character. They, like him, were Germany, was placed under the command of disposed to risk every thing, to pay double or Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick. The French quits to the last, to think nothing done while were beaten in 1758 at Creveldt. In 1759, any thing remained, to fail rather than not to they received a still more complete and humi- attempt. For the errors of rashness there liating defeat at Minden.
might be indulgence. For over-caution, for In the mean time, the nation exhibited all faults like those of Lord George Sackville, the signs of wealth and prosperity. The mer- there was no mercy. In other times, and chants of London had never been more thriv-against other enemies, this mode of warfare ing. The importance of several great com- might have failed. But the state of the French mercial and manufacturing towns, Glasgow, government and of the French nation gave in particular, dates from this period. The every advantage to Pitt. The fops and in. fine inscription on the monument of Lord triguers of Versailles were appalled and be. Chatham, in Guildhall, records the general wildered by his vigour. A panic. spread opinion of the citizens of London, that under through all ranks of society. Our enemies his administration commerce had been “united soon considered it as a settled thing that they with and made to flourish by war.”
were always to be beaten. Thus victory begot It must be owned, that these signs of pros- victory ; till, at last, wherever the forces of the perity were in some degree delusive. It must two nations met, they met with disdainful con be owned, that some of our conquests were fidence on the one side, and with a craven fcas rather splendid than u:seful. It must be own- on the other. ed, that the expense of the war never en- The situation which Plt nccupies at the
close of the reign of George the Second was Tories, Churchman and Puritans, spoke with the most enviable ever occupied by any public equal reverence of the constitution, and with man in English history. He had conciliated equal enthusiasm of the talents, virtues, and the king; he dominecred over the House of services of the minister. Commons; he was adored by the people ; he few years sufficed to change the whole was admired by all Europe. He was the first aspect of affairs. A nation convulsed by facEnglishman of his time; and he had made tion, a throne assailed by the fiercest invective. England the first country in the world. The a House of Commons hated and despised by Great Commoner—the name by which he was the nation, England set against Scotland, Brioften designated-might look down with scorn lain set against America, a rival legislature on coronels and garters. The nation was sitting beyond the Atlantic, English blood shed drunk with joy and pride. The Parliament by English bayonets, our armies capitulating, was as quiet as it had been under Pelham. our conquests wrested from us, our enemies The old party distinctions were almost effaced; hastening to take vengeance for past humilianor was their place yet supplied by distinctions tion, our flag scarcely able to maintain itself of a yet more important kind. A new genera- in our own seas-such was the spectacle Pitt tion of country-squires and rectors had arisen lived to see. But the history of this great rewho knew not the Stuarts. The Dissenters volution requires far more space than we can were tolerated; the Catholics not cruelly per- at present bestow. We leave the “Grea secuted. The Church was drowsy and indul. Commoner" in the zenith of his glory. It i gent. The great civil and religious conflict not impossible that we may take some other which began at the Reformation seemed to have opportunity of tracing his life to its melancholy terminated in universal repose. Whigs and yet not inglorious, close
retar and tear in every mor, really cared of el
(EDINBURGH REVIEW, 1837.)
Wreturn our hearty thanks to Mr. Mon- derives pleasure and advantage from the per. tagu, as well for his very valuable edition of formances of such a man. The number of Lord Bacon's Works, as for the instructive those who suffer by his personal vices is small, Life of the immortal author, contained in the even in his own time, when compared with the last volume. We have much to say on the number of those to whom his talents are a subject of this Lise, and will often find our source of gratification. In a few years, all selves obliged to dissent from the opinions of those whom he has injured disappear. But his the biographer. But about his merit as a col works remain, and are a source of delight to lector of the materials out of which opinions millions. The genius of Sallust is still with are fornied, there can be no dispute ; and we But the Numidians whom he plundered, readily acknowledge that we are in a great and the unfortunate husbands who caught him measure indebted to his minute and accurate in their houses at unseasonable hours, are for. researches, for the means of refuting what we gotten. We suffer ourselves to delighted by cannot but consider his errors.
the keenness of Clarendon's observation, and The labour which has been bestowed on this by the sober majesty of his style, till we forget volume, has been a labour of love. The the oppressor and the bigot in the historian. writer is evidently enamoured of the subject. Falstaff and Tom Jones have survived the It fills his heart. It constantly overflows from gamekeepers whom Shakspeare cudgelled, and his lips and his pen. Those who are acquainted the landladies whom Fielding billed. A great with the courts in which Mr. Montagu prac- writer is the friend and benefactor of his tises with so much ability and success, well readers; and they cannot but judge of him know how often he enlivens the discussion of a under the deluding influence of friendship and point of law by citing some weighly aphorism, gratitude. We all know how unwilling we are or some brilliant illustration, from the De to admit the truth of any disgracelul story Augmentis or the Novum Organum. The Life about a person whose society we like, and before us, doubtless, owes much of its value to from whom we have received favours, how the honest and generous enthusiasm of the long we struggle against evidence, how fondly, writer. This feeling has stimulated his acti- when the facts cannot be disputed, we cling to vity; has sustained his perseverance; has the hope that there may be some explanation called forth all his ingenuity and eloquence: or some extenuating circumstance with which but, on the other hand, we must frankly say, we are unacquainted. Just such is the feeling that it has, to a great extent, perverted his which a man of liberal education naturally enjudgment.
tertains towards the great minds of former We are by no means without sympathy for ages. The debt which he owes to them is in. Mr. Mon:agu even in what we consider as his calculable. They have guided him to truth. weakness. There is scarcely any delusion They have filled his mind with noble and which has a better claim to be indulgently graceful images. They have stood by him in treated than that, under the influence of which all vicissitudes-comforters in sorrow, nurses a man ascribes every moral excellence 10 in sickness, companions in solitude. These those who have left imperishable monuments friendships are exposed to no danger from the of their genius. The causes of this error lie occurrences by which other attachments are deep in the inmost recesses of human nature. weakened or dissolved. Time glides by ; forWe are all inclined to judge of others as we tune is inconstant; tempers are soured; bonds find them. Our estimate of a character always which seemed indissoluble are daily sundered depends much on the manner in which that by interest, by emulation, or by caprice. But character affects our own interests and pas- no such cause can affect the silent converse sions. We find it difficult to think well of which we hold with the highest of human inthose by whom we are thwarted or depressed; sellects. That placid intercourse is disturbed and we are ready to admit every excuse for by no jealousies or resentments. These are the vices of those who are useful or agreeable the old friends who are never seen with new to us. This is, we believe, one of those illu- faces, who are the same in wealth and in sions to which the whole human race is sub- poverty, in glory and in obscurity,
With the ject, and which experience and reflection can dead there is no rivalry. In the dead there is only partially remove. It is, in the phraseolo- no change. Plato is never sullen. Cervantes gy of Bacon, one of the idola tribus. Hence it is never petulant. Demosthenes never comes is, that the moral character of a man eminent unseasonably. Dante never stays too long. in letters, or in the fine arts, is treated—often No difference of political opinion can alienate by contemporaries-almost always by posterity Cicero. No heresy can excite the horror of -with extraordinary tenderness. The world Bossuet.
Nothing, then, can be more natural than that The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of Eng a person of sensibility and imagina:ion should land. A mero Édition. By BASIL MONTAGU, Esq. 16
entertain a respectful and affec!unave feeling towards those great men with whose minus he defence of one most eloquent and accomplished holds daily communion. Yet nothing can be Trimmer. more certain than that such men have not The volume before us reminds us now and always deserved, in their own persons, to be then of the “Life of Cicero." But there is this regarded with respect or affection. Some marked difference. Dr. Middleton evidently writers, whose works will continue to instruct had an uneasy consciousness of the weakness and delight mankind to the remotest ages, have of his cause, and therefore resorted to the most ceen placed in such situations, that their actions disingenuous shifts, to unpardonable distortions and motives are as well known to us as ihe ac- and suppressions of facts. Mr. Montagu's tions and motives of one human being can be faith is sincere and implicit. He practises no known to another; and unhappily their conduct trickery. He conceals nothing. He puts the has not always been such as an impartial judge facts before us in the full confidence that they can contemplate with approbation. But the will produce on our minds the effect which fanaticism of the devout worshipper of genius they have produced on his own. It is not till is proof against all evidence and all argument. he comes to reason from facts to notives, that The character of his idol is matter of faith; his partiality shows itself; and then he leaves and the province of faith is not to be invaded Middleton himself far behind. His work proby reason. He maintains his superstition with ceeds on the assumption that Bacon was an a credulity as boundless, and a zeal as unscru- eminently virtuous man. From the tree Mr. pulous, as can be found in the most ardent par- Montagu judges of the fruit. He is forced to tisans of religious or political factions. The relate many actions, which, if any man but most overwhelming proofs are rejected; the Bacon had committed them, nobody would have plainest rules of morality are explained away; dreamed of defending-actions which are extensive and important portions of history are readily and completely explained by supposing completely distorted; the enthusiast misrepre- Bacon to have been a man whose principles sents facts with all the effrontery of an advo- were not strict, and whose spirit was not high cate, and confounds right and wrong with all -actions which can be explained in no other the dexterity of a Jesuit--and all this only in way, without resorting to some grotesque hy. order that some man who has been in his pothesis for which there is not a title of evigrave for ages may have a fairer character dence. But any hypothesis is, in Mr. Montagu's than he deserves.
vols. 8vo. London. 1825-1834.
opinion, more probable than that his hero should Middleton's “Life of Cicero" is a striking ever have done any thing very wrong. instance of the influence of this sort of par- This mode of defending Bacon seems to us tiality. Never was there a character which it by no means Baconian. To take a man's cha. was easier to read than that of Cicero. Never racter for granted, and then from his character was there a mind keener or more critical than to infer the moral quality of all his actions, is that of Middleton. Had the doctor brought to surely a process the very reverse of that which the examination of his favourite statesman's is recommended in the Novum Organum. No conduct but a very small part of the acuteness thing, we are sure, could have led Mr. Montagu and severity which he displayed when he was to depart so far from his master's precepts, engaged in investigating the high pretensions except zeal for his master's honour. We shall . of Epiphanius and Justin Martyr, he could not follow a different course. We shall attempt, have failed to produce a most valuable history with the valuable assistance which Mr. Mon. of a most interesting portion of time. But this tagu has afforded us, to frame such an account most ingenious and learned man, though of Bacon's life as may enable our readers cor“ So wary held and wise
rectly to estimate his character. That, as't was said, he scarce received
It is hardly necessary to say that Francis For gospel what the church believed,"
Bacon was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, who had a superstition of his own. The great held the great seal of England during the first Iconoclast was himself an idolater. The great twenty years of the reign of Elizabeth. The Avvocata del Diavolo, while he disputed, with no fame of the father has been thrown into shade small ability, the claims of Cyprian and Athana- by that of the son. But Sir Nicholas was no sius to a place in the Calendar, was himself ordinary man. He belonged to a set of men composing a lying legend in honour of St. whom it is easier to describe collectively than Tully! He was holding up as a model of separately; whose minds were formed by one every virtue a man whose talents and acquire system of discipline; who belonged to one menis, indeed, can never be too highly extol- rank in society, to one university, to one party, led, and who was by no means destitute of to one sect, to one administration; and who amiable qualities, but whose whole soul was resembled each other so much in talents, in under the dominion of a girlish vanity and a opinions, in habits, in fortunes, that one cha. craven fear. Actions for which Cicero him- racter, we had almost said one life, may, to a self, the most eloquent and skilful of advocates, considerable extent, serve for them all. could contrive no excuse, actions which in his They were the first generation of statesmen confidential correspondence he mentioned with hy profession that England produced. Before remorse and shame, are represented by his their time the division of labour had, in this biographer as wise, virtuous, heroic. The respect, been very imperfect. Those who had whole history of that great revolution which directed public affairs had been, with few ex. overthrew the Roman aristocracy, the whole ceptions, warriors or priests : warriors whose state of parties, the character of every public rude courage was neither guided by science man, is elaborately misrepresented, in order to nor softened by humanity ; priests whose make cui something which may look like a learning and abilities were habitually devoted
to the defence of tyranny and imposture. The Henry that the new theology obtained the asHotspurs, the Nevilles, the Cliffords-rough, cendant at one time, and that the lessons of the illnerate, and unreflecting--brought to the nurse and of the priest regained their infrience council-board the fierce and imperious disposi- at another. It was not only in the house of lion which they had acquired amidst the tu- Tudor that the husband was exasperated by mult of predatory war, or in the gloomy repose the opposition of the wife, that the son dissented of the garrisoned and moated castle. On the from the opinions of the father, that the brother other side was the calm and subtle prelate, persecuted the sister, the one sister persecuted versed in all tha: was then considered as another. The principles of conservation and learning; trained in the schools to manage reform carried on their warfare in every part words, and in the confessional to manage of society, in every congregation, in every hearts; seldom superstitious, but skilful in school of learning, round the hearth of every practising on the superstition of others; false private family, in the recesses of every reflectas it was natural that a man should be, whose ing mind. profession imposed on all who were not saints It was in the midst of this serment that the the necessity of being hypocrites; selfish as it minds of the persons whom we are describing was natural that a man should be, who could were developed. They were born Reformers. form no domestic ties, and cherish no hope of They belonged by nature to that order of men legitimate posterity; more attached to his order who always form the front ranks in the great than to his country, and guiding the politics of intellectual progress. They were, therefore, England with a constant side-glance at Rome. one and all Proiectants. In religious matters, But the increase of wealth, the progress of however, though there is no reason to doubt knowledge, and the reformation of religion that they were sincere, they were by no means produced a great change. The nobles ceased zealous. None of them chose to run the small. to be military chieftains; the priests ceased to est personal risk during the reign of Mary. possess a monopoly of learning; and a new and None of them favoured the unhappy attempt remarkable species of politicians appeared. of Northumberland in favour of his daughier.
These men came from neither of the classes in-law. None of them shared in the desperate which had, till then, almost exclusively fur-councils of Wyatt. They contrived to have nished ministers of state. They were all lay- business on the Continent; or, if they stayed in men; yet they were all men of learning, and England, they heard Mass and kept Lent with they were all men of peace. They were not great decorum. When those dark and peril. members of the aristocracy. They inherited ous years had gone by, and when the crown no titles, no large domains, no armies of re- had descended to a new sovereign, they took lainers, no fortified castles. Yet they were not the lead in the reformation of the church. But ow men, such as those whom princes, jealous they proceeded not with the impetuosity of of the power of a nobility, have sometimes theologians, but with the calm determination raised from forges, and cobblers' stalls, to the of statesmen. They acted, not like men who highest situations. They were all gentlemen considered the Romish worship as a system by birth. They had all received a liberal edu- 100 offensive to God and too destructive of cation. It is a remarkable fact that they were souls to be tolerated for an hour; but like men all members of the same university. The two who regarded the points in dispute among great national seats of learning had even then Christians as in themselves unimportant; and acquired the characters which they still retain. who were not restrained by any scruple of In intellectual activity, and in readiness to conscience from professing, as they had before admit improvements, the superiority was then, professed, the Catholic faith of Mary, the Proas it has ever since been, on the side of the testant faith of Edward, or any of the numerous less ancient and splendid institution. Cam- intermediate combinations which the caprice bridge had the honour of educating those cele- of Henry, and the temporizing policy of Cran. brated Protestant bishops whom Oxford had mer, had formed out of the doctrines of both the honour of burning; and at Cambridge the hostile parties. They took a deliberate were formed the minds of all those statesmen view of the state of their own country and of to whom chiefly is to be attributed the secure the continent. They satisfied themselves as establishment of the reformed religion in the to the leaning of the public mind; and they north of Europe.
chose their side. They placed themselves at The statesmen of whom we speak passed the head of the Protestants of Europe, and their youth surrounded by the incessant din of staked all their fame and fortunes on the suc. theological controversy. Opinions were still cess of their party. in a state of chaotic anarchy, intermingling, It is needless to relate how dexterously, how separating, advancing, receding. Sometimes resolutely, how gloriously, they directed the the stubborn bigotry of the Conservatives politics of England during the eventful years seemed likely to prevail. Then the impetuous which followed; how they succeeded in unitonset of the Reformers for a moment carried ing their friends and separating their enemies; all before it. Then again the resisting mass how they humbled the pride of Philip; how made a desperate stand, arrested the more they backel the unconquerable spirit of Coment, and forced it slowly back. The vacilla- ligni; how they rescued Holland from tyran. tion which at that time appeared in English ny; how they founded the maritime greatness legislation, and which it has been the fashion of iheir country; how they outwitted the artíul to attribute to the caprice and to the power of politicians of Italy, and tamed the ferocious one or two individuals, was truly a national chieftains of Scotland. It is impossible to vaciniation. It was not only in the mind of deny that they committed many acts which