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LETTERs of TIMOTHY Ticklen, Esq. To EMINENT LITERARY CHA-
Noctes AMBRosi ANAE. No. XVIII. - - - - - . 114
will IAM BLAckwooD, No. 17, PRINCE's STREET, EDINBURGH ;
T. CADELL, STRAND, LONDON ; AND
wiLDER AND CAMPBELL, BROADWAY, NEW-YORK.
To whom Communications (post paid) may be addressed.
sol D ALso BY ALL THE Books ELLERS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM.
rRINTED BY JAMES BALLANTYNE & Co., EDINBURGII.
We have been under the necessity of giving an ertra sheet this month, and of omitting the usual lists of Books, Deaths, &c.
MR PRIoR's book contains many interesting particulars respecting Burke, not given by his other biographers; it exhibits much just sentiment and good feeling, and it displays sufficient evidence that much careful inquiry has been employed in its production. Of the diction we cannot speak very favourably: it is generally perspicuous and spirited, but it is too often inaccurate and faulty, and it sometimes makes attempts at elevation and effect which are by no means successful. Notwithstanding these and other drawbacks, the work is a sensible and a valuable one. If Mr Prior have not accomplished all that the fame of Burke demanded, some excuse may be found for him in the difficulties which beset his undertaking. He could not have chosen one less capable of successful execution. Perhaps the empire stands more deeply indebted to Burke, looking at what it has been preserved from, at what has been preserved to it, and at what it has obtained, than to any other individual—perhaps no other individual ever equalled him in great and extraordinary achievements, accomplished by the mere force of intellect—butnomartial victories, no splendid series of ministerial labours, scarcely any of the things which generally give shape and perpetuity to the highest kind of fame, embody his tran
scendent powers and services to the gaze of the world. His mighty genius soared far above these, for the means of benefiting his country, and the most important of its triumphs, were too vast, complex, and exalted in their nature, to be judged of by the ordinary modes of definition and valuation. In consequence, much of the glory which belongs to him has been given to others. The nation annually heaps new honours on the tomb of Pitt, while that of Burke—of the man who smote, divided, and paralysed a mighty revolutionary Opposition— crushed an almost irresistible multitude of revolutionary teachers—stayed the frenzy of the community—converted apostacy and terror into impassioned fidelity and chivalrous daring—in a word, who formed the arena for Pitt, and created the host by which he conquered—is forgotten. Nothing could well be more unnecessary than to add to the legitimate fame of Pitt the fame belonging to another; but, nevertheless, those who adopt his name, and revere his memory, will not suffer any portion that has #: assigned to him to be taken away. In addition to this, those who call themselves his followers, have lately embraced principles and polic which clash greatly with those whic Burke recommended in similar circumstances. Our other political par
* Memoir of the Life and Character of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke, with Specimens of his Poetry and Letters, and an Estimate of his Genius and Talents, compared with those of his great Contemporaries. By James Prior, Esq. London : Baldwin
and Co. 1824. Vol. XVII.
ties have a direct interest in employing every effort to destroy Burke's reputation altogether. If he were a statesman and a patriot, Fox was a driveller and a demagogue—if his principles were truth and wisdom, the Whigs are the most blind and dishonoured body of men that the world ever contained. The Benthamites have equal cause with the Whigs to detest him. Though his ashes slumber in the tomb, his voice is still heard to confound them—his spirit still walks the earth to scatter their dogmas and schemes to the winds, and to hold them up to the derision of mankind. Of course, a biographer, to do full justice to the fame of Burke, should be able to sketch, distinctly and vividly, the effects which his speeches and writings produced, both to his own country and to Europe—he should be able to draw the line between the triumphs of his hero and those of Pitt —he should be able to pourtray the mighty influence and prodigious errors, follies, and guilt, of Fox and the Whigs—he should be able to paint the tremendous and appalling array of enemies, difficulties, and sorrows, which Burke had to encounter when he gained the most glorious of his victories, and which would have crushed and destroyed any spirit but his own—and he should be able to cope with, not only the delusions, but the prejudices and the wickedness of parties. He should possess a mind equally dauntless and impartial—determined to be alike just and unsparing, and to deal as liberally in condemnation as panegyric—aware that, as it had espoused the cause of one whom almost all conspired to wrong, it could only do justice to him by treating every enemy with due severity. We wish, not more for the sake of Burke than for the sake of the country, that his memory was held in due estimation. If a nation expect to possess great men, it must consecrate their ashes and preserve from stain their glory—if it expect to have wise rulers, it must teach its children to revere its departed sages. We think the writings of this great and wonderful man have o lost no inconsiderable portion of their influence. Although they were so strikingly applicable to some of the leading topics of the last two sessions of Parliament, we could find
but few traces of them in the discussions. Amidst the gigantic , events which concluded the war, and the subsequent revolutionary convulsions of Europe, the late Marquis of Londonderry—we name it to his eternal honour—seemed to take Burke for his guide, but with his death the influence of Burke appeared to terminate. We regret this deeply. Setting aside other matters, we are convinced that Burke's theory for constructing and governing society—for creating and preserving general liberty and happiness—can never be shaken ; and therefore we are convinced that every departure from it is a departure into error. Allowing as liberally as we please for the infirmities of mankind, there is something in this not a little extraordinary. The compositions of Burke are inimitable in literary beauty, and
- this, if they had possessed no other
recommendation, ought to have obtained for them constant perusal and powerful influence. But, in addition, they treat of the highest interests of individuals and nations; they give the most profound and magnificent views of those things on which the tongue of the Englishman dwells for ever;. the splendours of the diction only serve to pourtray the most astonishing triumphs of genius, knowledge, wisdom, and philosophy. Moreover, that portion of them which, when they were written, appeared to be but opinion and speculation, has been proved by time to have been sublime truth and unerring prophesy. Burke died the greatest of sages—a man gifted with even superhuman wisdom—and the grave has made him a wonderful prohet. One of the most striking pecuiarities of his late works is—they form a chain of predictions, respecting some of the most momentous, novel, and complicated of human events, which have been accomplished to the letter. Finally, the history of Europe for the last seven years has been of a description to compel the nation to study the topics on which he wrote, and to drive it to the stores of instruction which he provided. When those who boast so eternally of the increased knowledge and wisdom of the world, shall explain to our satisfaction why the writings of Burke, which treat of the form and regulations of society, are not in every man's