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Whatever doubt there may be of the political and military capacity of Brutus, there is none concerning his virtue ; his principles of action were the noblest that ancient philosophy had taught, and his actions were conformed to his principles. Nevertheless, our admiration of the man ought not to blind our judgment of the deed, which, though it was the blemish of his virtue, has shed an unfading splendour on his name.
For, though the multitude, to the end of time, will be open to flattery, and will joyfully assist their flatterers to become their tyrants, yet they will never cease to hate tyrants and tyranny, with equal sincerity and vehemence. Hence it is, that the memory of Brutus, who slew a tyrant, is consecrated as the champion and martyr of liberty, and will flourish and look green in declamation, as long as the people are prone tð believe, that those are their best friends, who have proved themselves the greatest enemies of their enemies.
Ask any man of morals, whether he approves of assassination; he will answer, no. Would you kill your friend and benefactor ? No. The question is a horrible insult, Would you practise hypocrisy, and smile in his face, while your conspiracy is ripening, to gain his confidence and lull him into security, in order to take away his life? Every honest man, on the bare suggestion, feels his blood thicken and stagnate at his heart. Yet in this picture we see Brutus.
It would, perhaps, be scarcely just to hold him up to abhorrence ; it is, certainly, monstrous and absurd, to exhibit his conduct to admiration.
He did not strike the tyrant from hatred or ambition : his motives are admitted to be good; but was not the action, nevertheless, bad?
To kill a tyrant, is as much murder, as to kill any other man. Besides, Brutus, to extenuate the crime, could have had no rational hope of putting an end to the tyranny: he had foreseen, and provided nothing to rea. lize it. The conspirators relied, foolishly enough, on the love of the multitude for liberty--they loved their safety, their ease, their sports, and their demagogue favourites a great deal better. They quietly looked on, as spectators, and left it to the legions of Anthony and Octavius, and to those of Syria, Macedonia, and Greece, to decide, in the field of Philippi, whether there should be a republic or not. It was accordingly decided in favour of an emperor; and the people sincerely rejoiced in the political calm, that restored the games of the circus, and the plenty of bread.
Those who cannot bring their judgments to condemn the killing of a tyrant, must, nevertheless, agree that the blood of Cæsar was unprofitably shed. Liberty gained nothing by it, and humanity lost a great deal ; for it cost eighteen years of agitation and civil war, before the ambition of the military and popular chieftains had expended its means, and the power was concentred in one man's hands.
Shall we be told, the example of Brutus is a good one, because it will never cease to animate the race of tyrantkillers? But will the fancied usefulness of assassination overcome our instinctive sense of its honour? Is it to become a part of our political morals, that the chief of a state is to be stabbed or poisoned, whenever a fanatic, a malecontent, or a reformer, shall rise up and call him a tyrant? Then there would be as little calm in despotism as in liberty.
But when has it happened, that the death of a usurper has restored to the public its departed life ? Every successful usurpation creates many competitors for power, and they successively fall in the struggle. In all this agitation liberty is without friends, without resources, and without hope. Blood enough, and the blood of tya rants too, was shed between the time of the wars of Marius and the death of Anthony, a period of about sixty years, to turn a common grist-mill; yet the cause of the public liberty continually grew more and more desperate. It is not by destroying tyrants, that we are to extinguish tyranny: nature is not thus to be exhausted of her power to produce them. The soil of a republic sprouts with the rankest fertility : it has been sown with dragon's teeth. To lessen the hopes of usurping demagogues, we must enlighten, animate, and combine the spirit of freemen; we must fortify and guard the constitutional ramparts about liberty. When its friends become indolent or disheartened, it is no longer of any importance how long-lived are its enemies : they will prove immortal.
Nor will it avail to say, that the famous deed of Brutus will for ever check the audacity of tyrants. Of all passions fear is the most cruel. If new tyrants dread other Bruti, they will more naturally sooth their jealousy by persecutions, than by the practice of clemency or jus. tice. They will say, the clemency of Cæsar proved fatal to him. They will augment their force, and multiply their precautions; and their habitual dread will degenerate into habitual cruelty.
Have we not then a right to conclude, that the character of Brutus is greatly over-rated, and the fashionable approbation of his example horribly corrupting and pernicious.
Character of Mr. Pitt, (first Earl of Chatham,) by the
Rr. Hon. H. GRATTAN.
THE secretary stood alone. Modern degeneracy had not reached him. Original and unaccommodating, the features of his character had the hardihood of antiquity. His august mind, overawed majesty ;-one of his sovereigns,* thought royalty so impaired in his presence, that he conspired to remove him, in order to be relieved from his superiority.. No state chicanery, no narrow system of vicious politics, no idle contest for ministerial victories, sunk him to the vulgar level of the great; but, overbearing, persuasive, and impracticable ; his object was Englandhis ambition was fame.
Without dividing, he destroyed party; without corrupting, he made a venal age unanimous. France sunk beneath him! With one hand he smote the house of Bourbon, and wielded in the other the democracy of England. The sight of his mind was infinite ;-and his schemes were to affect ; not England ; not the present age only; but Europe and posterity! Wonderful were the means by which these schemes were accomplished; always seasonable ; always adequate : the suggestions of an understanding, animated by ardour, and enlightened by prophesy, The ordinary
feelings which make life amiable and indolent; those sensations which soften, and allure, and vulgarize, were unknown to him-no domestic difficulties; no domestic weakness, reached him ; but aloof from the sordid occurrences of life, and unsullied by its intercourse, he came occasionally into our system, to counsel and to decide. A character so exalted, so strenuous, so various, so authoritative, astonished a corrupt age ; and the treasury trembled at the name of Pitt, through all her classes of venality. Corruption imagined, indeed, that she had found defects in this statesman, and talked much of the inconsistency of his glory, and much of the ruin of his victories ; but the history of his country, and the calamities of the enemy, answered and refuted her.
Nor were his political abilities his only talents. His eloquence was an era in the senate ; peculiar and spontaneous; familiarity expressing gigantic sentiments, and instinctive wisdom; not like the torrent of Demosthenes, or the splendid conflagration of Tully; He resembled sometimes the thunder, and sometimes the music of the spheres. Like Murray,* he did not conduct the understanding through the painful subtilty of argumentation; nor was he like Townsend, for ever on the rack of exertion; but rather lighted upon the subject, and reached the point by the flashings of his mind-which, like those of his eye, were felt; but could not be followed. Upon the whole, there was something in this man, something that could create, subvert, or reform; an understanding, a spirit, and an eloqnence, that could summon mankind to society, or to break the bonds of slavery asunder, and to rule the wilderness of free minds with unbounded authority : something that would establish or overwhelm empires, and strike a blow in the world that should resound through the universe !
* Lord Mansfield.
The following truly eloquent Speech, was delivered at a:
meeting of the leading Catholics in Ireland, by the young Irish COUNSELLOR Philips. It is a very remarkable specimen of that species of Oratory peculiar to the Irish.
I THINK, Sir, you will agree with me, that the most experienced speaker might justly tremble on addressing you, after the display you have just witnessed. What must I feel, then, who never before addressed a public audience? However, it would be but an unworthy affectation in me, if I attempted to conceal from you, the emotions with which I am agitated by this kindness. The exaggerated estimate which other counties have made of the few services so young a man could render, has, I trust, inspired me with the sentiments it ought ; but here, I do confess to you, I feel no ordinary sensation-here --where every object springs some sweet association, and the lovliest visions, mellowed as they are by time, rise painted on the eye of memory-here, where the light of Heaven first blessed my infant view, and nature breathed into my heart that ardour for my country, which nothing but death cau chill-here, where the scenes of my childhood remind me how innocent I was, and the graves of my fathers admonish me how pure I should continue here, standing as I do, among my fairest, fondest, earliest sympathies, such a welcome, operating not merely as an effectionate tribute, but a moral testimony, does, in. deed, quite oppress and overwhelm me. Oh! believe, warm is the heart that feels, and willing is the tongue that speaks, and still I cannot, by shaping it in my rude and inexpressive phrase, shock the sensibility of a gratitude too full to be suppressed, and yet too eloquent for language.
If any circumstances could add to the pleasure of this day, it would be that which I feel in introducing to the friends of my youth, the friend of my adoption; though, perhaps, I am committing one of our imputed blunders, when I speak of introducing one whose services have already rendered him familiar to every friend of Ireland A man, who, conquering every disadvantage, and spurn.