Графични страници
PDF файл

* So far, then, pride is an useful, not to say virtuous passion. But it unfortunately happens, that we seldom wait till our characters have acquired their due value from the sterling approbation of the world. Estimating our title to the respect and homage of mankind by the imaginary standard of our own importance, we are perpetually endeavouring to enforce our claims, sometimes by artifice, and at others by insolence; hy insolence, which makes us shunned and detested, or by artifice, which makes us laughed at and despised. And hence, in support of our fanciful pretensions, we have recourse to every expedient which our inflated imaginations can suggest. Forming the most chimerical calculations on the distinctions oi birth, fortune, rank, station, or personal accomplishments, we diaw upon one or other of these alternately or collectively, as may best answer our purpose, for the tax which we have the impertinent presumption to fancy that we are entitled to exact. And yet, as it is not altogether unreasonable to value ourselves, to a certain extent, on these1 distinctions, pride, on any of these grounds, may be forgiven, provided it shews itself in such a way as to prove that we are not unworthy of them. "The fame of an applauded ancestor," as an ingenious historian very justly observes *, " has stimulated many to perform noble actions, or to preserve an honourable character, and will continue so tp operate while human nature exists. It creates a sentiment of honour, a dread of disgrace, an useful pride of name, which, though not universally efficient, will frequently check the vicious propensities of passion or selfishness, when reason or religion has exhorted in vain." The same observation will hold good with respect to those other grounds on which may be founded admissible claims.

* But the most striking singularity in the history of this universal passion is, that ic generally prevails most where there is the least foundation for it to build upon. There is no man so obscure and insignificant as not to be proud, if he be so disposed. Such is the insatiable appetite of some men for distinction, that no means are thought too improbable or absurd to obtain it. Hence a man who has neither family, fortune, rank, station, nor personal endowments on which to value himself, will frequently exhibit as much pride in his conversation and deportment as a German prince, or a grandee of Spain. Scarcely any man, however, is so circumstanced as not to have the means of gratifying a laudable pride, if with such limited gratification he will be modestly contented. Jivery one, how humble soever may be his station, has some pursuit, profession, or occupation, in which it ought to be his pride and his ambition (o endeavour at least to excel. Besides these, there is another field of exertion which is open to every one; in which, indeed, the palm of glory may be contested for even by the lowest with the highest; by the peasant with the prince. The contest which I allude to is in the race of virtue, in which it should be our highest ambition, as our greatest pride, to be crowned with victory.

♦ * Turner's History of the Manners, &c, of the Anglo-Saxons.'

• Ye

'Ye sons of Pride, with supercilious glance

Why turn from modest diffidence away i
On Nature's «jual children look askance,

And eye with cold regard your kindred clay?
If thus your fancied claims ye would advance.

How widely distant from your aim you stray!
Would you your real consequence inhance,

Let Pride a different character display.
Do virtuous ancestors of noble birth
Your Pride inflame? Go, emulate their worth.
Is wealth your boast? Then yours the power to bless!
How proud the feeling to relieve distress!
Are yours the untold treasures of the mind?
What pride with these to benefit mankind!'

Dr. Cartwright has been formerly introduced to the acquaintance of poetic readers, by the publication of some pleasing legendary tales and sonnets.

Art. VIII. A History of the early Part of the Reign of James the Second; with an Introductory Chapter. By the Right Hon. Charles James Fox. To which is added an Appendix. 4-to. Elephant Paper, 5I. 5s. Royal Paper, 2I. lit. 6d. Common Paper, ll. J6s. Boards. Miller. 1808.

Tjad we been warranted to disregard the impatience of public curiosity, and solely to consult our own feelings, we should have taken a much larger portion of time than we are now allotting to the delicate an4 important functions to vhjch we are here called j and it is with reluctance that we venture, in circumstances of divided attention and of haste, on an investigation to which our most deliberate and most mature exertions might perhaps prove inadequate.

As the friend and patron of every liberal pursuit,—as a man whose talents and acquirements, if they have been equalled, have not in any age or country been exceeded,—the> regretted author of the volume before us would be intitled to the utmost respect which it is in our power to shew: but how is this demand on us increased, when we view him as the protecting genius and guardian of Liberty, her chief support and ornament ;—when we recollect that, in a season of arduous trial, while open foes and pretended friends as it were conspired together to crush and overwhelm her, he nobly stood forth almost alone, a host in her defence;—and that, if he was not able to render all her behests respected, his exertions never abated in her cause, though so many violently outraged or meanly deserted her. It is not perhaps too much to say, that to bim she owes the largest share of the credit, authority, and influence fluence which she has been Me to retain in this empire. When slighted and ill treated in her antient favourite and secure residence, she >ound in him a faithful adherent and a resolute defender. Britons ought not hastily to forget the service. We at least will remember it; and when such a personage, having such claims on the great interests to which our labours have from rheir commencement been devoted, requires our notice, we must feel great anxiety to treat him with the consideration which is his due. Deeply, howrver, as we revere his memory, it is less the man than the caus to which his life had been consecrated, and to which he sacrificed the charms of office, the distinctions of power, the fame of active service, and even the ii.cense of pcpular applause, that indures us ardently to wish that we were in a situation more favourable to a due execution of our present task.

To ourselves we seem to have as it wt re under our eyes a rising structure, which promises to become some spacious and majestic temple in honour of Liberty, whither her faithful votaries are about to resort to pay their vows, and to offer" pure homage; and in frequenting which they will have their zeal animated in her cause, their minds instructed in her principles, and their views of her value and benefits <-nlargrd and illumined. A delightful road conducts to the commanding eite. We had imagined that we had been well acquainted with the surrounding country: but, looking around us as we approach, the vision is carried to an extent far beyond what we had ever before been able to reach, -ind we are attracted by scenery which on all former occasions, had CSc iped us. Then ent> ring on the sacred spot, we examine the objects which brought us to' the place; and the noble avenues, the well-proportioned portico, the arrangement of 'he columns, enchant the experienced eye, and suggest the future aspect of the completed fabric. Proceeding to survey the interior, we are struck with the solidity of the foundations, the order of the compartments, the form and style of the tdifice, the excellence of the materials, and the admirable workmanship: we trace the mighty soul of the architect in the design; and we discern all his great qualities in its incipient execution..

When the mind has been for some time thus agreeably occupied, it is suddenly overwhelmed with the deepest sorrow, on recollection whispering to it that the proud pile so auspiciously commenced will never advance farther, for that the cre^ing spirit has flown and the labouring hand lies inanimate )

$ ~0Parc<tt

—O Pare*,
** Omnia debemur vobis; paulumque tnorati,
Serius aut citius stdem properamus ad unam;
Tendimus hue omnes!" Ovid. Met. X.

Whoever reflects on the course of Mr. Fox's life, the direction of his pursuits, the comprehension of his mind, his great and various attainments, his disciplined taste, his just predilection for simplicity of style, the ingenuousness of his nature, and his unsullied integrity, will admit that he was qualified a6 much as if pot more than any human being' who ever lived, to furnish a model of historical composition. Highly as we should estimate such a gift from such a person, in another view we should regard it as still more important} we mean as disclosing, inculcating, elucidating, and establishing those free principles of government, and those notions of the rights of mankind, which lie at the foundation of the prosperity of states and the happiness of individuals. This is the ground on which we feel so solicitous to impress our readers with an adequate sense of the inestimable and permanent value of the imperfect remains which we now introduce to their notice. It is not to the simplicity of the narrative, the neat detail, the authentic relation, the interest of the page, the fine conceptions, the exquisite criticisms, nor the literary merit generally, high as is the praise which they deserve, that we principally invite attention: but it is for the councils which these precious documents impart to princes, and for the lessons which they inculcate on subjects, that we wish to see them made the political manual of free-bora Britons;—councils and lessons which are the dying bequests of one who devoted himself to maintain and defend the principles on which they are founded.

In this volume, three distinct objects claim the reader's notice; a prefatory address from the noble editor Lord Holland, the introductory chapter to the work, and that part of the history itself which the author lived to complete: followed by numerous important state-papers, which form art Appendix. The preface will be found well to accord with fhe body of the volume, to which it is a most valuable introduction, and on which it throws very material lit;hr. The extracts from the author's letters, which are inserted in it, are highly appropriate; while the feelings of honour and. delicacy, and the sentiments of piety towards departed excellence, which it manifests, indicate dispositions and accomplishments which add distinction to rank, and are worthy of the editor's near affinity to the illustrious deceased—Though we

do do not collect from these pages that Mr. Fox communicated to his friends the considerations which determined him in the selection of his subject, there can be little doubt, as is intimated by the Editor, that his choice would be naturally drawn to that period, in treating of which he should be enabled to render lasting service to those great principles that had ever been his main object: zealously maintaining those principles during a long public career, he devoted the leisure of privacy to establish their authority and to extend their influence;—thus consummating the character of a patriot.

A reflection which is taken from one of Mr. Fox's letters eminently deserves consideration, though it cannot have escaped attentive readers of history:

"History goes on, (he remarked,) but it goes on very-slowly. The fact is, I am a very slow writer, bat I promise I will persevere.. I believe I am too scrupulous both about language and facts; though with respect to the latter, it is hardly possible. It is astonishing how many facts one finds related, for which there is no authority whatever. Tradition, you will say, does in some cases, but it will not apply to others." »•

The extreme anxiety of Mr. Fox to render his narrations genuine, and the pains which he bestowed in attaining this laudable object, are to be recorded as not the least among his excellencies; they shew his high integrity, and his exquisite sense of honour, not less clearly than they bespeak his correct notions of the duties of an historian, and of the only solid basis of historical fame. The subject of the moral obligations of authors has scarcely ever been touched. Does a writer mis-state or misrepresent, he is perhaps termed negligent and careless; epithets that are much too gentle to characterize an offence which is a flagrant breach of morality. How admirable were the feelings of our departed historian on this subject, as they are described by his Editor !' It appears that he took indefatigable pains to investigate the authority for every assertion in the writers he consalted, and to correct the slightest variation in their accounts, though apparently of little importance. Before he drew any inference whatever,the weight of evidence was so carefully balanced in his mind, that the authority for each particular circumstance was separately examined, and distinctly ascertained.' How much stronger are his claims to the ackjowlegements of mankind, and how much better does he consult the durability and extent of his fame, who compiles a genuine account of even a very short period, than he who travels over centuries, perpetuating the inaccuracies and reiterating the falsehoods of his predecessors? If the high degree in which this great writer


« ПредишнаНапред »