Imágenes de páginas

happiness, which the French system was using every effort to destroy. He strongly expresses his regret that the King of Prussia had abandoned the alliance; and endeavours to demonstrate that nothing short of a general combination, pursuing the same object in concert, will prevent the French system from overwhelmirg Europe,

Soon after the death of his son, the King was pleased to settle a considerable pension on him and Mrs. Burke. His detractors had alledged that his embarrassed circumstances had been the cause of the part he took in the French revolution ; that he wished to conciliate the favour of Ministry, and thought this a very advantageous opportunity. To assign motives is so much easier than to combat arguments, that it is not surprising that many of Mr. Burke's opponents have chosen that mode. To promote effectually even the purposes of malignity, requires an invention not merely following the suggestions of malice, but regarding also consistency and probability. The general character of Burke, his sacrifice of interest to principle, or even to party, with very little intermission froin the

year 1765 to 1790 (for it cannot well. be doubted, that if he had chosen to sacrifice other considerati ns to his interest, he might have got into office) renders the charge improbable. What, however, is improbable may be true.


It is possible that one may act the part of an honest disinterested man for twenty-five years, and turn a rogue the twenty-sixih. But it is to be presumed he will not become so gratuitously. Supposing, as Mr. M‘Cormick asserts, that Ednuund Burke had humbly applied to Ministry to admit him as one of their creatures, would he desert all his old friends for nothing? If he became the tool of corruption, where was the bribe? If he attacked French liberty to please the British Ministry; if, to gratify them, he attempted to shew the evils of untried theories, and especially of such a theory, he certainly conducted himself very foolishly in procuring no emolument, no appointment, no official situation from them during the time that he bore the brunt of the battle. While in Parliament, and that he could effectually serve them, he received nothing. The pension was presented to him when he was no longer in a situation to give thein his assistance. It must, therefore, have been some other cause, not a bargain for gain, that made him attack the French system. Besides, if he were ever so corrupt, his arguments depended upon their intrinsic force, not on his motives for wielding that force.

His pension having become the subject of disapprobation from Lord Lauderdale and the Duke of Bedford, he, in the beginning of 1796, wrote a ' Letter to a Noble Lord,' (Lord Fitzwilliam) on the strictures inade on him by Lord Lauderdale and the Duke of Bedford. There are occasions on which it becomes a duty to assert one's own merits. This Burke does in the letter in question, Firmly, but without arrogance, he

goes over his reform plans, his proceedings respecting India, and others of the principal

acts of his life. What he says of his services to this country, impartial examiners of his conduct must think MUCH LESS than truth would have justified, or even occasion required. The retrospective view of the means by which the Duke of Bedford's ancestors acquired their property must have been the mere effect of anger at a censure passed on a just recompence, and not intended as reasoning. It is generally said that Burke's account of the Russell acquirements is erroneous; but however that

may be, it was foreign to the purpose. The Duke of Bedford, as a member of Parliament, had a right to inquire into the disposal of the public money, even if he had been the heir of Empson and Dudley. Mr. Burke could have proved, as Lord Grenville did prove,

that in that case it was a tribute to merit. The argument against the Duke of Bedford's conduct, from what Lord Keppel, his uncle, would have thought, had he been alive, is also irrelative. But with some objections to particular arguments, this letter displays an extent of knowledge, a

brilliancy of fancy, and a force of genius that shew it to be BURKE ALL OVER * The allusion (page 3.) to John Zisca's skin is not new to Burke: in 1782 he had applied it to Mr. Fox, when ill, and, as Burke had some apprehension, dangerously. The following passage on the loss of his son is peculiarly pathetic:

• Had it pleased God to continue to me the hopes of succession, I should have been, according to my mediocrity, and the mediocrity of the age I live in, a sort of founder of a family ; t I should have left a son, who, in all the points in which personal merit can be viewed, in science, in erudition, in genius, in taste, in honour, in generosity, in humanity, in every liberal sentiment, and

• A reviewer having met a friend who had read this letter before he himself had perused it, asked him what he thought of it? The gentleman answered, it is Burke all over.'

English Review, April 1796.

☆ It is believed that a peerage had been intended for Burke; but that, on the death of his son, the intention was abandoned, as an unavailing honour,

« AnteriorContinuar »