Imágenes de páginas

took place, and the deportment of his host. Part of the communications is interspersed in different parts of the volumes; the remainder I shall insert here.


The visitant went prepossessed with the very highest idea of merit which he could analyse, comprehend, and appreciate. The first address of the host was extremely striking, and suggested to the guest the idea of chivalrous hospitality. His powers conversation were wonderful: in extent and minuteness of detail, as well as the most profound and expanded philosophy; in playfulness, in humour, wit, serious imagery, beautiful, grand, and diversified. An instance of his correctness in point of fact, he exhibited in a statement of the poor's rates of fifty parishes in Buckinghamshire, during the time he had been at Beaconsfield; he also gave the history and progress of the farming, the improvements, rents, and taxes. The conversation having turned upon literary subjects, the guest had an opportunity of hearing him talk of David Hume. The

[ocr errors]

reader will remember, that Mr. Hume, in a note on his account of Mary, mentions three sets of persons that are not to be argued with, but left to their own prejudices: a Scotch Jacobite, who believes in the innocence of Mary; an Irish Catholic, who denies the truth of the Irish massacre; and an English Whig, who believes in Titus Oates's plot. Mr. Burke considered himself, though no Catholic, as referred to on the subject of the massacre. Mr. Hume and he had met at Garrick's, and the massacre was one of the subjects discussed. Mr. Burke endeavoured to prove that the received accounts were in a great degree unfounded, or at least very much exaggerated, and quoted affidavits deposited in Trinity College, Dublin. He described various absurd stories that had been propagated and believed by many concerning the Irish; among others, that the ghosts of the murdered Protestants frequented the banks of the Shannon almost from its source to the sea. Mr. Hume maintained the justness of the account, which makes a part of his history. It must

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

be owned that the evidence is much stronger in favour of Mr. Hume's position than Mr. Burke's. In the first place, independent of testimony, it is perfectly consonant to the ferocious and bloodthirsty character so often exhibited by the Irish in their most enormous atrocities. Let us consider their conduct: when driven on by furious bigotry, they supported the contemptible priest-ridden James against the wise and glorious deliverer of Europe. Let us view their conduct in the late rebellion: the cruelties imputed to them in the former part of the 17th century are not greater than those which they are known to have perpetrated towards its close, and in our own days; they proceeded, at the instance of their priests, like wild beasts, purposely infuriated by their keepers, and let loose. So much for internal evidence in the character of the Irish. But the authorities received by Hume are those of annalists and historians near the time; Rushforth, Temple, Nalson, and Whitlocke. It is certain, however, that Mr. Burke did not regard Hume's memory with great affection,

however highly he must have admired his talents. Perhaps the religious sentiments of Hume might have been one cause of Mr. Burke's disapprobation, as no one was more strongly impressed with the necessity of religion to the well-being of society.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Burke talked in very high terms of Dr. Adam Smith; praised the clearness and depth of his understanding, his profound and extensive learning, and the vast accession that had accrued to British literature

* Some paltry antiquarian, 1 forget the man's name, has lately been nibbling at our illustrious historian, and raking into some old Saxon books with a view to prove that he is erroneous in the names of one or two monks. The Spectator has a very fine paper on a fly which, viewing St. Paul's Cathedral, from its diminutive optics, might, he conceived, discover some roughness in the surface of a particular part, though so totally unable to comprehend the beauty and grandeur of the whole building.

[ocr errors]

+ It does not appear that Mr. Hume, notwithstanding his penetration, at his first acquaintance with Burke, discovered his extraordinary talents, as in a letter to Mr. Adam Smith, he speaks of him as a Mr. Burke, an Irish gentleman, who has written a very pretty book on the Sublime and Beautiful.' The reader will remember a case somewhat parallel, not in the writer, but in the subject, when Whitlocke speaks of one Milton.

and philosophy from these exertions, and described his heart as being equally good with his head, and his manners as peculiarly pleasing. Mr. Smith, he said, told him, after they had conversed on subjects of political economy, that he was the only man, who, without communication, thought on these topics exactly as he did. It is not surprising that two such men should think in the same way, especially as both had read Aristotle's Politics.

They talked of Godwin's Political Justice. Mr. Burke said, he had looked at that book, but not read it. Hearing his opinion on gratitude, I should,' said he, spare him the commission of that vice by not conferring on him any benefit. benefit. Swaggering paradoxes,' he observed, when examined, sneak into pitiful logomachies.' The ex

[ocr errors]

travagant and absurd theories of Godwin he imputed to vanity, and a desire of appearing deep, when really shallow. * It is not

* He on another occasion said of Godwin, Holcroft, and other gropers into the new philosophy, these fellows have

« AnteriorContinuar »