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thing but the meanest matter, expressed in the most wretched language;' nor has he forgotten the kind of pride that mantled on the fronts of the Tory phalanx, when, after being overwhelmed with the fire of the Whig Opposition, or galled by the fierce denunciations of the Mountain, or harassed by the splendid displays of Mr. Canning, their chosen leader stood forth, and presenting the graces of his eminently patrician figure, flung open his coat, displayed an azure ribbon traversing a snow-white chest, and declared his high satisfaction that he could now meet the charges against him face to face, and repel with indignation all that his adversaries had been bold and rash enough to advance.' But the “Mr. Brougham’ of that time showed no admiration; no denunciations were stronger than his; no sarcasm impinged more deeply if the noble lord in the blue ribbon' wished any one out of the House, the man from the Northern Circuit’ was probably that one. Kings and emperors met with little mercy: and later years have shown how little was merited by the petty absolutism and unthinking narrowness of that time. That Mr. Brougham indissolubly connected the education movement with his name every body knows; but scarcely any one remembers how unpopular that movement was.
Mr. Windham had said, some years before, That the diffusion of knowledge was proper might be supported by many good arguments; but he confessed he was a sceptic on that point. It was said, Look at the state of the savages as compared with ours.
A savage among savages was very well, and the difference was only perceived when he came to be introduced into civilised
society. His friend, Dr. Johnson, was of opinion, that it was not right to teach reading beyond a certain extent in society. The same feeling continued. Mr. Peel, in his blandest tones, attacked the education committee. Lord Stowell, not without sagacity, observed, “If you provide a larger amount of highly-cultivated talent than there is a demand for, the surplus is very likely to turn sour. Such were the sentiments of some of the best scholars of that era ; and so went all orthodox sentiment. That education was the same as republicanism, and republicanism as infidelity, half the curates believed. But in spite of all this opposition, perhaps with more relish on account of it, Mr. Brougham was ever ready. He was a kind of prophet of knowledge. His voice was heard in the streets. He preached the gospel of the alphabet; he sang the praises of the primer all the day long. Practical observations,' discourses,' speeches,' exist, terrible to all men now. To the kind of education then advocated there may be objections. We may object to the kind of
knowledge' then most sought after ; but there can be no doubt that those who then laboured in its behalf must, be praised for having inculcated, in the horrid heat of the day, as a boring paradox what is now a boring commonplace. Our space
would fail us if we were to attempt to recount his labours on the slavery question, on George IV. and Queen Caroline, or his hundred encounters with the routine statesmen. The series commenced at the Peace; but it continued for many years. Is not its history written in the chronicles of Parliament? You must turn the
leaves—no unpleasant reading—of those old debates, and observe how often Mr. Brougham's name occurs, and on what cumbrous subjects, before you can estimate the frequency of his attacks and the harassing harshness of his labour. One especial subject was his more than any other man's—Law Reform. He had Romilly and Mackintosh as fellow-labourers in the amelioration of the penal code; he had their support, and that of some others, in his incessant narrations of the grievances of individuals, and denunciations of the unfeeling unthinkingness of our Home administration; but no man grappled so boldlywe had almost said so coarsely—with the rude complexities of our civil jurisprudence: a rougher nature, a more varied knowledge of action than we must expect of philanthropists were needed for that task. The subject was most difficult to deal with. The English commerce and civilisation had grown up in the meshes of a half-feudal code, further complicated with the curious narrowness and spirit of chicane which haunt every where the law-courts of early times. The technicality which produced the evil made the remedy more difficult. There was no general public opinion on the matter of reform ; the public felt the evil, but no one could judge of the efficacy of a remedy, save persons studious in complicated learning, who would hardly be expected to show how that learning could be rendered useless,—hardly, indeed, to imagine a world in which it did not exist. The old creed, that these ingenious abuses were the last perfection of reason,' still lingered. It must give Lord Brougham some pride to reflect how many of the improvements which he was the first to popularise,
if not to suggest, have been adopted, -how many old abuses of detail, which he first indicated to Parliament, exist no longer,-how many more are now admitted by every body to be abuses, though the mode of abolition is contested. The speech on Law Reform, which he published in the collected edition of his speeches, is nearly a summary of all that has been done or suggested in common or civil law reform for the last thirty years. The effect which so bold an attack on so many things by a single person produced in that conservative time was prodigious. • There never was such a nuisance as the man is,' said an old lawyer whom we knew; and he expressed the feeling of his profession. If we add, that beside all these minor reforms and secondary agitations, Mr. Brougham was a bold advocate of Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform—the largest heresies of that epoch- we may begin to understand the sarcasm of Mr. Canning : The honourable and learned gentleman having, in the course of his parliamentary life, supported or proposed almost every species of innovation which could be practised on the constitution, it was not very easy for Ministers to do any thing without seeming to borrow from him. in what direction they would, whether to the right or to the left, it was all alike. “Oh," said the honourable gentleman, “I was there before you; you would not have thought of that if I had not given you a hint.” In the reign of Queen Anne, there was a sage and grave critic of the name of Dennis, who in his old age got it into his head that he had written all the good plays which were acted at that time. At last a tragedy came forth with a
most imposing display of hail and thunder. At the first peal, Dennis exclaimed : “ That is my thunder!” So with the honourable and learned gentieman; there was no noise astir for the good of mankind in any part of the world, but he instantly claimed it for his thunder.' We may have wearied our readers with these long references to old conflicts, but it was necessary. We are familiar with the aberrations of the ex-Chancellor ; we forget how bold, how efficacious, how varied was the activity of Henry Brougham.
There are several qualities in his genius which make such a life peculiarly suited to him. The first of these is an aggressive impulsive disposition. Most people may admit that the world goes ill; old abuses seem to exist, questionable details to abound. Hardly any one thinks that any thing may not be made better. But how to improve the world, to repair the defects, is a difficulty. Immobility is a part of man. A sluggish conservatism is the basis of our English nature. •Learn, my son, said the satirist, to bear tranquilly the calamities of others.' We easily learn it. Most men have a line of life, and it imposes certain duties which they fulfil; but they cannot be induced to start out of that line. We dwell in basis of content.' • Let the mad world go its own way, for it will go its own way. There is no doctrine of the English Church more agreeable to our instinctive taste than that which forbids all works of supererogation. You did a thing without being obliged,' said an eminent Statesman; “then that must be wrong. We travel in the track. Lord Brougham is the opposite of this. It is not difficult to him