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XCIV. — CHARACTER OF CHARLES JAMES FOX.
SIR. JAMES MACKINTOSH.
[SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH was born at Aldourie, in Scotland, October 24, 1765, and died May 30, 1832. His first profession was that of medicine; but he soon abandoned this for the law, and was called to the English bar in 1795. In 1804 he went to India as recorder of Bombay, and returned to England in 1812, and entered parliament in 1813. He wrote Vindiciæ Gallicæ, a work in defence of the French revolution, in reply to Burke; a History of England, (unfinished ;) a dissertation on the progress of ethical philosophy; a Life of Sir Thomas More, and various miscellaneous essays. He was a learned and accomplished man. His style is finished and elaborate, with a uniform air of dignity and elegance. He was a faithful friend of constitutional liberty, his writings breathe a generous and humane spirit, and are marked by an elevated moral tone.
The Life of Sir James Mackintosh has been written by his son, in two octavo volumes, republished in America. It is a most agreeable and instructive work. He was a man of remarkable conversational powers, and a great social favorite.]
Mr. Fox united, in a most remarkable degree, the seemingly repugnant characters of the mildest of men and the most vehement of orators. In private life he was gentle, modest, placable, kind, of simple manners, and so averse from parade and dogmatism, as to be not only unostentatious, but even somewhat inactive in conversation. His superiority was never felt but in the instruction which he imparted, or in the attention which his generous preference usually directed to the more obscure members of the company. The simplicity of his manners was far from excluding that perfect urbanity and amenity which flowed still more from the mildness of his nature than from familiar intercourse with the most polished society of Europe.
His conversation, when it was not repressed by modesty or indolence, was delightful. The pleasantry, perhaps, of no man of wit had so unlabored an appearance. It seemed rather to escape from his mind than to be produced by it. He had lived on the most intimate terms with all contemporaries distinguished by wit, politeness, philosophy, learning, or the talents of public life. In the course of thirty years, he had known almost every man in Europe whose intercourse could strengthen, or enrich, or polish the mind. His own literature was various and elegant. In classical erudition, which, by tho custom of England, is more peculiarly called learning, he was inferior to few professed scholars. Like all men of genius, he delighted to take refuge in poetry from the vulgarity and irritation of business. His own verses were easy and pleasing; and the poetical character of his mind was displayed in his extraordinary partiality for the poetry of the two most poetical nations, or at least languages, of the west- those of the ancient Greeks and of the modern Italians. He disliked political conversation, and never willingly took any part in it.
To speak of him justly, as an orator, would require a long essay. Every where natural, he carried into public something of that simple and negligent exterior which belonged to him in private. When he began to speak, a common observer might have thought him awkward ; and even a consummate judge could only have been struck with the exquisite justness of his ideas, and the transparent simplicity of his language. But no sooner had he spoken for some time than he was changed into another being. He forgot himself and every thing around him.
He thought only of his subject. His genius warmed and kindled as he went on. He darted fire into his audience. Torrents of impetuous and irresistible eloquence swept along their feelings and conviction. He certainly possessed, above all moderns, that union of reason, simplicity, and vehemence, which formed the prince of orators. He was the most Demosthenean speaker since Demosthenes. “I knew him," says Mr. Burke, in a pamphlet written after their unhappy difference,* “when he was nineteen ; siuce which time he has risen, by slow degrees, to be the most brilliant and accomplished debater that the world ever saw.” The quiet dignity of a mind roused only by great objects, the absence of petty bustle, the contempt of show, the abhorrence of intrigue, the plainness and downrightness, and the thorough
• This differenee arose from their discordant views upon the French rev olution.
good nature, which distinguished Mr. Fox, seem to render him no very unfit representative of that old English national character, which, if it ever changed, we should be sanguine, indeed, to expect to be succeeded by a better.
The simplicity of his character inspired confidence, the ardor of his eloquence roused enthusiasm, and the gentleness of his manners invited friendship. “I admired,” says Mr. Gibbon, “ the powers of a superior man, as they were blended in his attractive character with all the softness and simplicity of a child. No human being was ever more free from any taint of malignity, vanity, or falsehood."
From these qualities of his public and private character it probably arose that no English statesman ever preserved, during so long a period of adverse fortune, so many affectionate friends and so many zealous adherents. The union of ardor in public sentiment with mildness in social manners, was in Mr. Fox an inherent quality.
The same fascinating power over the attachment of all who came within his sphere is said to have belonged to his father; and those who know the survivors of another generation will feel that this delightful quality is not yet extinct in the race.
Perhaps nothing can more strongly prove the deep imoression made by this part of Mr. Fox's character than the words of Mr. Burke, who, in January, 1797, six years after all intercourse between them had ceased, speaking to a person honored with some degree of Mr. Fox's friendship, said, “ To be sure ; he is a man made to be loved.” And these emphatic words were uttered with a fervor of manner which left no doubt of their heartfelt sincerity.
These few hasty and honest sentences are sketched in a temper too sober and serious for intentional exaggeration, and with too pious an affection for the memory of Mr. Fox to profane it by intermixture with the factious brawls and wrangles of the day. His political conduct belongs to history. The measures which he supported or opposed may divide the opinions of posterity, as they have divided those of the present age; but he will most certainly command the unanimous reverence of future generations by his pure sentiments towards the commonwealth ; by his zeal for the civil and religious rights of all men ; by his liberal principles favorable to mild government, to the unfettered exercise of the human faculties, and to the progressive civilization of mankind; by his ardent love for a country of which the well-being and greatness were indeed inseparable from his own glory; and by his profound reverence for that free constitution which he was universally admitted to understand better than any other man of his age, both in an exactly legal and in a comprehensively philosophical
XCV. - TRUE REGARD FOR ANCESTRY.
[DANIEL WEBSTER was born at Salisbury, New Hampshire, January 18, 1782, and died at Marshfield, Massachusetts, October 24, 1852. He was graduated at Dartmouth College in 1801, admitted to the bar in 1805, and settled in Portsmouth, N. H., in 1807. He was a member of the House of Representatives from New Hampshire from 1813 to 1817. In the latter part of 1816 he removed to Boston, and resided here, or at Marshfield, during the remainder of his life. He was chosen to the House of Representatives from the district of Boston in 1822, and was a member of that body till 1827, when he was elected to the United States Senate by the legislature of Massachusetts. He continued there during the remainder of his life, with the exception of two intervals, when he held the office of Secretary of State, first under the administration of Presidents Harrison and Tyler, and secondly under that of President Fillmore.
For the last twenty-five years of his life, Mr. Webster's biography is identified with the history of his country. Having been a leader of one of its great political parties, the time has hardly yet come for a calm and unbiased judgment to be passed upon his services; but no candid mind will ever question the sincerity and comprehensiveness of his patriotisn., still less the splendor of his intellectual powers. He was a great lawyer, a great statesman, a great debater, and a great writer. As a writer - in which point of view alone we have now to regard him-he stands among the very first of his class. No style can be found more suited for the subjects of which it treats than bis. It is strong, simple, and dignified; vehement and impassioned when necessary; readily rising into eloquence, and occasionally touched with high imaginative beauty. He excels in the statement of case or the exposition of a principle; and in his occasional discourses there are passages of a lofty moral grandeur by which the heart and mind are alike affected. Some of his state papers may fairly challenge comparison with the best productions of the kind which the past has transmitted to us.
The following passage is taken from a discourse in commemoration of the first settle ment of New England, pronounced at Plymouth, December 22, 1820.)
It is a noble faculty of our nature which enables us to con nect our thoughts, our sympathies, and our happiness, with what is distant, in place or time; and, looking before and after, to hold communion at once with our ancestors and our posterity. Human and mortal although we are, we are neverthen less not mere insulated beings, without relation to the past or the future. Neither the point of time, nor the spot of earth, in which we physically live, bounds our rational and intellectual enjoyments. We live in the past by a knowledge of its history, and in the future by hope and anticipation. By ascending to an association with our ancestors; by contemplating their example and studying their character; by partaking their sentiments and imbibing their spirit; by accompanying them in their toils, by sympathizing in their sufferings, and rejoicing in their successes and their triumphs, we seem to belong to their age, and to mingle our own existence with theirs. We become their contemporaries, live the lives which they lived, endure what they endured, and partake in the rewards which they enjoyed.
And in like manner, by running along the line of future time, by contemplating the probable fortunes of those who are coming after us, by attempting something which may promote their happiness, and leave some not dishonorable memorial of ourselves for their regard when we shall sleep with the fathers, we protract our own earthly being, and seem to crowd whate ever is future, as well as all that is past, into the narrow compass of our earthly existence. As it is not a vain and false, but an exalted and religious imagination, which leads us to raise our thoughts from the orb, which, amidst this universe of worlds, the Creator has given us to inhabit, and to send them with something of the feeling which nature prompts, and * teaches to be proper among children of the same Eternal Parent, to the contemplation of the myriads of fellow-beings with which his goodness has peopled the infinite of space, so neither is it false or vain to consider ourselves as interested and connected with our whole race, through all time; allied to