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room for the exertion of popular talents, so the men who figure then are generally such as have scarcely hitherto engaged in public affairs; and yet nothing is more common than the attempt to deny the genius which distinguishes itself in a tempestuous season by remarking its previous want of distinction. Ordinary heads are necessarily the best calculated for ordinary business, since nothing can be well accomplished, which is not zealously undertaken, and small matters, to which they are fully adequate, engross all their vigour; while on the other hand, a great mind, ever forming to itself a lofty standard, is at once conscious of being too far above the business, and yet is naturally diffident of its own powers: It cannot enter with alacrity into affairs which afford no room for the trial of its strength: It doubts its ability not in comparison of those around—it never measures itself with them, but compared with the model which imagination always presents. When, however, the great juncture occurs, then its vigour is roused, and while other minds sink under, it rises superior to, an inexperienced emergency. This seems to have been the case of Hampden: He was returned to the second and third parliaments of this prince; and yet, though he spoke both with fluency and remarkable precision, he does not appear ever then to have tried his powers: But all men of discernment, who had an opportunity of conversing with him, remarked his extraordinary talents; and as his affability charmed, while his integrity gained him profound respect, his reputation, heightened by his refusal of ship-money, rose high before he distinguished himself in the senate. There, he was at once regarded by all as their sheet-anchor; and none was ever better calculated to improve the favourable impression. His assiduity was indefatigable; his manner bespoke only an anxiety to obtain information, and his adversaries could not withhold their esteem; but his modesty did not prevent him from leading those who were flattered by an appeal to their understanding.
The next great character was Pym, who, to a Pym perfect knowledge of forms, which, from the long disuse of parliaments, was extremely valuable, united a clear, vigorous judgment, and profound information, together with the eloquence of a man of business, and a character of uniform uprightness. Such a speaker could not fail to be listened to. It has been said that his sagacity was more fitted for use than ornament; and a better compliment could not have been paid. Rhetorical flourishes are innocent enough in the absence of real business; but they are impertinent when men are assembled to discuss the deepest concerns of a great nation; and, however an artful speaker may inflame the passions, none will ever be heard with patience on momentous occasions, who have not at least the characters of capacity for affairs.—Sir Ham Harry Vane, the younger, displayed uncommon Jr*ne>«h« intellectual powers, and a masculine eloquence; together with an ardent enthusiasm of temper, which fervently embraced alike state policy and religion. He was prepared for sharp remedies to
the alarming grievances of the commonwealth; yet he does not appear to have been at any time transported with the passion of vengeance, or to have acted under the influence of selfishness.
The temper of St. John was haughty and vehement; but his principles had been consistent, and his talents were universally respected. As a lawyer, his abilities and learning were everywhere admitted; and the old English lawyers, (witness Bacon, Coke, Selden, Whitelocke, Clarendon, Maynward, and others,) united to their professional attainments, general information and accomplishments, which do not appear to have descended to their successors'*.
• '* Some persons," says Mr. Hume, " partial to the patriots of this age, have ventured to put them in balance with the most illustrious characters of antiquity; and mentioned the names of Pym, Hampden, Vane, as a just parallel to those of Cato, Brutus, Cassius. Profound capacity, indeed, undaunted courage, extensive enterprise; in these particulars perhaps the Romans do not much surpass the English worthies; but what a difference when the discourse, conduct, conversation, and private as well as public behaviour of both are inspected! Compare only one circumstance, and consider its consequences: The leisure of those noble ancients was totally employed in the cultivation of polite letters, and civilized society: The whole discourse and language of the moderns were polluted with mysterious jargon, and full of the lowest and most vulgar hypocrisy." It has ever appeared to me, that the works of this celebrated author, with all their genius, and no one is readier than I to allow their merits, betray the occasional rawness of a solitary student, who has not surveyed society with a practical eye, and that he was not devoid of a species of intolerant bigotry, though of a different kind from that he everywhere censures, as well as of an interested predilection for the aristocracy of letters. In this passage, I conceive that we have a proof of it. Polite letters, &c. are only so far worthy of admiration as they enlarge the capacity and improve the heart; and, therefore, in estimating a public character, we have no occasion to inquire into A committee had been appointed for Irish af-Rem8n-.
r r strance ot
fairs, and a remonstance from the Irish parlia- the iTM* ment was reported by it to the house. In thisagSnst01' remonstrance, the Irish complained that indus-^^f*0
his private conduct unless in so far as it is spent in vice; for good private conduct is the best security for purity in public life. Of the private discourse and studies of the ancients, we know little; and the author has reviled the moderns without foundation. Was Hampden a hypocrite, and was his discourse full of cant, &c.? The account of Clarendon would lead us to infer the very reverse. Were the? English worthies ignorant of Grecian philosophy and eloquence, or of polite letters? The great blemish of the public speaking, &c. of that age, is the pedantry which a familiar acquaintance with ancient literature produced; and, it ought to be remembered, that to Grecian philosophy they joined that of Bacon, &c.; to the polite literature of Greece, the works of Spenser and Shakespeare, not to mention others. That they were sincerely devoted to the Christian religion is unquestionable j but surely it will not thence be contended that they were incapable either of relishing polite literature and philosophy, or of themselves displaying the highest reach of genius. If it were, Shakespeare ought not to be admired, nor Milton read: Nay, the grand discoveries of Newton should be despised. With regard to the public conduct of the English worthies, it may well be put in competition with that of the ancients, for their patriotism, I will venture to affirm, was as unsullied, and more usefully directed; while their capacities, courage, and enterprise were not inferior. Even in the conduct of those ancients, Mr. Hume might have discovered a useful lesson for his direction in estimating the proceedings of this reign. Those noble ancients, though above the superstition of their age, had too much good sense to insult and provoke, far less persecute their countrymen, upon their religion.
Since I am upon this subject, I cannot refrain from noticing another attempt to lower the character of Hampden. "Then," says he, "was displayed the mighty ambition of Hampden, taught disguise, not moderation, from former restraint; supported by courage, conducted by prudence, embellished by modesty; but whether founded in a love ofpower, or zeal for liberty, is still, from his untimely end, left doubtful and uncertain." Now, I really do think, that when the character of a statesmen cannot be assailed with the imputation of a single vice, it is a little hard to insinuate away his fame by alleging that he try had been suspended, and trade extremely injured by new and illegal impositions and destructive monopolies, joined to other arbitrary proceedings: That all causes, real and personal,had been arbitrarily determined by the council, from which there was no appeal: That there was a monopoly of tobacco, which, under the pretext of increasing the revenue, was in reality a fund of private emolument to the lieutenant: That they were grievously oppressed by the court of high commission, a species of nuisance which cried aloud for redress in all the three kingdoms: That a proclamation had been issued by Strafforde, forbidding the departure of any individual for England without a licence, which was never allowed without exorbitant fees: And that while many subsidies had been granted, the king was still in debt. They concluded with demanding an account of the public treasure, and desiring either a present redress of grievances, or access to the king * The cause, as minister, of all these evils was Wentworth, Earl of Strafforde,
might, had he lived longer, by swerving from virtue, have betrayed an original depravity. Such an ordeal no character can pass unsullied; and the author might have considered that the same objection could be brought to his favourites, Brutus and Cassius. Might it not be said too, that Cato probably would have been as great a usurper as Julius Ciesar, if he had been as successful? But this last member of the sentence, faulty as it is, was meant to meet objections to the preceding members, without destroying their effect. By setting out with an attack upon the mighty ambition and the disguise of Hamp'den, the author had really determined the question as to his motives, which he yet concludes with saying had been left doubtful.
* Cobbet's Par .. Hist. vol. ii. p. 669. Old ditto, vol. ix. p. 40. Rush. vol. iv. p. 43, See also p. 220. vol. viii. p. 7. 11, et seq.