« PreviousContinue »
EARL OF SHELBURNE.
was a saying of one of the greatest critics of antiquity, that whosoever took particular delight in the writings of Cicero might conclude he had made a considerable proficiency in the art of eloquence. With equal propriety it may be affirmed of the work which I have the honour of presenting to your lordship, that whoever finds a pleasure in perusing the Spirit of Laws, must be deemed to have greatly improved in the study of politics and jurisprudence. Your lordship has been a constant admirer of this celebrated work, and from thence you
have imbibed that noble and manly taste, that dignity of sentiment, and those refined ideas of civil liberty, which have endeared you to the public, and for which you have been already distinguished in the British Senate. This, indeed, has been my
inducement for prefixing your name to a performance, which has hitherto claimed no patronage or protection of the great; but has supported itself by its intrinsic merit, and even commanded the applause of the literary world. It is not my intention, My Lord, in this address, to follow the common track of dedicators, by writing a panegyric on your virtues, or launching into encomiums on your noble progenitors. Let other pens, when posterity shall anxiously enquire into the history of your transactions, expatiate on those accomplishments, which add a new lustre to your high birth ; let them paint that dignity without pride, that magnificence without profusion, that elegance of manners, that affability, and that public spirit, which form the characteristic of the Earl of Shelburne; it will be sufficient for me to view you, at this juncture, My Lord, as an admirer of Montesquieu, and as an encourager
of real merit. Affluence of fortune is no less adventitious than transitory; it indiscriminately falls to the share of the virtuous and the undeserving; and is but too often prostituted to the base purposes of debauchery and corruption. The extraordinary affluence, with which it has pleased Providence to bless your Lordship, you nobly employ, not in the idle pursuit of fashionable vice, but in promoting the polite arts, in bringing modest merit into light, and in acts of public utility. I could be more ample on this subject, My Lord; but your delicacy forbids me, and I would not be suspected of adulation. This, however, I must affirm, that those truly noble virtues, which have raised your Lordship to such a degree of eminence at this early stage of life, give the public just reason to presage, that you will render yourself still more conspicuous in the service of your country; and that after you have lived one of the greatest ornaments of the present age, your name will be transmitted with honour to posterity. Tu Marcellus eris. Such is the sincere wish of,
Most humble, and
Most obedient servant,