« PreviousContinue »
Would not envy those of Fox; and there is neither proof nor any allegation that Burke
If literary talents were to excite the
envy of Burke, was there any man he knew in that species of excellence superior to the Litchfield sage? And there was never the smallest evidence, nor, indeed, insinuation, that Burke envied Johnson. Was there any thing in the situation of Sheridan that could corrode the breast of Burke ? Were situation to be always proportionate to abilities, both were in a condition much less exalted than their elevated genius--but Sheridan was not higher than Burke. In the esteem of those whose opinion they would both think the most valuable, was Sheridan above Burke? Was he more highly praised by the Duke of Portland, Earl Fitzwilliam, and others of the highest rank of their friends; or by Mr. Windham, Mr. Fox, and others of the highest talents ? In the opinion of the world Sheridan did not stand higher. Thus, there existed no cause which could render it probable that Burke was actuated by such a passion.
M-Cormick brings no proof from Burke's words or actions, that he was envious of Sheridan. Unsupported by proof, and contrary to probability, this injurious charge against the character of a most extraordinary personage falls to the ground :—it is a charge that the liberal and great mind of Sheridan himself could not believe to be well founded. Since I wrote the first edition, I have been informed that Mr. Burke by no means liked Mr. Sheridan so much as he esteemed his genius. He thought, during the last years of his connection with him and Mr. Fox, that Mr. Sheridan had too much influence over his admired friend; this dislike, however, had, or could have in it nothing of envy.
The commercial treaty with France first occupied Parliament during the succeeding session. This treaty, believed to be the result of the extensive inforination of Hawkesbury, the acuteness and diplomatic knowledge of Eden, ministering to the comprehensive genius of Pitt, was considered in
two relations, --commercial and political.' As to its mercantile arrangements, it was the triumph of commercial philosophy over usage, and of a general over partial interest. It was a practical application of the principles and demonstrations of Smith concerning the reciprocal advantages, to skilful and industrious nations, of a free trade. The discussions of the treaty, both in the House of Peers and Commons, called forward the most important subjects of æconomical science. Its political object was liberal and great,-it was to terminate the animosities between Britain and France, that had been productive of so great evils to both. Whether it was or was not attainable, it is now impossible to ascertain, as the circumstances are so totally changed. It was to its political tendency that the principal opposition was made. Fox endeavoured to shew, that France still continued her plans of ambition, although she varied her modes of execution. While amusing us, he said, with commercial connections, she was, by the increase of her marine, and her intrigues with foreign states,
preparing for folitical annoyance. This ground was also taken by Burke.
He had, at the commencement of the American war, and on every other occasion, endeavoured to impress on the house and nation the aspiring views of France,—that the supremacy over Europe and its dependencies was the object; that Britain was the most formidable opponent to her aggrandizement; that the humiliation of Britain was considered as the necessary, and, indeed, only means of cer. tainly accomplishing her ends; that the animosity of rivalship inspirited the operations of ambition ; that the mutual action and re-action of these principles had, on every opportunity, manifested themselves. The doctrine he held before, the doctrine he held then, the doctrine he held since, the doctrine he held always, was the sameTrust no friendly protestations from France: ---France hates Britain ; France would subject Britain ; FRANCE HAS THE WILL TO CONQUER BRITAIN, BUT WANTS THE POWER. LET US GUARD AGAINST INCREASING HER POWER AND INFLUENCE, THROUGH SUPINE
NESS OR CRÉDULITY, WHOSE INTENTIONS ARE SO MALIGNANT. A few months afforded a striking instance, that while her professions were friendly, her intentions were hostile ; that she was employing every effort of policy to detach from us our natural ally; and was preparing to second her intrigues by force, when the vigour of the British cabinet and the activity of Prussian troops defeated her machinations,
In Mr. Pitt's motion for the consolidation of the Customs Opposition unani...mously acquiesced, and Burke betowed on
it very high praise.
March 28, 1787, a motion was made for repealing the Test-Act. Although Burke had been, in 1972, favourable to a similar motion in behalf of the Dissenters (though a motion not altogether to the same extent) he did not support* the repeal. His detractors charged him with inconsistency for
* He withdrew from the house without voting.