Page images


Into Greek Prose.

1. We are fond of preserving, as far as it is in our frail

power, the memory of our own adventures, of those of our own time, and of those that preceded it. Rude heaps of stones have been raised, and ruder hymns have been composed, for this purpose, by nations who had not yet the use of arts and letters. There is no need of saying how this passion grows among civilized nations in proportion to the means of gratifying it; but let us observe that the same principle of nature directs us as strongly to indulge our own curiosity as to gratify that of others. The child hearkens with delight to the tales of his nurse; he learns to read, and he devours with eagerness fabulous legends and novels.

In riper years he applies himself to History, or to what he takes for history, to authorized Romance; and even in age, the desire of learning what happened to other men yields to the desire alone of relating what has happened to ourselves. Thus History, true or false, speaks to our passions always. What pity is it, that even the best should speak to our understandings so seldom? That it does so, we have none to blame but ourselves. Nature has done her part. She has opened this study to every man who can read and think; and what she has made the most agreeable, reason can make the most useful application of our minds. But if we consult our reason, we shall neither read to soothe our indolence, nor to gratify our vanity; as little shall we content ourselves to drudge like grammarians and critics, that others may be able to study with greater ease and profit, like philosophers and statesmen; as little shall we affect the slender merit of becoming great scholars, at the expence of groping all our lives in the dark mazes of antiquity. All these mistake the true drift of study and the true use of history. An application to any study that leads neither directly nor indirectly to make us better men and better citizens is at best but a specious and ingenious sort of idleness; and the knowledge we acquire by it is a creditable sort of ignorance, nothing more.

[Trinity College Fellowships, 1829.]

2. The best way in the world for a man to seem to be anything, is really to be what he would seem to be. It is hard to personate and act a part long; for where truth is not at the bottom, nature will always be endeavouring to return, and will peep out and betray herself one time or other. Therefore if any man think it convenient to seem good, let him be so indeed, and then his goodness will appear to every body's satisfaction; so that upon all accounts sincerity is true wisdom. Particularly as to the affairs of this world, integrity hath many advantages over all the fine and artificial ways of dissimulation and deceit; it is much the plainer and easier, much the safer and more secure way of dealing in the world: it has less of trouble and difficulty, of entanglement and perplexity, of danger and hazard in it; it is the shortest and nearest way to our end, carrying us thither in a straight line, and will hold out and last longest. The arts of deceit and cunning do continually grow weaker and less effectual and serviceable to them that use them; whereas integrity gains strength by use, and the more and longer any man practiseth it, the greater service it does him, by confirming his reputation, and encouraging those with whom he hath to do to repose the greatest trust and confidence in him, which is an unspeakable advantage in the business and affairs of life.

[Classical Tripos, 1830.]

3. Tuis kind of learning, therefore, you do not passionately admire, but have rather chosen to devote your chief attention to the study of eloquence. A study, whose high importance we experience daily in all our public transactions, and which enables us to deliberate on all affairs of state: by which you too have discovered no inconsiderable share of wisdom, in directing and prescribing to your subjects, in judging of what is truly noble and equitable, and what is contrary to these, and in dispensing punishments and rewards, according to those unerring rules derived from this important knowledge. These studies prove your true discernment, and give the most favourable assurance both to your father, and to others, that, by a due perseverance in such laudable pursuits, at a maturer time of life, you will arrive at the same distinguished eminence in true wisdom, which your father confessedly enjoys at present.

[Chancellor's Medals, 1830.]

4. As for motives of ambition, I believe, my Lords, there have been times in which I have had the honour of standing in such favour in the closet, that there must have been something extravagantly unreasonable in my wishes if they might not all have been gratified; after neglecting those opportunities, I am now suspected of coming forward in the decline of life, in the anxious pursuit of wealth and power, which it is impossible for me to enjoy. Be it so; there is one ambition at least which I ever will acknowledge, which I will not renounce but with my life. It is the ambition of delivering to my posterity those rights of freedom which I have received from my ancestors. I am not now pleading the cause of an individual, but of every freeholder in England.

[King's College, 1830.]

5. I THINK I can trace all the calamities of this country to the single source of our not having had steadily before our eyes a general, comprehensive, wellconnected, and well-proportioned view of the whole of our dominions, and a just sense of their true bearings and relations. After all its reductions, the British empire is still vast and various. After all the reductions of the house of commons, (stripped as we are of our brightest ornaments, and of our most important privileges) enough are yet left to furnish us, if we please, with means of shewing to the world, that we deserve the superintendance of as large an empire as this kingdom ever held, and the continuance of as ample privileges the house of commons, in the plenitude of its power, had been habituated to assert. But if we make ourselves too little for the sphere of our duty; if, on the contrary, we do not stretch and expand our minds to the compass of their object, be well assured, that every thing about us will dwindle by degrees, until at length our concerns are shrunk to the dimensions of our minds.

[Trinity College, 1830.]


6. Had I a son who nobly fell, contending for the liberties and happiness of his country, a first movement

of nature would no doubt draw a tear from my eye, but - that tribute once paid, I would hail his fate as blessed, and tread with pride and exultation on his glorious grave. Under the sanction of this feeling, I bring into your view all that is left of those who fought and conquered and died in your defence, these orphan pledges of expiring fathers, the merits of whose blood was the only legacy they had to bequeath them. [St John's College, 1830.]

7. HOMER, like the ocean, is always great, even when he ebbs and retires—even when he is lowest, and loses himself most in narrations and incredible fictions. As instances of this, we cannot forget the descriptions of tempests, the adventures of Ulysses with the Cyclops, and

many others. But though all this be old age, it is the old age of Homer. And it may be said, for the credit of these fictions, that they are beautiful dreams; or, if you will, the dreams of Jupiter himself. I spoke of the Odyssey only to shew, that the greatest poets, when their genius wants strength and warmth for the pathetic, for the most part employ themselves in painting the manners. This Homer has done, in characterizing the suitors, and describing their way of life; which is properly a branch of Comedy, whose business it is to represent the manners of men.

[Battie's Scholarship, 1831.]

8. ZARAGOZA is not a fortified town: the brick wall which surrounded it was from ten to twelve feet high, and three feet thick, and in many places it was interrupted by houses, which formed part of the inclosure. The city had no advantages of situation for its defence. It stands in an open plain, which was then covered with


« PreviousContinue »