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lection of many long years, but arranged so as to be available to the most ignorant at the shortest notice. Men lamented the great loss they had experienced, and their regrets were mingled with wonder when they reflected that the same blow had deprived them of qualities the most rarely found in company with such acquirements; for, unwilling as the jealousy of human vanity is to admit various excellence in a single individual, (mos hominum ut nolint eundem pluribus rebus excellere,) it was in vain to deny that the same person, who exceeded all others in powers of hard working upon the dullest subjects, and who had, by his life of labour, become as a Dictionary to his friends, had also produced a larger share than any one contributor, to the epigrams, the burlesques, the grave ironies and the broad jokes, whether in verse or in prose, of the Rolliad.
The highest of the praises which Dr Laurence had a right to challenge, remains. He was a man of scrupulous integrity and unsullied honour; faithful in all trusts ; disinterested to a weakness. Constant, but rather let it be said, ardent and enthusiastic in his friendships; abandoning his whole faculties with a self-dereliction that knew no bounds, either to the cause of his friend, or his party, or the common-weal-he commanded the unceasing respect of all with whom he came in contact, or even in conflict; for when most offended with his zeal, they were forced to admit, that what bore the semblance of intolerance was the fruit of an honest anxiety for a friend or a principle, and never was pointed towards himself. To the praise of correct judgment he was not so well entitled. His naturally warm temperament, and his habit of entering into whatever he took up with his whole faculties, as well as all his feelings, kindled in him the two great passions which chequered the latter part of Mr Burke's life; he spent some years upon Mr Hastings's Impeachment, and some upon the French Revolution, so absorbed in those subjects that their impression could not be worn out; and he ever after appeared to see one or other of them, and not unfrequently both together, on whatever ground he might cast his eyes. This almost morbid affection he shared with his protector and friend, of whom we are now to speak.
How much soever men may differ as to the soundness of Mr Burke's doctrine, or the purity of his public conduct, there can be no hesitation in according to him a station among the most extraordinary men that have ever appeared ; and we think there is now but little diversity of opinion as to the kind of place which it is fit to assign him. He was a writer of the first class, and excelled in almost every kind of prose composition. Possessed of most extensive knowledge, and of the most various description; acquainted alike with what different classes of men knew, each in his own province, and with much that hardly any one ever thought of learning; he could either bring his masses of information to bear directly upon the subjects to which they severally belonged-or he could avail himself of them generally to strengthen his faculties and enlarge his views—or he could turn any portion of them to account for the purpose of illustrating his theme, or enriching his diction. Hence, when he is handling any one matter, we perceive that we are conversing with a reasoner or a teacher, to whom almost every other branch of knowledge is familiar: His views range over all the cognate subjects; his reasonings are derived from principles applicable to other theories as well as the one in hand : Arguments pour in from all sides, as well as those which start up under our feet, the natural growth of the path he is leading us over; while to throw light round our steps, and either explore its darker places, or serve for our recreation, illustrations are fetched from a thousand quarters; and an imagination marvellously quick to descry unthought of resemblances, points to our use the stores, which a lore yet more marvellous has gathered from all ages, and nations, and arts, and tongues. We are, in respect of the argument, reminded of Bacon's multifarious knowledge, and the exuberance of his learned fancy; while the many-lettered diction recalls to mind the first of English poets, and his immortal verse, rich with the spoils of all sciences and all times.
The kinds of composition are various, and he excels in them all, with the exception of two, the very highest, given but to few, and when given, almost always possessed alone,-fierce, nervous, overwhelming declamation, and close, rapid argument. Every other he uses easily, abundantly, and successfully. He produced but one philosophical treatise; but no man lays down abstract principles more soundly, or better traces their application. All his works, indeed, even his controversial, are so informed with general reflection, so variegated with speculative discussion, that they wear the air of the Lyceum as well as the Academy. His narrative is excellent; and it is impossible more luminously to expose the details of a complicated subject, to give them more animation and interest, if dry in themselves, or to make them bear, by the mere power of statement, more powerfully upon the argument. In description he can hardly be surpassed, at least for effect; he has all the qualities that conduce to it-ardour of purpose, sometimes rising into violence-vivid, but too luxuriant fancy,- bold, frequently extravagant, conception—the faculty of shedding over mere inanimate scenery the light imparted by moral associations. He indulges in bitter invective, mingled with
poignant wit, but descending often to abuse and even scurrility; he is apt moreover to carry an attack too far, as well as strain the application of a principle; to slay the slain, or turn the reader's contempt into pity.
As in the various kinds of writing, so in the different styles, he had an almost universal excellence, one only being deficient, the plain and unadorned. Not but that he could, in unfolding a doctrine or pursuing a narrative, write for a little with admirable simplicity and propriety; only he could not sustain this self-denial; his brilliant imagination and well-stored memory soon broke through the restraint. But in all other styles, passages without end occur of the highest order—epigram-pathos
- metaphor in profusion, chequered with more didactic and sober diction. Nor are his purely figurative passages the finest even as figured writing; he is best when the metaphor is subdued, mixed as it were with plainer matter to flavour it, and used not by itself, and for its own sake, but giving point to a more useful instrument, made of more ordinary material; or at the most, flung off by the heat of composition, like sparks from a working engine, not fire-works for mere display. Speaking of the authors of the Declaration of Right, he calls them those whose * penetrating style has engraved in our ordinances and in our • hearts, the words and spirit of that immortal law.'-(Reflections on the French Revolution). So discoursing of the imitations of natural magnitude by artifice and skill— A true artist should put • a generous deceit on the spectators, and effect the noblest de• signs by easy methods.'-(Sublime and Beautiful, Part II. 9. 10.) · When pleasure is over we relapse into indifference, or rather • we fall into a soft tranquillity, which is tinged with the agree• able colour of the former sensation.'-(Ibid. Part. I. §. 3.) • Every age has its own manners, and its politics dependent
on them; and the same attempts will not be made against a • constitution fully formed and matured, that were used to de• stroy it in the cradle, or resist its growth during its infancy.' (Thoughts on the Causes of the present Discontents.) • Faction
will make its cries resound through the nation, as if the whole • were in an uproar.'-(Ibid.) In works of a serious nature, upon the affairs of real life, as political discourses and orations, figurative style should hardly ever go beyond this. But a strict and close metaphor or simile may be allowed, provided it be most sparingly used, and never deviate from the subject matter, so as to make it disappear in the ornament. “The judgment is for • the greater part employed in throwing stumbling blocks in * the way of the imagination, (says Mr Burke,) in dissipating - the scenes of its enchantment, and in tying us down to the • disagreeable yoke of our reason.'-(Discourses on Taste.) He has here at once expressed figuratively the principle we are laying down, and illustrated our remark by the temperance of his metaphors, which, though mixed, do not offend, because they come so near mere figurative language that they may be regarded, like the last set of examples, rather as forms of expression than tropes. A great deal of the furniture of ancient tyran
ny is worn to rags; the rest is entirely out of fashion.'(Thoughts on the Discontents.) A most apt illustration of his important position, that we ought to be as jealous of little encroachments, now the chief sources of danger, as our ancestors were of Ship Money and the Forest Laws. A species of men, (speak
ing of one constant and baneful effect of grievances,) to whom • a state of order would become a sentence of obscurity, are o nourished into a dangerous magnitude by the heat of intestine o disturbances, and it is no wonder that, by a sort of sinister • piety, they cherish, in return, those disorders which are the
parents of all their consequence.'-(Ibid.) "We have not, • (says hé of the English Church establishment,) relegated re
ligion to obscure municipalities or rustic villages-No! we • will have her to exalt her mitred front in courts and parlia• ments.'-(Reflections on the French Revolution.) But if these should seem so temperate as hardly to be separate figures, the celebrated comparison of the Queen of France, though going to the verge of chaste style, hardly passes it. And surely, never - lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more
delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating 6 and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in
glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendour, . and joy.' --(Ibid.)
All his writings, but especially his later ones, abound in examples of the abuse of this style, in which, unlike those we have been dwelling upon with unmixed admiration, the subject is lost sight of, and the figure usurps its place, almost as much as in Homer's longer similes, and is oftentimes pursued, not merely with extravagance and violence, but into details that offend by their coarseness, as well as their strained connexion with the matter in question. The comparison of a noble adversary to the whale, in which the grantee of the crown is altogether forgotten, and the fish alone remains; of one Republican ruler to a cannibal in his den, where he paints him as having actually devoured a king and suffering from indigestion; of another, to a retailer of dresses, in which character the pature of constitutions is forgotten in that of millinery,-are instances too well known to be further dwelt upon ; and they were the produce, not of the audacity of youth,' but of the last year of his life. It must,
oathsome from m dead and putrid ; and were their !
however, be confessed, that he was at all times somewhat tainted with what Johnson imputes to Swift, a proneness to " revolve • ideas from which other minds shrink with disgust. At least he must be allowed to have often mistaken violence and grossness for vigour. •The anodyne draught of oblivion, thus • drugged, is well calculated to preserve a galling wakefulness, 6 and to feed the living ulcer of a corroding memory. Thus to • administer the opiate potion of animosity, powdered with all the • ingredients of scorn and contempt,' &c.—(Reflections on the French Revolution.) · They are not repelled through a fastidious delicacy at the stench of their arrogance and presumption, from a medicinal attention to their mental blotches and running sores.'-(Ibid.) Those bodies, which, when full of life and beauty, lay in their arms, and were their joy and comfort, when dead and putrid, became but the more • loathsome from remembrance of former endearments.'(Thoughts.) · The vital powers, wasted in an unequal strug• gle, are pushed back upon themselves, and fester to gan
grene, to death; and instead of what was but just now the • delight of the creation, there will be cast out in the face of • the sun, a bloated, putrid, noisome carcase, full of stench and • poison, an offence, a horror, a lesson to the world. (Speech on the Nabob's Debts.) Some passages are not fit to be cited, and could not now be tolerated in either house of Parliament, for the indecency of their allusions—as in the Regency debates, and the attack upon lawyers on the Impeachment continuation. But the finest of his speeches, which we have just quoted from, though it does not go so far from propriety, falls not much within its bounds. Of Mr Dundas he says— With six great chop
ping bastards, (Reports of Secret Committee,) each as lusty • as an infant Hercules, this delicate creature blushes at the sight of his new bridegroom, assumes a virgin delicacy; or, to use a more fit, as well as a more poetical comparison, the person
so squeamish, so timid, so trembling, lest the winds of heaven 6 should visit too roughly, is expanded to broad sunshine, ex
posed like the sow of imperial augury, lying in the mud with • all the prodigies of her fertility about her, as evidence of her • delicate amour.'-(Ibid.)
It is another characteristic of this great writer, that the unlimited abundance of his stores makes him profuse in their expenditure : Never content with one view of a subject, or one manner of handling it, he for the most part lavishes his whole resources upon the discussion of each point. In controversy this is emphatically the case. Indeed, nothing is more remarkable than the variety of ways in which he makes his approaches