ePub 版
[ocr errors]

ambition men often rise to a nobler as well as the laws of nature ? And nature than they had before. Great does not the higher calculus seem questions of policy, enlarged princi- just on the verge of the two ples of action, give a more elevated worlds of matter and mind, ready to tone to the character, and the latter

grasp at both ?

But a mind like end of the man is often better than Brougham's was not to be led astray the beginning

by such fallacies; a slight experience If we were asked for a type or re- would teach him that the complicapresentative of the ambitious man, tion of human affairs, their intimate combining all the qualities most action and reaction, transcends the essential to success, and who should resources of the subtilest mathebest illustrate the principles which matics. He felt the impress of his we have endeavoured to enunciate, genius therefore, and passed on to we would fix upon Harry Brougham. methods more directly applicable to

No one ever had the “ Scotch” human affairs. Logic and metaphymind more fully developed. No one sics were next studied with characso eminently combined perseverance teristic ardour, but though he threw with impatience--cautious, elaborate on them the light of his original preparation with that rapidity of mind, they could not long detain one action and energy of expression so eminently practical. He soon diswhich secure all the advantages of

covered that he who would rule mansurprise. Honorable to his party, kind must appeal to their prejudices but the first to suggest to them the and passions as frequently as to their most daring acts of strategy, which, reason; nor could he fail to see that when necessary,

he did not hesitate to the metaphysical notion of a man, as execute; he rose irregularly perhaps, made up of so many separate qualibut rapidly and surely, to the sum- ties and powers, is a most fallacious mit of his ambition ; happy in this representation of a being so essenthat his moral nature kept pace with tially individual and concrete. These his external fortunes, and that when considerations would direct him to peer of the empire he was in every another branch of study, which, while respect a better man than when tri. it avowedly purported to appeal to bune of the people.

the passions fully as much as to the But it was not alone to nature that reason of man, repudiated altogether Brougham was indebted for his suc- the metaphysical analysis. In the cess. A special education brought view of this science--that of Oratory into the greatest efficiency the for- --man was a living, acting being, midable combination of his natural who must be moved altogether, if at powers, for instinctively and from all. Here, then, was the science of the very outset his studies were di- sciences to the man ambitious of rected by his ambition. Brougham power; and accordingly Brougham was no student of the Belles Lettres. rested content, devoting his meditaPoetry seems never to have had at- tive power to its exhaustive study and tractions; and if he ever perused the his whole life to its active use. novels and romances of his own or of Such was the education of Lord other times, it could not be discovered Brougham,—for his professional trainfrom his writings. He studied that ing as a barrister merely helped more he might acquire power; and feeling thoroughly to combine the three that this could best be done by courses of study through which he strengthening his reasoning faculties, had passed. Not that we mean to say he devoted all his attention to those that he utterly neglected other branches of study which seem to have branches of knowledge ; for, with the the most direct tendency to that re- exception of polite literature, there is sult. Hence, he early addicted him- evi nce in his writings that he is self to mathematics--for there is in nearly a universalist- a cyclopædia this science of sciences something de- of useful knowledge. But all that finite in result. It certainly unlocks is accessory; it hangs on him loosely ; some of the secrets of nature, and whereas his oratory, his metaphysics, we think it may give a similar mas- and his mathematics have been imtery over the moral world. Why bibed into his nature, and form part should human action and motive not of the man. be subject to arithmetical calculation Now it so happens that we have

the result of this education in the first volume of these collected Reviews. The "Oratorical Articles" clearly demonstrate the profound and exhaustive study which he had made of the art; while in the same volume the biographical sketches of the statesmen of the Georges afford abundant illustration of our remarks upon the conditions of success necessary to the ambitious man, and also on their special application to Brougham himself. For in sketching lives, in many instances so like his own, he becomes a kind of witness in his own case, and is forced to enunciate opinions and distribute censure or applause which he cannot help seeing apply to himself.

We propose, therefore, to restrict our remarks to this volume for the present, and to content ourselves with a very brief summary of Lord Brougham's oratorical system, and then to pass under review some of the chief of those statesmen whose portraits Lord Brougham here gives us. And when it is considered that to do so involves something like an account of the matter of a dozen Reviews, condensed in the Bramah press of Lord Brougham's style, it will be admitted that we have attempted fully as much as our space can in any manner permit of our accomplishing.

The first remark of Lord Broughham's which attracted our attention on perusing his oratorical articles was, that we lose much of the effect of ancient oratory from ignorance of the peculiarities of feeling in the audience to whom it was addressed; and that even the fullest information will not enlist our sympathies. For instance, in one of Cicero's orations

After working our feelings up to the highest pitch, by the finest painting of vicions excesses, and their miserable effects, the whole is wound up by, what to us appears, a pure anti-climax-a disrespect to some Nymph of the Grot.' When, again, he is making the father of Verres sum up his iniquities, the first acts enumerated are those of culpable negligence, the next of official corruption, then follows the connivance at the protection of piracy, then the judicial murder of citizens in furtherance of his collusion with the pirates, and after these enormities follows those of inviting matrons to a banquet, and appearing in public with a long purple robe.

But Demosthenes was the favourite orator of Brougham, whom, with only the minimum of allowance necessary for the difference of auditory, he laboured not unsuccessfully to reproduce; so that whether or not Brougham could have been original in his oratory, he has deliberately foregone the attempt, and tied himself down to what would be called the most slavish and literal copying, if it were not that the supreme excellence of the model justifies any sacrifice of any possible originality.

According to Brougham, the study of Demosthenes is the best corrective of the loose style of writing and of oratory current in the present day, which "affords a new instance how wide a departure may be made from nature with very little care, and how apt easy writing is to prove hard reading." It is easy to acquire the faculty of fluent speaking; any one will succeed who will give himself the trouble of frequently trying it, and can harden himself against the pain of frequent failures. Complete selfpossession and perfect fluency can thus be acquired mechanically, but it will be the self-possession of ignorance, and the fluency of speaking about and about a subject. It may be,

That the habit may have taught him something of arrangement, and a few of the simplest methods of producing an impression; but

his diction is sure to be much worse than if he never made the attempt. Such a speaker is never in want of a word, and hardly ever has one that is worth having.

Not in this way did Demosthenes acquire his marvellous oratory.

The greatest of all orators never regarded the composition of any sentence worthy of him to deliver, as a thing of easy execution. Practised as he was, and able surely if any man ever was by his own mastery over language, to pour out his ideas with facility, he elaborated every passage with almost equal care. Having the same ideas to express, he did not, like our easy and fluent moderns, clothe them in different language for the sake of beauty; but reflecting that he had upon the fullest deliberation adopted one form of expression as the best, and because every other must needs be worse, he used it again without any change, unless further labour and more trials had enabled him in any particular to improve the workmanship.

Might not this in part arise from

the fact that books were few, and reporters had not yet been invented? Would Demosthenes have so repeated himself had he lived in the days of Hansard ?

Lord Erskine was to Brougham the English Demosthenes, whom he would rank, if he had the marshalling of Olympus, among the Dii Majores of English oratory-higher than Burke or Pitt; and the copious extracts from his speeches which he adduces, give some support to an opinion, in which, however, we are far from concurring. In correctness of composi tion and felicity of expression, Erskine may be equal to Burke, and probably superior to Pitt; but what he has to say is of the earth earthy, whereas Burke's thoughts come up from the abyss, and down from the heaven of heavens, and although he may labour occasionally in the expression of a thought, we feel that it is the thought of one belonging to a superior race; and in the case of Pitt, there is a majesty of assertion, a homage of self-respect, expressing itself in noble thoughts, which indicate a nature cast in a loftier mould than that of Erskine.

There can be little difference in opinion as to Erskine's merits as a pleader. Brougham thus explains his


In no one sentence is the subject-the business on hand-the case—the client-the verdict lost sight of; and the fire of that oratory, or rather that rhetoric (for it is quite under discipline) which was melting the hearts and dazzling the understandings of his hearers, had not the power to touch for an instant the hard head of the Nisi Prius Lawyer from which it radiated, or to make him swerve even from the minuter details most befitting his purpose, and the alternate admissions and disavowals best adapted to put his case in the safest position.

of things unseen, and which refer to the period when time shall be no

From forensic eloquence Brougham passes to the consideration of the oratory of the pulpit. He asks how it happens that, considering the advantages of the preacher over all other orators in a sublime range of subjects, and in an audience who are compelled to attend, or at least to remain, eloquence in the pulpit is so very rare; and he answers that the reason is that people feel more strongly appeals made to them upon matters before their eyes, and at the present time, than topics drawn from the evidence

[blocks in formation]

I figure to myself that our last hour is come; the heavens are opening over our heads. Time is no more, and Eternity has begun. Jesus Christ is about to appear, to judge us according to our deserts; and we are here awaiting at his hands the sentence of everlasting life or death. I ask you nowstricken with terror like yourselves-in no wise separating my lot from yours, but placing myself in the situation in which we all must one day stand before God our Judgeif Christ, I ask you, were at this moment to come to make the awful partition of the just and the unjust-think you that the greater number would be saved? Do you believe that the numbers would be equal? If the lives of the multitude here present were sifted, would he find among us ten righteous-would he find a single one?

The selection from Bossuet is taken from a sermon on the Day of Judg ment; the translation is ours :

The assize is opened--the Judge is seated. Criminal! come plead your case. But you have little time to prepare yourself! O God, how short is the time to unravel an affair so complicated as that of your reckoning and your life. Ah, why address superfluous cries! Ah, why do you bitterly sigh after so many lost years--vainly, uselessly! There is no more time to you. You enter the region of Eternity. See, there is no more visible sun to commence and finish the days, the seasons, the years. It is the Lord himself who now begins to measure all things by his own infinity. I see you astonished and horror-struck at the presence of your Judge ; but look also at your accusers, those poor

who are raising their voices against your in- save others from the infliction of exorable hardness.

much unnecessary talk. And now for Hall :

We have already indicated the I cannot but imagine the virtuous heroes,

light in which we purpose to regard legislators, and patriots of every age and

the ‘Historical Sketches,' and the use country are bending from their elevated seats we mean to make of them, namely, as to witness this contest, as if they were incapa

illustrating the career of the ambi. ble of enjoying their eternal repose. Enjoy that tious man in general, and as illustrarepose, illustrious immortals Your mantle ting reflectively the character of fell when you ascended; and thousands in

Brougham, whom we have selected flamed with your spirit are ready to swear as a type. But in this view the priby Him that sitteth upon the throne and liveth

mary question is--can we trust these for ever and ever, that they will protect free

sketches as giving a true insight into dom in her last asylum, and never desert that

the character and motives of the men cause which you sustained by your labours and cemented with your blood. And thon,

they purport to pourtray? We think sole Ruler among the children of men, to

we may. There is intrinsic evidence whom the shields of the earth belong, gird

in each instance that Lord Brougham on thy sword, thou most Mighty; go forth

wishes to tell the truth, for he neither with our hosts in the day of battle.

exaggerates the virtues of those who

belong to his own party, nor slurs As the only compensation we can over their defects, and he is equally make for these most imperfect re- just to those of the opposite party, marks, we earnestly recommend the with some of whom he had been en. reader to peruse the Rhetorical Arti.

gaged in actual conflict.

In the secles of Lord Brougham.

There is

cond place, we can have no doubt of probably no better vademecum of his ability to give a just and discri. oratory in our language. The author

minating character, once we are satisis a consummate orator himself, the fied of his honesty. A statesman most competent man living to teach himself, who has experienced most of his art, and no better way could be the phases of political life, who has imagined than that which he has se- run the gamut from something very lected, namely, a cursory review of like demagogism, to something be. ancient and modern eloquence, illus- yond conservatism, Brougham has trated by quotations whose excellence the advantage as a political portrait has been guaranteed by the unanimous painter over most living men. suffrage of all men of letters. One has a manifest advantage both over important lesson they will at least those who are still in the heat of learn from these articles, for it is the

party passion, and over those who one most frequently and most empha- have never mixed in party strife, or tically inculcated by the author, felt the ardent emotions which spring namely, that eloquence is an art from ambition ; for both the impasrather than a gift-an art which re- sioned and the calm view of men and quires the greatest special labour to things present themselves to him—the learn, and which implies the greatest one from memory, the other in the amount of general learning


present, and the one corrects and 'the earnest student,' who will not be clears the other. But without furdeterred by these difficulties, and ther preface let us join that group of who, with adequate preparation, will listeners round Brougham, as he devote himself to the study of the stands below the portrait of Walpole, art of eloquence, will derive the greatest benefit from these articles ; On the whole he gives you a fawhile he who is deterred by the la- vourable idea of that celebrated bour which, to his surprise, he will statesman, and one as different as find is necessary in an art which might be from that which we would haply he thought was of the easiest be compelled to entertain, if we be acquisition-open to all who have the

lieved the reports of his political adtwo requisites of brass and volubility versaries, the patriots of the day, after

- will also derive benefit if he takes the definition of Samuel Johnson. Of these precepts to heart. He will ancient, honourable, and wealthy faavoid making a fool of himself, and mily, Robert Walpole entered public



[ocr errors]

per cent.

lifeundertheauspices of Marlborough; your cousin, or a relation of your wife, and when, according to our author, worth as much a year, the motive "a vile court intrigue saved France brought to bear on you may be somefrom being undone by the victories of what more refined, but it is essentially that great man, when what St. Simon

the same.

Walpole, however, difcalls the 'miracle de Londres' unex- fered from our modern vote-brokers, pectedly rescued Louis XIV from his in openly, and—what was rather agdoom," Walpole threw up his place gravating to those who sold, and cer. with the Duke. The offence was not tainly more expensive to him, the forgiven; he was impeached and sent buyer-contemptuously stating his to the Tower on a charge of having opinion of the purchasability of public received £900 from a contractor. men. “Every man has his price; if

The charge was substantially true, you don't buy him, he becomes a paand the only extenuation which can triot”-a

-a maxim not without somebe pleaded is, that they who impeached thing to say for itself in the present him would have done the same thing day. Patriots are easily raised. I if they had the opportunity, and many have myself made many a one ; 'tis of them had in reality done worse. but to refuse an unreasonable demand,

Corruption, in fact, was the disease and up springs a patriot." Lord of the day—an epidemic which not Brougham also fathers upon Walpole unfrequently follows in the wake of a the noted definition of gratitude as revolution. But to extenuate the "a lively sense of favours to come.” sins of an individual in consideration Such frankness must have increased of the general turpitude, is dangerous; the cost of corruption fully twenty for it is a tempting method to excuse our own infirmities, to cast part of It is difficult to account for the suce the burden of our sins on the broad cess of Walpole's political career, and shoulders of society, and go on our for his long tenure of unbroken power. way sinning and rejoicing, not because Brougham but half solves the diffiwe are better than others, but because culty : others are so very bad we can hardly be worse than they are.

Inferior to many in qualities that dazzle Whether worse or better, Walpole the multitude, and undervaluing the mere left £200,000, when it was notorious outward accoinplishments of English stateshe lived at a rate nearly double his

manship-nay, accounting them merits only income ; nor will his celebrated specu

so far as they conduced to parliamentary and lation in South Sea Stock, although

to popular influence, and even much under

valuing their effects in that direction-Wal. he got a thousand per cent. profit, ac

pole yet ranks in the very highest class of count for the balance at his credit.

those whose unvarying prudence, clear appreSo much with respect to his per- hension, fertility of resources to meet unexsonal corruption. As he rather boasted pected difficulties, firmness of purpose, just of than concealed his corruption of and not seemingly exaggerated self-con. others, it seems unnecessary to inquire fidence, point them out by common consent further into its reality : but we hardly as the men qualified to guide the course of agree with Lord Brougham when he human affairs, to ward off public dangers, and felicitates his readers on the loftier to watch over the peace of empires. His tone of our public morality. It may

knowledge was sound and practical; it was have been so in 1839, when he wrote

like all his other qualities, for use and not this article, but in 1856 it may be

for ornament, yet he lacked nothing of the

information which in his day forined the proquestioned whether our public men

vision of the politician. With men his acare so immaculate as to entitle them

quaintance was extensivc, and it was proto throw stones against the glass

found. His severe judgment, the somewhat houses of the members of Commons in misanthropic bias to which reference has been Walpole's day. No doubt, our pre- made, never misled him; it only put him on miers and whippers-in do not in gene- bis guard, and it may safely be affirmed that ral carry on the business of political no man ever made fewer mistakes in his persuasion by means of the currency.

intercourse either with adversaries or with You are not asked to dinner and find friends, or the indifferent world. a five-hundred Bank of England note under your plate ; but if you get a Perhaps it may serve to the more post for yourself, for your brother, or complete solution of the problem in

« 上一頁繼續 »