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to win and to diffuse them; that it exhibits literature, once the privilege only of a cloistered few, supplying the finest links of social union for this vast society, to be expanded by those numerous members of the middle class whom they are now embracing, and who yet comprise, as the poet says, “two-thirds of all the virtue that remains,” throughout that greater mass which they are elevating, and of whose welfare they, in turn, will be the guardians,— we feel that this assembly represents objects which, though intensely local, are yet of universal concern, and cease to wonder at that familiar interest with which strangers at once regard them. Personally till a few days ago a stranger to almost every member of your institution, or rather cluster of institutions, I find now to-day, in the little histories of your aims and achievements, which your reports present, an affinity, sudden indeed but lasting, with some of the best and happiest passages in a thousand earnest and laborious lives. I seem to take my place in your lecture room, an eager and docile listener, among young men whom daily duties preclude from a laborious course of studies, to be refreshed, invigorated, enlightened—sometimes nobly elevated, sometimes as nobly humbled, by the living lessons of philosophic wisdom—whether penetrating the earth or elucidating the heavens, or developing the more august wonders of the world which lies within our own natures, or informing the Present with the spirit of the Past;-happy to listen to such lessons from some gifted stranger, or well-known and esteemed professor, scattering the gems of knowledge and taste, to find root in opening minds;–but, better still, if the effort should be made by one of yourselves, by a fellow-townsman and fellowstudent, emboldened and inspirited by the assurance of welcome to try some short excursion of modest fancy, or to illustrate some cherished theory by genial examples, and privileged to taste, in the heartiest applause of those who know him best and esteem him most, that which, after all, is the choicest ingredient in the pleasure of the widest fame. I mingle with your Essay and Discussion Class; share in the tumultuous but hopeful throbbings of some young debater; grow placid as his just self-reliance masters his fears; triumph in his crowning success; and understand, in his timid acceptance of your unenvying congratulations, at the close of his address, that most exquisite pleasure which attends the first assurance of ability to render palpable in language the products of lonely self-culture, and the consciousness that, as ideas which seemed obscure and doubtful while they lurked in the recesses of the mind, are, by the genial inspiration of the hour, shaped into form and kindled into life, they are attested by the understandings and welcomed by the affections of numbers. I seek your Library, yet indeed but in its infancy, but from whence information and refined enjoyment speed on quicker and more multitudinous wings than from some of the stateliest repositories of accumulated and cloistered learning, to vindicate that the right which the youngest apprentice lad possesses,
not merely to claim, but to select for his own a portion in that inheritance which the mighty dead have left to mankind,--secured by the magic power of the press, against the decays of time and the shocks of fortune; or to exult in a communion with the spirit of that mighty literature which yet breathes on us fresh from the genius of the living; to feel that we live in a great and original age of literature, proud also in the consciousness that its spirit is not only to be felt as animating works elaborately constructed to endure, but as, with a noble prodigality, diffusing lofty sentiments, sparkling wit, exquisite grace, and suggestions even for serene contemplation through the most rapid effusions, weekly, monthly, daily given to the world; and, far beyond the literature of every previous age of the world, aiding the spirit of humanity, in appreciating the sufferings, the virtues, and the claims of the poor. And if I must confess, even when refreshed by the invigorating influences of this hour, that I can scarcely fancy myself virtuous enough to join one of your classes for the acquisition of science or language, or young enough to share in the exercises of your gymnasium, where good spirits and kind affections attend on the development of physical energy, there are yet some of your gay and graceful intermixtures of amusement to which I would gladly claim admission. I would welcome that delightful alternation of gentle excitement and thoughtful repose by which your musical entertainments tend to the harmony and proportion of life itself. I should rejoice to share in some of those Irish Evenings by which our friend Mr. Lover has suggested, in its happiest aspects. that land which is daily acquiring, I hope, that degree of affection and justice which it so strongly claims. I would appreciate with the heart, if not with the ear, the illustrations of Burns, by which some true Scottish melodist has made you familiar with that poet, and enabled you to forget labour and care, and walk with the inspired rustic “in glory and in joy.” among his native hills; and with peculiar gratitude to your directors for enabling you to snatch from death and time some vestiges of departing grandeur in a genial art, which the soonest yields to their ravages;–I would hail with you the mightiest and the loveliest dramas of the world's poet, made palpable without the blandishments of decoration or scenery by the voice of the surviving artist of the Kemble name—in whose accents, softened, not subdued, by time, the elder of us may refresh great memories of classic grace, heroic daring, and
softened grief, when he shared the scene with
his brother and his sister; and those of us who cannot vaunt this privilege of age, may guess the greatness of the powers which thrilled their fathers in those efforts to which your cause— the cause of the youth of Manchester—breathing into the golden evening of life, a second spring, redolent with hope and joy, have lent a more than youthful inspiration. And while I am indulging in a participation of your pleasures, let me take leave to congratulate you on that gracious boon, which I am informed—(and I rejoice to hear it, as one of the best of all prizes and all omens in a young career)-your
virtues have won for a large number of your fellow-workers—that precious Saturday's halfholiday—precious almost to man as to boy, when manhood, having borrowed the endearing name from childhood, seeks to enrich it with all that remains to it of childhood's delights— precious as a noble proof of the respect and sympathy of the employers for those whose industry they direct—and most precious of all in its results, if, being brightened and graced by such images as your association invokes on your leisure, it shall leave body and mind more fit for the work and service of earth and of heaven. Thus regarding myself as a partaker, at least in thought and in spirit, of the various benefits of your association, I would venture to regard them less as the appliances by which a few may change their station in our external life, than as the means of adorning and ennobling that sphere of action in which the many must continue to move; which, without often enkindling an ambition to emulate the immortal productions of genius, may enable you the more keenly to enjoy, and the more gratefully to revere them; which, if they do not teach yon the art of more rapidly accumulating worldly riches; and if they shall not—because they cannot—endow you with more munificent dispositions to dispense them than those which have made the generosity of Manchester proverbial throughout the Christian world, may ensure its happiest and safest direction in time to come, by encouraging those who may dispense it hereafter, to associate in youth, with the affection of brotherhood, for objects which suggest and breathe of nothing but what is wise, and good, and kind. It may be, indeed, that some master mind, one of those by which Providence, in all generations and various conditions of our species, has vindicated the Divinity which stirs within it, beyond the power of barbarism to stifle, or education to improve, or patronage to enslave, may start from your ranks into same, under auspices peculiarly favourable for the safe direction of its strength; and, if such rare felicity should await you, with how generous a pride will you expatiate on the greatness which you had watched in its dawning, and with how pure a satisfaction will your sometime comrade, your then illustrious townsman, satiated with the applause of strangers, revert to those scenes where his genius found its earliest expression, and earned its most delightful praise. If an, other “marvellous boy,” gifted like him of Bristol, should now arise in Manchester, his “sleepless soul" would not “perish in its pride;” his energies, neither scoffed at nor neglected, would not be suffered to harden through sullenness into despair; but his genius, fostered by timely kindness, and aided by your judicious counsel, would spring, in fitting season, from amidst the protecting cares of admiring friends, to its proper quarry, mindful. when soaring loftiest, of the associations and scenes among which it was cherished, “true to the kindred points of heaven and home.” But it is not in the cultivation and encouragement of such rare intellectual prodigies, still less in ite formation of a race of imitators of excel
lence, that I anticipate the best fruits of your peaceful victories. A season has arrived in the history of mankind, when talents, which in darker ages might justify the desire to quit the obscure and honourable labours of common life in quest of glittering distinction, can now only be employed with safety in adorning the sphere to which they are native; when of a multitude of competitors for public favour, few only can arrest attention; and when even of those who attain a flattering and merited popularity, the larger number must be content to regard the richest hues of their fancy and thought, but as streaks in the dawn of that jocund day which now “stands tiptoe on the misty mountain's top,” and in the full light of which they will speedily be blended. But if it is almost “too late to be ambitious,” except on some rare occasions, of the immortality which earth can bestow; yet for that true immortality of which Fame's longest duration is but the most vivid symbol; for that immortality which dawns now in the childhood of every man as freshly as in the morning of the world, and which breaks with as solemn a foreshadowing in the soul of the most ordinary faculties, as in that of the mightiest poet; for that immortality, the cultivation of wisdom and beauty is as momentous now as ever, although no eyes, but those which are unseen, may take note how they flourish. In the presence of that immortality, how vain appears all undue restlessness for a little or a great change in our outward earthly condition! IIow worse than idle all assumptions of superior dignity of one mode of honourable toil to another!—how worthless all differences of station, except so far as station may enable men to vindicate some everlasting principle, to exemplisy some arduous duty, to grapple with some giant oppression, or to achieve the blessings of those who are ready to perish ' How trivial, even as the pebbles and shells upon “this end and shoal of time,” seem all those immunities which can only be spared by fortune, to be swept away by death, compared with those images and thoughts, which, being reflected from the eternal, not only through the clear meridian of holy writ, but, though more dimly, through all that is affecting in history, exquisite in art, suggestive in eloquence, profound in science, and divine in poetry, shall not only outlast all the chances and changes of this mortal life, but shall defy the chilness of the gravel Believe me, there is no path more" open to the influences of heaven, than the common path of daily duty; on that path the lights from the various departments of your Athenaeum will fall with the steadiest lustre; that path, so illumined, will be trodden in peace and joy, if not in glory; happy if it afford the opportunity, as it may to some of you, of clearly elucidating some great truth, which, being reflected from the polished mirrors of thousands of associated minds, sure of the opportunity of affording the means of perceiving and accepting, embracing and diffusing many glorious truths, which, when once fairly presented, although they may be surveyed in different aspects, and tinted with the hues of the various minds which receive them, may
seem to have “a difference,” will be found essentially the same to all, and will enrich the being of each and all. There is one advantage which I may justly boast over both my predecessors in this office, —that of being privileged to announce to you a state of prosperity far more advanced and more confirmed than that which either could develop. The fairest prophecies which Mr. Dickens put forth, in the inspiration of the time, in the year 1843, have been amply fulfilled;—the eloquent exhortations of Mr. D'Is. raeli, in 1844, have been met by noble responses. From a state of depression, which, four or five years ago, had reduced the number of members nearly to 400, and steeped the institution in difficulty, it is now so elevated that, as to life members, you number 133 of those who have made the best of all possible investments, because the returns are sure and certain, and the rewards at once palpable and fair, which thus greet your life governors upon these happy anniversaries; you have of paying members no fewer than 2500—with an income of £4000 a year—with a debt annihilated, with the exception of that on mortgage, and with good hope even that this encumbrance may be soon swept away, and of informing the Courts of Bankruptcy, which I understand have taken shelter beneath your roof, that it will soon be time for them to look out for a more appropriate home. Before I entered this room, I confess I was inclined to wonder how these great effects had been achieved; I knew they had been principally accomplished by the great exertions, the sacrifices scarcely less than heroic, of some few members of your society, who had taken its interest deeply to heart; but now, when I see the scene before me, so graced and adorned as it is, I certainly need be surprised at no energies which have been put forth, I can wonder at no results that have been attained. Those exertions, however, permit me to remind you, having been of extraordinary character, you can scarcely hope to be renewed. You must look for the welfare of this institution to its younger members. To them I speak when I say, “To you its destinies are confided; on you, if not its existence, yet its progress and its glory depend; for its happiest success will not arise mainly from emancipated revenues, or the admiring sympathy of strangers, or even from a scheme remarkably liberal and comprehensive, adapted to all, and embracing the feelings of all; nor yet in laws admirably framed, to preserve and support its proportion and order; but it is by the vigorous efforts of yourselves—perpetually renewing spirit and life in its forms—without which their very perfection will be dangerous, because, while presenting the fairest shows, they may, with less violence of apparent and startling transition, cease to be realities, and, instead of a great arena of intellectual exertion, may become only the abode of intellectual enjoyment and luxury—fair, admirable, graceful still; but the moving and elevating impulse of a vast population no more l—I know I wrong you in deprecating such a result as possible; a result I only imagine, to remind you that, as
all momentous changes of the world have been produced by individual greatness, so all popular and free institutions can only be rendered and kept vital by individual energies—a result which nothing can even threaten but that most insidious form of indolence which is called modesty and self-distrust; a result against which not only the welfare of this great town, and of each stranger who comes to Manchester, and who may now hope to find beneath the shelter of your roof a great intellectual home, but also the exigencies of the time in which we live, plead with solemn voices !—They remind you that existence has become almost a different thing since it began with some of us. It then justified its old similitude of a journey; it quickened with intellect into a march; it is now whirling with science and speculation into a flight. Space is contracted and shrivelled up like a scroll; time disdains its old relations to distance; the intervals between the “flighty purpose” and the deed through which thought might lazily spread out its attenuated films, are almost annihilated; and the national mind must either glow with generous excitement, or waste in fitful fever. How important then is it, that throughout our land—but more especially here where all the greatest of the material instruments have their triumphant home—almost that of the alchemist —the spiritual agencies should be quickened into kindred activity; that the few minutes of leisure and repose which may be left us should, by the succession of those “thoughts which wander through eternity," become hours of that true time which is dialled in heaven; that to a mind winged for distant scenes, conversant with the society of the great of all ages, and warmed by sympathy to embrace the vast interests of its species, the few hours in which the space between London and Manchester is now traversed—nay the little hour in which it may soon be flashed over—shall have an intellectual duration equal to the old, legitimate, six days’ journey of our fathers; while thought, no longer feebly circling in vapid dream, but impelled right onward with divine energy, shall not only outspeed the realized miracles of steam, but the divinest visions of atmospheric prophecy, and still keep “the start of the majestic world.” Mr. Canning once boasted of his South American policy, that he had “called a new world into existence to redress the balance of the old;" be it your nobler endeavour to preserve the balance even between the world within us and the world without us—not vainly seeking to retard the life of action, but to make it steady by contemplation's immortal freightage. In your course, members of the Manchester Athenaeum,_society at large may watch, and I believe will mark, the clear indications both of its progress and its safety. While the solitary leisure of the clerk, of the shopman, of the apprentice, of the overseer, as well as of the worker in all departments of labours, from the highest to the lowest, shall be gladdened, at will, by those companions to whom the “serene creators of immortal things,” in verse and prose, have given him perpetual introduction, and who will never weary, or betray 3rforsake him;-while the voluntary toils of associated labour and study shall nourish among you friendships, not like the slight alliances of idle pleasure, to vanish with the hour they gladdened, but to endure through life with the products of the industry which fed them;while in those high casuistries which your most ambitious discussions shallengender, the ardent reasoner shall recognise here the beatings of the soul against the bars of its clay tenement, and gather even from the mortal impediments that confound and baffle it, assurance that it is winged to soar into an ampler and diviner ether than invests his earthly heritage;—while the mind and heart of Manchester, turning the very alloy and dross of its condition to noble uses, even as its mechanists transmute the coarsest substances to flame and speed, shall expand beyond the busy confines of its manufactures and commerce to listen to the harmonies of the universe;—while, vindicating the power of the soul to be its own place, it shall draw within the narrow and dingy walls to which duty may confine the body, scenes touched with colours more fair and lovely than “ever were by sea or land,” or trace in each sullen mass of dense and hovering vapour,
“A forked mountain, a blue promontory. With trees upon't that mod no the world, And mock our eyes with air;”
while it shall give the last and noblest proof of the superiority of spirit over matter by commanding, by its own naked force, as by an enchanter's wand, the presence of those shapes of beauty and power which have hitherto nurtured the imagination in the solitude and stillness of their realities;–while the glory of such institutions shall illumine the fiercest rapids of commercial life with those consecrating gleams which shall disclose in every small mirror of smooth water which its tumultuous eddies may circle, a steady reflection of some fair and peaceful image of earthly loveliness, or some glory of cloud or sky, preserving amidst the most passionate impulses of earth some traces of the serenity of heaven;–then may we exult as the chariot of humanity flies onward with safety in its speed, for we shall discover, like Ezekiel of old, in prophetic vision, the spirit in its wheels 1 There is yet one other aspect in which I would contemplate your association before I enter on the more delightful part of my duty— that in which success is certain—the soliciting for you the addresses of distinguished men, some of them attached to your welfare as well by local ties as by general sympathy, others gladly attending on your invitation, who feel your cause to be their cause, the cause of their generation and of the future. It is that in which its influences will be perceived, not merely banishing from this one night's eminence, raised above the level of common life, and devoted by knowledge to kindness, all sense of political differences, but softening, gracing, and ennobling the spirit of party itself as long as it must continue active. For although party's out-worn moulds have been shivered, and names which have flashed and
thundered as the watchwords of unnumbered struggles for power are now fast waning into history, it is too much to hope, perhaps to desire, until the education of mankind shall more nearly approach its completion, that strong differences of opinion and feeling should cease to agitate the scenes on which freemen are called to discharge political duties. But the mind of the staunchest partisan, expanded by the knowledge and embellished by the graces which your Athenaeum nurtures, will find its own chosen range of political associations dignified—the weapons of its warfare not blunted, but ornamented and embossed —and, instead of cherishing an ignorant attachment to a symbol, a name, or a ribbon, expressed in vulgar rage, infuriated by intemperance to madness, blindly violating the charities of life, and disturbing sometimes its holiest domestic affections—it shall grow calm in the assertion of principle, disdain the suggestions of expediency, even as those of corruption, and partake of the refinement which distance lends, while “with large discourse looking before and after,” he expands his prospect to the dim horizon of human hopes, and seeks his incentives and examples in the tragic pictures of history. A politician thus instructed and ennobled, who adopts the course which most inclines to the conservation of establishments, will not support the objects of his devotion with a mere obstinate adherence, chiefly because they oppose barriers to the aims of his opponents, but will learn to revere in them the grandeur of their antiquity, the human affections they have sheltered and nurtured, the human experiences which mantle round them, and the inward spirit which has rendered them vital; while he who pants for important political changes will no longer anticipate, in the removal of those things which he honestly regards as obstacles to the advancement of his species, a mere dead level, or a vast expanse redeemed only from vacancy by the cold diagrams of theory, but will hail the dawning years as thronged by visions of peaceful happiness; and, as all great sentiments, like all great passions, however opposite may be their superficial aspects, have their secret affinities, so may these champions and representatives of conflicting parties, at the very height of the excitation produced by the energy of their struggle, break on a sense of kindred, if not of their creeds, at least of their memories and their hopes—embrace the past and the future in one glorious instant, conscious, at once, of those ancient anticipations with which the youth of the past was inspired, when the point we have attained was faintly discerned at the verge of its horizon by the intensest vision of its philosophy, and grasping and embracing the genial idea of the future as richest in the ever-accumulating past which time prepares for its treasure. Then shall they join in hailing, as now we hail from this neutral eminence, the gradual awakening of individual man of every class, colour, and clime, to a full consciousness of the loftiness of his origin, the majesty of his duties, the glories of his destiny. Then shall they rejoice with us in the assurance that, as he conquers the yet desert regions of the earth which was given him to be replenished and subdued, the same magic by which you are here enabled to let in on the densest population the air and feeling of mountain solitude, will, in turn, breathe through the opening wilderness the genial refinements of old society; that, as the forest yields to his stout heart and sturdy arm, the dominion of imagination and fancy will extend before him, their powers investing the glades he opens with poetic visions, shedding the purple light of love through thickets and groves till then unthreaded, and touching the extremest hills, when first disclosed to the human eye, with the old familiar hues of Christian hope and joy. Then, in the remotest
conquests of civilization, shall new Athenaeums arise, framed on your model—vocal with your language—inspired with your hopes—to echo back the congratulations which shall be wafted to them even from this place, on each succeeding anniversary, if not by yourselves, by your children and your children's children, and yet more remote descendants, and to bless the names of those who, amidst the toils, the cares, and the excitements of a season of transition and struggle, rescued the golden hours of the youth around them from debasing pleasures and more debasing sloth, and enabled them to set to the world, in a great crisis of its moral condition, this glorious example of intellectual courage and progress."
LORD ELD ON AND LORD STOWELL.
[QUARTERLY Review, Dec. 1844.]
The remarkable success which has attended the publication of Mr. Twiss's Life of Lord Chancellor Eldon is a striking proof of the deep and enduring interest which attaches to the character it develops. More than six years had then elapsed since Lord Eldon's death, and many more since he ceased to dignify the highest seat of British Justice—or to influence, except by the weight of reputation and age, the discussions and the conflicts of the busy world. The principal incidents of his life were too well known to leave room for the gratification of curiosity—the prlitical scenes in which he moved had passed from the arena of living things without having reached an historical distance—and yet the sale of these three massive volumes has exceeded that of any similar work within our recollection. This success has not, we think, been heightened by the courtly revelations and piquant anecdotes with which the work is diversified— some of which, indeed, so far impair its effect as to suggest the wish we expressed for their excision—but has arisen purely from the interest excited by a vigorous, honest, and affectionate delineation of the character and the fortunes of a great Englishman of sturdy nature, by a hand peculiarly fitted for its office. This remarkable career, thus depicted and
*TO SFRJEANT TALFOURD, On reading his Address to the Manchester Athenaeum. by Edward kexpaily. O'er the white urn that held the sacred heart Of great Isocrates of old, was placed The marble image of a Syren, graced w thall the loveliness of Grecian art; Loblem of eloquence, whose music sweet Won the whole world by its enchanting spells; Oh, with what type shall we our Talfourd greet? What Image shall pourtray the spirit that dwells Within his soul? An angel from the skies Beaming celestial beauty from his eyes— The olden Syren sang but to deceive, To lure mankind to death her voice was given; But thine, dear Talfourd, thy bright words enweave Immortal truths that guide to God and Heaven.
thus appreciated, vividly suggests the remembrance of a kindred instance of industry, worth, and success—less prominently placed before the world, because less intimately associated with its contests and its changes, but not less crowned with emolument and honour, and hardly less fertile of instruction—that of Lord Eldon's elder brother, Lord Stowell; and if each life is worthy of separate contemplation, both are attended with additional interest when considered as springing from one source, and fostered in the same nurture. That two sons of a reputable tradesman in a provincial town at the extremity of England, devoting their powers to different branches of the same profession, should attain the highest honours which could be achieved in the course which each had chosen—and that each, after attaining an age far beyond that usually allotted to man, should leave, with a magnificent fortune, a name indestructibly associated with the department in which his work was performed— is a moral phenomenon not worthy only of national pride, but of respectful scrutiny. This similarity in the results of the labours of these two brothers is rendered more remarkable by the points of strong difference between their intellectual qualities and tastes, as developed in their mature years: inviting us to inquire what faculties were inherent in their youth; how far they were affected by early education; how far varied by the circumstances of their history. The incidents of Lord Stowell's life, not supplying materials for voluminous biography, are laboriously collected and admirably detailed in an Essay in the “Law Magazine,” apparently from the pen which, in a series of papers, seemed to have done enough for Lord Eldon's fame, until Mr. Twiss proved how much more might be achieved by happier opportunity and larger scope. Fortunately, however, the intellectual triumphs of the elder