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your government, so you, in your turn, should distinguish between ihe conduct which becomes the permanent dignity of a king, and that which serves only to promote the temporary interest and miserable ambition of a minister.
You ascended the throne with a declared, and, I doubt not, a sincere resolution of giving universal satisfaction to your subjects. You found them pleased with the novelty of a young prince, whose countenance promised even more than his words, and loyal to you, not only from principle, but passion. It was not a cold profession of allegiance to the first magistrate, but a partial, animated attachment to a favorite prince, the native of their country. They did not wait to examine your conduct, nor to be determined by experience, but gave you a generous credit for the future blessings of your reign, and paid you in advance the dearest tribute of their affections. Such, sir, was once the disposition of a people, who now surround your throne with reproaches and complaints. Do justice to yourself. Banish from your mind those unworthy opinions with which some interested persons have labored to possess you. Distrust the men who tell you that the English are naturally light and inconstant ;—that they complain without a cause. Withdraw your confidence equally from all parties from ministers, favorites, and relations; and let there be one moment in your life in which you have consulted your own understanding. You have still an honorable part to act.
The affections of your subjects may still be recovered. But before you subdue their hearts, you must gain a noble victory over your own. Discard those little, personal resentments which have too long directed your public conduct.
Pardon this man' the remainder of his punishment; and if resentment still prevails, make it, what it should have been long since, an act not of mercy, but contempt. He will soon fall back into his natural station,-a silent senator, and hardly supporting the weekly cloquence of a newspaper. The gentle breath of peace would leave him on the surface, neglected and unremoved. It is only the tempest that lists him from his place.
Without consulting your minister, call together your whole council. Let it appear to the public that you can determine and act for yourself. Come forward to your people. Lay aside the wretched formalities of a king, and speak to your subjects with the spirit of a man, and in the language of a gentleman. Tell them you have been fatally deceived. The acknowledgment will be no disgrace, but rather an honor to your understanding. Tell them you are determined to remove every cause of complaint against your government; that you will give your confidence to
1 Mr. Wilkes.
no man who does not possess the confidence of your subjects; and leave it to themselves to determine, by their conduct at a future election, whether or no it be in reality the general sense of the nation, that their rights have been arbitrarily invaded by the present House of Commons, and the constitution betrayed. They will then do justice to their representatives and to themselves.
These sentiments, sir, and the style they are conveyed in, may be offensive, perhaps, because they are new to you. Accustomed to the language of courtiers, you measure their affections by the vehemence of their expressions; and, when they only praise you indirectly, you admire their sincerity. But this is not a time to trifle with your fortune. They deceive you, sir, who tell you that you have many friends whose affections are founded upon a principle of personal attachment. The first foundation of friendship is not the power of conferring benefits, but the equality with which they are received, and may be returned. The fortune, which made you a king, forbade you to have a friend. It is a law of nature which cannot be violated with impunity. The mistaken prince, who looks for friendship, will find a favorite, and in that favorite the ruin of his affairs.
The people of England are loyal to the house of Hanover, not from a vain preference of one family to another, but from a conviction that the establishment of that family was necessary to the support of their civil and religious liberties. This, sir, is a principle of allegiance equally solid and rational :-fit for Englishmen to adopt, and well worthy of your majesty's encouragement. We cannot long be deluded by nominal distinctions. The name of Stuart, of itself
, is only contemptible ;-armed with the sovereign authority, their principles are formidable. The prince, who imitates their conduct, should be warned by their example ; and while he plumes himself upon the security of his title to the crown, should remember, that as it was acquired by one revolu. tion, it may be lost by another.
ENCOMIUM ON LORD CHATHAM.
It seems I am a partisan of the great leader of the opposition. If the charge had been a reproach, it should have been better supported. I did not intend to make a public declaration of the respect I bear Lord Chatham. I well knew what unworthy conclusions would be drawn from it. But I am called upon to deliver my opinion, and surely it is not in the little censure of Mr. Horne io deter me from doing signal justice to a man, who, I confess, has grown upon my esteem. As for the common, sordid views of avarice, or any purpose of vulgar ambition, I question whether the applause of Junius would be of service to Lord Chat
ham. My vote will hardly recommend him to an increase of his pension, or to a seat in the cabinet. But if his ambition be upon à level with his understanding ;-if he judges of what is truly honorable for himself, with the same superior genius which animates and directs him to eloquence in debate, to wisdom in decision, even the pen of Junius shall contribute to reward him. Recorded honors shall gather round his monument, and thicken over him. It is a solid fabric, and will support the laurels that adorn it. I am not conversant in the language of panegyric.These praises are extorted from me; but they will wear well, for they have been dearly earned.
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE LORD CAMDEN.
My Lord:-1 turn, with pleasure, from that barren waste in which no salutary plant takes root, no verdure quickens, to a character fertile, as I willingly believe, in every great and good qualification. I call upon you, in the name of the English nation, to stand forth in defence of the laws of your country, and to exert, in the cause of truth and justice, those great abilities with which you were intrusted for the benefit of mankind. Your lordship’s character assures me that you will assume that principal part, which belongs to you, in supporting the laws of England, against a wicked judge, who makes it the occupation of his life to misinterpret and pervert them. If you decline this honorable office, I fear it will be said that, for some months past, you have kept too much company with the Duke of Grafton. When the contest turns upon the interpretation of the laws, you cannot, without a formal surrender of all your reputation, yield the post of honor even to Lord Chatham. Considering the situation and abilities of Lord Mansfield, I do not scruple to affirm, with the most solemn appeal to God for my sincerity, that, in my judgment, he is the very worst and most dangerous man in the kingdom. Thus far I have done my duty in endeavoring to bring him to punishment. But mine is an inferior, ministerial office in the temple of justice. -I have bound the victim, and dragged him to the altar.
The man, who fairly and completely answers my arguments, shall have my thanks and my applause. My heart is already with him.-I am ready to be converted.— I admire his morality, and would gladly subscribe to the articles of his faith. Grateful, as I am, to the Good Being whose bounty has imparted to me this reasoning intellect, whatever it is, I hold myself proportionably indebted to him from whose enlightened understanding another ray of knowledge communicates to mine. But neither should I think the most exalted faculties of the human mind a gif worthy
of the divinity ; nor any assistance, in the improvement of them, a subject of gratitude to my fellow-creature, if I were not satisfied, that really to inform the understanding corrects and enlarges the heart.
WILLIAM COWPER. 1731–1800.
William CowPER, “ the most popular poet of his generation, and the best of English letter-writers," as the poet Southey terms him, was born in Berk hampstead, in Bedfordshire, Nov. 15, 1731. His father, the Rev. John Cox. per, was the rector of that place. From infancy he had a delicate and extremely susceptible constitution,—a misfortune that was aggravated by the loss of an affectionate mother, who died when he was only six years old. The intense love with which he cherished her memory during the rest of his life, may be known from that most affecting poem which he wrote on contemplating her picture. At the age of ten he was sent to Westminster School, where he stayed till he was eighteen; and though he pursued his studies diligently while there, he could never look back upon those years without horror, as he remembered the despotic tyranny exercised over him by the older boys :—a shameful practice, still, in a degree, maintained in the English schools.
After leaving school, he spent three years in an attorney's office, and then entered the Middle Temple, in which he continued eleven years, deroting his time, however, to poetry and general literature more than to law. In 1763 the offices of clerk of the journals, reading clerk, and clerk of the committees of the House of Lords, which were all at the disposal of a cousin of Cow. per's, became vacant about the same time. The two last were conferred on Cowper, but the idea of appearing and reading before the House of Lords so overwhelmed him, that he resigned the offices almost as soon as they were accepted. But as his patrimony was nearly spent, his friends procured for him the office of clerk of the journals, thinking that his personal appearance at the House would not be required. But he was unexpectedly summoned to an examination at the bar of the House, before he could be allowed to take the office. The thoughts of this so preyed upon his mind, as to shatter bis reason, and he actually made attempts upon his own life. He was therefore removed to the house of Dr. Cotton, at St. Albans, with whom he continued about eighteen months.
On his recovery he was so fortunate as to find friends who were able to soothe his melancholy, direct his genius, and make his time pass happily away. In June, 1765, his brother took him to Huntingdon to board. Here he was introduced to the family of the Rev. Mr. Unwin, who was the clergyman of the place. It consisted of the father, Mrs. Unwin, and a
son and daughter just arrived at majority. Cowper says of them, in one of his let. ters, “ they are the most agreeable people imaginable; quite sociable, and as free from the ceremonious civility of country gentlefólks as any I ever met with. They treat me more like a near relation than a stranger, and their house is always open to me.” Much to bis joy, they agreed to receive him anto their house as a boarder. He had been there, however, but two years, when Mr. Unwin, senior, died, and Cowper accompanied Mrs. Unwin and
her daughter to a new residence, which they chose at Olney, in Buckingham shire. Here he formed an intimate friendship with the Rev. Mr. Newton of that place, with whom he long maintained a Christian intercourse, delightful and profitable to both parties.
In 1773 Cowper was visited by a second attack of mental derangement, which showed itself in paroxysms of extreme religious despondency. It lasted for about four years, during which period Mrs. Unwin watched over him with a tenderness and devotion truly maternal. As he began to recover, he betook himself to various amusements, such as taming hares and making bird-cages, which pastimes he diversified with light reading. Hitherto his poetic faculties had lain nearly dormant; but in the winter of 1780-81 he prepared the first volume of his poems for the press, consisting of "TableTalk," "Hope," "The Progress of Error," Charity," &c., which was published in 1782, but it did not attract much attention till the appearance of 66 The Task."
In the same year that he published his first volume, an elegant and accomplished visitant came to Olney, with whom Cowper formed an acquaintance that was, for some time, a most delightful one to him. This was Lady Austen, the widow of Sir Robert Austen. She had wit, gayety, agreeable manners, and elegant taste. While she enlivened Cowper's unequal spirits by her conversation, she was also the task-mistress of his Muse. He began his great original poem, "The Task," at her suggestion,' and was exhorted by her to undertake the translation of Homer. So much cheerfulness seems to have beamed upon his sequestered life from the influence of her society, that he gave her the endearing appellation of Sister Anne.2 But his devoted old friend, Mrs. Unwin, looked with no little jealousy upon the ascendency of a female, so much more fascinating than herself, over Cowper's mind; and, appealing to his gratitude for her past services, she gave him his choice of either renouncing Lady Austen's acquaintance or her own. Cowper decided upon adhering to the friend who had watched over him in his deepest afflic tions; and sent Lady Austen a valedictory letter, couched in terms of regret and regard, but which necessarily put an end to their acquaintance. Whether in making this decision he sacrificed a passion or only a friendship for Lady Austen, it is now impossible to tell; but it has been said that the remembrance of a deep and devoted attachment of his youth was never effaced by any succeeding impressions of the same nature; and that his fondness for Lady Austen was as platonic as for Mary Unwin. The sacrifice, however, cost him much pain; and is, perhaps, as much to be admired as regretted.3
1 One day Lady Austen requested him to try his powers on blank verse: "But," said he, "I have no subject." "Oh you can write on any thing," she replied; "take this sofa." Hence the beginning of the Task,
I sing the Sofa.
The theme, though humble, yet august and proud
2 "Lady Austen's conversation had as happy an effect upon the melancholy spirit of Cowper as the harp of David upon Saul. Whenever the cloud seemed to be coming over him, her sprightly powers were exerted to dispel it. One afternoon, (Oct., 1782,) when he appeared more than usually depressed, she told him the story of John Gilpin, which had been told to her in her childhood, and which, in her relation, tickled his fancy as much as it has that of thousands and tens of thousands since, in his. The next morning he said to her that he had been kept awake during the greater part of the night by thinking of the story and laughing at it, and that he had turned it into a ballad. The ballad was sent to Mr. Unwin, who said, in reply, that it had made him laugh tears."—Southey.
8 See Campbell's Specimens, vol. vii. p. 346.