ePub 版

Which hath its dwelling in a father's heart,

And the fond pity, half with wonder blent,

Inspired by thee, whose youth with heavenly gifts

So richly is endowed, — all, all unite 5 To grave in adamant the just decree,

That I must die. But thou — I bid thee live I

Pheres commands thee, O Alcestis! live!

Ne'er, ne'er shall woman's youthful love surpass

An aged sire's devotedness. 10 Alcestis. I know

Thy lofty soul, thy fond paternal love;

Pheres, I know them well, and not in vain

Strove to anticipate their high resolves.

But if in silence I have heard thy words, 15 Now calmly list to mine, and thou shalt own

They may not be withstood. Pheres. What canst thou say

Which I should hear? I go, resolved to save

Him who, with thee, would perish: — to the sliriae 20 E'en now I fly.

Alcestis. Stay, stay thee! 't is too late.

Already hath consenting Proserpine,

Prom the remote abysses of her realms,

Heard and accepted the terrific vow 25 Which binds me, with indissoluble ties,

To death. And I am firm, and well I know

None can deprive me of the awful right

That vow hath won.

Yes! thou mayst weep my fate, 30 Mourn for me, father! but thou canst not blame

My lofty purpose. Oh! the more endeared

My life by every tie, the more I feel

Death's bitterness, the more my sacrifice

Is worthy of Admetus. I descend. 36 To the dim, shadowy regions of the dead,

A guest more honored.

In thy presence here
Again I utter the tremendous vow,
Now more than half fulfilled. I feel, I know
lis dread effects. Through all my burning veins
f> The insatiate fever revels. Doubt is o'er.

The Monarch of the Dead hath heard; —he calls,
He summons me away, and thou art saved,
0 my Admetus!



[This passage of words between Canning and Brougham took place in April, 1823. Canning had recently come into the cabinet, as secretary for foreign affairs, in consequence of the death (by his own hands) of the Marquis of Londonderry, more generally known as Lord Castlereagh. The charge brought against Canning was, that he had come into office without extorting any distinct pledges from his colleagues in favor of Catholic emancipation, to which he was well known to be friendly; and this formed the burden of Brougham's attack. Canning's defence was, that if that concession had been insisted upon, it would have been impossible to form an administration to carry on the government of the country ; and that it was better to secure some desirable results, than to lose the whole by insisting upon having either the whole or none.

The tone of debate in the English house of commons is more guarded and decorous than that of our house of representatives; and Canning's language was an unusually vehement expression of feeling.]

Though they resembled each other in standing foremost and alone in their respective parties, they were in every other respect opposed as the zenith and nadir, or as light and darkness. 5 This difference extended even to their personal appearance. Canning was airy, open, and prepossessing; Brougham seemed stern, hard, lowering, and almost repulsive. The head of Canning had an air of extreme elegance: that of Brougham was much the reverse; but still, in whatever 10 way it was viewed, it gave a sure indication of the terrible power of the inhabitant within. Canning's features were handsome; his eye, though deeply ensconced under hi* eyebrows, was full of sparkle and gayety. The features of Brougham were harsh in the extreme: while his forehead shot up to a great elevation, his chin was long and square; his mouth, nose, and eyes seemed huddled 5 together in the centre of his face — the eyes absolutely lost amid folds and corrugations; and while he sat listening, they seemed to retire inward, or to be veiled by a filmy curtain, which not only concealed the appalling glare which shot away from them when he was roused, but ren

10 dered his mind and his purpose a sealed book to the keenest scrutiny of man.

Canning's passions appeared upon the open campaign of his face, drawn up in a ready array, and moved to and fro at every turn of his oration, and every retort in that of his

15 antagonist: those of Brougham remained within, as in a citadel which no artillery could batter and no mine blow up; and even when he was putting forth all the power of his eloquence, when every ear was tingling at what he said, and while the immediate object of his invective was writh

20 ing in helpless and indescribable agony, his visage retained its cold and brassy hue, and he triumphed over the passions of other men by seeming to be whollv without passion himself. The whole form of Canning was rounded, and smooth, and graceful; that of Brougham angular, long,

25 and awkward. When Canning rose to speak, he elevated his countenance, and seemed to look round for the applause of those about him, as an object dear to his feelings; while Brougham stood coiled and concentrated, reckless of all but the power that was within himself. From Canning

30 there was expected the glitter of wit and the flow of spirit — something showy and elegant. Brougham stood up as a being whose powers and intentions were all a mystery — whose aim and effect no living man could divine. You bent forward to catch the first sentence of the one, and

35 felt human nature elevated in the specimen before you; you crouched and shrank back from the other, and dreams of ruin and annihilation darted across your mind. The one seemed to dwell among men, to join in their joys, and to live upon their praise; the other appeared a son of the desert, who had deigned to visit the human race merely to 5 make them tremble at his strength.

The style, and the eloquence and structure of their orations, were equally different . Canning chose his words for the sweetness of their sound, and arranged his periods for the melody of their cadence; while, with Brougham, the

10 more hard and unmouthable, the better. Canning arranged his words like one who could play skilfully upon that sweetest of all instruments, the human voice; Brougham proceeded like a master of every power of reasoning and of the understanding. Canning marched forward in a straight

15 and clear track; every paragraph was perfect in itself, and every coruscation of wit and genius was brilliant and delightful; it was all felt, and it was all at once. Brougham twined round and round in a spiral, sweeping the contents of a vast circumference before him, uniting and pouring

20 them onward to the main point of attack. When he began, one was astonished at the wideness and obliquity of his course; nor was it possible to comprehend how he was to dispose of the vast and varied materials which he collected by the way; but as the curve lessened, and the end ap

25 peared, it became obvious that all was to be efficient there. Such were the rival orators who sat glancing hostility and defiance at each other during the early part of the session of 1823 — Brougham as if wishing to overthrow the secretary by a sweeping accusation of having abandoned

30 all principle for the sake of office, and the secretary ready to parry the charge and attack in his turn. An opportunity at length offered; and it is more worthy of being recorded, as being the last terrible and personal attack previous to that change in the measures of the cabinet,

35 which, though it had been begun from the moment that Canning, Eobinson, and Huskisson came into office, was not at that time perceived, or at least not admitted and appreciated.

Upon that occasion, the oration of Brougham was at the outset disjointed and ragged, and apparently without aim 5 or application. He careered over the whole annals of the world, and collected every instance in which genius had degraded itself at the footstool of power, or in which principle had been sacrificed for the vanity or lucre of place; but still there was no allusion to Canning, and no connec

10 tion, that ordinary men could discover, with the business before the house.

When, however, he had collected every material which suited his purpose, — when the mass had become big and black, — he bound it about and about with the cords of

15 illustration and of argument; when its union was secure, he swung it round and round with the strength of a giant and the rapidity of a whirlwind, in order that its impetus and effect might be the more tremendous; and while doing this, he ever and anon glared his eye, and pointed his

20 finger, to make the aim and the direction sure. Canning himself was the first that seemed to be aware where and how terrible was to be the collision; and he kept writhing his body in agony, and rolling his eyes in fear, as if anxious to find some shelter from the impending bolt. The

25 house soon caught the impression, and every man in it was glancing his eye fearfully, first towards the orator, and then towards the secretary.

There was— save the voice of Brougham, which growled in that undertone of thunder which is so fearfully audible,

30 and of which no speaker of the day was fully master but himself—a silence as if the angel of retribution had been opening, in the faces of all parties, the scroll of their private sins. A pen, which one of the secretaries dropped upon the matting, was heard in the remotest part of the house. The

35 stiffness of Brougham's figure had vanished; his features seemed concentrated almost to a point; he glanced towards

« 上一頁繼續 »