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ambition men often rise to a nobler nature than they had before. Great questions of policy, enlarged principles of action, give a more elevated tone to the character, and the latter end of the man is often better than the beginning.
If we were asked for a type or representative of the ambitious man, combining all the qualities most essential to success, and who should best illustrate the principles which we have endeavoured to enunciate, we would fix upon Harry Brougham.
No one ever had the "Scotch" mind more fully developed. No one so eminently combined perseverance with impatience--cautious, elaborate preparation with that rapidity of action and energy of expression which secure all the advantages of surprise. Honorable to his party, but the first to suggest to them the most daring acts of strategy, which, when necessary, he did not hesitate to execute; he rose irregularly perhaps, but rapidly and surely, to the summit of his ambition; happy in this, that his moral nature kept pace with his external fortunes, and that when peer of the empire he was in every respect a better man than when tribune of the people.
But it was not alone to nature that Brougham was indebted for his success. A special education brought into the greatest efficiency the formidable combination of his natural powers, for instinctively and from the very outset his studies were directed by his ambition. Brougham was no student of the Belles Lettres. Poetry seems never to have had attractions; and if he ever perused the novels and romances of his own or of other times, it could not be discovered from his writings. He studied that he might acquire power; and feeling that this could best be done by strengthening his reasoning faculties, he devoted all his attention to those branches of study which seem to have the most direct tendency to that result. Hence, he early addicted himself to mathematics-for there is in this science of sciences something definite in result. It certainly unlocks some of the secrets of nature, and we think it may give a similar mastery over the moral world. Why should human action and motive not be subject to arithmetical calculation
as well as the laws of nature? And does not the higher calculus seem just on the verge of the two worlds of matter and mind, ready to grasp at both ? But a mind like Brougham's was not to be led astray by such fallacies; a slight experience would teach him that the complication of human affairs, their intimate action and reaction, transcends the resources of the subtilest mathematics. He felt the impress of his genius therefore, and passed on to methods more directly applicable to human affairs. Logic and metaphysics were next studied with characteristic ardour, but though he threw on them the light of his original mind, they could not long detain one so eminently practical. He soon discovered that he who would rule mankind must appeal to their prejudices and passions as frequently as to their reason; nor could he fail to see that the metaphysical notion of a man, as made up of so many separate qualities and powers, is a most fallacious representation of a being so essentially individual and concrete. These considerations would direct him to another branch of study, which, while it avowedly purported to appeal to the passions fully as much as to the reason of man, repudiated altogether the metaphysical analysis. In the view of this science-that of Oratory -man was a living, acting being, who must be moved altogether, if at all. Here, then, was the science of sciences to the man ambitious of power; and accordingly Brougham rested content, devoting his meditative power to its exhaustive study and his whole life to its active use.
Such was the education of Lord Brougham,-for his professional training as a barrister merely helped more thoroughly to combine the three courses of study through which he had passed. Not that we mean to say that he utterly neglected other branches of knowledge; for, with the exception of polite literature, there is evidence in his writings that he is nearly a universalist-a cyclopedia of useful knowledge. But all that is accessory; it hangs on him loosely; whereas his oratory, his metaphysics, and his mathematics have been imbibed into his nature, and form part of the man.
Now it so happens that we havę
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
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 inexorable hardness.
save others from the infliction of much unnecessary talk.
And now for Hall
I cannot but imagine the virtuous heroes, legislators, and patriots of every age and country are bending from their elevated seats to witness this contest, as if they were incapa ble of enjoying their eternal repose. Enjoy that repose, illustrious immortals! Your mantle fell when you ascended; and thousands inflamed with your spirit are ready to swear by Him that sitteth upon the throne and liveth for ever and ever, that they will protect freedom in her last asylum, and never desert that cause which you sustained by your labours and cemented with your blood. And thou, sole Ruler among the children of men, to whom the shields of the earth belong, gird on thy sword, thou most Mighty; go forth with our hosts in the day of battle.
We have already indicated the light in which we purpose to regard the Historical Sketches,' and the use we mean to make of them, namely, as illustrating the career of the ambitious man in general, and as illustrating reflectively the character of Brougham, whom we have selected as a type. But in this view the pri mary question is-can we trust these sketches as giving a true insight into the character and motives of the men they purport to pourtray? We think we may. There is intrinsic evidence in each instance that Lord Brougham wishes to tell the truth, for he neither exaggerates the virtues of those who belong to his own party, nor slurs over their defects, and he is equally just to those of the opposite party, with some of whom he had been engaged in actual conflict. In the second place, we can have no doubt of his ability to give a just and discri minating character, once we are satis fied of his honesty. A statesman himself, who has experienced most of the phases of political life, who has run the gamut from something very like demagogism, to something be yond conservatism, Brougham has the advantage as a political portrait painter over most living men. He has a manifest advantage both over those who are still in the heat of party passion, and over those who have never mixed in party strife, or felt the ardent emotions which spring from ambition; for both the impassioned and the calm view of men and things present themselves to him-the one from memory, the other in the present, and the one corrects and clears the other. But without further preface let us join that group of listeners round Brougham, as he stands below the portrait of Walpole.
As the only compensation we can make for these most imperfect remarks, we earnestly recommend the reader to peruse the Rhetorical Articles of Lord Brougham. There is probably no better vade mecum of oratory in our language. The author is a consummate orator himself, the most competent man living to teach his art, and no better way could be imagined than that which he has selected, namely, a cursory review of ancient and modern eloquence, illustrated by quotations whose excellence has been guaranteed by the unanimous suffrage of all men of letters. One important lesson they will at least learn from these articles, for it is the one most frequently and most empha tically inculcated by the author, namely, that eloquence is an art rather than a gift-an art which requires the greatest special labour to learn, and which implies the greatest amount of general learning. He, 'the earnest student,' who will not be deterred by these difficulties, and who, with adequate preparation, will devote himself to the study of the art of eloquence, will derive the greatest benefit from these articles; while he who is deterred by the labour which, to his surprise, he will find is necessary in an art which haply he thought was of the easiest acquisition-open to all who have the two requisites of brass and volubility -will also derive benefit if he takes these precepts to heart. He will
avoid making a fool of himself, and mily, Robert Walpole entered public
On the whole he gives you a favourable idea of that celebrated statesman, and one as different as might be from that which we would be compelled to entertain, if we be lieved the reports of his political adversaries, the patriots of the day, after the definition of Samuel Johnson. Of ancient, honourable, and wealthy fa
life under the auspices of Marlborough; and when, according to our author, "a vile court intrigue saved France from being undone by the victories of that great man, when what St. Simon calls the 'miracle de Londres' unexpectedly rescued Louis XIV from his doom," Walpole threw up his place with the Duke. The offence was not forgiven; he was impeached and sent to the Tower on a charge of having received £900 from a contractor.
The charge was substantially true, and the only extenuation which can be pleaded is, that they who impeached him would have done the same thing if they had the opportunity, and many of them had in reality done worse.
Corruption, in fact, was the disease of the day-an epidemic which not unfrequently follows in the wake of a revolution. But to extenuate the sins of an individual in consideration of the general turpitude, is dangerous; for it is a tempting method to excuse our own infirmities, to cast part of the burden of our sins on the broad shoulders of society, and go on our way sinning and rejoicing, not because we are better than others, but because others are so very bad we can hardly be worse than they are.
Whether worse or better, Walpole left £200,000, when it was notorious he lived at a rate nearly double his income; nor will his celebrated specu lation in South Sea Stock, although he got a thousand per cent. profit, account for the balance at his credit.
So much with respect to his personal corruption. As he rather boasted of than concealed his corruption of others, it seems unnecessary to inquire further into its reality: but we hardly agree with Lord Brougham when he felicitates his readers on the loftier tone of our public morality. It may have been so in 1839, when he wrote this article, but in 1856 it may be questioned whether our public men are so immaculate as to entitle them to throw stones against the glasshouses of the members of Commons in Walpole's day. No doubt, our premiers and whippers-in do not in general carry on the business of political persuasion by means of the currency. You are not asked to dinner and find a five-hundred Bank of England note under your plate; but if you get a post for yourself, for your brother, or
your cousin, or a relation of your wife, worth as much a year, the motive brought to bear on you may be somewhat more refined, but it is essentially the same. Walpole, however, differed from our modern vote-brokers, in openly, and-what was rather aggravating to those who sold, and cer tainly more expensive to him, the buyer-contemptuously stating his opinion of the purchasability of public men. "Every man has his price; if you don't buy him, he becomes a pa triot"-a maxim not without some. thing to say for itself in the present day. "Patriots are easily raised. I have myself made many a one; 'tis but to refuse an unreasonable demand, and up springs a patriot." Lord Brougham also fathers upon Walpole the noted definition of gratitude as "a lively sense of favours to come." Such frankness must have increased the cost of corruption fully twenty per cent.
It is difficult to account for the suc cess of Walpole's political career, and for his long tenure of unbroken power. Brougham but half solves the difficulty:
Inferior to many in qualities that dazzle the multitude, and undervaluing the mere outward accomplishments of English statesmanship-nay, accounting them merits only so far as they conduced to parliamentary and to popular influence, and even much under valuing their effects in that direction-Walpole yet ranks in the very highest class of those whose unvarying prudence, clear apprehension, fertility of resources to meet unexpected difficulties, firmness of purpose, just and not seemingly exaggerated self-confidence, point them out by common consent as the men qualified to guide the course of human affairs, to ward off public dangers, and to watch over the peace of empires. His knowledge was sound and practical; it was like all his other qualities, for use and not for ornament, yet he lacked nothing of the information which in his day formed the provision of the politician. With men his acquaintance was extensive, and it was profound. His severe judgment, the somewhat misanthropic bias to which reference has been made, never misled him; it only put him on bis guard, and it may safely be affirmed that no man ever made fewer mistakes in his intercourse either with adversaries or with friends, or the indifferent world.
Perhaps it may serve to the more complete solution of the problem in