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general corruption, and the state is no plated with that entire composure, that
You have reason, sir, to encourage us in the laborious career to which we are doomed. It is the writings of such men as you, which maintain in all nations a wholesome morality. We cannot help be lieving that our fellow-citizens will sooner or later do us the justice which we receive from foreigners; and that we shall revive, in more peaceable times, the principles of religion and humanity.
I do not speak to you, sir, of those other writings, in which I am desirous of showing how useful would be the lights of a long and peaceable administration. It does not belong to me to judge of the use which may be made of them, and it must not astonish us, that men are un grateful for truths which come from us, who have no passion for revolutions.
Accept, sir, the testimonies of the veneration and attachment, which well-intentioned men ought to feel for the enlightened and virtuous of all countries. I cannot tell you how sensible we have been to the attention, which the clergy of England have shown towards one of our most virtuous and respectable colleagues. You are equally just to his character in society, as to his principles and courage; and such are the regrets of his diocese, that they consider his absence as a public calamity.
I have the honour to be,
&c. &c. &c.
On the 23d of February 1792, died Sir Joshua Reynolds, the old and constant friend of EDMUND BURKE, who, on the impulse of the moment, drew up a beautiful sketch of his character, for the public papers. This eulogium, which has been compared to that of Apelles, by Pericles, we here insert, as alike honourable to the merits of the deceased, and the feelings of the survivor:
Last night, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, died, at his house in Leicester Fields, Sir Joshua Reynolds,
His illness was long, but borne with a mild and cheerful fortitude, without the least mixture of any thing irritable or querulous, agreeably to the placid and even tenor of his whole life. He had from the beginning of his malady a distinct. view of his dissolution, which he contem
nothing but the innocence, integrity, and usefulness of his life, and an unaffected submission to the will of Providence, could bestow. In this situation he had every consolation from family tenderness, which his own kindness to his family had indeed well deserved.
Sir Joshua Reynolds was, on very many accounts, one of the most memorable men of his time. He was the first Englishmen who added the praise of the elegant arts to the other glories of his country. In taste, in grace, in facility, in happy invention, and in the richness and harmony of colouring, he was equal to the greatest masters of the renowned ages. In portrait he went beyond them; for he communicated to that description of the art, in which English artists are the most engaged, a variety, a fancy, and a dignity derived from the higher branches, which even those who professed them in a superior manner, did not always preserve when they delineated individual nature. His portraits remind the spectator of the invention of history, and the amenity of landscape. In painting portraits, he appeared not to be raised upon that platform, but to descend upon it from a higher sphere. His paintings illustrate his lessons, and his lessons seem to be derived from his paintings.
He possessed the theory as perfectly as the practice of his art. To be such a painter, he was a profound and penetrating philosopher.
In full happiness of foreign and domestic fame, admired by the expert in art, and by the learned in science, courted by the great, caressed by sovereign powers, and celebrated by distinguished poets, his native humility, modesty, and candour never forsook him, even on surprise or provocation; nor was the least degree of arrogance or assumption visible to the most scrutinizing eye, in any part of his conduct or discourse.
His talents of every kind-powerful from nature, and not meanly cultivated by letters his social virtues in all the relations and all the habitudes of life, rendered him the centre of a very great and unparalleled variety of agreeable societies, which will be dissipated by his death. He had too much merit not to excite some jealousy, too much innocence to provoke any enmity. The loss of no
man of his time can be felt with more sincere, general, and unmixed sorrow. HAIL AND FAREWELL!
Sir Joshua Reynolds gave a striking testimony of the steadiness of his attachment to Mr. BURKE, by appointing him one of his executors, and bequeathing to him £2,000, in addition to a like sum which he had lent to him some time before, and the bond for which he directed to be cancelled.
It has been said, and at one time the report was pretty generally credited, that the published discourses of Sir Joshua, upon the principles of the art which he adorned, were in a great measure indebted for their elegance to the pen of BURKE; but this assertion has been so completely disproved by those who possessed the best means of information, as to be no longer worthy of credit.
This was a busy year to Mr. BURKE, who, besides his private avocations, and the multiplicity of his correspondence, felt himself bound to stand forward against the innovations proposed by his old associates. Early in the session, Mr., now Earl Grey, introduced his motion for a Parliamentary Reform, which ill-timed measure was opposed by Mr. BURKE in a very powerful speech. He began by comparing his situation to that of a wornout invalid in the battles of the state, and who was now left to guard the citadel of the constitution. After this exordium he waived the general subject as offering nothing new, but he showed the danger of the discussion, by exhibiting proofs that there was an avowed party in the country whose object was to overthrow and change the constitution. Upon being urged by the most clamorous calls, to produce his evidence, he entered into particular details, and named several societies recently formed on revolutionary principles. "When such persons," said he, "the advocates for Paine's doctrines, the solicitors of a confederacy with the most infamous foreign clubs, were also the advocates for a Parliamentary Reform, it was high time to sound the alarm of danger to the constitution. In France, the advocates of Reform, at the very moment their king was carrying into effect a real and substantial change for the national good, snatched the crown from his head, and overturned his throne; the conse
quence of which was, that instead of one governor they had seven hundred tyrants."
With such an instance before their eyes, Mr. BURKE said, his advice was, "Be wise by experience; hold fast the blessings you enjoy, and trust to no theoretical remedies."
Soon after this, Mr. Fox came forward with a motion in favour of the Unitarian Dissenters; which Mr. BURKE also op posed, not upon intolerant grounds, but from a persuasion that the claimants were dangerous subjects, who aimed at the downfall of every system which was dear to the country, and whose religion was connected with political principles hostile to the welfare of the establishment both civil and religious. This charge roused the members around him, (for he still sat on the opposition bench,) to an excessive degree of animosity. In answer to those who demanded proofs of what he alleged, Mr. BURKE narrated the proceedings of some late meetings of the Unitarian Dissenters, which demonstrated unequivocally their connexion with the French cannibals. This expression being caught up by the supporters of the motion, produced a repetition on the part of Mr. BURKE, who said, Gentlemen might cry out, "Hear! hear!" as long as they thought proper; he had, however, asserted no more than what he could prove; for he could show, by documents, that the French cannibals, after having torn out the hearts of those they had murdered, squeezed the blood into their wine and drank it.
As the name of Dr. Priestley was brought up in the course of this debate, Mr. BURKE took occasion to bestow some severe censures upon the principles of that restless polemic. This will account for the angry tone in which the doctor ever after spoke of his old acquaintance; but when he circulated the story that Mr. BURKE, on hearing of the riots at Birmingham, ran about in an ecstacy of joy, congratulating every body he met, he was guilty himself of the very offence against charity, which he attempted to fasten upon another, for he had no authority whatever to
adduce in proof of what he related. Such was the serious aspect of the times, that parliament assembled again at the end of the same year, to adopt measures for the security of the country, the peace
of which was threatened by societies affiliated on the pretext of Reform, but palpably intended to bring about a Revolution, similar to that of France. In the debates that arose upon the address, Fox and Sheridan ridiculed the alarm that had been excited, and condemned the speech from the throne, as a libel upon the people. BURKE, in reply, maintained that with the same justice Cicero might have been charged with libelling all Rome, when he announced the conspiracy of Cataline and his companions, and their intention to burn the city, and massacre the senate.
Against the proposition of Mr. Fox for a negociation with the French republicans, he entered his solemn protest in this energetic language: "Stained with crimes, blasting and damning all the courts of Europe, ought France to be acknowledged ? Ought she to be acknowledged without waiting (in the words of Hamlet) for the whetting of the axe ?" Ought she to be acknowledged in the teeth of all her decrees of universal hatred to monarchies, and in the teeth of the commission of regicide? Oh! if she were, the nation might depend upon it, that the murder of the king of France would only be preliminary to the murder of the king of England!"
Mr. BURKE then proceeded to declare, that as soon as Great Britain acknowledged the existing state of things in France, by a formal negociation, from that moment, rebus extantibus, she must bow the neck to that country. This was a consequence which he insisted would be the result of such policy. "In her system of conduct," observed the orator, "France has followed that of Mahomet, who, affecting to preach peace, carried his Koran in one hand, and the sword in the other, to punish all who would not acknowledge his mission. Thus has acted the French republic. It has published a declaration of the rights of man, and propagated them by the sword."
Mr. Fox, however, was not to be driven from his purpose by these arguments, though they were confirmed by the glaring evidence of facts on every side. He persevered in maintaining that there was no danger to be apprehended from the revolutionary doctrines which were then rapidly spreading over the country, and he still continued to palliate the conduct of the French republicans, though at the same time he professed to abhor regicide,
and to admire a monarchical form of government. In the mean time the ranks of opposition became thinner every day, and many of the friends of Mr. Fox fol lowed the example of BURKE, when he crossed the floor of the house, and declared that he quitted the camp for ever.
On taking a retrospect of these tempestuous scenes, and considering the marvellous events, that for a series of years resulted from the revolutionary abyss then opened in France, one cannot help admiring the penetrating genius of the man who first detected the deceitful mass that lay beneath, and foretold the desolation which the eruption would produce. Mr. BURKE might truly be called the Cas sandra of his day, for every speech that he uttered, and every line that he wrote on the subject of France, received in the issue, the stamp of an oracle. It is true, that his zeal on this subject, sometimes carried him to great lengths, but if in a few instances, as when he exhibited a dagger to illustrate the character and faith of republican amity, he appeared too theatrical; the integrity of the motive must be admit ted, and much allowance therefore is due to the enthusiasm by which he was animated. At this critical period, the thoughts of Mr. BURKE were directed wholly to the general welfare, while Mr. Fox courted the applause of the multitude. The coolness that had subsisted between these two great men for three years, was not however of such a nature as to preclude all hopes of reconciliation, till this session of parliament. Efforts indeed had actually been made, to bring about a union of parties for the public benefit, but they were all rendered nugatory by the obstinacy of Mr. Fox, who even refused to consult the most respectable members of the opposition, on the measures proper to be adopted in the senate.
It seemed therefore evident, that he was setting up for himself, and as he espoused the cause of the French abroad, and that of the republican faction at home, there was reason enough to apprehend the most serious consequences from his ascendency. BURKE knew that revolutionary principles must produce revolutionary practices; and it was this conviction which made him so active in exposing the danger of that friendship with regicides, which his opponents assiduously sought and earnestly recommended. At the end of this stormy session, Mr. BURKE drew
up, and communicated to the Duke of Portland, a narrative of the proceedings of Mr. Fox and his cabal, in which many extraordinary facts were developed, full enough to justify the separation that had taken place, and the necessity of giving support to the government for the preservation of the constitution.
In 1794, Mr. BURKE had two severe trials, in the death of his brother, followed by that of his only son Richard, who was his colleague in the representation of MalThe next year he retired from parliament; and soon after received the grant of a pension for himself and his wife, payable out of the civil list. But this mark of the royal favour, though bestowed when he was no longer in a situation to assist ministers by his vote, brought upon him a load of illiberal abuse; and two peers did themselves no honour by the manner of their noticing Mr. BURKE and his pension in the House of Lords.
These illiberal attacks, (for such they unquestionably were,) produced a spirited retort in a letter addressed to Lord Fitzwilliam. In this tract the venerable author gave abundant proof, that neither age nor misfortune had weakened his mental energies; and if those who so wantonly provoked him did not writhe under the scourge, their nerves must have been of a peculiar construction.
The next and last performance which Mr. BURKE gave to the public, was a series of "Letters on the Proposals for Peace with the Regicide Directory of France;" and of all his works this may fairly challenge the pre-eminence for a comprehensive view of foreign and do-, mestic policy, strength of reasoning, and powerful appeals to the understanding.
The design of it was as exalted as the execution was masterly; being no less than to rouse the nation from a state of despondency under difficulties, to confidence in its resources, and a vigorous exertion of its powers, in a struggle, the glorious termination of which our political Nestor foresaw and foretold.
At length these incessant labours operated upon the constitution of Mr. BURKE in a manner that soon gave indications of a rapid decay. Still, amidst all his bodily weakness, his mind preserved its vigour, and on the seventh of July, 1797, he conversed with animation on the great subject which had so long occupied his thoughts. The next day, while one of his
friends, assisted by a servant, was carrying him into another room, he faintly said, "God bless you," fell back, and expired without a groan. His remains were interred, on the 15th, in the church of Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, in which parish he had long resided, on an estate which is said to have been given him by the marquis of Rockingham. But it is extraordinary, and little to the credit of the age, that as yet no monument has been raised to his memory. Mr. BURKE in his person was about five feet ten inches in height, erect, and well formed; tenance was pleasing, but being very nearsighted, his action in public speaking lost much of its effect. Of his talents there cannot be two opinions; his knowledge was so various that he could converse upon all subjects, and that with such a grasp of mind and felicity of expression, as delighted the hearer, who, on parting from him naturally exclaimed, "What a wonderful man!""
As an orator he stood confessedly in the very first class, but he had the fault of prolixity, and too generally overloaded his argument with an exuberance of illustrative imagery. His metaphors were sometimes incongruous, and his language was occasionally so low as to excite surprise and disgust. In his manners he was urbane and generous, very communicative of his advice, and ready to patronize merit. Of this he gave a proof in his liberality to Barry the painter, whom he took under his protection in Dublin, and sent him at his own expense to Italy. While there, the most friendly correspondence passed between them, and through life Mr. BURKE behaved kindly to his ingenious countryman, although the behaviour of Barry was far from being such as he could approve.
The literary character of Mr. BURKE is above all praise. Though he wrote rapidly, not a line dropped from his pen but what bore the striking impress of his powerful mind, and in truth he can hardly be said to have written a single page without communicating to the most enlightened reader something new, either in thought or illustration. Wisdom and eloquence, which others attain with labour, were in him the habitual and ordinary march of his ideas; whence his style constantly exhibits such a superabundance of argument and imagery, that while our attention is pursuing the track of his reasoning, we
are in danger of losing ourselves amidst the various beauties with which it is enforced and embellished. The same characteristics distinguished the oratory of Mr. BURKE, that are still perceived in his compositions; but though he rarely, if ever, failed to delight his hearers by his manner and his matter, he too frequently weakened the effect of his elocution by not stopping at the right period of his argument; the consequence of which was, that those who had been charmed and convinced by the former part of the speech, became, at the close of it, languid, tired, and indifferent.
In domestic life Mr. BURKE exhibited such a striking contrast to his associates, that it is a matter of some surprise how a person of his philosophical principles and temperate habits could endure a connexion with men, most of whose time was dissipated, to use no worse term, in midnight revelry over the bottle, or at the gamingtable. To reconcile private vice with public virtue is a task which no casuist has yet ventured to undertake in a free and impartial spirit; nor would any one engage in the proof that the union is consistent, were it not from a desire to justify particular characters, whose morals have been at variance with the professions which they set up in the face of the world. Dr. Price was well aware of this, and therefore, in one of his political sermons, he took occasion, sharply, to reprobate the pernicious maxim, that patriotism and profligacy could exist in the same person. He did this in reference to the leaders of the party to which he belonged, and he lamented most devoutly and sincerely, that while, by their oratorical powers, these great men were upholding and pagating the same doctrines with himself, as being essential to human happiness, they rendered them altogether nugatory by the most scandalous conduct in the ordinary transactions of life.
When the French Revolution broke out, it was seen that public and private virtue cannot be separated, without endangering the fundamental principles upon which all social order must stand, and by the consummation of which the rights of individuals can alone be secured.
In that storm, BURKE appeared impregnable, like the rock whose basis is infixed in the foundation of eternal mora
the regulation of their conduct in perilous times, were driven about by every wind that blew, having no point of certain distinction, nor any principles upon which they could depend for their guidance and security, amidst the sea of revolutionary strife, from which, as they and others vainly flattered themselves, a new world of perfection was about to arise. Most of these visionaries have dropped into oblivion, and the few that remain are so little known, that their very names will in a short space be forgotten. BURKE, on the contrary, has left an imperishable memorial; every day increases its value, and future ages will have recourse to it for the maxims of political wisdom in the government and direction of life. Whatever may be thought of those infirmities which he possessed in common with the rest of mankind, or of the errors into which he occasionally fell, he had the singular merit of dissolving the links of party, at a critical period, when that party began to assume the dangerous part of a faction, under a leader whose ambition, admitting no restraint,
"Sprung upwards, like a pyramid of fire Into the wild expanse, and through the shock Of fighting elements, on all sides round Environ'd, won his way."
Taking, therefore, a retrospective glance at that part of our national history, and looking steadfastly upon the opposite conduct of the men who distinguished themselves when the horrors of the Revolution had nearly broken in upon the shores of Britain, one cannot help admiring the intrepid spirit that first and last opposed the torrent, and for so doing brought upon himself the hatred of his compeers. Not in the least intimidated by their taunts and reproaches, he pursued his course, and by that firmness became a main instrument of rousing the nation to that resistance against anarchy, which ultimately gave peace to the world. Like the faithful seraph, so admirably painted by the poet, he stood
Among innumerable false, unmov'd, Unshaken, unseduc'd, unterrified His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal; Nor number, nor example, with him wrought To swerve from Truth, or change his constant mind, [pass'd
Though single. From amidst them, forth he Long way through hostile scorn, which he sus tain'd
Superior, nor of insolence feared aught;
lity, while the political sophists of the day, On those proud towns to swift destruction having nothing stable in their minds for