« السابقةمتابعة »
worked harder than any Secretary of the Treasury before or since; but so far from depressing those below him, he encouraged their exertions, co-operated with them, and was ever ready to bear hearty testimony to the tried merit of efficient public servants. He was also quite willing to forget the temporary misunderstandings which are so apt to occur among earnest men who take different views of public affairs: he was eminently tolerant, - though he had almost always a strong conviction of his own, he never felt the least wish to silence discussion. Believing that his own opinions were true, he was only the more confident that the more the subject was discussed, the more true they would be found to be. Few men ever transacted so much important business with so little of the pettiness of personal feeling.
In the foregoing sketch Mr. Wilson has of necessity been regarded almost exclusively as a public man; but his private life has many remarkable features, if it were proper to enlarge on them. His enjoyment of simple pleasures, of society, of scenery, of his home, was very vivid. No one who saw him in his unemployed moments would have believed that he was one of the busiest public men of his time: he never looked worn or jaded, and always contributed more than his share of geniality and vivacity to the scene around him. Like Sir Walter Scott,* he loved a bright light; and the pleasantest society to him was that of the cheerful and the young.
The universal regret which has been expressed at Mr. Wilson's death is the best tribute to his memory. It has been universally felt that on his special subjects, and for his peculiar usefulness, he was a “finished man”; and in these respects he has left few such behind him. The qualities which he had the opportunity of displaying were those of an administrator and a financier; but some of those who knew him best believed that he only wanted an adequate
* Perhaps a slip for “Sydney Smith": see Vol. i., page 34. — Ed.
opportunity to show that he had also many of the higher qualities of a statesman, and it was the feeling that he would perhaps have such an opportunity which reconciled them to his departure for India. As will have been evident from this narrative, he was placed in many changing circumstances, and in the gradual ascent of life was tried by many increasing difficulties; but at every step his mind grew with the occasion. We at least believe that he had a great sagacity and a great equanimity, which might have been fitly exercised on the very greatest affairs; but it was not so to be.
The intelligence of Mr. Wilson's death was formally communicated by the Indian to the Home Government in the following dispatch :“To the Right Honorable Sir CHARLES Wood, Bart., G. C. B.,
Secretary of State for India.
“SIR :- The painful task is imposed upon us of announcing to her Majesty's Government the death of our colleague, the Right Honorable James Wilson.
" 2. This lamentable event took place on the evening of Saturday, the 11th, after an illness of a few days.
“3. We inclose a copy of the notification by which we yesterday communicated the mournful intelligence to the public. The funeral took place at the time mentioned in the notification ; and the great respect in which our lamented colleague was held, was evinced by a very large attendance of the general community, in addition to the public officers, civil and military.
“4. We are unable adequately to express our sense of the great loss which the public interests have sustained in Mr. Wilson's death. We do not doubt, however, that this will be as fully appreciated by her Majesty's Government as it is by ourselves, and as we have every reason to believe it will be by the community generally throughout India.
“5. But we should not satisfy our feelings in communicating this sad occurrence to her Majesty's Government, if we did not state our belief that the fatal disease which has removed Mr. Wilson from amongst us was in a great degree the consequence of his laborious application to the duties of his high position, and of his conscientious determination not to cease from the prosecution of the important measures of which he had charge until their success
VOL. III. - 26
was insured. Actuated by a self-denying devotion to the objects for which he came out to this country, Mr. Wilson continued to labor indefatigably long after the general state of his health had become such as to cause anxiety to the physician who attended him; and it was within a few days only after the income tax had become law, and when, at the earnest request of his medical adviser, he was preparing to remove from Calcutta for the remainder of the rainy season, that he was seized with the illness that has carried him off. “6.
It is our sincere conviction that this eminent public servant sacrificed his life in the discharge of his duty.
“We have, etc.,
“O. BEADON. “FORT WILLIAM, Aug. 13."
NOTE TO PAGE 392. — Sir Charles Trevelyan was governor of the Presidency of Madras, a member for which sat in the Supreme Legislative Council at Calcutta; and sent a minute to that member opposing any increase of taxation, on the ground that low taxes stimulate production just as low duties stimulate consumption. It was thought dangerous to excite popular discontent by allowing this deliverance to become public, and the minute was only permitted to be shown confidentially to the members of the Council; whereupon Sir Charles, indignant at being “gagged,” had it published in the Madras newspapers. He was removed, but after Mr. Wilson's death was appointed to the latter's place (in 1863), which however he resigned on account of ill health the following year. – ED.
THE PRINCE CONSORT.
So much has, ere this, been said upon the life and character of Prince Albert, that scarcely anything now remains except to join very simply and plainly in the regret and sympathy which have been everywhere expressed by all classes of the nation, - the low as well as the high. A long narrative of a simple career would now be wholly needless, for our contemporaries have supplied many such ; and any protracted eulogy would be unsuitable both to our business-like pages and to the simple character of him whom we have lost.
If our loss is not, as has been extravagantly said, the greatest which the English nation could have sustained, it is among the most irreparable. Our parliamentary Constitution in some sense renews itself, or tends to do so: as one old statesman leaves the scene, a younger one comes forward, in the vigor of hope and power, to fill his place; when one great orator dies, another commonly succeeds him. The opportunity of the new aspirant is the departure of his predecessor; on every vacancy some new claimantmany claimants, probably, strive with eager emulation to win it and to retain it. Every loss is in a brief period easily and fully repaired. Even too in the hereditary part of our Constitution, most calamities are soon forgotten: one monarch dies and another succeeds him; a new court, a new family, new hopes and new interests, spring up and supersede those which have passed away.
What was, is forgotten; what is, is seen. But now we have the old court
( 403 )
without one of its mainstays and principal supports. The royal family of last week is still (and without change) the royal family of to-day ; but the father of that family is removed. For such a loss there is not, in this world, any adequate resource or any complete compensation : in no rank of life can any one else be to the widow and children what the deceased husband and father would have been; in the court as in the cottage, such loss must not only be grief now, but perplexity, trouble, and perhaps mistake hereafter.
The present generation, at least the younger part of it, have lost the idea that the court is a serious matter: everything for twenty years has seemed to go so easily and so well that it has seemed to go of itself. There is no such thing in this world, -everything requires anxiety and reflection and patience; and the function of the court, though we easily forget it when it is well performed, keeps itself much in our remembrance when it is ill performed. Old observers say that some of the half-revolutionary discontent in the times preceding the Reform Bill was attributable to the selfish apathy and decrepit profligacy of George IV. The Crown is of singular importance in a divided and contentious free state, because it is the sole object of attachment which is elevated above every contention and division ; but to maintain that importance it must create attachment. We know that the Crown now does so fully ; but we do not adequately bear in mind how much rectitude of intention, how much judgment in conduct, how much power of doing right, how much power of doing nothing, are requisite to unite the loyalty and to retain the confidence of a free people.
Some cynical observers have contrasted the unlimited encomiums of the last week with the “cold observance" and very measured popularity of Prince Albert during his life; they remember the public hisses of 1855, and perhaps recall many hints and whispers of politics that have passed away : but the most