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one, but he will know the outsides of them all and the road from each to the other. Accordingly, all the descriptions of Lord Brougham, even in his earliest career, speak of his immense information. Mr. Wilberforce, in perhaps the earliest printed notice of him, recommended Mr. Pitt to employ him in a diplomatic capacity, on account of his familiarity with languages and the other kinds of necessary knowledge.* He began by writing on porisms; only the other day he read a paper on some absurdities imputed to the integral calculus, in French, at Paris. It would be in the highest degree tedious to enumerate all the subjects he knows something of. Of course an extreme correctness cannot be expected : “the most misinformed man in Europe" is a phrase of satire; yet even in its satire it conveys a compliment to Brougham's information.
An especial interest in physical science may be remarked in Brougham, as in most men of impressible minds in his generation. He came into life when the great discoveries in our knowledge of the material world were either just made or were on the eve of being made; the enormous advances which have been actually made in material civilization were half anticipated. There was a vague hope in science; the boundaries of the universe, it was hoped, would move. Active, ardent minds were drawn with extreme hope to the study of new moving power; a smattering of science was immeasurably less common then than now, but it exercised a stronger dominion and influenced a higher class of genius, - it was new, and men were sanguine. In the present day, younger men are perhaps repelled into the opposite extreme: we live among the marvels of science, but we know how little they change us; the essentials of life are what they were; we go by the train, but we are not improved at our journey's end. We have railways and canals and manufactures, -excellent things, no
* Letter of Oct. 25, 1805; Wilberforce Correspondence, Vol. i.
doubt, but they do not touch the soul; somehow they seem to make life more superficial. With a halfwayward dislike, some in the present generation have turned from physical science and material things. “We have tried these, and they fail," is the feeling: “what is the heart of man the better for galvanic engines and hydraulic presses ? Leave us to the old poetry and the old philosophy: there is at least a life and a mind.” It is the day after the feast: we do not care for its delicacies; we are rather angry at its profusion; we are cross to hear it praised. Men who came into active life half a century ago were the guests invited to the banquet : they did not know what was coming, but they heard it was something gorgeous and great; they expected it with hope and longing. The influence of this feeling was curiously seen in the Useful Knowledge Society, the first great product of the educational movement in which Lord Brougham was the most ardent leader. No one can deny that their labors were important, their intentions excellent, the collision of mind which they created most beneficial. Still, looking to their well-known publications, beyond question the knowledge they particularly wished to diffuse is, according to the German phrase, “factish.” Hazlitt said they “confounded a knowledge of useful things with useful knowledge.” * An idea-half unconscious - pervades them, that a knowledge of the detail of material knowledge, even too of the dates and shell of outside history, is extremely important to the mass of men ; that all will be well when we have a cosmical ploughboy and a mob that knows hydrostatics. We shall never have it; but even if we could, we should not be much the better. The heart and passions of men are moved by things more within their attainment; the essential nature is stirred by the essential life, - by the real actual existence of love and hope and character, and by the real literature which takes in its spirit and
*"On Classical Education,” No. 2 of the “Round Table.”
which is in some sort its undefecated essence. Thirty years ago the preachers of this now familiar doctrine were unknown; nor was their gospel for a moment the one perhaps most in season. It was good that there should be a more diffused knowledge of the material world ; and it was good, therefore, that there should be partisans of matter, believers in particles, zealots for tissue, who were ready to incur any odium and any labor that a few more men might learn a few more things. How a man of incessant activity should pass easily to such a creed is evident: he would see the obvious ignorance; the less obvious argument which shows that this ignorance, in great measure inevitable, was of far less importance than would be thought at first sight, would never be found by one who moved so rapidly.
We have gone through now, in some hasty way, most of the lights in which Lord Brougham has been regarded by his contemporaries. There is still another character in which posterity will especially think of him: he is a great memoirist. His“ Statesmen of George III.” contains the best sketches of the political men of his generation, one with another, which the world has or is likely to have. He is a fine painter of the exterior of human nature. tion of its essence requires a deeper character; another portion, more delicate sensations : but of the rough appearance of men as they struck him in the law-court and in Parliament, — of the great debater struggling with his words, the stealthy advocate gliding into the confidence of the audience, the great judge unraveling all controversies and deciding by a well-weighed word all complicated doubts, * — of such men as these, and of men engaged in such tasks as these, there is no greater painter perhaps than Brougham. His eager aggressive disposition brought him into collision with conspicuous men; his skill in the obvious parts of human nature has made him
Some porunderstand them. A man who has knocked his head against a wall -- if such an illustration is to be hazarded — will learn the nature of the wall; those who have passed fifty years in managing men of the world will know their external nature, and if they have literary power enough will deseribe it. In general, Lord Brougham's excellence as a describer of character is confined to men whom he had thus personally and keenly encountered: the sketches of the philosophers of the eighteenth century, of French statesmen, are poor and meager; he requires evidently the rough necessities of action to make him observe. There is, however, a remarkable exception : he preserves a singularly vivid recollection of the instructors of his youth; he nowhere appears so amiable as in describing them. He is over-partial, no doubt; but an old man may be permitted to reverence, if he can reverence, his schoolmaster.
* Fox, Scarlett, Mansfield.
This is all that our limits will permit us to say of Lord Brougham; on so varied a life, at least on a life with such varied pursuits, one might write to any extent. The regular biographer will come in after years; it is enough for a mere essayist to sketch or strive to sketch, in some rude outline, the nature of the man.
TRANSLATION OF EXTRACT ON PAGE 80. — “Vergniaud was intoxicated by this life of art, music, oratory, and entertainments; he crowded enjoyment into his youth, as if he had a presentiment that he should be harvested early. His habits were meditative and indolent. He rose in the middle of the day; he wrote little and on stray sheets, holding the paper on his knees like a man hard pressed for time; he composed his speeches sluggishly during reveries, retaining them in his memory by the aid of notes; he polished his eloquence at leisure, as a soldier polishes his weapons during peace.”
(1860.) We believe that Quarterly essayists have a peculiar mission in relation to the characters of public men: we believe it is their duty to be personal. This idea may seem ridiculous to some of our readers; but let us consider the circumstances carefully. We allow that personality abounds already, that the names of public men are forever on our lips, that we never take up a newspaper without seeing them: but this incessant personality is wholly fragmentary; it is composed of chance criticism on special traits, of fugitive remarks on temporary measures, of casual praise and casual blame. We can expect little else from what is written in haste or is spoken without limitation. Public men must bear this criticism as they can ; those whose names are perpetually in men's mouths must not be pained if singular things are sometimes said of them : still, some deliberate truth should be spoken of our statesmen, and if Quarterly essayists do not speak it, who will? We fear it will remain unspoken.
Mr. Gladstone is a problem, and it is very remarkable that he should be a problem, - we have had more than ordinary means for judging of him. He has been in public life for seven-and-twenty years ; he has filled some of the most conspicuous offices in the state; he has been a distinguished member of the Tory party, he is a distinguished member of the Liberal party; he has brought forward many measures; he has passed many years in independent Opposition,
* Speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Finance of the Year and the Treaty of Commerce with France. Delivered in the House of Commons on Friday, Feb. 10, 1860. Corrected by the Author.