« AnteriorContinuar »
we ourselves, through the favourable dispensations of Divine Providence, have been permitted, at a much more early period, to enjoy. If we listen to the voice of reason and duty, and pursue this night the line of conduct which they prescribe, some of us may live to see a reverse of that picture, from which we now turn our eyes with shame and regret. We may live to behold the natives of Africa engaged in the calm occupations of industry, in the pursuits of a just and legitimate commerce. We may behold the beams of science and philosophy breaking in upon their land, which, at some happy period in still later times, may blaze with full lustre; and joining their influence to that of pure religion, may illuminate and invigorate the most distant extremities of that immense continent. Then may we hope that even Africa, though last of all the quarters of the globe, shall enjoy at length, in the evening of her days, those blessings which have descended so plentifully upon us in a much earlier period of the world. Then also will Europe, participating in her improvement and prosperity, receive an ample recompense for the tardy kindness (if kindness it can be called) of no longer hindering that continent from extricating herself out of the darkness which, in other more fortunate regions, has been so much more speedily dispelled.
“ Nos primus equis oriens afflavit anhelis;
Illic sera rubens accendit lumina Vesper.” Then, sir, may be applied to Africa those words, originally used indeed with a different view :
“ His demum exactis-
It is in this view, sir,-it is in atonement for our long and cruel injustice towards Africa, that the measure proposed by my honourable friend most forcibly recommends itself to my mind. The great and happy change to be expected in the state of her inhabitants, is, of all the various and important benefits of the abolition, in my estimation, incomparably the most extensive and important.
NOTE.—Lord Stanhope, in his · Life of Pitt' (vol. ii. p. 145), remarks, “ I have heard it related by some who were at that time Members of Parliament, that the first beams of the rising sun shot through the windows of the House in the midst of this fine passage; and seemed, as Pitt looked upwards, to suggest to him without premeditation the eloquent simile and the noble Latin lines with which he concluded."
Charles James Fox. 1749-1806.
356. FROM HIS SPEECH ON THE ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH,
Nov. 26, 1778. You have now two wars before you, of which you must choose one, for both you cannot support. The war against America has hitherto been carried on against her alone, unassisted by any ally ; notwithstanding she stood alone, you have been obliged uniformly to increase your exertions, and to push your efforts in the end to the extent of your power, without being able to bring it to any favourable issue: you have exerted all your force hitherto without effect, and you cannot now divide a force found already inadequate to its object. My opinion is for withdrawing your forces from America entirely, for a defensive war you can never think of; a defensive war would ruin this nation at any time, and in any circumstances : an offensive war is pointed out as proper for this country; our situation points it out, and the spirit of the nation impels us to attack rather than defence : attack France, then, for she is your object. The nature of the war with her is quite different: the war against America is against your own countrymen-you have stopped me from saying against your fellow-subjects; that against France is against your inveterate enemy and rival. Every blow you strike in America is against yourselves ; it is against all ideas of reconciliation, and against your own interest, though you should be able, as you never will, to force them to submit. Every stroke against France is of advantage to you; the more you lower the scale in which France lays in the balance, the more your own rises, and the more the Americans will be detached from her as useless to them. Even your own victories over America are in favour of France, from what they must cost you in men and money; your victories over France will be felt by her ally. America must be conquered in France; France never can be conquered in America.
The war of the Americans is a war of passion; it is of such a nature as to be supported by the most powerful virtues--love of liberty and of country; and, at the same time, by those passions in the human heart, which give courage, strength, and perseverance to man—the spirit of revenge for the injuries you have done them; of retaliation for the hardships you have inflicted on them ; and of opposition to the unjust powers you have exercised over them. Everything combines to animate them to this war, and such a war is without end; for, whatever obstinacy enthusiasm ever inspired man with, you will now find it in America ; no matter what gives birth to that enthusiasm, whether the name of religion or of liberty, the effects are the same; it inspires a spirit that is unconquerable, and solicitous to undergo difficulty, danger, and hardship: and as long as there is a man in America, a being formed such as we are, you will have him present himself against you in the field.
The war of France is of another sort; the war of France is a war of interest : it was her interest first induced her to engage in it, and it is by that interest that she will measure its continuance. Turn your face at once against her; attack her wherever she is exposed, crush her commerce wherever you can, make her feel heavy and immediate distress throughout the nation : the people will soon cry out to their government. Whilst the advantages she promises herself are remote and uncertain, inflict present evils and distresses upon her subjects: the people will become discontented and clamorous: she will find the having entered into this business a bad bargain ; and you will force her to desert an ally that brings so much trouble, and distress, and the advantages of whose alliance may never take effect.
What is become of the ancient spirit of this nation? Where is the national spirit that ever did bonour to this country? Have the present ministry spent that, too, with almost the last shilling of your money? Are they not ashamed of the temporizing conduct they have used towards France ? Her correspondence with America has been “ clandestine”: compare that with their conduct towards Holland some time ago :--but it is the characteristic of little minds to be exact in little things, whilst they shrink from their rights in great ones :—the conduct of France is called clandestine : look back but a year ago to a letter from one of your Secretaries of State to Holland : “it is with surprise and indignation” your conduct is seen, in something done by a petty governor of an island, while they affect to call the measures of France clandestine. This is the way that ministers support the character of the nation, and the national honour and glory! But look again how that same Holland is spoken of to-day: even in your correspondence with her your littleness appears :
“ Pauper et exul uterque,
Projicit ampullas, et sesquipedalia verba." From this you may judge of your situation, from this you may know what a state you are reduced to. How will the French party in Holland exult over you, and grow strong! She will never continue your ally while you meanly crouch to France, and dare not stir in your own defence; nor is it extraordinary that she should not, while the present ministers remain in place. No power in Europe is so blind ; none stupid enough to ally itself with weakness, to become partner in bankruptcy ; to unite with obstinacy, absurdity, and imbecility.
357. FROM HIS SPEECH ON THE OVERTURES OF PEACE FROM
THE FIRST CONSUL, Feb. 3, 1800. Now, sir, what was the conduct of your own allies to Poland ? Is there a single atrocity of the French, in Italy, in Switzerland, in Egypt if you please, more unprincipled and inhuman than that of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, in Poland ? What has there been in the conduct of the French to foreign powers; what in the violation of solemn treaties ; what in the plunder, devastation, and dismemberment of unoffending countries ; what in the horrors and murders perpetrated upon the subdued victims of their rage in any district which they have overrun ; worse than the conduct of those three great powers in the miserable, devoted, and trampled-on kingdom of Poland, and who have been, or are, our allies in this war for religion, social order, and the rights of nations ?
“Oh! but we regretted the partitiou of Poland!” Yes, regretted! You regretted the violence, and that is all you did. You united yourselves with the actors; you, in fact, by your acquiescence, confirmed the atrocity. But they are your allies; and though they overran and divided Poland, there was nothing, perhaps, in the manner of doing it, which stamped it with peculiar infamy and disgrace. The hero of Poland, perhaps, was merciful and mild! He was as much superior to Buonaparte in bravery, and in the discipline which he maintained, as he was superior in virtue and humanity! He was animated by the purest principles of Christianity, and was restrained in his career by the benevolent precepts which it inculcates ! Was he ? Let unfortunate Warsaw, and the miserable inhabitants of the suburb of Praga in particular, tell! What do we understand to have been the conduct of this magnanimous hero, with whom, it seems, Buonaparte is not to be compared ? He entered the suburb of Praga, the most populous suburb of Warsaw, and there he let his soldiery loose on the iniserable, unarmed, and unresisting, people! Men, women, and children, nay, infants at the breast, were doomed to one indiscriminate massacre ! Thousands of them were inhumanly, wantonly butchered! And for what? Because they had dared to join in a wish to meliorate their own condition as a people, and to improve their constitution, which had been confessed by their own sovereign to be in want of amendment. And such is the hero upon whom the cause of “ religion and social order” is to repose! And such the man whom we praise for his discipline and his virtue, and whom we hold out as our boast and our dependence, while the conduct of Buonaparte unfits him to be even treated with as an enemy!
358. CHARACTER OF MR. Fox AND MR. PITT.
FROM BUTLER'S REMINISCENCES.' Almost the whole of Mr. Fox's political life was spent in opposition to his Majesty's ministers. It may be said of him, as of Lord North, that he had political adversaries, but no enemy. Good-nature, too easily carried to excess, was one of the distinctive marks of his character. In vehemence and power of argument he resembled Demosthenes ; but there the resemblance ended. He possessed a strain of ridicule and wit which nature denied to the Athenian; and it was the more powerful, as it always appeared to be blended with argument, and to result from it. To the perfect composition which so eminently distinguishes the speeches of Demosthenes, he had no pretence.
The moment of his grandeur was, when,-after he had stated the argument of his adversary, with much greater strength than his adversary had done, and with much greater than any of his hearers thought possible, -he seized it with the strength of a giant, and tore and trampled on it to destruction. If, at this moment, he had possessed the power of the Athenian over the passions or the imaginations of his hearers, he might have disposed of the House at his pleasure,but this was denied to him; and, on this account, his speeches fell very short of the effect which otherwise they must have produced.
It is difficult to decide on the comparative merit of him and Mr. Pitt: the latter had not the vehement reasoning or argumentative ridicule of Mr. Fox; but he had more splendour, more imagery, and much more method and discretion. His long, lofty, and reverential panegyrics of the British constitution, his eloquent vituperations of those whom he described as advocating the democratic spirit then let loose on the inhabitants of the earth, and his solemn adjuration of the House to defend and to assist him in defending their all against it, were, in the highest degree, both imposing and conciliating. In addition, he had the command of bitter contemptuous sarcasm, which tortured to madness. This he could expand or compress at pleasure : even in one member of a sentence, he could inflict a wound that was never healed.
Mr. Fox had a captivating earnestness of tone and manner; Mr. Pitt was more dignified than earnest. -The action of Mr. Fox was easy and graceful; Mr. Pitt's cannot be praised. It was an observation of the reporters in the gallery, that it required great exertion to follow Mr. Fox while he was speaking ; none to remember what he had said ; that it was easy and delightful to follow Mr. Pitt ; not so easy to recollect what had delighted them. It may be added, that, in all Mr. Fox's speeches, even when he was most violent, there was