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triumph over Jacobinism, his temperament, as was often the case, outran his sagacity ; for, while he foresaw clearly that the dissolution of social order in France would at last harden into a military tyranny, he appeared not to be aware that the violent measures which he recommended against her would not only hasten this formidable result, but bind the whole mass of the people into union and resistance during the process.
Lastly-To these attractions, of various kinds, with which the cause of Thrones was now encircled in the eyes of Burke, must be added one, which, however it may still further disenchant our views of his conversion, cannot wholly be omitted among the inducements to his change,-and this was the strong claim upon the gratitude of government, which his seasonable and powerful advocacy in a crisis so difficult established for him, and which the narrow and embarrassed state of his circumstances rendered an object by no means of secondary importance in his views. Unfortunately,--from a delicate wish, perhaps, that the reward should not appear to come in too close coincidence with the service,-the pension bestowed upou him arrived too late to admit of his deriving much more from it than the obloquy by which it was ac. companied · The consequence, as is well known, of the new course taken by Burke was that the speeches and writings which he henceforward produced, and in which, as usual, his judgment was run away with by his temper, form a complete contrast, in spirit and tendency, to all that he had put on record in the former part of his life. He has, indeed, left behind him two separate and distinct armouries of opinion, from which both Whig and Tory may furnish themselves with weapons, the most splendid, if not the most highly tempered, that ever Genius and Eloquence have condescended to bequeath to Party. He has thus too, by his own personal versatility, attained, in the world of politics, what Shakespeare, by the versatility of his characters, achieved for the world in general, -namely, such a universality of application to all opinions and purposes, that it would be difficult for any statesman of any party to find himself placed in any situation, for which he could not select some golden sentence from Burke, either to strengthen his position by reasoning or illustrate and ador it by fancy. While, therefore, our respect for the man himself is diminished by this want of moral identity observable through his life and writings, we are but the more disposed to admire that unrivalled genius, which could thus throw itself out in so many various directions with equal splendour and vigour. In general, political deserters lose their value and power in the very act, and bring little more than their treason to the new cause which they espouse :
“ Fortis in armir Cæsaris Labienus erat ; nunc transfuga vilis."
But Burke was mighty in either camp; and it would have taken two great men to effect what he, by this division of himself, achieved. His mind, indeed, lies parted asunder in his works, like some vast continent severed by a convulsion of nature, each portion peopled by its own giant race of opinions, differing altogether in features and language, and committed in eternal hostility with each other.
It was during the discussions on the Army Estimates, at the commencement of the Session of 1790, that the difference between Mr. Burke and his party in their views of the French Revolution first manifested itself. Mr. Fox having taken occasion to praise the late conduct of the French Guards in refusing to obey the dictates of the Court, and having declared that he exulted, “ both from feelings and from principles,” in the political change that had been brought about in that country, Mr. Burke, in answering him, entered fully, and, it must be owned, most luminously into the question, expressing his apprehension, lest the example of France, which had, at a former period, threatened England with the contagion of despotism, should now be the means of introducing among her people the no less fatal taint of Democracy and Atheism. After some eloquent tributes of admiration to Mr. Fox, rendered more animated, perhaps, by the consciousness that they were the last offerings thrown into the open
grave of their friendship, he proceeded to deprecate the effects which the language of his Right Honourable Friend might have, in appearing to countenance the disposition observable among some wicked persons” to
recommend an imitation of the French spirit of Reform," and then added a declaratiok equally remarkable for the insidious charge which it implied against his own party, and the notice of his approaching desertion which it conveyed to the other,—that strongly opposed was he to any the least tendency towards the means of introducing a democracy like that of the French, as well as to the end itself, that, much as it would afflict him, if such a thing should be attempted, and that any friend of his could concur in such measures (he was far, very far, from believing they could), he would abandon his best friends, and join with his worst enemies to oppose either the means or the end.”
It is pretty evident, from these words, that Burke had already made up his mind as to the course he should pursue, and but delayed his declaration of a total breach, in order to prepare the minds of the public for such an event, and, by waiting to take advantage of some moment of provocation, make the intemperance of others responsible for his own deliberate schism. The reply of Mr. Fox was not such as could afford this opportunity ;-it was, on the contrary, full of candour and moderation, and repelled the implied charge of being a favourer of the new doctrines of France in the most decided, but, at the same time, most conciliatory terms.
“Did such a declaration,” he asked, “warrant the idea that he was a friend to Democracy? He declared himself equally the enemy of all absolute forms of government, whether an absolute Monarchy, an absolute Aristocracy, or an absolute Democracy. He was adverse to all extremes, and a friend only to a mixed government like our own, in which, if the Ar istocracy, or indeed either of the three branches of the Constitution, were destroyed, the good effect of the whole, and the happiness derived under it would, in his mind, be at an end."
In returning, too, the praises bestowed upon him by his friend, he made the following memorable and noble acknowledgement of all that he himself had gained by their intet. course :
“ Such (he said) was his sense of the judgment of bis Right Honourable Friend, such his knowledge of his principles, such the value which he set upon them, and such the estimation in which he held his friendship, that if he were to put all the political information which he had learned from fooks, all which he had gained from science, and all which any knowledge of the world and its affairs bad taught him, into one scale, and the improvement which he had derived from his Right Honourable Friend's instruction and conversation were placed in the other, he should be at a loss to decide to which to give the preference."
This, from a person so rich in acquirements as Mr. Fox, was the very highest praise,--nor, except in what related to the judgment and principles of his friend, was it at all exaggerated. The conversation of Burke must have been like the procession of a Roman triumph, exhibiting power and riches at every step-occasionally, perhaps, mingling the low Fescennine jest with the lofty music of its march, but glittering all over with the spoils of the whole ransacked world.
Mr. Burke, in reply, after reiterating his praises of Mr. Fox, and the full confidence which he felt in his moderation and sagacity, professed himself perfectly satisfied with the explanations that had been given. The conversation would thus have passed off without any explosion, had not Sheridan, who was well aware that against him, in particular, the charge of a tendency to the adoption of French principles was directed, risen immediately after, and by a speech warmly in favor of the Revolution and of the National Assembly, at once lighted the train in the mind of Burke, and brought the question, as far as regarded themselves, to an immediate issue.
"He differed,” he said, “ decidedly, from his Right Honourable Friend in almost every word that he had uttered respecting the French Revolution. He conceived it to be as just a Revolution as ours, proceeding upon as sound a principle and as just a provocation. He vehemently defended the general views and conduct of the National Assembly. He could not even understand what was meant by the charges against them of having overturned the laws, the justice, and the revenues of their country. What were their laws ? the arbitrary mandates of capricious despotism. What their justice ? the partial adjudications of venal magistrates. What their revenues ? national bankruptcy. This he thought the fundamental error of his Right Honourable Friend's argument, that he accused the National Assembly of creating the evils, which they had found existing in full de. formity at the first hour of their meeting. The public creditor had been defrauded; the manufacturer was without employ ; trade was languishing ; famine clung upon the poor ; despair on all. In this situation, the wisdom and feelings of the nation were appealed to by the government; and was it to be wondered at by Englishmen, that a people, so circumstanced, should search for the cause aud source of all their calamities, or that they should find them in the arbitrary constitution of their government, and in the prodigal and corrupt administration of their revenues ? For such an evil when proved, what remedy could be resorted to, but a radical amendment of the frame and fabric of the Constitution itself? This change was not the object and wish of the National Assembly only; it was the claim and cry of all France, united as one man for one purpose.”
All this is just and unanswerable-as indeed was the greater part of the sentiments which he uttered. But he seems to have failed, even more signally than Mr. Fox, in endeavouring to invalidate the masterly view which Burke had just taken of the Revolution of 1688, as compared, in its means and object, with that of France. There was, in truth, but little similarity between them,-the task of the former being to preserve liberty, that of the latter to destroy tyranny ; the one being a regulated movement of the Aristocracy against the Throne for the Nation, the other a tumultuous rising of the whole Nation against both for itself.
The reply of Mr. Burke was conclusive and peremptory, such, in short, as might be expected from a person, who came prepared to take the first plausible opportunity of a rupture. He declared that “henceforth, his Honourable Friend and he were separated in politics,”—complained that his arguments had been cruelly misrepresented, and that " the Honourable Gentleman had thought proper to charge him with being the advocate of despotism." Having endeavoured to defend himself from such an imputation, he concluded by saying,-
“ Was that a fair and candid mode of treating his arguments ? or was it what he ought to bave expected in the moment of departed friendship? On the contrary, was it not evident that the Ilonourable Gentleman had made