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ible? Who, then, is the man now living, is there any man now sitting in this House, who, by taking the measure of his own mind, or of that of any of his contemporaries, can feel himself justified in pronouncing that Mr. Pitt was not a great man? I admire as much as any man the abilities and ingenuity of the honorable and learned gentleman who promulgated this opinion. I do not deny to him many of the qualities which go to constitute the character which he has described. But I think I may defy all his ingenuity to frame any definition of that character which shall not apply to Mr. Pitt, trace any circle of greatness from which Mr. Pitt shall be excluded.
I have no manner of objection to see placed on the same pedestal with Mr. Pitt, for the admiration of the present age and of posterity, other distinguished men; and amongst them his great rival, whose memory is, I have no doubt, as dear to the honorable gentlemen opposite, as that of Mr. Pitt is to those who loved him living, and who revere him dead. But why should the admiration of one be incompatible with justice to the other? Why cannot we cherish the remembrance of the respective objects of our veneration, leaving to each other a similar freedom? For my own part, I disclaim such a spirit of intolerance. Be it the boast and the characteristic of the school of Pitt, that, however provoked by illiberal and unjust attacks upon his memory, whether in speeches in this House or in calumnies out of it, they will never so far forget the respect due to him or to themselves, as to be betrayed into reciprocal illiberality and injustice, that they disdain to retaliate upon the memory of Mr. Pitt's great rival!
96. "MEASURES NOT MEN," 1802.-George Canning.
IF I am pushed to the wall, and forced to speak my opinion, I have no disguise nor reservation: - I do think that this is a time when the administration of the government ought to be in the ablest and fittest hands; I do not think the hands in which it is now placed answer to that description. I do not pretend to conceal in what quarter I think that fitness most eminently resides; I do not subscribe to the doctrines which have been advanced, that, in times like the present, the fitness of individuals for their political situation is no part of the consideration to which a member of Parliament may fairly turn his attention. I know not a more solemn or important duty that a member of Parliament can have to discharge, than by giving, at fit seasons, a free opinion upon the character and qualities of public men. Away with the cant of "measures, not men!" the idle supposition that it is the harness, and not the horses, that draw the chariot along! No, Sir; if the comparison must be made, if the distinction must be taken, men are everything, measures comparatively nothing. I speak, Sir, of times of difficulty and danger; of times when systems are shaken, when precedents and general rules of conduct fail. Then it is, that not to this or that measure, - however prudently devised, however blameless in
execution, but to the energy and character of individua/s, a State must be indebted for its salvation. Then it is that kingdoms rise or fall in proportion as they are upheld, not by well-meant endeavors (laudable though they may be), but by commanding, overawing talents, by able
And what is the nature of the times in which we live? Look at France, and see what we have to cope with, and consider what has made her what she is. A man! You will tell me that she was great, and powerful, and formidable, before the days of Bonaparte's government; that he found in her great physical and moral resources; that he hal but to turn them to account. True, and he did so. Compare the situation in which he found France with that to which he has raised her. I am no panegyrist of Bonaparte; but I cannot shut my eyes to the superiority of his talents, to the amazing ascendency of his genius. Tell me not of his measures and his policy. It is his genius, his character, that keeps the world in awe. Sir, to meet, to check, to curb, to stand up against him, we want arms of the same kind. I am far from objecting to the large military establishments which are proposed to you. I vote for them, with all my heart. But, for the purpose of coping with Bonaparte, one great, commanding spirit is worth them all.
97. THE BALANCE OF POWER, 1826.-George Canning.
BUT, then, Sir, the balance of power! Gentlemen assert that the entry of the French army into Spain disturbed that balance, and we ought to have gone to war to restore it! Were there no other means than war for restoring the balance of power? Is the balance of power a fixed and unalterable standard? Or, is it not a standard perpetually varying, as civilization advances, and as new Nations spring up, and take their place among established political communities? The balance of power, a century and a half ago, was to be adjusted between France and Spain, the Netherlands, Austria and England. Some years afterwards, Russia assumed her high station in European politics. Some years after that, again, Prussia became not only a sub stantive, but a preponderating monarchy. Thus, while the balance of power continued in principle the same, the means of adjusting it became more varied and enlarged. To look to the policy of Europe in the times of William and Anne to regulate the balance of power in Europe at the present day, is to disregard the progress of events, and to confuse dates and facts which throw a reciprocal light upon each
I admit, Sir. that the entry of a French army into Spain was a disparagement to Great Britain. I do not stand up here to deny that fact. One of the modes of redress was by a direct attack upon France, --by a war upon the soil of Spain. Was there no other mode of redress? If France occupied Spain, was it necessary, in order te avoid the consequences of that occupation, that we should blockade
Cadiz? No. I looked another way. I sought materials of compensation in another hemisphere. Contemplating Spain such as our ancestors had known her, I resolved that, if France had Spain, it should not be Spain "with the Indies." I called the New World into existence, to redress the balance of the Old! Thus, Sir, I answer the question of the occupation of Spain by the army of France. That occupation is an unpaid and unredeemed burden to France. France would be glad to get rid of the possession of Spain. France would be very glad if England were to assist her to get rid of that possession; and the only way to rivet France to the possession of Spain is to make that possession a point of honor. The object of the measure before the House is not war. It is to take the last chance of peace. If you do not go forth, on this occasion, to the aid of Portugal, Portugal will be trampled down, to your irrecoverable disgrace; and then war will come, and come, too, in the train of degradation. If you wait until Spain have courage to mature her secret machinations into open hostility, you will, in a little while, have the sort of war required by the pacificators: and who shall say where that war shall end?
98. A COLLISION OF VICES, 1825.-George Canning.
My honorable and learned friend began by telling us that, after all, hatred is no bad thing in itself. "I hate a tory," says my honorable friend; "and another man hates a cat; but it does not follow that he would hunt down the cat, or I the tory." Nay, so far from it, hatred, if it be properly managed, is, according to my honorable friend's theory, no bad preface to a rational esteem and affection. It prepares its votaries for a reconciliation of differences; for lying down with their most inveterate enemies, like the leopard and the kid in the vision of the prophet. This dogma is a little startling, but it is not altogether without precedent. It is borrowed from a character in a play, which is, I dare say, as great a favorite with my learned friend as it is with me, I mean the comedy of the Rivals; in which Mrs. Malaprop, giving a lecture on the subject of marriage to her niece (who is unreasonable enough to talk of liking, as a necessary preliminary to such a union), says, "What have you to do with your likings and your preferences, child? Depend upon it, it is safest to begin with a little aversion. I am sure I hated your poor dear uncle like a blackamoor before we were married; and yet, you know, my dear, what a good wife I made him." Such is my learned friend's argument, to a hair. But, finding that this doctrine did not appear to go down with the House so glibly as he had expected, my honorable and learned friend presently changed his tack, and put forward a theory, which, whether for novelty or for beauty, I pronounce to be incomparable; and, in short, as wanting nothing to recommend it but a slight foundation in truth. "True philosophy," says my honorable friend, "will always continue to lead men to virtue by the instrument
* Sir James Mackintosh.
ality of their conflicting vices. The virtues, where more than one exists, may live harmoniously together; but the vices bear mort.l antipathy to one another, and, therefore, furnish to the moral engineer the power by which he can make each keep the other under control." Admirable! but, upon this doctrine, the poor man who has but one single vice must be in a very bad way. No fulcrum, no moral power, for effecting his cure! Whereas, his more fortunate neighbor, who has two or more vices in his composition, is in a fair way of becoming a very virtuous member of society. I wonder how my learned friend would like to have this doctrine introduced into his domestic establishment. For instance, suppose that I discharge a servant because he is addicted to liquor, I could not venture to recommend him to my honorable and learned friend. It might be the poor man's only fault, and therefore clearly incorrigible; but, if I had the good fortune to find out that he was also addicted to stealing, might I not, with a safe conscience, send him to my learned friend with a strong recommendation, saying, "I send you a man whom I know to be a drunkard; but I am happy to assure you he is also a thief: you cannot do better than employ him; you will make his drunkenness counteract his thievery, and no doubt you will bring him out of the conflict a very moral personage!"
99. ENGLAND AND AMERICA. — Sir James Mackintosh. Born, 1765; died, 1832.
THE laws of England, founded on principles of liberty, are still, in substance, the code of America. Our writers, our statutes, the most modern decisions of our judges, are quoted in every court of justice, from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi. English law, as well as English liberty, are the foundations on which the legislation of America is founded. The authority of our jurisprudence may survive the power of our Government for as many ages as the laws of Rome commanded the reverence of Europe, after the subversion of her empire. Our language is as much that of America as it is that of England. As America increases, the glory of the great writers of England increases with it; the admirers of Shakspeare and of Milton are multiplied; the fame of every future Englishman of genius is more widely spread. Is it unreasonable, then, to hope that these ties of birth, of liberty, of laws, of language and of literature, may in time prevail over vulgar, ignoble, and ruinous prejudices? Their ancestors were as much the countrymen of Bacon and Newton, of Hampden and Sidney, as ours. They are entitled to their full share of that inheritance of glory which has descended from our common forefathers. Neither the liberty of England, nor her genius, nor the noble language which that genius has consecrated, is worthy of their disregard. All these honors are theirs, if they choose to preserve them. The history of England, till the adoption of counsels adverse to liberty, is their history. We may still preserve or revive kindred feelings. They may claim noble ancestors, and we may look forward to renowned descendants,
unless adverse prejudices should dispose them to reject those honors which they have lawfully inherited, and lead us to envy that greatness which has arisen from our institutions and will perpetuate our fame!
100. THE FATE OF THE REFORMER, 1830. Lost Brougham.
I HAVE heard it said that, when one lifts up his voice against things that are, and wishes for a change, he is raising a clamor against existing institutions, a clamor against our venerable establishments, a clamor against the law of the land; but this is no clamor against the one or the other, it is a clamor against the abuse of them all. It is a clamor raised against the grievances that are felt. Mr. Burke, who was no friend to popular excitement, - who was no ready tool of agitation, no hot-headed enemy of existing establishments, no undervaluer of the wisdom of our ancestors, no scoffer against institutions as they are, has said, and it deserves to be fixed, in letters of gold, over the hall of every assembly which calls itself a legislative body, -"WHERE THERE IS ABUSE, THERE OUGHT TO BE CLAMOR; BECAUSE IT IS BETTER TO HAVE OUR SLUMBER BROKEN BY THE FIRE-BELL, THAN TO
PERISH, AMIDST THE FLAMES, IN OUR BED." I have been told, by some who have little objection to the clamor, that I am a timid and a mock reformer; and by others, if I go on firmly and steadily, and do not allow myself to be driven aside by either one outcry or another, and care for neither, that it is a rash and dangerous innovation which I propound; and that I am taking, for the subject of my reckless experiments, things which are the objects of all men's veneration. I disregard the one as much as I disregard the other of these charges.
"False honor charms, and lying slander scares,
It has been the lot of all men, in all ages, who have aspired at the honor of guiding, instructing, or mending mankind, to have their paths beset by every persecution from adversaries, by every misconstruction from friends; no quarter from the one, no charitable construction from the other! To be misconstrued, misrepresented, borne down, till it was in vain to bear down any longer, has been their fate. But truth will survive, and calumny has its day. I say that, if this be the fate or the reformer, if he be the object of misrepresentation, may not an inference be drawn favorable to myself? Taunted by the enemies of reform as being too rash, by the over-zealous friends of reform as being too slow or too cold, there is every reason for presuming that I have chosen the right course. A reformer must proceed steadily in his career; not misled, on the one hand, by panegyric, nor discouraged by slander, on the other. He wants no praise. I would rather say, "Woe to him when all men speak well of him!" I shall go on in the course which I have laid down for myself; pursuing the foot
* Falsus honor juvat et mendax infamia terret