Page images
[ocr errors]

temper, sir, would suffer him to attend to those whose age, and long acquaintance with business, give them an indisputable right to deference and superiority, he would learn, in time, to reason rather than declaim, and to prefer justness of argument, and an accurate knowledge of facts, to sounding epithets, and splendid superlatives, which may disturb the imagination for a moment, but leave no lasting impression on the mind. He will learn, sir, that to accuse and prove are very different, and that reproaches unsupported by evidence affect only the character of him that utters them. Excursions of fancy, and flights of oratory, are indeed, pardonable in young men, but in no other; and it would surely contribute more, even to the purpose for which some gentlemen appear to speak, (that of depreciating the conduct of the administration,) to prove the inconveniences and injustice of this bill than barely to assert them, with whatever magnificence of language, or appearance of zeal, honesty or compassion.


Mr Pitt's Reply.


THE atrocious crime of being a young man, which the honourable gentleman has, with such spirit and decency, charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate, nor deny,-but content myself with wishing that I may be one of those whose follies may cease with their youth, and not of that number who are ignorant in spite of experience. Whether youth can be imputed to any man as a reproach, I will not, sir, assume the province of determining ;-but surely age may become justly contemptible, if the opportunities which it brings have past away without improvement, and vice appears to prevail, when the passions have

subsided. The wretch who, after having seen the consequences of a thousand errors, continues still to blunder, and whose age has only added obstinacy to stupidity, is surely the object of either abhorrence or contempt, and deserves not that his grey hairs should secure him from insult. Much more, sir, is he to be abhorred, who, as he has advanced in age, has receded from virtue, and becomes more wicked with less temptation ;-who prostitutes himself for money which he cannot enjoy, and spends the remains of his life in the ruin of his country. But youth, sir, is not my only crime; I have been accused of acting a theatrical part. A theatrical part may either imply some peculiarities of gesture, or a dissimulation of my real sentiments, and an adoption of the opinions and language of another man.

In the first sense, sir, the charge is too trifling to be confuted, and deserves only to be mentioned, to be despised. I am at liberty, like every other man, to use my own language; and though, perhaps, I may have some ambition to please this gentleman, I shall not lay myself under any restraint, nor very solicitously copy his diction, or his mien, however matured by age, or modelled by experience. If any man shall, by charging me with theatrical behaviour, imply that I utter any sentiments but my own, I shall treat him as a calumniator, and a villain ;-nor shall any protection shelter him from the treatment he deserves. I shall, on such an occasion, without scruple, trample upon all those forms with which wealth and dignity intrench themselves,-nor shall any thing but age restrain my resentment ;-age, which always brings one privilege, that of being insolent and supercilious without punishment. But with regard, sir, to those whom I have offended, I am of opinion, that if I had acted a borrowed part, I should have avoided their censure: the heat that offended them is the ardour of conviction, and that zeal for the service of my country, which neither hope nor fear, shall influence me to suppress. I will not sit unconcerned while my liberty is invaded,

nor look in silence upon public robbery. I will exert my endeavours, at whatever hazard, to repel the aggressor, and drag the thief to justice,-whoever may protect them in their villainy, and,-whoever may partake of their plunder.


Eulogy on Washington.

Ir is natural that the gratitude of mankind should be drawn to their benefactors. A number of these have successively arisen, who were no less distinguished for the elevation of their virtues, than the lustre of their talents. Of those, however, who were born, and who acted through life, as if they were born, not for themselves but for their country and the whole human race, how few, alas! are recorded in the long annals of ages, and how wide the intervals of time and space that divide them. In all this dreary length of way, they appear like five or six light houses. on as many thousand miles of coast: they gleam upon the surrounding darkness, with an inextinguishable splendour, like stars seen through a mist; but they are seen like stars, to cheer, to guide, and to save. WASHINGTON is now added to that small number. Already he attracts curiosity, like a newly discovered star, whose benignant light will travel on to the world's and time's farthest bounds. Already his name is hung up by history as conspicuously, as if it sparkled in one of the constellations of the sky.

The best evidence of reputation is a man's whole life. We have now, alas all WASHINGTON's before ns. There has scarcely appeared a really great man, whose character has been more admired in his life time, or less correctly understood by his admirers.. When it is comprehended, it is no easy task to delineate its excellences in such a manner, as to give to

the portrait both interest and resemblance; for it requires thought and study to understand the true ground of the superiority of his character over many others, whom he resembled in the principles of action, and even in the manner of acting. But perhaps he excells all the great men that ever lived, in the steadiness of his adherence to his maxims of life, and in the uniformity of all his conduct to the same maxims. These maxims, though wise, were yet not so remarkable for their wisdom, as for their authority over his life for if there were any errors in his judgment, (and he discovered as few as any man) we know of no blemishes in his virtue. He was the patriot without reproach: he loved his country well enough to hold his success in serving it an ample recompense. Thus far self-love and love of country coincided: but when his country needed sacrifices, that no other man could, or perhaps would be willing to make, he did not even hesitate. This was virtue in its most exalted character. More than once he put his fame at hazard, when he had reason to think it would be sacrificed, at least in this age. Two instances cannot be denied: when the army was disbanded; and again, when he stood, like Leonidas at the pass of Thermopyle, to defend our independence against France.

It is indeed almost as difficult to draw his character, as the portrait of virtue. The reasons are similar our ideas of moral excellence are obscure, because they are complex, and we are obliged to resort to illustrations.. WASHINGTON's example is the happiest, to shew what virtue is; and to delineate his character, we naturally expatiate on the beauty of virtue much must be felt, and much imagined. His preeminence is not so much to be seen in the display of any one virtue, as in the possession of them all, and in the practice of the most difficult. Hereafter, therefore, his character must be studied before it will be striking; and then it will be admitted. as a model, a precious one to a free republic!

It is no less difficult to speak of his talents. They were adapted to lead, without dazzling mankind; and to draw forth and employ the talents of others, without being misled by them. In this he was certainly superiour, that he neither mistook nor misapplied his own. His great modesty and reserve would have concealed them, if great occasions had not called them forth; and then, as he never spoke from the affectation to shine, nor acted from any sinister motives, it is from their effects only that we are to judge of their greatness and extent. In public trusts where men, acting conspicuously, are cautious, and in those private concerns, where few conceal or resist their weaknesses, WASHINGTON was uniformly great, pursuing right conduct from right maxims. His talents were such as assist a sound judgment, and ripen with it. His prudence was consummate, and seemed to take the direction of his powers and passions; for, as a soldier, he was more solicitous to avoid mistakes that might be fatal, than to perform exploits that are brilliant; and as a statesman, to adhere to just principles, however old, than to pursue novelties; and therefore, in both characters, his qualities were singularly adapted to the interest, and were tried in the greatest perils, of the country. His habits of inquiry were so far remarkable, that he was never satisfied with investigating, nor desisted from it, so long as he had less than all the light that he could obtain upon a subject, and then he made his decision without bias.

THIS Command over the partialities that so generally stop men short, or turn them aside in their pursuit of truth, is one of the chief causes of his unvaried course of right conduct in so many difficult scenes, where every human actor must be presumed to err. If he had strong passions, he had learned to subdue them, and to be moderate and mild. If he had weaknesses, he concealed them, which is rare, and excluded them from the government of his temper and conduct, which is still more rare. If he lo

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »