« AnteriorContinuar »
vod breeding, he was the very opposite to an assenter. The word “disputatious” is generally used as a word of reproach ; but we can express our meaning only by saying that Lord Holland was most courteously and pleasantly disputatious. In truth, his quickness in discovering and apprehending distinctions and analo gies was such as a veteran judge might envy. The lawyers of the Duchy of Lancaster were astonished to find in an unprofessional man so strong a relish for the esoteric parts of their science, and complained that as soon as they had split a hair, Lord Holland proceeded to split the filaments into filaments still finer. In a mind less happily constituted, there might have been a risk that this turn for subtilty would have produced serious evil. But in the heart and understanding of Lord Holland there was ample security against all such danger. He was not a man to be the dupe of his own ingenuity. He put his logic to its proper use; and in him the dialectician was always subordinate to the statesman.
His political life is written in the chronicles of his country. Perhaps, as we have already intimated, his opinions on two or three great questions of foreign policy were open to just objection. Yet even his errors, if he erred, were amiable and respectable. We are not sure that we do not love and admire him the more because he was now and then seduced from what we regard as a wise policy by sympathy with the oppressed, by generosity towards the fallen, by a philanthropy so enlarged that it took in all nations, by love of peace, a love which in him was second only to the love of freedom, and by the magnanimous credulity of a mind which was as incapable of suspect ing as of devising mischief.
To his views on questions of domestic policy the voice of his countrymen does ample justice. They revere the memory of the man who was, during forty years, the constant protector of all oppressed races and persecuted sects, of the man whom neither the prejudices nor the interests belonging to his station could seduce from the path of right, of the noble, who in every great crisis cast in his lot with the commons, of the planter, who made manful war on the slave trade, of the landowner, whose whole heart was in the struggle against the corn-laws.
We have hitherto touched almost exclusively on those parts of Lord Holland's character which were open to the observation of millions. How shall we express the feelings with which his memory is cherishui by those who were honoured with his friendship? Or in what language shall we speak of that house, once celebrated for its rare attractions to the furthest ends of the civilised world, and now silent and desolate as the grave ? To that louse, a hundred and twenty years ago, a poet addressed those tender and graceful lines, which have now acquired a new meaning not less sad than that which they originally bore.
“Thou hill, whose brow the antique structures grace,
Thine evening breezes, and thy noon-day shade."
follow their illustrious masters. The wonderful city which, ancient and gigantic as it is, still continues to grow as fast as a young town of logwood by a waterprivilege in Michigan, may soon displace those turrets and gardens which are associated with so much that is interesting and noble, with the courtly magnificence of Rich, with the loves of Ormond, with the counsels of Cromwell, with the death of Addison. The time is coming when, perhaps, a few old men, the last survivors of our generation, will in vain seek, amidst new streets and squares, and railway stations, for the site of that dwelling which was in their youth the favourite resort of wits and beauties, of painters and poets, of scholars, philosophers, and statesmen. They will then remember, with strange tenderness, many objects once familiar to them, the avenue and the terrace, the busts and the paintings, the carving, the grotesque gilding, and the enigmatical mottoes. With peculiar fondness they will recall that venerable chamber, in which all the antique gravity of a college library was so singularly blended with all that female grace and wit could devise to embellish a drawing-room. They will recollect, not unmoved, those shelves loaded with the varied learning of many lands and many ages, and those portraits in which were preserved the features of the best and wisest Englishmen of two generations. They will recollect how many men who have guided the politics of Europe, who have moved great assemblies by reason and eloquence, who have put life into bronze and canvas, or who have left to posterity things so written that it shall not willingly let them die, were there mixed with all that was loveliest and gayest in the society of the most splendid of capitals. Thev will remember the peculiar character which belongeu to that circle, in
which every talent and accomplishment, every art and science, had its place. They will remember how the last debate was discussed in one corner, and the last comedy of Scribe in another; while Wilkie gazed with modest admiration on Sir Joshua's Baretti; while Mackintosh turned over Thomas Aquinas to verify a quotation ; while Talleyrand related his conversations with Barras at the Luxembourg, or his ride with Lannes over the field of Austerlitz. They will remember, above all, the grace, and the kindness, far more admirable than grace, with which the princely hospitality of that ancient mansion was dispensed. They will remember the venerable and benignant countenance and the cordial voice of him who bade them welcome. They will remember that temper which years of pain, of sickness, of lameness, of confinement, served only to make sweeter and sweeter, and that frank politeness, which at once relieved all the embarrassment of the youngest and most timid writer or artist, who found himself for the first time among Ambassadors and Earls. They will remember that constant flow of conversation, 80 natural, so animated, so various, so rich with observation and anecdote; that wit which never gave a wound; that exquisite mimicry which ennobled, instead of degrading; that goodness of heart which appeared in every look and accent, and gave additional value to every talent and acquirement. They will remember, too, that he whose name they hold in reverence was not less distinguished by the inflexible uprightness of his political conduct than by his loving disposition and his rinning manners. They will remember that, in the last lines which he traced, he expressed his joy that he had done nothing unworthy of the friend of Fox and Grey; and they will have reason to feel similar joy, if in looking back on many troubleu years, they cannot accuse themselves of having done any thing unworthy of men who were distinguished by the friendship of Lord Holland.