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appear that he understood what they said, or was the least affected by their conduct. The sentence of the law was soon executed upon him ; the crowd speedily began to disperse, and the tranquillity of the metropolis was re-established. Thus perished, in the 50th year of , his age, the Right Honourable Spencer Perceval; a man who was not more distinguished by the singular variety and extent of his talents, than by the possession of almost every public and private virtue. Descended of an ancient and honourable family, and discovering in his youth the marks of those high qualities which afterwards became so conspicuous, he was better entitled than most of his contemporaries 'to indulge the hopes of an honourable ambition, and to look forward to the most gratifying distinctions to which a great and vigorous mind can aspire. The state of his fortune, however, required that he should be educated to some profession; and he was accordingly called to the bar, where he rose to great eminence, and attained the highest reputation. The practice of the law, as a preparation for public life, has its advantages and inconveniences ; while it invigorates some of the faculties, it has a tendency, perhaps, to narrow the range of the intellect, and is more propitious to acuteness of reasoning and brilliancy of wit, than to depth of understanding, comprehensiveness of views, and energy of character. Such, certainly, was the opinion of a great orator and statesman, who admitted, however, that there are men so happily born that they can triumph over the obstacles presented by the narrow habits of a professional life, to the full development of the highest qualifications of the mind.— Among the most distinguished of these exceptions, we may justly rank the late 'Mr Perceval, who, although brought almost immediately from the bar to
the direction of the national councils in the most difficult times, displayed powers of mind fully adequate to his arduous duties. To the ascendancy of his genius his political antagonists were forced to submit; they submitted with reluctance and murmuring, it is true; but still they were compelled to yield to the voice of the nation which proclaimed his superiority.— The singular versatility f his talents had full employment even during the short period of his political career. He first came forward after the death of Mr Pitt, and during the short administration of the whigs, as a speaker on the side of opposition; his pointed wit and severe sarcasm rendered him useful to his friends, and formidable to his enemies. He was soon called to fill an office of high trust and power in the government, and was afterwards elevated, by the favour of his royal master, to the chief direction of the public councils. The talents for which he had become so remarkable in opposition were now of less service to him ; but he had other and higher resources at command :-An easy and ready elocution,-aquickness and penetration almost unrivalled,—unwearied industry, —great powers of combination,-wisdom in planning, and resolution in executing the measures which he thought the most beneficial for his country, were among the eminent qualities which he displayed as chief minister. He had not been long in power when a great national calamity placed him in circumstances the most embarrassing, when he was called upon to propose measures in which his feelings as a man, and his sense of duty as a minister, were both put to severe trial, and when he had to expect from the past disappointment of his enemies and their newly-raised hopes, an opposition at once violent and formidable.His conduct on this singular occasion, which so well reconciled the most devoted and respectful tenderness to his
sovereign, with the most conscientious
discharge of a great public duty,+ which united the firmest and manliest perseverance in that course which the constitution of the country appeared to him to prescribe, with the utmost mildness and candour towards adversaries, who tried every method of disturbing the gentleness of his mind, will be long remembered with gratitude and admiration. With reference to these memorable transactions, it has been well remarked, by one who had a near view of his character, that “ in the critical situation in which he stood, his enemies might have expected to find him timid, but they found him firm ; weak, and he shewed them his strength ; wavering, and he was faithful; off his guard, and he was never disconcerted ; out of humour, and nothing could disturb the suavity of his manner; possessing a genius at once deep, solid, and extensive, aided by a penetration which let nothing escape; displaying a great legal knowledge, and a perfect comprehension of the magnitude and importance of the part he had to act, with an upright mind, and an inflexible determination to do his duty. Not for a moment did he lose sight of the interest of his sovereign ; but although his opponents were strong, and the task he had to perform difficult, he confirmed and established the rights of the crown in such a manner as best supported its true dignity, secured the ease and comfort of the declining monarch, and satisfied the spirit and feelings of a great and generous nation Yet his #. presented no struggle; he was quick in reply, strong in argument, never embarrassed, but always taking the deepest and most comprehensive view of the subject in debate, and displaying as much firmness in support of the measures he adopted for the public
safety, as talents and understanding to
shew in what that safety consisted, foiling his antagonists, and often extorting from them an acknowledgment of those talents which so unequivocally established his character, and raised it to a level with that of the greatest men of this or any other age.”
His enemies have acknowledged the vigour and penetration of his mind; but they have charged him with nar
row and unphilosophical views, illi
beral maxims, and ignorance of modern science. If by science they mean that barren system of metaphysical subtleties which has been so well applied by the professors of the present day to obscure the most obvious truths, which seeks to shelter impiety and crimes, while it would fain cast ridicule on the sentiments of virtue, which underpretence of liberality, would extinguish alike the ardour of patriotism and of piety; if this be what they mean by modern science, there can be no doubt that Mr Perceval despised it. It can be no reproach to him with those whose opinion can be of any value to his memory, that he neglected what the great Lord Chatham would have abhorred,—that he did not patronise the followers of a creed which Mr Pitt had spent his life in resisting.
But Mr Perceval, although uninitiated in the mysteries of modern philosophy, was well skilled in the principles which were professed by the greatest of his predecessors; he knew the constitution of his country, and he was determined to preserve it unimpaired. He sincerely and ardently loved his native land; he knew that with all her imperfections, England was still the great model of political excellence, and he needed not the aids of a shallow and presumptuous philosophy to tell him, that she possessed energies in herself which would yet enable her to take vengeance for the crimes of her neighbours. In his determination to persevere in the mighty contest which he had to conduct for the liberties of the world, he was firm but not arrogant, —calm and considerate, seldom betrayed into boasting, but never sinking into despondency. He saw that the unhappy circumstances of Europe would compel England to become for a time a great military nation; but he was also aware that so serious a change must, in the present state of society, be attempted with caution, and with as small a deduction as possible from the comforts of civil life. He knew that the British army under its illustrious commander, must on all occasions cover itself with glory; that discipline and experience would add to its triumphs, and diffuse a military spirit throughout the nation; and that the application of the resources of the country to the prosecution of the war, could never be difficult, when seconded by the enthusiasm of the people. In the oppressed state of the continent, in the personal character of the chief who had usurped a controul over its destinies, his penetration discovered the chances of that general spirit of resistance which was afterwards to re-establish the independence and secure the repose of Europe. The measures of commercial violence to which the enemy resorted, were answered by Mr Perceval with the same firmness which he displayed on all other occasions; and notwithstanding the clamour which was raised on this subject, posterity will perhaps discover no other fault in the measures adopted by this great man, than that they were of a character somewhat above the feelings and temper of the age in which he #. That the orders in council produced commercial distress, although to a much less degree than has been generally supposed, may be admitted by the admirers of this eminent person, without detracting in any way, from his reputation. Let it be recollected, however, that
the measures were ...just ;
that they had been provoked by the lawless violence of the enemy; that neutrals, by acquiescence, had made themselves parties to the outrage, and that it concerned the national honour (a point which is dearer than all others to a virtuous and high-minded man,) to repel the aggression. A portion of the community was, no doubt, exposed to severe suffering; and some of the lower orders not only made violent complaints, but proceeded to acts little short of rebellion. The people of Rome, in the most dreadful extremity of the republic, would not have acted thus when the question was about avenging the insults of an enemy; and perhaps it would be well, not for the memory of Mr Perceval, but for the national character, if a veil could be drawn over these disgraceful Scenes. Even the more respectable advocates of catholicemancipation may have been induced by recent events to applaud the sagacity of this great minister, who at all times shewed a firm resolution to concede nothing to violence and disaffection. Those who imagined that in the refusal of Mr Perceval at once to concede the catholic claims, they had found an apology for the bitterest reproaches, may be somewhat more moderate in their censures when they reflect, that the impolicy of his views on this subject has never yet been proved by the only unerring test in political affairs, the test of experience. If Mr Perceval’s public virtues commanded the admiration of his country, his private character secured him the love of all who had the happiness of knowing hims—Mild, affable, sincere, a tender husband, an affectionate parent, a kind and faithful friend, it may, perhaps, with more truth be said of him than of any other great name in history, that he possess
State of the Administration after the Death of Mr Perseval.
ley's Motion in the House of Commons for an Address to the Prince The Prince entrusts the Marquis Wellesley with Powers to form a new Administration. Causes which had induced the Marquis to retire from Qiffice.
Publication of the Statement of the Failure of the
Negociation, and Resignation by Marquis Wellesley of his Powers. Discus
sions in Parliament on this Subject.
Lord Moira is entrusted with Powers
to form an Administration, but fails. Debates and Explanations in Parlia
THE death of Mr Perceval threw the country into the utmost consternation; and as a very high opinion was entertained of his talents, a belief prevailed that his colleagues could not, without some accession of strength, continue to conduct the affairs of government. That this opinion was ill-founded subsequent events have very clearly demonstrated ; but the ministers themselves, whether from a feeling of modesty, which is not always a proof of slender talent, or from a wish to gratify the supposed inclinations of the people, seemed anxiously to desire that accession of strength of which they were believed to stand in need. In fixing on the quarter to which they should apply for assistance, they could not long hesitate; with the leaders of opposition, who had declared so lately, that they differed with ministers on every point of policy, it was impossible that they could coalesce, and their views were too sincere and honourable to permit them to make an attempt, which they knew well must have proved unsuccessful. They naturally looked for support, therefore,
The Colleagues of the late Mr Perceval are confirmed in Power.
to some men of distinguished abilities who had once formed part of the administration ; and who, although removed by untoward circumstances, still maintained a general conformity of political sentiments. Overtures were accordingly made by Lord Liverpool to Marquis Wellesley and Mr Canning; and the terms proposed by him were such as the honour of both parties demanded. He stated, in his communication to them, that the Prince Regent, although determined to continue his administration on its present basis, was desirous of strengthening it by the aid of such persons as agreed most nearly and generally in the principles on which public affairs had been conducted; that, with this view, his royal highness naturally looked to Lord Wellesley and Mr Canning; that the arrangements should be made honourable and satisfactory to them ; that the friends of both should be included; and that while he (Lord Liverpool) should be placed at the head of the treasury, Lord Castlereagh should retain the situation which he then held, both in the government and