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could scarcely be called a politician, in the usual meaning of the term, till, in the latter years of his life, those events began to agitate the world, which were calculated to rouse the attention and interest the feelings of every man of thought and reflection.
He was now led to investigate the character and conducť of the public men of his time. In one who, unhappily for his country and the world, has been too long “ a statesman without power,” he discovered a liberality of sentiment and an openness of profession congenial to his own. Contemplating the perilous situation of his country, an incessant prey to the ravages of war and the accumulation of public burdens, he described Mr. Fox as her
Angel of Redemption."e Of his rival, it is well known that he formed, in earlier life, a far less favourable opinion,' which the expe
“ Defence,” &c. p. 42.
It is favourable to the sincerity of Mr. Wakefield's wellknown sentiments of this statesman that they were formed and expressed long before he had any prospect of becoming one of the victims to the resentful Genius of his administration. See “ Mem.” i. 360, 361, and 505, 506.
He thus describes his early impressions of Mr. Pitt's character:
" I remember Mr. Pitt a youth of sixteen at Cambridge; myself then a youth also, in the same sanctuary of the muses. Even at that early period this extraordinary character kept
rience of his riper years tended only to confirm.
Yet his habits and inclination generally led him to the enjoyments of domestic society and the occupations of private life. As a cheerful and most engaging companion--an able and persevering instructor of the youths committed to his care-a zealous promoter of the interests of learning, with an especial regard to the eventual predominance of religion—in these characters he is peculiarly worthy of being proposed as an example, and in these, indeel, it was his first ambition to excel.
As a companion he has, we believe, been seldom equalled by any professed student; for,
aloof from his contemporaries, with a semblance of high disdain ; as if an association with his fellows, like the contact of a lazar, were accompanied with contamination and debasement. A scowl of contemptuous arrogance was seated on his brow. He seemed even then, in a vision of futurity to anticipate the frightful glories of his destiny ;****
I never varied in my opinion of this man from his first en. trance on public life. And many who hailed the morning of his glory with applause, have been disabused of their unsolid confidence, since his sun has climbed to its meridian: as the unwary
traveller receives the thunderbolt of death from that very tree, under whose hospitable branches he fondly expected an asylum from the storm." Appendix to “ Address to the Judges,” &c. p. 25.
See also “ Letter to William Wilberforce, Esq." p. 43.
among his various 'excellencies, his colloquial powers were eminently conspicuous. No one was ever more fond of social intercourse, or took a more active part in promoting its enjoyment, by keeping conversation alive, whatever turn it might take.
Indeed, it could not be at a stand where he was present. The accommodating disposition with which he applied his varied talents, enabled him to instruct by his learning, or to amuse by a rich fund of anecdote, and lively sallies of humour. Perhaps upon these occasions he was carried too far into the practice of punning; at least, it might be thought so by those who have no talent for that species of pleasantry, from which, however, he carefully abstained when its indulgence might give uneasiness to others,
In conversation, he was not desirous of engrossing too large a share, but rather solicitous to bring forward those around him, especially the young
and the diffident. It might be truly said of him, that “ in speech, neither the pleasantness excluded gravity, nor was the sobriety of it inconsistent with delight. No man parted willingly from his discourse: for he so ordered it, that every man was satisfied that he had his share," 8
* Bp. Sprat, “Life of Cowley."
Though thus unassuming in his manners, he was sure to attract attention to his sentiments on all subjects. Whenever these excited opposition, he would listen to the contrary opinion with the most patient and impartial attention, for he was not less observable for a candid and conciliating mode of argument, than for the readiness and command of language with which he could sustain his own opinion. What he says of himself on this point. was strictly correct. “Though some people regard me as violent and self-willed, I know very well, that I owe the extraordinary affection of my many friends to no one property so much as a kind attention to their sentiments, and a civil manner of disputing them ”h,
That he was subject, especially in his early years, to that irritability of temper which is too frequently an attendant on genius cannot be denied. During the latter period of his life, however, he had so far acquired the mastery over his feelings, which were naturally strong, as to have been but very rarely betrayed, in his conversation, into asperity of language, by the harshness or ill manners of an opponent. When such painful circumstances occurred, they were dismissed as soon as pos
See Letter to his Daughter, Supra, p. 186.
sible from his memory, and never suffered to prejudice his mind in estimating the general merit even of those by whom his sentiments were rudely controverted.
Such were the talents and dispositions which he brought into his social intercourse, a pensive, yet pleasing, recollection of which enables us to speak upon this subject with peculiar confidence. His early love of society has been described by himself, where he mentions that
during a five years' continuance at college he never breakfasted, drank tea, or supped alone, half-a-dozen times." i
He considered it, under due restrictions, as the most useful school of wisdom, and virtue to beings endued with social faculties k. His sentiments
i See " Mem." i. 87.
The following extract of a letter to his daughter, written from Dorchester gaol, while it unequivocally expresses the same opinion, discovers the amiable interest which he took in promoting the innocent pleasures of his children.
“ Your mother and I have no objection to your little brother's visit to Manchester during the vacation, as we think a change of scene and company will be serviceable to him, and turn his thoughts into a new direction. Much interchange of society is, in my opinion, very desirable for the young as well as the old, and perfectly consonant to the nature of a being evidently formed for social communication. The friendly attritions of familiar intercourse rub off all the rugged points, and smooth all the roughnesses of manner and temper, and render the dis