« ForrigeFortsett »
theory was at variance with practice, when liberty was invoked by men who knew nothing of it but the name, and whose actions, guided entirely by their passions, were equally violent, arbitrary, and unjust. The rights and powers of colonies, the principles of colonial policy, the principles of commerce, the principles of banking, the collection of revenue, the abuses of office, the powers and duties of magistrates, the distribution of charity, the reviving of agriculture, military, maritime, and international law, and even civil and criminal law!! Upon all these points important questions were continually pressed upon his attention, and with what a perspicacity and strength of reason he treated them; with what an earnest honesty of purpose and principle, he decided them, his Despatches tell."*
Such are our impressions on contemplating the career of the Duke of Wellington. He is throughout great and consistent, while leading others on to success, never (which is a hard task as the annals of history tell) losing command of himself. He is altogether complete: no chink appears in the panoply of the mailed warrior. His has been a sustained career of success, the product of the weighed and measured exercise of all his great powers: combining what in Napoleon's view, was enough to form a great general, even when the individual qualities were not, as here, of the highest standard-daring never too much-restrained by prudence, caution never unduly damping his ardour. His course does not resemble the blazing track of a meteor, so much as the regularity, and steady growing brilliancy of a planetary movement, at length, in brightness and in majesty, flaming on the forehead of the sky."
* Major Napier.-London and Westminster Review, Vol. VI
Alike proof against the evils of success and defeat, he has gone on in triumph
Qualis ab incepto pro cesserit, et sibi constat."
The following is a report of Lord Brougham's speech on the occasion to which we have alluded. "I rise to perform the duty which has been cast upon me, and to enjoy the honour I feel my fellowcitizens have bestowed upon me; and, although I am aware that on such an occasion as that of this day's solemnity, no man has a right to retain any personal feelings on his own behalf, but that all private and selfish and individual considerations are necessarily involved in the celebration of this great day, and in honour of this great man-yet, I feel, that, called upon as I have been, and standing to perform this grateful and honourable duty, it would be affectation-it would be ingratitude-it would be insolent ingratitude-if I were not to express the feelings which glow within my bosom, at being made the humble instrument of expressing those feelings which reign predominant in yours. It is these feelings that bear me up against all the difficulties of the position in which your choice has placed me. Enough for my own feelings ;-now for my mighty subject. Yet the choice you have made of your instrument and organ as it were on this occasion, is not unconnected with that subject; for it shows that, on this day, all personal, all political feelings are quelled; all strife of party is hushed, and that we are incapable, whatever our opinions may be, of refusing to acknowledge transcendant merits, and denying that we feel the irresistible influence of unbounded gratitude. And I therefore have been asked to do this service, as if to shew that no difference on subjects, however important—no long
course of opposition, however contrasted on public principle-no political hostility (for no other than political ever could be felt)-not even long inveterate habits of public opposition-are able so far to pervert the nature, so far to stifle the natural feelings of our hearts, so far to obscure our reason, as to prevent us from feeling as we ought, boundless gratitude for boundless merits-to pluck from our minds an admiration proportioned to such transcendent genius in peace and war, of him who is our guest; or to lighten and alleviate that painful feeling, that deep sense which the mind never can get rid of when it is overwhelmed by a load of gratitude -a debt too boundless to be repaid. Party-the spirit of party-may do much, but it cannot so far bewilder the memory, and pervert the judgment, and quench and stifle the warmth of the natural affections, and eradicate from our bosoms those feelings which do us most honour and are the most unavoidable, and as it were, dry up the kindly juices of the heart, and with its fell malignant influence on other occasions, it cannot so far dry up those juices as to parch it like the very charcoal, and render it almost as black. What else have I to do if I had all the eloquence of all the tongues that ever were attuned to speak? what else can I do, and how could a thousand words, and all the names that can be named, or even the tongue of an angel speak so powerfully, as that very one word, Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, the hero of a hundred fields, in all of which his banner has waved in triumph;-who never-I invoke both hemispheres-bear witness Europe, bear witness Asia who never advanced but to cover his arms with glory-mighty captain, who never advanced but to be victorious-mightier captain, who never
retreated but to eclipse the glories of his advance -performing the yet harder task of unwearied patience, of indomitable fortitude, of exhaustless resources, of transcendant skill-the wonders, the miracles of moral courage never yet subdued-despising all that thwarted him with ill-considered advice-neglecting all hostility, so he knew it to be groundless—leaving to scorn reviling enemies, jealous competitors, lukewarm friends-ay, hardest of all, to neglect-despising even a fickle publiccasting his eye forward, as a man ought, else he deserves not to command men-casting his eye forward to the the time when that momentary fickleness of the people would pass away; well knowing that in the end the people is always just to merit. No doubt, men are apt to be misled by the loud voice of fame, and to confound together the landmarks that separate the departments of human merit; often they may be taken in with the tinsel and the glitter, rather than attend to the die which guarantees the purity of the coin, and the weight which is the test of its value. Oftentimes you hear them praise, justly no doubt, martial deeds of high emprise; and devoting their admiration and lavishing their applause on the conqueror's success on a well-foughten field; but if Salamanca, and if Talavera, and if Vimiera, and if the Douro and Assaye, and Toulouse, and Waterloo-if these dazzle upon the medallion which attempts, and vainly attempts, to perpetuate his fame, sober-minded and reflecting men will pause ere they hold that these are the greatest achievements of his life. The reflecting mind will look back, and will point the admiring look to a contemplation of Torres Vedras, the well and long-sustained lines, and retreats, and battles, and victories gained in adverse circumstances, such
as the splendid achievements of Busaco. All reflection teaches us that that is the very test of genius which shews its resources to be of inexhaustible fertility in difficulties-which shows its movements to be nimble and swift as lightning, altering with varying circumstances-which shows a firm ness, an almost superhuman firmness,-to keep by its own counsel, and look forward to the success it knows and feels it has earned. But that is a moral courage of a higher nature than any that is known or comprehensible by the vulgar brain. To whom are we to compare this warrior-this great statesman ?-who has surpassed Marlborough in the field -who has surpassed Temple in negociation-who stands worthy to be ranked as a statesman, and higher praise there is none-worthy to be ranked with the illustrious head of his noble house-the greatest statesman of the age he adorns-when I said I had but to pronounce a single name, and my task was done, much more may it be asked why having enlarged a little farther on this fruitful topic-this topic of inexhaustible fertility-why I still persevere and go on? Oh ! there is a pleasing satisfaction in reflecting upon all his great merits; and it is because I feel, that at this moment, but one individual of the vast, the countless multitude I am addressing, to whom it is not grateful, that I persist in these observations.I willingly run the risk, or rather encounter the certainty of giving that one individual uneasiness, than avoid going on when I know that all desire to linger a little longer in dwelling on so marvellous a history. Shall I then go back to former ages, and ask if there be any comparison of his victories with those of Cæsar-who, if he equalled him in any, surpassed him in but one particular, and that the