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CHAPTER VI.

BURKE AND HIS FRIENDS.

Though Burke had, at a critical period of his life, definitely abandoned the career of letters, he never withdrew from close intimacy with the groups who still live for us in the pages of Boswell, as no other literary group in our history lives. Goldsmith's famous lines in Retaliation show how they all deplored that he should to party give up what was meant for mankind. They often told one another that Edmund Burke was the man whose genius pointed him out as the triumphant champion of faith and sound philosophy against deism, atheism, and David Hume. They loved to see him, as Goldsmith said, wind into his subject like a serpent. Everybody felt at the Literary Club that he had no superior in knowledge, and in colloquial dialectics only one equal. Garrick was there, and of all the names of the time he is the man whom one would perhaps most willingly have seen, because the gifts which threw not only Englishmen, but Frenchmen like Diderot, and Germans like Lichtenberg, into amazement and ecstasy, are exactly those gifts which literary description can do least to reproduce. Burke was one of his strongest admirers, and there was no more zealous attendant at the closing series of performances in which the great monarch of the stage abdicated his throne. In the last pages that he wrote, Burke refers to his ever dear friend Garrick, dead nearly twenty years before, as the first of actors, because he was the acutest observer of nature that he had ever known.

Among men who pass for being more serious than players, Robertson was often in London society, and he attracted Burke by his largeness and breadth. He sent a copy of his history of America, and Burke thanked him with many stately compliments for having employed philosophy to judge of manners, and from manners having drawn new resources of philosophy. Gibbon was there, but the bystanders felt what was too crudely expressed by Mackintosh, that Gibbon might have been taken from a corner of Burke's mind without ever being missed. Though Burke and Gibbon constantly met, it is not likely that, until the Revolution, there was much intimacy between them, in spite of the respect which each of them might well have had for the vast knowledge of the other. When the Decline and Fall was published, Burke read it as everybody else did; but he told Reynolds that he disliked the style, as very affected, mere frippery and tinsel. Sir Joshua himself was neither a man of letters nor a keen politician; but he was full of literary ideas and interests, and he was among Burke's warmest and most constant friends, following him with an admiration and reverence that even Johnson sometimes thought excessive. The reader of Reynolds's famous Discourses will probably share the wonder of his contemporaries, that a man whose time was so absorbed in the practice of his art should have proved himself so excellent a master in the expression of some of its principles. Burke was commonly credited

a large share in their composition, but the evidence goes no further than that Reynolds used to talk them over with him. The friendship between the pair was full and ish eloquence contains the magnificent description of the young magistrates who undertake the government and the spoliation of India; how," animated with all the avarice of age and all the impetuosity of youth, they roll in one after another, wave after wave; and there is nothing before the eyes of the natives but an endless, hopeless prospect of new flights of birds of prey and of passage, with appetites continually renewing for a food that is continually wasting." How they return home laden with spoil; "their prey is lodged in England; and the cries of India are given to seas and winds, to be blown about, in every breaking up of the monsoon, over a remote and unhearing ocean." How in India all the vices operate by which sudden fortune is acquired; while in England are often displayed by the same person the virtues which dispense hereditary wealth, so that “here the manufacturer and the husbandman will bless the just and punctual hand that in India has torn the cloth from the loom, or wrested the scanty portion of rice and salt from the peasant of Bengal, or wrung from him the very opium in which he forgot his oppression and his oppressors."

No degree of eloquence, however, could avail to repair faults alike in structure and in tactics. The whole design was a masterpiece of hardihood, miscalculation, and mismanagement. The combination of interests against the bill was instant, and it was indeed formidable. The great army of returned nabobs, of directors, of proprietors of East India stock, rose up in all its immense force. Every member of every corporation that enjoyed privilege by charter felt the attack on the Company as if it had been a blow directed against himself. The general public had no particular passion for purity or good government, and the best portion of the public was disgusted with the Coalition. The King saw his chance. With politic audacity he put so strong a personal pressure on the peers, that they threw out the Bill (December, 1783). It was to no purpose that Fox compared the lords to the Janissaries of a Turkish Sultan, and the King's letter to Temple to the rescript in which Tiberius ordered the upright Sejanus to be destroyed. Ministers were disinissed, the young Pitt was installed in their place, and the Whigs were ruined. As a party, they had a few months of office after Pitt's death, but they were excluded from power for half a century.

CHAPTER VI.

BURKE AND HIS FRIENDS.

Though Burke had, at a critical period of his life, definitely abandoned the career of letters, he never withdrew from close intimacy with the groups who still live for us in the pages of Boswell, as no other literary group in our history lives. Goldsmith's famous lines in Retaliation show how they all deplored that he should to party give up what was meant for mankind. They often told one another that Edmund Burke was the man whose genius pointed him out as the triumphant champion of faith and sound philosophy against dcism, atheism, and David Hume. They loved to see him, as Goldsmith said, wind into his subject like a serpent. Everybody felt at the Literary Club that he had no superior in knowledge, and in colloquial dialectics only one equal. Garrick was there, and of all the names of the time he is the man whom one would perhaps most willingly have seen, because the gifts which threw not only Englishmen, but Frenchmen like Diderot, and Germans like Lichtenberg, into amazement and ecstasy, are exactly those gifts which literary description can do least to reproduce. Burke was one of his strongest admirers, and there was no more zealous attendant at the closing series of performances in which the great monarch of the stage abdicated his throne. In the last pages that he wrote, Burke refers to his ever dear

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