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who either resemble him in ardour, or are united to him by the ties of friendship and affection.
Each of the three characters, of whom I have made frequent mention, is accomplished in his own way nearly to perfection; but not one of them possesses a recommendation which is common to them all. I had almost said that Sheridan has attained whatever individually distinguishes them, and supplied what they respectively want of perfection. The golden tide of eloquence which Burke pours forth; the urbanity, the easy unstudied elegance of North; the subtlety, the vigour, the variety of Fox;—all these qualities are conspicuously united in Sheridan.
In the late public cause instituted against a public governor, how extensive were his claims to favour and to fame! With what energy of voice and spirit did he attach the attention of his hearers of all ranks, ages, and parties! In how wonderful a manner did he communicate delight, and incline the most reluctant spirits to his purpose!
To the discussion of this cause he came admirably prepared—all was anxious expectation and attention. From the very beginning he appeared to justify impatience. That subject, so various, complicated, and abstruse, he comprehended with precision, and explained with systematic acuteness. He placed every argument in that particular point where it had the greatest energy and effect. Throughout a very long speech he was careful to use no imprudent expression, but manifestly and uniformly consistent with himself; his style was dexterously adapted to the contingence of the occasion: in one part he was copious and splendid; in another more concise and pointed, and gave additional polish to truth. Ashe found it necessary, he instructed, delighted, or agitated his hearers. He appeared to have no other object in view but that of giving the fairest termination to the business; to prove the guilt of the accused by the most indisputable evidence; and to confirm the object of the investigation by strong and decisive reasoning. Then first did that Scot, audacious as he is, tremble with alarm, and altogether forget his usual loquacity. But the minister rendered Sheridan the tribute of his suffrage, either because he felt the irresistible impression of his eloquence, or chose to embrace this as the fairest opportunity of atoning for his former most reproachful conduct.
At that time Sheridan discovered a spirit of wit and humour, not mean and vulgar, but consistent with the purest eloquence. His oratory was often rapid and diffused, but in no one instance crowded or redundant; it was, as contingence required, vehement, indignant, and expressive of the justest sorrow: its impression, its splendour, its copiousness and variety, were, in all respects, responsible to the greatness and dignity of the occasion.
With how great applause he was heard by an attentive senate is universally known. His most determined adversaries were compelled to render tribute to his excellence. A large portion was added, not merely to his ingenuous and honourable popularity, but his solid and unfading glory. Posterity will again and again, with renewed delight and wonder, peruse that composition; and, with heartfelt animation, will often apply to him the words of iEschines—" Oh, that we had heard him 1" DR. Parr.
Amidst the general calmness of the political atmosphere, we have been stunned, from another quarter, by one of those death-notes which are pealed at intervals, as from an archangel's trumpet, to awaken the soul of a whole people at once. Lord Byron, who has so long and so amply filled the highest place in the public eye, has shared the lot of humanity. His lordship died at Missolonghi, on the nineteenth of April. That mighty genius, which walked amongst men as something superior to ordinary mortality, and whose powers were beheld with wonder, and something approaching to terror, as if we knew not whether they were of good or of evil, is laid as soundly to rest as the poor peasant whose ideas never went beyond his daily task. The voice of just blame and of malignant censure are at once silenced; and we feel almost as if the great luminary of heaven had suddenly disappeared from the sky, at the moment when every telescope was leveled for the examination of the spots which dimmed its brightness. It is not now the question what were Byron's faults, what his mistakes? but how is the blank which he has
left in British literature to be filled up? Not, we fear, in one generation, which among many highly gifted persons, has produced none who approach Byron in Originality, the first attribute of genius. Only thirty-seven years old:— so much already done for immortality—so much time remaining, as it seems to us shortsighted mortals, to maintain and to extend his fame, and to atone for errors in conduct and levities in composition: who will not grieve that such a race has been shortened, though not always keeping the straight path; such a light extinguished, though sometimes flaming to dazzle and to bewilder? One word on this ungrateful subject ere we quit it for ever. The errors of Lord Byron arose neither from depravity of heart,—for nature had not committed the anomaly of uniting to such extraordinary talents an imperfect moral sense,—nor from feelings dead to the admiration of virtue. No man had ever a kinder heart for sympathy, or a more open hand for the relief of distress; and no mind was ever more formed for the enthusiastic admiration of noble actions, providing he was convinced that the actors had proceeded on disinterested principles. Lord Byron was totally free from the curse and degradation of literature,— its jealousies, we mean, and its envy; but his wonderful genius was of a nature which disdained restraint, even when restraint was most wholesome. When at school, the tasks in which he excelled were those only which he undertook voluntarily; and his situation as a young man of rank, with strong passions, and in the uncon
trolled enjoyment of a considerable fortune, added to that impatience of strictures or coercion which was natural to him. As an author, he refused to plead at the bar of criticism; as a man, he would not submit to be morally amenable to the tribunal of public opinion. Remonstrances from a friend, of whose intentions and kindness he was secure, had often great weight with him; but there were few who could venture on a task so difficult. Reproof he endured with impatience, and reproach hardened him in his error,—so that he often resembled the gallant war-steed, who rushes forward on the steel that wounds him. In the most painful crisis of his private life, he evinced this irritability and impatience of censure in such a degree, as almost to resemble the noble victim of the bull-fight, which is more maddened by the squibs, darts, and petty annoyances of the unworthy crowds beyond the lists, than by the lance of his nobler, and, so to speak, his more legitimate antagonist. In a word, much of that in which he erred was in bravado and scorn of his censors, and was done with the motive of Dryden's despot, "to show his arbitrary power." It is needless to say that his was a false and prejudiced view of such a contest; and if the noble bard gained a sort of triumph, by compelling the world to read poetry, though mixed with baser matter, because it was his, he gave, in return, an unworthy triumph to the unworthy, besides deep sorrow to those whose applause, in his cooler moments, he most valued.
It was the same with his politics, which, on several occasions, assumed a tone menacing and