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and envy had taken possession of his whole soul, soured his temper, narrowed liis views, and perverted his judgment. It was his habit 'to speak evil of dignities,' to assail by ridicule or invective all those persons and things, which, by the common feeling of the rest of the world, were marked out as objects of reverence and admiration. He professed, indeed, to admire the constitution of his country; but it was the constitution as it was said to exist at some remote and never defined period, not the constitution such as it now is, under which, according to him, every species of corruption and injustice had grown up and flourished; and he delighted to carp at that beneficent system of law, to which of all men living he was the most deeply indebted. The mild spirit and lenient administration of English justice were never more clearly exemplified than in the impunity of a man who was constantly treading upon the very verge of crimes that aimed at nothing less than the entire ruin of the state, and whose delight it was to insult the best feelings of the country at a time of universal danger, alarm and irritation. The same temper of mind rendered him unjust to almost every species of excellence in his contemporaries. Among the objects of his particular and personal antipathy, are to be numbered nearly all the great men of his age and country. He hated Dr. Johnson, he hated Mr. Burke, he hated Lord Mansfield, he bated Mr. Pitt, he hated Mr. Fox, and he spoke of them without any of that respect or forbearance which great talents and high station, and the esteem of the greatest part of the world generally extort from less resolute, or less acrimonious adversaries.
The Ishmael of literature and politics, his band was against every man's hand, and every man's hand was against him. Oderint dum metuant seems to have been his motto, and provided he could excite surprize by his paradoxes, and terror by his abuse, he cared little for public esteem, and looked to no more important or more salutary effect. His writings and speeches are all composed in a contident, accusatory tone. It is not enough for him to shew that his adversaries must be wrong, but he is equally determined to prove that they must be dishonest. Dissent from his opinion was not 'mere intellectual weakness, but moral guilt. No man ever more resolutely threw away the scabbard in every attack. He seems to have considered the present order of things as one in which he could find no proper place, and he therefore consoled himself by waging irreconcileable war against all those by whom it was upheld. He does not appear to have acted upon any particular system, or to have directed wis efforts towards any particular object. In fact, the occasions which allowed much active interference on his part but seldom occurred. A popular election, conducted with circumstances of extreme party violence, or a society formed to alter the constitution or controul the government,
were his chief opportunities for distinction, and upon these he seized with great eagerness, and availed himself of them with great ability, But these brilliant moments soon passed away: the election was de. cided, or the society was suppressed, and he was condemned to pass through a long interval of quiet and obscurity. One of his earliest, strongest, and most enduring feelings was antipathy to the House of Commons. But like most other innovators, he seems to have thought that there way no harm in taking advantage of the present system so long as it lasted. Old Sarum, that standing insult to the theory of representation, that byeword among the reformers, had the singular honour of returning the Reverend Mr. Tooke to parliament, who took his seat (apparently) without any scruple as to the number or quality of his coustituents : nor does his dislike to the present order of things appear to have reached its utmost height, till the doors of the house had been finally barred against him by an act of the legislature.
We are atvare that the character we have been drawing, so far as we have hitherto proceeded in the delineation, is not particularly calculated to excite affection or respect. Yet we own that we are much more inclined to regard this waste of his talents, and this perversion of his feelings, with regret and compassion than with severity and anger. There is nothing that has so unfavourable an effect upon the heart and the understanding, nothing that so completely sours the milk of human kindness, as long disappointment and immovable restraint. By a step taken so early in life, that he was excusable at least if he did not at once perceive all its consequences, was debarred from the fair exercise of those talents with which he was most highly gifted, and cut off from the attainment of those objects of which he was naturally most desirous. We all know the vast share accident hasin forming the greatest, the wisest, and most virtuous men; and we shall not do justice to the character of Mr. Tooke if we blame him for what he was, without considering what, under more propitious circumstances, he might have been. He was, as we have had already occasion to remark, the enemy of almost all the eminent men of his time. But if his fetters had been struck off, if he had been suffered to come downı into the arena, and contend with them upon equal terms, a malignant and impotent hostility might have given place to manly emulation and generous rivalry. Let us not, however, he misunderstood as meaning to approve the conduct of those who, having once engaged in a profession in which the best faculties of man may be employed to the best purpose, instead of bending their minds to the accomplishment of its important duties, waste their days in unbecoming endeavours to mix in struggles which they ought to shun, and in unavailing aspirations after a greatness which they have renounced. We bave only ventured to oiler an imperfect ex
cuse arising from the general weakness of the human character, and to plead, as it were, in mitigation of that heavy censure which must at any rate fall upon talents idly wasted or mischievously misapplied.
Remarkable however as those talents were, we do not think they were of the first order. In a favorable situation he might have been more eminent, and would undoubtedly have been more useful; but under no circumstances could he have been a really great man. Promptitude, acuteness, and activity, not grandeur and comprehension, were the characteristics of his mind. All its operations were confined to a narrow sphere. What he saw he saw clearly, but his vision did not extend far. Wholly occupied in the squabble of the day, and anxious about the petty point which it was his immediate desire to carry, he seems to have preserved no just sense of the relative magnitude of objects, and behaved as if the fate of mankind had depended upon the event of the Middlesex or Westminster election. A few questions of merely domestic and national policy (none of them, except parliamentary reform, of much importance) seem to have engrossed all his attention. In the treatment of them he always displays intinite subtlety and ingenuity, and often a great deal of wit: but his chief merit after all seems to have consisted not so much in the choice and temper of his weapons, as in the dexterity with which he handles them. His topics and arguments were the topics and arguments of an ordinary man, only stated with more address and urged with more earnestness and force, but not drawn (like those of Mr. Burke) from the inexhaustible stores of an exuberant, elevated, and comprehensive mind. His strength lay in the argumentum ad hominem,' and in a sort of ingenious lively special pleading upon details. In these he delighted to dwell, and shewed no desire to escape from them to more general and important speculations. He was better pleased in the detection of error than in the investigation of truth ; more anxious to confute and ridicule an adversary than to establish any doctrines of his own. His speeches and political writings, those at least that are known to be his, are few and inconsiderable. It is to the name of the writer alone that they are indebted for having survived the occasions that gave them birth; and we should search them in vain for any traces of that sublime eloquence and profound wisdom which adorn the works of the author of the “ Reflexions. If we were to pursue any farther a comparison which, perhaps, it is hardly fair to institute, we should say, that while it was the tendency of Mr. Burke's mind to give dignity and interest even to matters of a secondary and fugitive kind, by treating them in reference to general principles and more important subjects, it was Mr. Tooke's disposition rather to nar
row the ground, and to descend to that which was local, temporary, and personal, even when engaged in the consideration of questions which it was natural to treat upon a more enlarged scale.
His style is strongly impressed with the character of his mind; -neat, clear, precise, and forcible, free from affectation, void of ornament. We do not think he is ever vulgar; but he is full of that genuine Anglicism' of which the course of his studies rendered him at once an admirer and a master—that native idiom which the brilliant success of some of those who have written English as a foreign language, has, within the last fifty years, brought into disuse, and almost into oblivion. The most finished specimen of his composition is probably to be found in the two or three letters written in answer to the attacks of Junius; and he had the honor, which in those days was deemed no inconsiderable one, of being the only knight that returned with his lance unbroken from a combat with that unknown but terrible champion. If he wants the exquisite polish and the brilliant invective of his adversary, that dexterous malignity which comes in with such effect to blacken a character by insinuation after invective has exhausted its powers, and, above all, that well sustained tone of austere dignity which gives to Junius the air and authority of a great personage in disguise; he is superior to him in facility, vivacity, and that appearance of plainness and sincerity which is of such importance in controversial writings. The great fault of Junius is a sort of stiffness and appearance of labour. His compositions smell too much of the lamp. He wanted nothing to be a perfect master of his art, but the power of concealing it. Mr. Tooke's letters have the flow, unity, and simplicity which belong to writings struck off at a heat, and which depend for their effect rather upon the general powers of the writer than upon great nicety and labour in the particular instance. In justice to Junius, as a writer, we must add that he was laboring under the disadvantages of a weak case. It is evident that he was early and deeply sensible of his own mistake; and he was therefore glad to put an end to the contest as soon as possible, even at the price of leaving his adversary in possession of the field; a humiliation to which he would not have submitted but from the consciousness of his having originally selected an unfavourable ground.
In speaking of Mr. Tooke's intellectual character we have bitherto omitted to notice one of its most striking features, the love of paradox; a disposition which, though the natural companion of subtlety and ingenuity, was, we believe, never found combined with true greatness of mind. To add to the difficulty of a proposition by a quaint unusual method of enunciating it, to display a vain dexterity in defence of an acknowledged error, to dress up Y 3
truth in a strange masquerade garb, in hopes that somebody will mistake her for falsehood these are frivolous childish amusements, and indicative of an unsound or ill-regulated understanding. No man that possessed the reasoning power in its full perfection was ever willing to waste it in drawing a stare from ignorance and vulgarity: on the contrary, those who have contributed most to enlarge the bounds of human knowledge, by the discovery of new and important truths, have almost always been anxious to place them in that point of view in which they would give the least possible alarm, and win their way to a general acceptance with the least possible opposition from the common prejudices and feelings of the world. But truth and error, as such, were almost indifferent to Mr. Tooke. He was more a sophist than a philosopher, and was always most inclined to maintain that proposition, whatever it might be, that atforded him the best opportunity of exhibiting to advantage his argumentative acuteness and skill. He was a sort of intellectual juggler; and provided he could keep the multitude gaping at the dexterity with which he handled his cup and balls, he cared very little whai farther effect the spectacle might have upon their mind.
We shall naturally be expected to say something of Mr. Tooke's philosophical writings; but this is a subject into which our limits do not permit us to enter at large. Besides, it has been lately discussed with such ability, and in a manner, to us at least, so satisfactory, that we could do very little more than repeat to our readers remarks that have already been made with infinitely greater force and authority.
Shortly, however, our opinion is this,-that though Mr. Tooke's philosophical works are the result of no common talent and industry, yet they are neither written in a truly philosophical spirit, nor display traces of a mind, which, even if it had been wholly dedicated to the study of metaphysics, would have much enlarged the bounds of our knowledge in that vice and intricate branch of science. His object seems to have been rather to retard, than to advance the progress of philosophy, by recalling us from those sound conclusions as to the nature and operations of the human mind, which are built upon observation and experience, to vague speculations drawn from the imperfect analogy existing between the moral and the physical world. There can be no doubt that the proposition which he has succeeded in establishing, is highly interesting and important; and that in the illustration of it, he has shewn great learning, ingenuity, and research. But then, on the other hand, he has so monstrously exaggerated its importance, and 80 widely mistaken its tendency, and has attempted to raise so vast a superstructure, upon such a narrow, slippery, and inadequate