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companied by a presumptuous confidence in private judgment: a dislike of all established forms merely because they are established, and of the old paths merely because they are old: it has such a tendency to go too far rather than not far enough; that this great man, conscious of the blessings of society and of the many perplexities which accompany even the most beneficial alterations, always looked with suspicion upon a love of change, whether it existed in himself or in others. In his advice to Sir George Villiers he said, “Merit the admonition of the wisest of men: My son, fear God and the King, and meddle not with those who are given to change.''
(c) False patriotism, till it gain its end,
Is as the true in many semblances.
It wins those hearts for which its bait is thrown.
'Tis flattering, cruel,
Deux citoiens haranguoient sur la place,
Montés chacun sur un tréteau :
L'un vend force poisons, distillés dans une eau
Il attroupe la populace.
Pour rien débite un antidote:
Et l'on court à l'empoisonneur.
As a statesman his first wish was, in the true spirit of Reform as
statesman. his philosophy, to preserve; the next, to improve the constitution in church and state.
In his endeavours to improve England and Scotland he was indefatigable and successful. He had no sooner succeeded than he immediately raised his voice for oppressed Ireland, with an earnestness which shows how deeply he felt for her sufferings. “Your majesty,” he said, “accepted my poor field fruits touching the union, but let me assure you that England, Scotland, and Ireland well united, will be a trefoil worthy to be worn in your
She is blessed with all the dowries of nature and with a race of generous and noble people; but the hand of man does not unite with the hand of nature. The harp of Ireland is not strung to concord. It is not attuned with the harp of David in casting out the evil spirit of superstition, or the harp of Orpheus in casting out desolation and barbarism."
In these reforms he acted with his usual caution. He looked about him to discover the straight and right way, and so to walk in it. He stood on such an eminence, that his eye rested not upon small parts, but comprehended the whole. He stood on the ancient way. He saw this happy country, the mansion house of liberty. He saw the order and beauty of her sacred buildings, the learning and piety of her priests, the sweet repose and holy quiet of her decent sabbaths, and that best sacrifice of humble and simple devotion, more acceptable than the fire of the temple which went not out by day or by night. He saw it in the loveliness of his own beautiful description of the blessings of government. “ In Orpheus's theatre all beasts and birds assembled, and forgetting their several appetites, some of prey, some of game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably together, listening to the airs and accords
of the harp, the sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but every beast returned to his own nature; wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men: who are full of
and unreclaimed desires of profit, of lust, of revenge, which as long as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly touched with eloquence, and persuasion of books, of sermons, of harangues, so long is society and peace maintained; but if these instruments be silent, or sedition and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy
and confusion." Reform of In gradual reform of the law, his exertions were indelaw.
fatigable. He suggested improvements both of the civil and criminal law: he proposed to reduce and compile the whole law; and in a tract upon universal justice, “ Leges Legum,” he planted a seed which, for the last two centuries, has not been dormant, and is now just appearing above the surface. He was thus attentive to the ultimate and to the immediate improvement of the law: the ultimate improvement depending upon the progress of knowledge. “Veritas temporis filia dicitur, non authoritatis :” the immediate improvement upon the knowledge by its professors in power, of the local law, the principles of legislation, and general science.
So this must ever be. Knowledge cannot exist without the love of improvement. The French Chancellors, D'Aguesseau and L'Hôpital, were unwearied in their exertions to improve the law; and three works upon imaginary governments, the Utopia, the Atlantis, and the Armata,
were written by English Chancellors. Sir Wm. So Sir William Grant, the reserved intellectual Master of Grant.
the Rolls, struck at the root of sanguinary punishment, when, in the true spirit of philosophy, he said, “ Crime is prevented not by fear, but by recoiling from the act with
horror, which is generated by the union of law, morals, and religion. With us they do not unite; and our laws are a dead letter."(a) So too by the exertions of the philosophic and benevolent Sir S.
Romilly. Sir Samuel Romilly, who was animated by a spirit public as nature, and not terminated in any private design, the criminal law has been purified; and, instead of monthly massacres of young men and women, we, in our noble times, have lately read that “there has not been one execution in London during the present shrievalty.” With what joy, with what grateful remembrance has this been read by the many friends of that illustrious statesman, who, regardless of the senseless yells by which he was vilified, went right onward in the improvement of law, the advancement of knowledge, and the diffusion of charity.(6)
Such were Bacon's public exertions.—In private life he Private was always cheerful and often playful, according to his own favourite maxim, “To be free-minded and cheerfully disposed at hours of meat, and of sleep, and of exercise, is one of the best precepts of long lasting.”(c)
(a) I was in the house when the observation was pressedly made by Sir William. It apparently fell still-born. I said to a friend who was with me, “ These punishments are at an end."
(6) I never applied to him for an object in distress, but he thankfully opened his purse.
Of the reforms by the Lord Chancellor Brougham, it is not the proper time, nor, perhaps, am the proper person to form a correct judgment. This will be the subject of future consideration.
(c) “His meals," says Dr. Rawley,“ were refections of the ear as well as of the stomach, like the Noctes Atticæ, or Convivia Deipno-Sophistarum ; wherein, a man might be refreshed in his mind and understanding no less than in his body. And I have known some, of no mean parts that have professed to make use of their note-books when they have risen from his table; in which conversations,
The art of conversation, that social mode of diffusing kindness and knowledge, he considered to be one of the valuable arts of life, and all that he taught he skilfully and gracefully practised. When he spoke, the hearers only feared that he should be silent, yet he was more pleased to listen than to speak, “glad to light his torch at any man's candle.” He was skilful in alluring his company to discourse upon subjects in which they were
and otherwise, he was no dashing man, as some men are, but ever a countenancer and fosterer of another man's parts. Neither was he one that would appropriate the speech wholly to himself, or delight to outvie others, but leave a liberty to the co-assessors to take their turns; wherein he would draw a man on, and allure him to speak upon such a subject as wherein he was peculiarly skilful, and would delight to speak. And, for himself, he contemned no man's observations, but would light his torch at every man's candle.”
Fuller, in his life of Lord Burleigh says, “ No man was more pleasant and merry at meals; and he had a pretty wit-rack in himself to make the dumb to speak; to draw speech out of the most sullen and silent guest at his table, to shew his disposition in any point he should propound. At night when he put off his gown he used to say, “Lie there, Lord Treasurer,' and bidding adieu to all state affairs, disposed himself to his quiet rest."
“And now the evening is come, no tradesman doth more carefully take in his wares, clear his shop-board and shut his windows, than I would shut up my thoughts and clear my mind. That student shall live miserably, which like a camel lies down under his burthen.”—Bishop Hall.
Plutarch tells us Democritus used to say, “ That if the body and the soul were to sue one another for damages, it would be a doubtful question whether the landlord or the guest were most faulty.”
Plato's caution is very just, which is, “ That we ought not to exercise the body without the soul, nor the soul without the body."
Plutarch, in his book De Præceptis Salubribus, which he wrote, as he declares himself, for the benefit of studious persons and politicians: “ The ox said to his fellow servant the camel, which refused to bear part of his burden, In a little time it will be your turn to carry all my burden instead of a part.