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Under the moon on the cool sea shore
Daintily dipping through azure vales,
Under the moon by the dusty road
Our own shall slumber, under the moon.
ALL young men conscious of possessing or who think they possess talents above mediocrity are ambitious; but only a few-a very few-succeed in realizing their youthful aspirations. To most of them the gates of advancement refuse to turn on their golden hinges. Of the rest, the majority, if they do get an entrance, are so soured by the repeated refusals of the churlish porter whom men call Fate or Luck, that they have no spirit remaining to enjoy those Elysian plains which they had so often dreamed of; or having lost zest for the pomp of those marble halls, the revels of which they so often longed to enjoy, though the gate be open, they do not wish to enter, and prefer setting up their tabernacle outside the adamantine walls. But there are still in all ages, a few who rise to the summit
of their most extravagant hopes, who even win an entrance before the chills of age have deprived them of the power of enjoyment, or who, carrying the zest of youth with them throughout life, strive as eagerly and enjoy as keenly in the frosts of December as amidst the blossoms of May.
What is it that distinguishes those favorites of nature from the rest of her children? What is the secret of that fascination before which even the powers of nature seem to yield? We speak not of those who are born with the silver spoon, who have been brought up in the marble palaces, and have sported as children in the Elysian fields, but of the few among the outer tenants, the cottars and squatters of the great common, who force their entrance into the palace grounds. There can be no mistake as
* Contributions to the Edinburgh Review, by Henry, Lord Brougham, F.R.S., Member of the National Institute of France, and of the Royal Academy of Naples. In 3 vols. London and Glasgow : Richard Griffin and Co.. Publishers to the University of Glasgow, 1856.
to the badge which distinguishes these men-it is intellect. They are all men of strong reasoning faculties. This is the sine qua non. Men of brilliant imagination often get the start at first, but unless intellect obtain the mastery they lose their way or loiter behind. Nor is the man of fine feelings and generous heart more likely to succeed; he may conciliate friendship and love, but he will be pushed aside by harder natures, and most likely will retire in disgust from the struggle.
But though superior intellectual powers are absolutely essential to the man who would win the prizes of public life, these powers must be of a peculiar order. The meditative intellect will not do. Its possessor is too much inclined to stand apart and contemplate the struggling crowd, and as he advances in life the prizes of ambition lose their attraction, and thought like virtue is to him its own reward. Neither will the man of subtile analysing mind be more likely to succeed, for he loses time in attempting to extricate the infinite complexities of human affairs, and before he has half finished his laborious examination the moment of action is past. It is, therefore, the practical intellect which characterises the successful man of ambition. intellect capable of directing all its energy, and of carrying along with it the energy of other men, towards some definite end-a mind which expresses itself in action and in business, which is actuated by a desire for results rather than for principles, for the concrete rather than the abstract.
But in addition to this intellectual basis, certain moral qualifications at first sight apparently incompatible are indispensable. For first, the ambitious man must be at once patient and restless. He must work perseveringly to attain his end, but he must not be satisfied with it when attained. Content is fatal to his career -he must ever look mainly to the future, and to the moon for his reward. Secondly, he must be obstinate and he must be pliant-obstinate, to keep to his purpose; pliant, to be able to avail himself of the sinuosities of life. Thirdly, he must be conciliating and imperative, for he must use the arts both of persuasion
and command. And, lastly, he must be honorable, and yet not over scrupulous-honorable, that his party may trust in him; not over scrupulous, that he may, when the crisis comes, carry out some coup d'etat which will do the work of years, and compensate for the shortness of life. The morality of a delicate woman or of an amiable man would be fatal to great success. It is true there are instances of men who have won their spurs with spotless shield-the preux chevaliers of nature-but these are the Miltons, the Chathams, the Wellingtons; men of a different clay from ordinary humanity, spirits of some other world who have been sent here through some freak of nature. But for the common run of ambitious men prudery is failure, and the Jesuit principle is a necessary element in the system of their lives a principle which, although utterly without defence in foro conscientia, is pretty sure of an acquittal before the tribunal of the world, if it has only been lucky enough to retain Success as its advocate.
It will be said, why then should men try to rise to the dignities of life, if, in order to succeed, they must stain the purity of the ermine of their souls? We answer, far be it from us to ask any one so to strive. Let him keep his ermine pure and white if he can, in the position in life in which he was born. This is the teaching of St. Paul. But let him not complain if he do not attain what he does not strive for. The good things of this life are not promised to the pure. In Utopia it is otherwise-the good always prosper and the wicked are unsuccessful-but in this nether world it is as frequently the reverse, arising from that unfitness of things which must ever co-exist with a state of probation; and it is a moral teaching as dangerous as it is unsound, which holds out the rewards of this world as inducements to virtue. Virtue is a road neither to riches nor distinction. He who would win the world's prizes must use the world's weapons. He must labour, he must scheme, and above all he must dare.
But it does not necessarily follow that the ambitious man is lost in the theological sense. ""Twas by ambition that the angels fell, Through
ambition men often rise to a nobler nature than they had before. Great questions of policy, enlarged principles of action, give a more elevated tone to the character, and the latter end of the man is often better than the beginning.
If we were asked for a type or representative of the ambitious man, combining all the qualities most essential to success, and who should best illustrate the principles which we have endeavoured to enunciate, we would fix upon Harry Brougham.
No one ever had the "Scotch" mind more fully developed. No one so eminently combined perseverance with impatience cautious, elaborate preparation with that rapidity of action and energy of expression which secure all the advantages of surprise. Honorable to his party, but the first to suggest to them the most daring acts of strategy, which, when necessary, he did not hesitate to execute; he rose irregularly perhaps, but rapidly and surely, to the summit of his ambition; happy in this, that his moral nature kept pace with his external fortunes, and that when peer of the empire he was in every respect a better man than when tribune of the people.
But it was not alone to nature that Brougham was indebted for his suc
A special education brought into the greatest efficiency the formidable combination of his natural powers, for instinctively and from the very outset his studies were directed by his ambition. Brougham was no student of the Belles Lettres. Poetry seems never to have had attractions; and if he ever perused the novels and romances of his own or of other times, it could not be discovered from his writings. He studied that he might acquire power; and feeling that this could best be done by strengthening his reasoning faculties, he devoted all his attention to those branches of study which seem to have the most direct tendency to that result. Hence, he early addicted himself to mathematics-for there is in this science of sciences something definite in result. It certainly unlocks some of the secrets of nature, and we think it may give a similar mastery over the moral world. Why should human action and motive not be subject to arithmetical calculation
as well as the laws of nature? And does not the higher calculus seem just on the verge of the two worlds of matter and mind, ready to grasp at both ? But a mind like Brougham's was not to be led astray by such fallacies; a slight experience would teach him that the complication of human affairs, their intimate action and reaction, transcends the resources of the subtilest mathematics. He felt the impress of his genius therefore, and passed on to methods more directly applicable to human affairs. Logic and metaphysics were next studied with characteristic ardour, but though he threw on them the light of his original mind, they could not long detain one so eminently practical. He soon discovered that he who would rule mankind must appeal to their prejudices and passions as frequently as to their reason; nor could he fail to see that the metaphysical notion of a man, as made up of so many separate qualities and powers, is a most fallacious representation of a being so essentially individual and concrete. These considerations would direct him to another branch of study, which, while it avowedly purported to appeal to the passions fully as much as to the reason of man, repudiated altogether the metaphysical analysis. In the view of this science-that of Oratory -man was a living, acting being, who must be moved altogether, if at all. Here, then, was the science of sciences to the man ambitious of power; and accordingly Brougham rested content, devoting his meditative power to its exhaustive study and his whole life to its active use.
Such was the education of Lord Brougham,-for his professional training as a barrister merely helped more thoroughly to combine the three courses of study through which he had passed. Not that we mean to say that
he utterly neglected other branches of knowledge; for, with the exception of polite literature, there is evidence in his writings that he is nearly a universalist- a cyclopædia of useful knowledge. But all that is accessory; it hangs on him loosely ; whereas his oratory, his metaphysics, and his mathematics have been imbibed into his nature, and form part of the man.
Now it so happens that we have
had made of the art; while in the same volume the biographical sketches of the statesmen of the Georges afford abundant illustration of our remarks upon the conditions of success necessary to the ambitious man, and also on their special application to Brougham himself. For in sketching lives, in many instances so like his own, he becomes a kind of witness in his own case, and is forced to enunciate opinions and distribute censure or applause which he cannot help seeing apply to himself.
We propose, therefore, to restrict our remarks to this volume for the present, and to content ourselves with a very brief summary of Lord Brougham's oratorical system, and then to pass under review some of the chief of those statesmen whose portraits Lord Brougham here gives us. And when it is considered that to do so involves something like an account of the matter of a dozen Reviews, condensed in the Bramah press of Lord Brougham's style, it will be admitted that we have attempted fully as much as our space can in any manner permit of our accomplishing.
The first remark of Lord Broughham's which attracted our attention on perusing his oratorical articles was, that we lose much of the effect of ancient oratory from ignorance of the peculiarities of feeling in the audience to whom it was addressed; and that even the fullest information will not enlist our sympathies. For instance, in one of Cicero's orations
After working our feelings up to the highest pitch, by the finest painting of vicious excesses, and their miserable effects, the whole is wound up by, what to us appears, a pure anti-climax-a disrespect to some
Nymph of the Grot.' When, again, he is making the father of Verres sum up his iniquities, the first acts enumerated are those of culpable negligence, the next of official corruption, then follows the connivance at the protection of piracy, then the judicial murder of citizens in furtherance of his collusion with the pirates, and after these enormities follows those of inviting matrons to a banquet, and appearing in public with a long purple robe.
But Demosthenes was the favourite orator of Brougham, whom, with only the minimum of allowance necessary for the difference of auditory, he laboured not unsuccessfully to reproduce; so that whether or not Brougham could have been original in his oratory, he has deliberately foregone the attempt, and tied himself down to what would be called the most slavish and literal copying, if it were not that the supreme excellence of the model justifies any sacrifice of any possible originality.
According to Brougham, the study of Demosthenes is the best corrective of the loose style of writing and of oratory current in the present day, which "affords a new instance how wide a departure may be made from nature with very little care, and how apt easy writing is to prove hard reading." It is easy to acquire the faculty of fluent speaking; any one will succeed who will give himself the trouble of frequently trying it, and can harden himself against the pain of frequent failures. Complete selfpossession and perfect fluency can thus be acquired mechanically, but it will be the self-possession of ignorance, and the fluency of speaking about and about a subject. It may be,
That the habit may have taught him something of arrangement, and a few of the simplest methods of producing an impression; but
his diction is sure to be much worse than if he never made the attempt. Such a speaker is never in want of a word, and hardly ever has one that is worth having.
Not in this way did Demosthenes acquire his marvellous oratory.
The greatest of all orators never regarded the composition of any sentence worthy of him to deliver, as a thing of easy execution. Practised as he was, and able surely if any man ever was by his own mastery over language, to pour out his ideas with facility, he elaborated every passage with almost equal care. Having the same ideas to express, he did not, like our easy and fluent moderns, clothe them in different language for the sake of beauty; but reflecting that he had upon the fullest deliberation adopted one form of expression as the best, and because every other must needs be worse, he used it again without any change, unless further labour and more trials had enabled him in any particular to improve the workmanship.
Might not this in part arise from
the fact that books were few, and reporters had not yet been invented? Would Demosthenes have so repeated himself had he lived in the days of Hansard ?
Lord Erskine was to Brougham the English Demosthenes, whom he would rank, if he had the marshalling of Olympus, among the Dii Majores of English oratory-higher than Burke or Pitt; and the copious extracts from his speeches which he adduces, give some support to an opinion, in which, however, we are far from concurring. In correctness of composition and felicity of expression, Erskine may be equal to Burke, and probably superior to Pitt; but what he has to say is of the earth earthy, whereas Burke's thoughts come up from the abyss, and down from the heaven of heavens, and although he may labour occasionally in the expression of a thought, we feel that it is the thought of one belonging to a superior race; and in the case of Pitt, there is a majesty of assertion, a homage of self-respect, expressing itself in noble thoughts, which indicate a nature cast in a loftier mould than that of Erskine.
There can be little difference in opinion as to Erskine's merits as a pleader. Brougham thus explains his
In no one sentence is the subject-the business on hand-the case-the client-the verdict lost sight of; and the fire of that oratory, or rather that rhetoric (for it is quite under discipline) which was melting the hearts and dazzling the understandings of his hearers, had not the power to touch for an instant the hard head of the Nisi Prius Lawyer from which it radiated, or to make him swerve even from the minuter details most befitting his purpose, and the alternate admissions and disavowals best adapted to put his case in the safest position.
From forensic eloquence Brougham passes to the consideration of the oratory of the pulpit. He asks how it happens that, considering the advantages of the preacher over all other orators in a sublime range of subjects, and in an audience who are compelled to attend, or at least to remain, eloquence in the pulpit is so very rare; and he answers that the reason is that people feel more strongly appeals made to them upon matters before their eyes, and at the present time, than topics drawn from the evidence
of things unseen, and which refer to the period when time shall be no
Of the French pulpit orators, Brougham gives the preference to Massillon as the most Demosthenic, holding him much superior to Bossuet. We cannot resist the temptation of affording our readers an opportunity of judging for themselves, by a citation of the passages which are considered the master-pieces of each; and we will also quote a celebrated passage from Robert Hall, which seems to rank him on a par with either of the French divines.
Brougham gives a translation of what he considers the correctest of the several readings of the celebrated passage of Massillon's sermon on the small number of the elect, which we are told made his audience start to their feet :
I figure to myself that our last hour is come; the heavens are opening over our heads. Time is no more, and Eternity has begun. Jesus Christ is about to appear, to judge us according to our deserts; and we are here awaiting at his hands the sentence of everlasting life or death. I ask you now→ stricken with terror like yourselves—in no wise separating my lot from yours, but placing myself in the situation in which we all must one day stand before God our Judgeif Christ, I ask you, were at this moment to come to make the awful partition of the just and the unjust-think you that the greater number would be saved? Do you believe that the numbers would be equal? If the lives of the multitude here present were sifted, would he find among us ten righteous-would he find a single one?
The selection from Bossuet is taken from a sermon on the Day of Judgment; the translation is ours :
The assize is opened--the Judge is seated. Criminal! come plead your case. But you have little time to prepare yourself! O God, how short is the time to unravel an affair so complicated as that of your reckoning and your life. Ah, why address superfluous cries! Ah, why do you bitterly sigh after so many lost years--vainly, uselessly! There is no more time to you. You enter the region of Eternity. See, there is no more visible sun to commence and finish the days, the seasons, the years. It is the Lord himself who now begins to measure all things by his own infinity. I see you astonished and horror-struck at the presence of your Judge ; but look also at your accusers, those poor