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5. Sir, I have from the beginning of these discussions supported Reform, on two grounds: first, because I believe it to be in itself a good thing; and, secondly, because I think the dangers of withholding it to be so great, that, even if it were an evil, it would be the less of two evils. I shall not relinquish the hope that this great contest may be conducted, by lawful means, to a happy termination. But of this I am assured, that, by means lawful or unlawful, to a termination, happy or unhappy, this contest must speedily come. '
6. All that I know of the history of past times, all the observations that I have been able to make on the present state of the country, have convinced me that the time has arrived when a great concession must be made to the democracy of England; that the question, whether the change be in itself good or bad, has become a question of secondary importance: that, good or bad, the thing must be done; that a law as strong as the laws of attraction and motion has decreed it.
7. I well know that history, when we look at it in small portions, may be so construed as to mean anything; that it may be interpreted in as many ways as a Delphic oracle. “The French revolution," says one expositor, “ was the effect of concession.” “ Not so," cries another; "the French revolution was produced by the obstinacy of an arbitrary government.” These controversies can never be brought to any decisive test or to any satisfactory conclusion. But, as I believe that history, when we look at it in small fragments, proves anything or nothing, so I believe that it is full of useful and precious instruction when we contemplate it in large portions, — when we take in, at one view, the whole lifetime of great societies.
8. We have heard it said a hundred times, during these discussions, that the people of England are more free than ever they were ; that the government is more democratic than ever it was; and this is urged as an
argument against Reform. I admit the fact, but I deny the inference. The history of England is the history of a government constantly giving way, — sometimes peaceably, sometimes after a violent struggle, — but constantly giving way before a nation which has been constantly advancing. It is not sufficient to look merely at the form of government. We must look to the state of the public mind.
9. The worst tyrant that ever had his neck wrung in modern Europe might have passed for a paragon in Persia or Morocco. Our Indian subjects submit patiently to a monopoly of salt. We tried a stamp-duty - a duty so light as to be scarcely perceptible — on the fierce breed of the old Puritans, and we lost an Empire! The government of Louis the Sixteenth was certainly a much better and milder government than that of Louis the Fourteenth: yet Louis the Fourteenth was admired, and even loved, by his people ; Louis the Sixteenth died on the scaffold! Why? Because, though the government had made many steps in the career of improvement, it had not advanced so rapidly as the nation.
10. These things are written for our instruction. There is a change in society. There must be a corresponding change in the government. You may make the change tedious; you may make it violent; you may — God, in his mercy, forbid ! — you may make it bloody; but avert it you cannot. Agitations of the public mind, so deep and so long continued as those which we have witnessed, do not end in nothing. In peace, or in convulsion, — by the law, or in spite of the law,— through the Parliament, or over the Parliament, - Reform must be carried. Therefore, be content to guide that movement which you cannot stop. Fling wide the gates to that force which else will enter through the breach.
XXX. — ADDRESS TO A WILD DEER.
By the WEATHER-GLEAM the poet means a sudden shoot of light in the direction from which the wind blows. In line 7 BORNE is not a perfect rhyme to MORN ; in borne o is long as in bore; in morn it has the sound of o in nor. In lines 33, 34, SHONE should be pronounced shon, GONE, gòn. The unaccented vowel is sounded in ves'sel, but not in heaven. Pronounce the following: dalli-ance, spir'it, glory (glore'ry), creature, nat'ure; i'dol, voylage. Do not say deps for depths; strenth for strength.
See in the Index, HEATHER, SKY, RADIANCE, ERE, FOREHEAD, WILSON.
Delivery. The first three stanzas should be rendered with great animation and enthusiasm; at the fourth the modulation should change, and the voice be lowered in sympathy with the sudden repose which the poet would express.
MAGNIFICENT creature ! so stately and bright!
Up, up to yon cliff, like a king to the throne,
XXXI. - THE CHARACTER OF GASCA.
PRESCOTT. See in the Index, COMELY, ECONOMICAL, EXTRAORDINARY, PLACABLE, REALLY ; GASCA, LAS CASAS, WASHINGTON, PRESCOTT.
1. GASCA was plain in person, and his countenance was far from comely. He was awkward and ill-proportioned; for his limbs were too long for his body, - So that when he rode, he appeared to be much shorter than he really was. His dress was humble, his manners simple, and there was nothing imposing in his presence. But, on a nearer intercourse, there was a charm in his discourse that effaced every unfavorable impression produced by his exterior, and won the hearts of his hearers.
2. The president's character presented a combination of qualities which generally serve to neutralize each other, but which were mixed in such proportions in him as to give it additional strength. He was gentle, yet resolute; by nature intrepid, yet preferring to rely on the softer arts of policy. He was frugal in his personal expenditure, and economical in the public; yet caring nothing for riches, on his own account, and never stinting his bounty when the public good required it.
3. He was benevolent and placable, yet could deal sternly with the impenitent offender; lowly in his deportment, yet with a full measure of that self-respect which springs from conscious rectitude of purpose ; modest and unpretending, yet not shrinking from the most difficult enterprises ; deferring greatly to others, yet, in the last resort, relying mainly on himself; moving with deliberation, — patiently waiting his time; but, when that came, bold, prompt, and decisive.
4. Gasca was not a man of genius, in the vulgar sense of that term. At least, no one of his intellectual powers seems to have received an extraordinary development, beyond what is found in others. He was not a great writer, nor a great orator, nor a great general. He did not affect to be either. He committed the care of his military matters to military men ; of ecclesiastical, to the clergy; and his civil and judicial concerns he reposed on the members of the audience.
5. He was not one of those little great men who aspire to do everything themselves, under the conviction that nothing can be done so well by others. But the president was a keen judge of character. Whatever might be the office, he selected the best man for it. He did more. He assured himself of the fidelity of his agents, presided at their deliberations; dictated a general line of policy, and thus infused a spirit of unity into their plans, which made all move in concert to the accomplishment of one grand result.