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THE RIGHT HONORABLE GEORGE CANNING.
“ When he speaks,
Ir we were desired to point out who amongst“ the choice and master spirits of the age" possesses most entirely the confidence of the public, and the respect of all clasạes of society, we should have no hesitation in selecting the gentleman whose name we have placed at the head of this article. There are, indeed, many men who more astonish and delight the multitude-many who take greater pains to secure to themselves the applause of the superficial and the weak-minded-the lovers of splendor and admirers of magnificence---but there breathes not a man whose talents are more revered-whose wisdom and elo. quence command greater attention, or whose powerful intellect and honorable life more certainly merit the favorable estimation of his fellow-countrymen. Such a man deserves to occupy the first place in the series of Memoirs, which it is our intention to give in the pages of The National Magazine; but, let it be remembered, we enter not into the consideration of his political character and conduct-we stand pledged to confine our pages to literature alone, and we hope to deserve the public favor and support, by a strict adherence to our voluntary engagement. In viewing Mr. Canning, therefore, and all others who may hereafter occupy our attention, we shall cautiously abstain from weighing the policy or the impolicy of the political measures they may have supported. Such inquiries form a subject for the historian, and ought to be left to his investigation. We would judge those of whom we write as men, and not as politicians---we would pourtray them as they are “ in all the charities of father, son, and brother"---we would sympathize with their griefs, and rejoice in their prosperity---we would go with them to the altar, although the shrine at which they knelt, were one to which custom had not taught us to bow---we would join with them in prayer, although the form were one we had not learned to repeat; but we will not enter with them into that political vortex in which man's best feelings and noblest powers are overwhelmed, abused, or lost.
The family of Mr. Canning was originally seated at Foxcote, in Warwickshire, and we believe a branch of the Cannings of Foxcote still resides in that county. Queen Elizabeth conferred the manor of Garragh, in the county of Londonderry, on George Canning, a younger son of the Warwickshire family, who thereupon removed into Ireland, and from him the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is descended. Stratford Canning, Esq. of Garvagh, the grandVOL. I.
father of the subject of our memoir, had two sons, George and Paul. George, the elder son, displeased his parents, by marrying a dowerless beauty, and in consequence was turned upon the world, to push his fortune as he could with a scanty allowance of £150 per annum. This pittance, which he was informed he would not find increased at his father's death, was rather a stimulation to study than a provision for a family; but Mr. Canning, notwithstanding the smallness of his income, and although he had entered himself a student of the Middle Temple, and was subsequently called to the bar, seems to have been fonder of the muses than of the law, and
up to literature rather than to his professional studies. He is said to have ranked with the Whiteheads and Keates's of his day, and to have distinguished himself by various political as well as poetical publications. His love of liberty prompted bim to publish several pamphlets upon subjects of public interest, which attracted considerable attention at the time, but did not assist bis progress at the bar: one of his best known poems is a letter supposed to have been written to Lord W. Cavendish, by Lord William Russell, on the night previous to his execution. There are certainly some very superior lines in this poem, but as a whole, it does not deserve any very exalted praise. The following lines, supposed to have been addressed to Lady Rachel Russell, are natural and forcible, and will be considered peculiarly interesting by all who have seen Mr. Hayter's picture, lately exhibited, in which the heroic conduct of this noble-minded woman during her husband's trial, is very skilfully pourtrayed :
“ Oh! my lov'd Rachel! all accomplish'd fair!
And now the bitterness of death is past.” Mr. Canning was also the author of several other pieces, but neither his legal nor his literary efforts would have sufficed to secure him celebrity, had it not been for the importance which every thing connected with his son has acquired in the public estimation. He died on the 11th of April, 1771, and was interred in the Mary-le-bone new burying-ground. The following inscription is upon the tomb. raised to his memory by his widow :
" Thy virtue and my woe no words can tell,
Its last, best gift---to meet and part no more." George, the illustrious subject of our present consideration, was born in London, a few days before the death of his father, in memory of whom he received his Christian name. The care of his education devolved upon his maternal uncle, a very respectable merchant in the City of London, who at an early age sent him to Eton, where he