« IndietroContinua »
such plain fare as they find in the Library of Useful Knowledge, may find the Library of Entertaining Knowledge suited to their taste. It is published by the same society, and contains,' to use the words of the Committee, as much entertaining matter as can be given along with useful knowledge, and as much knowledge as can be conveyed in an amusing form.' This work is published in small monthly numbers. A series of most valuable maps has also been commenced, and has reached the eighth number. A series, designed for the special use of farmers, is likewise in the course of publication. It contains a large quantity of agricultural information, and some of the more recent numbers furnish detailed and minute accounts of the whole management of some of the best farms in England. And last, but not least, this society has published an almanac, full of valuable facts, statistical details, and wise instruction, which has had the excellent effect of driving from their last hold the foolish vaticination and the idle superstition, that had retired from the halls of high philosophy, and entrenched themselves strongly in publications of this sort. It is proof enough of the great value and high popularity of all these works, that the average sale or circulation of each rather exceeds twenty thousand copies; making a grand total, exclusive of maps, of almost a million little books, on the most important and interesting subjects of useful knowledge, put into circulation every year, by the agency of this single society ; books, too, not likely to be thrown away after a careless perusal, and forgotten, but to be carefully preserved by each subscriber to constitute a valued part of his family library. Who can calculate the salutary influence of such a society on the public mind?
And this is the splendid result of Mr. Brougham's suggestion. The whole has been brought about under his immediate superintendence; and not a little of it has been his individual work. If the whole labors of a long protracted and laborious life had been directed to this result, they would have been well directed. By originating this magnificent scheme of public instruction, Mr. Brougham has brought the whole world in his debt. And how incalculably is that debt swelled, when we reflect, that the operation of this mighty agency has but just begun to develope itself; that it will continue to act, with undiminished force, and over an ever widening extent,
• When we and ours have rendered up our trust,
We cannot leave this part of our subject, without mentioning, though we can do no more than mention it, that Mr. Brougham was the father of the London University; an institution, which has had the good effect of calling into existence a rival seminary of learning, King's College; while it has placed the benefits of a scientific education within the reach of thousands, who had, before that time, been excluded from any participation in its advantages.
We are now to contemplate Mr. Brougham for a moment, as the able champion of the injured and down-trodden children of Africa. From the commencement of his parliamentary career, he has been the strenuous and eloquent advocate of every measure tending to meliorate their condition. In 1810, in consequence of the attempts to evade the prohibition of the Abolition Acts, he moved in the House of Commons, that this House will, early in the next session of Parliament, take into consideration such measures as may tend effectually to prevent such daring violations of the law.' In the course of the debate on this motion, he pledged himself to bring in a bill for punishing slave-trading as felony. The motion was carried unanimously, and in the next session, he did introduce a bill, declaring - all dealing in slaves by British subjects, or persons within the British dominions, a felony, punishable by transportation, or imprisonment and hard labor, at the discretion of the court which tries the offence.' This bill passed into a law, and has the high merit of being the earliest public recognition of the principle, that the traffickers in human flesh are pirates, and ought to be treated as such. Mr. Brougham subsequently turned his attention to the condition of the slaves in the West Indies. His humane exertions in behalf of that friendless and unfortunate race of men are above all praise. But a few months have gone by, since he moved, in the House of Commons, “That this House do resolve, at the earliest practicable period of the next session, to take into serious consideration the state of the slaves in the Colonies of Great Britain, in order to the mitigation and final abolition of their slavery, and more especially in order to the amendment of the administration of justice within the same. In his speech in support of this motion, he placed the question on higher ground than that of simple expediency. He went to the bottom of the merits of the case, and denied utterly the fundamental principle of slavery, that man may be the subject of property. There is,'
he exclaimed, a law above all the enactments of human codes; the same throughout the world, the same in all times; such as it was before the daring genius of Columbus pierced the night of
ages, and opened to one world the sources of power, wealth, and knowledge, to another, all unutterable woes; such it is at this day; it is the law written by the finger of God on the heart of man; and by that law, unchangeable and eternal, while men despise fraud, and loathe rapine, and abhor blood, they shall reject, with indignation, the wild and guilty fantasy that man can hold property in man! This motion, however, was negatived; and here the subject rests for the present; but there is every reason to believe, that public opinion will finally force Parliament to adopt the measures, which it contemplated.
Our readers are all familiar with the events of the last few months. They all know that Mr. Brougham was returned, almost unanimously, to Parliament, from Yorkshire; they are informed of the rapid decline of the Duke of Wellington's administration in popular favor, of the circumstances attending its final overthrow, and of the formation of a Whig Ministry with Earl Grey at its head; they know that Mr. Brougham is one of the new Ministers,--that he has been made Lord Chancellor of England and created a Peer, by the title of Lord Brougham and Vaux. Many doubt, whether the administration of Lord Grey will accomplish, or even attempt any very thorough reform; and the experience of all past time justifies the doubt. The instances of political tergiversation are too frequent in the history of parties not to occasion some apprehension. It has been said, that a mitre will make any man a high Churchman. In the soft seats of power men are apt to become lazy and indifferent to schemes, of which, when out of place, they have been zealous champions. But while these considerations move our fears, we are not without hope. For, in the first place, we look to the power of public opinion,
-a mighty power, which no ruler or set of rulers can now-adays brave,-to keep them in the straight-forward path of duty. And, in the next place, they are pledged, in the face of the world, not, indeed, to any wild or revolutionary measures, but to a thorough purgation and reform in the existing system of things, and if they now hesitate, or salter, or go back, their shame and disgrace will be trumpeted forth so loudly, that even the settlers on the banks of the Missouri will hear of it. Whatever other Ministers may do, we cannot entertain a doubt,
that Lord Brougham will go straight on in his old course. The momentum he has acquired in it, is too great to allow him to stop if he would. Having already done so much, he must do
And this, our confident expectation, is founded upon our knowledge of what he is and what are his deeds.*
Let us state the sum. His character has powerfully influenced the character of his age. His example of earnest, devoted, persevering labor to accomplish noble ends by noble means, has been long before the world. If we were called upon to name the man, who, in our opinion, has done more for the human race, we confess we should not know where to look. Franklin alone, in modern times, may be compared to him as an instance of what one man, animated by a noble and enlarged philanthropy, may accomplish for his fellow-men ; and, in his great efforts for the diffusion of knowledge, he seems, constantly, to have held the example of Franklin in full view.
From his youth up, he has shunned no toil however severe. His whole life has been a life of intense labor, a series of great exertions. He has evinced on all occasions, a large and comprehensive benevolence; a sound and practical judgment; united with a genitis of the loftiest and most universal character. We do not know that a single one of the numerous schemes of momentous importance, which he has originated, can be said to have finally failed. It may be added, -and it is a far nobler tribute to his character,—that there is not one of them all, which has not for its object, an improvement in the condition of some large portion of the community. Of the universality of his genius, the universality of his attainments furnishes sufficient evidence. He is one of the most profoundly scientific men of his day. Long and severe study has familiarized him with the teachings of the dead and of the living. He has succeeded, if we may so speak, in transfusing into himsell the spirit of ancient literature; and no inconsiderable portion of the modern is his own work. He seems to know the history of past ages as if he had lived in them; and his published writings show how thoroughly be understands the condition of the present. He is a master of the English
* The reader will perceive that this paragraph was written before the British ministers had brought forward their plan of reform, which has, we doubt not, fully realized the expectations of our learned correspondent, and of the friends of freedom throughout the world.
law, the most complicated and difficult of all the sciences; a science, to ascend whose heights and fathom whose depths, demands strong powers strongly exerted. These are his attainments. The sum so far outgoes the ordinary reach, even in cases where no little talent is combined with no little industry, that we should suspect ourselves of over-statement, did we not find, that other writers with better opportunities, more than bear us out. The author of Attic Fragments, who cannot be said to be over-partial to Mr. Brougham, says, that one would imagine that he had realized the ancient Scythian fable, by killing the foremost man in every department of knowledge, and possessing himself of all their intellectual inheritances. It matters not what the subject is, however sublime or however commonplace, however abstruse or however practical. Brougham knows it, and knows it completely.
But what deserves our more especial notice and admiration is, not the splendor of his natural endowments, not the vast extent and rich variety of his acquisitions; but the use to which he has devoted them all. He has set them apart for the service of mankind. He has a title more glorious than kings can give or schools bestow,-a title conferred upon him by the unsolicited suffrage of the world. He is the advocate of human liberty. It cannot be said of him, as of Burke, that he
narrowed his mind, And to party gave up what was meant for mankind. No; what was meant for mankind, he has given to mankind. We have adverted to his exertions in behalf of the suffering slaves; but it is not in this poor sense alone that he deserves his glorious title. He would not emancipate the body only; he would set free the mind, and he would set it free by making it capable and worthy of freedom. His great principle seems to be, let an enslaved nation be enlightened, and there is no power on earth, that can detain it from freedom; let a free people be enlightened, and there is no power on earth that can reduce it to bondage. And therefore it is, that he has labored so earnestly to diffuse knowledge far and wide. The old Roman cry was, "Give the people Tribunes, to guard their rights.' Mr. Brougham exclaims, give the people knowledge, and they will guard their rights for themselves. He said long ago, “Tyrants may well tremble now, for the school, VOL. XXXIII.-NO. 72.