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and agreeable knowledge, and an unfailing stream of delightful illustration. Sharpe, when he first went into Parliament, excited the warmest expectations of those, who, by an absurdity that is very common, predict, from any unusual vigour of social talent, the highest degrees of senatorial success,—all the triumphs of the House of Commons from a neat and felicitous style of discussion at table. When there, he was quite transplanted, adding another to the long list which daily experience registers of the temerity of that vulgar inference. He spoke; he was listened to; but neither extensive information, nor solid erudition, nor sparkling vivacity, nor the condensed weight of all the ratiocination, with which the mind of man can be overcharged, so as to bear down all before him in the private circle, and triumph at will in all its petty warfare, can gain an audience amidst the storm and whirlwind of those great controversies, upon which the hopes and fears of a nation are suspended.
The House of Commons !-it is a sea strewed with the mightiest wrecks. It is an arena in which the proudest strength has faltered, and the firmest confidence grown pale. Bobus himself spoke once, and once only in that assembly, and failed. He retired a maimed and crippled gladiator from a conflict, in which minds immeasurably inferior have been victorious. Such are the laws by which genius itself is rebuked ; such the despotism beneath which the highest and palmiest faculties are compelled to veil their head, however honoured, however flattered, or wreathed and garlanded by academic renown. How is this? A volume might be written, and the problem still remain unsolved.
Is it that there is sometimes a certain amount of reputation already secured by the general suffrage, and backed and sustained by an inward conscience, that it has been justly earned; which, running before a man, and telling his story before he enters that house, and telling it too with the fervid exaggeration of private friendship -becomes a pressure upon sensitive minds, a drag-chain that impedes and deadens them in their career? Pre-existing fame operates as a vehement incentive not to sink beneath it, and, as in our corporeal economy, all our powerful
incentives are followed by counteracting debilities, our mental constitution is subject also to the same condition; and the result is, that the man is borne down by the same buoyant and ambitious wave that lifted him up.
A single failure closes the account; and the unhappy adventurer, though under the rightful conviction that he has failed from no defect of the same talent that has carried hundreds onwards without check or impediment–in the full internal assurance that his intellectual cruise lacked no oilthat he had eloquence and matter at his call_all that could sustain his argument-wit and imagination in a heaped measure to adorn it--learning sufficient to make his discourse like a stream flowing over golden sands,—is compelled to sit down amidst all these flatteries of the heart, the intellect, the conscience, in affright and despair, left alone to the gloomy family of his own reflections—those reflections which were wont to be a smiling groupe; and which, as he joyed over his own attainments, and his own powers, ministered to him the purest and sweetest of satisfactions.
In truth, this House of Commons (I am speaking of its better days) will tolerate your absolute bore, provided he brings to his subject a competent contribution of good sense and information. Such a being has often triumphed. He gets up; he disdains, or rather through a peculiar felicity of his nervous system, he does not feel the first symptoms of repugnance he has to encounter : the half-suppressed yawn, but so suppressed as to render it the more audible ; the ominous banging of the green door, that gives you pretty strong hints that you are likely to have only the Speaker and the Serjeant-at-Arms for your audience; the cough, ambushed in the Members' Gallery, emitted from lungs that seem to have economized a month's inflation for one explosion ; still he persists, till he gets the ear and the nod of a few intelligent persons, anxious to obtain information upon the question ; he is heard, and perhaps applauded. Then, at the close of the debate, he scarcely feels the ground, as he walks through the waiting-room ;
he ascends his carriage, and sleeps amidst dreams that still murmur with the approbation he has
been fortunate enough to obtain from the most fastidious assemblage of critics in the world.
It is strange, but still not inexplicable. The man deceived no expectation, for he never ex
It is all sheer gain to him, for he had little or nothing to hazard. Had he broken down, he would have been only where he was before ; he would have lost no reputation, but might have retired to his family, or his Club, as great a man as ever. He might have remained still the undisputed oracle of his neighbourhood, or laid down the law at his table, to the perfect conviction of the butler, fixed in mute astonishment at his genius.
Whereas, a highly-gifted being, who has exhausted all the stores of learning, scholastic and polite-grown pale, perhaps, over the midnight lamp, and set a thousand tongues in motion, to yelp out his literary and social triumphs—when such a man makes his first effort, unsuccessfully, before that formidable host, but few of whom could assign a single reason for deeming that effort a failure, then rush forth, like unimprisoned tempests, envy, and the whole tribe of