MR. BERESFORD HOPE ON BELSHAZZAR AND SARDANAPALUS.
MR. BERESFORD HOPE seems eminently competent to his self-imposed duty of representing the Confederate States in England, nay, perhaps too much so for success. His literary susceptibility to the atmosphere in which he is now immersed is so delicate, that he identifies himself even too closely with his clients, and like the chameleon, he assumes the hue of the nutriment on which he feeds. This is unfortunate for his cause. An advocate's power of enterineb into the heart of his client's moral situation, should of course be great ; but his power of stoppine° half-way, and resisting the influence of those unpleasant little characteristics which sometimes prejudice a jury, should be great also. The intellect and sympathies of the literary organization may easily be too highly receptive for the task of advocacy, and we fear this is the case with Mr. Beresford Hope. His Maidstone audience on Tuesday were evidently unprepared for the too successful dramatic effort of Mr. Hope's intellect. Some men, it has been said, when they write letters, cease to be themselves and become correspondents. Mr. Hope threw himself with such enthusiasm into his part that he ceased to be an Englishman and became a Confederate. There was all the stormy and lurid fire of the Richmond Whig itself in Mr. Hope's address. His panegyric on the South was pitched in a key which startled the common sense of Maidstone. Pro- bably some of his hearers were strongly reminded, by the poetic oratory and the lyrical eloge of the South which it contained, of that noble Mississippian who has left one striking record of himself in the works of Mr. Dickens, Mr. Putnam Smif :—" I am young and ardent, for there is a poetry in wildness, and every alligator basking in the slime is, in himself, an Epic self-contained." That Mr. Beresford Hope is young we are not confident, but genuine enthusiam will sometimes relax the "binding crust of years," and he is certainly even more ardent in his praise of his young alligator than even Mr. Putnam Smif. Nor is his oratory much less chaste than that of this gentleman, though its choicest efforts are re- served for invective against the enemies of the South. A year ago, he said, when the hopes of the South were at their lowest ebb, he had predicted their success, and "at that time he felt that he was really a prophet," and now he has added to the foresight of the prophet the inspiration of the bard. The cause of the Slave States, he says, is "the cause of free- dom, the cause of English feeling, the cause of constitutional government all over the world. . . . We were all of us hero worshippers ; the names of those who had carried out any great cause were wound round our hearts ; and he asserted that when the present age came to take up the bead-roll of its greatest men—those whose burning patriotism combined with calm statesmanship made them the fathers of a country strug- gling into new life—by the side of Cavour would blaze in history with an equal glory the name of Jefferson Davis— (cheers and dissent)—that man, of a British descent, of a British name, who spoke and wrote so nobly the British lan- guage. Heroes -would go with heroes—Davis with Cavour, and Stonewall Jackson with Garibaldi."
This is a very noble tribute to the man whose popularity began when he " stumped " the State of Mississippi to per- suade it to repudiate its debt, and 'whose last act has autho- rized a cold-blooded massacre of fellow-creatures guilty of no crime but a preference of liberty to slavery. But Mr. Hope is ardent; and he cannot see the difficulty which oc- curred to an English audience in showering all the civic virtues. on the epic alligator with its dangerous jaws. He is carried. up on the wings of his own metaphor into a rapture of new. expectation. "The Confederate nation," he says, " has.
passed the Red Sea ; in God's name let us give them a help- ing hand to reach the promised land." Well, no doubt, they have made an effective exodus of it across the Potomac, fol- lowing to the letter, by the way, the injunction to despoil the Egyptians by their cunning ; but Mr. Hope's poetical imagina- tion scarcely does justice here to the shrewd motives of his- modern Pharaoh-Moses. Moses, we thought, contrived the exodus in order to set free a nation of slaves, and availed himself of the sojourn in the desert to teach them a little moral law, as a good preliminary to independence. Was that. precisely Mr. Davis's object in seceding ? He appeared to us to have taken good care to explain why he bolted so suddenly across the Potomac—namely, in order to do with his slaves- more entirely as he pleased—in order to avoid teaching them anything at all, in order to drag them into the promised land. of perfect bondage. Mr. Hope begs us, in God' t name, to- aid them; but the value of a promised land must depend after- all on him who gives the promise, and the English people- have a feeling that, in God's name, the longer this promised. land remains a prospective gift, the better.
Mr. Hope seems, however, like his model the Richmond. Wing, to be at present greatest in withering scorn. Only that, while his model raves against those "painted mum- mies, Palmerston and Russell," Mr. Hope discharges- similar batteries against poor Mr. Lincoln. Like an artful orator he begins gently, by showing from what a.
height of learning he looks down upon such a man as Mr. Lincoln. A year ago Mr. Hope had applied a re- condite classical term to Mr. Lincoln's subordinates, of the very existence of which Mr. Lincoln was probably ignorant:— " Referring to his former lecture, Mr. Hope remarked that he was, on that occasion, the first to use the word pro-consul as applied to the governors whom President Lincoln sent to tyrannize over the temporarily won Southern provinces... President Lincoln would not probably ever have heard the word in his life ; it had, however, frequently been used since in the public press. He (Mr. Hope) had applied it to such men as General Butler, and he thought there was something prophetic in his having singled him out as a type of the indi- viduals to whom he had referred." This is the advantage of a thorough university training for a prophet. You can not only anticipate the future, but you have the pick of all the best words for describing it; and may even be able to call your adversary names he does not himself understand. It is- exceedingly creditable to Mr. Hope to have mastered the word "pro-consul," and to have led the van of all the public writers of England in the use of that felicitous- expression. But though we are partly prepared by this.
prelude for the great crash of triumphant oratory which fol- lows it, he introduces it by a little bit of modest apology :— " Mr. Hope then proceeded to refer to the mrtnner in which he had been criticized for having in his former lecture- applied to President Lincoln the terms'rail-splitte.r, bargee, and attorney.' He considered that President Lincoln's ante- cedents and his subsequent proceedings had justified thisP plain language. The selection of such a man as ruler of 30,000,000 of people was as hideous a spectacle as history presented. As a former member of Congress he had acquired a distinguished character as a standing buffoon, and a reciter:- of indecent stories to the House, when he could get a few members together to listen to him. He had just a sufficient glimmering of public matters to make his acceptance of the- presidency an offence of the blackest dye—an offence which Heaven might pardon, but which was nnforgiveable on earth."' Mr. Hope evidently has the true Yankee impression that to call a man what he is—if that should happen to indicate- s position not very high in the social scale—is the most terrible of insults. The only misgiving indicated in this grand piece of invective is, whether that" plain language" of " rail- splitter, bargee, and attorney" were really quite justified. Mr. Hope has no scruple at all about calling Mr. Lincoln publicly a- buffoon and an indecent talker, though there is no English member of Parliament of whom, however true it might be,. he would venture to make the same assertion. He has no scruple about declaring the sin of quietly and constitutionally accept- ing the result of a constitutional election to be "an offence of the blackest dye,Ivhich Heaven might pardon, but which was unforgiveable on earth;" for that is only Yankee eloquence. But he does seriously hesitate te speak of his having been in trade. The last declamatory sentence ap- pears to mean that Mr. Lincoln's offence is unforgiveable by those who cannot forgive it—a true, but not entirely original, remark. Earth, we suppes must mean man ; now, of existing men, there are perhaps none, except the Southerners and Mr. Beresford Hope, who even imagine that Mr. Lincoln required forgiveness for taking the place offered him ; and as an offence cannot be unforgiveable which is not an offence at all, this noble remark appears to mean that to those who took offence, and who cannot forgive it, it is unforgiveable. But this, though a high range of eloquence, is not the summit. Here at length we reach the crest of this sublime ascent :—" He must have seen, if he had any perception, that he was rushing into an office which he could only fill to the mischief of his country. Among the names of rulers whom history had branded with infamy, were those of sovereigns who, in great crises, were their country's foes—Sardanapalus, Bel- -shazzar, Rehoboam, the descendants of Charlemagne. And yet these men were put into the positions they held without their own personal fault—they merely found themselves where their fathers were before them. But what could be said of one who had not this excuse, but who, like President Lincoln, allowed himself to be made the tool for the ruin of his country ?" ITniversity culture this, on a scale of almost unprecedented magnificence! Above Sardanapalus and the blazing pile of his self-immolated riches—above Belshazzar at his mid- night revels—above the imbecile successors of Charlemagne, Mr. Lincoln is set up as the apex of regnant infamy. lir. Hope, the prophet, will himself act by him the *Art of Daniel, and interpret the handwriting on the wall. is Mr. Hope does, and prophesies not only a division of the kingdom, but a division by seven ; and then he passes to a poetical description of the beneficent institutions of the South. Having exaggerated rough breeding into the blackest .of crimes, he naturally softens the blackest of political crimes into unfortunate social accidents, and enumerates with generous enthusiasm, though in a style not up to the " Belshazzar " pitch, the number of nominal rights which negrocs have in the 'Slave States, if only they had any power of enforcing them.
But for this softening and toning department of orato- rical skill Mr. Beresford Hope is a little out of training, in consequence of his too close familiarity with the "broad 'brush and dirty colours" of the Western School of Art. From the Belshazzar summit his oration gradually slopes away into an ineffectual murmur of apology, until it goes out with just one sudden spark of the higher fervour in that noble passage about the Red Sea and the Promised Land. As Mr. Beresford Hope is, we believe, anxious to get into Parlia- ment, we would recommend him not to cultivate exclusively that flamboyant style of oratory which would recommend him for a seat in the assemblies of Washington or Richmond.