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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
On Brougham and South America
By George Canning (1770–1827)
 
I NOW turn to that other part of the honorable and learned gentleman’s [Mr. Brougham’s] speech; in which he acknowledges his acquiescence in the passages of the address, echoing the satisfaction felt at the success of the liberal commercial principles adopted by this country, and at the steps taken for recognizing the new States of America. It does happen, however, that the honorable and learned gentleman being not unfrequently a speaker in this House, nor very concise in his speeches, and touching occasionally, as he proceeds, on almost every subject within the range of his imagination, as well as making some observations on the matter in hand,—and having at different periods proposed and supported every innovation of which the law or Constitution of the country is susceptible,—it is impossible to innovate without appearing to borrow from him. Either, therefore, we must remain forever absolutely locked up as in a northern winter, or we must break our way out by some mode already suggested by the honorable and learned gentleman; and then he cries out, “Ah, I was there before you! That is what I told you to do; but as you would not do it then, you have no right to do it now.”  1
  In Queen Anne’s reign there lived a very sage and able critic named Dennis, who in his old age was the prey of a strange fancy that he had himself written all the good things in all the good plays that were acted. Every good passage he met with in any author he insisted was his own. “It is none of his,” Dennis would always say: “no, it’s mine!” He went one day to see a new tragedy. Nothing particularly good to his taste occurred till a scene in which a great storm was represented. As soon as he heard the thunder rolling over his head he exclaimed, “That’s my thunder!” So it is with the honorable and learned gentleman: it’s all his thunder. It will henceforth be impossible to confer any boon, or make any innovation, but he will claim it as his thunder.  2
  But it is due to him to acknowledge that he does not claim everything; he will be content with the exclusive merit of the liberal measures relating to trade and commerce. Not desirous of violating his own principles by claiming a monopoly of foresight and wisdom, he kindly throws overboard to my honorable and learned friend [Sir J. Mackintosh] near him, the praise of South America. I should like to know whether, in some degree, this also is not his thunder. He thinks it right itself; but lest we should be too proud if he approved our conduct in toto, he thinks it wrong in point of time. I differ from him essentially; for if I pique myself on anything in this affair, it is the time. That at some time or other, States which had separated themselves from the mother country should or should not be admitted to the rank of independent nations, is a proposition to which no possible dissent could be given. The whole question was one of time and mode. There were two modes: one a reckless and headlong course by which we might have reached our object at once, but at the expense of drawing upon us consequences not lightly to be estimated; the other was more strictly guarded in point of principle, so that while we pursued our own interests, we took care to give no just cause of offense to other Powers.  3
 
 
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