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THE STATESMAN OUT OF OFFICE.
ONE of the greatest penalties which ambition pays for power is when it incurs a forfeiture of the love of leisure. Yet this is a penalty which few who devote themselves zealously to public business can hope to escape; for the mind which has been accustomed to answer readily to incessant calls from without, will rarely retain much of self-originated activity. The love of leisure and of solitude belongs to the mind which is to itself a spontaneous source of thought; and it will seldom happen that an affluence of spontaneous thought will remain to a mind which has been subjected habitually to
the yoke and goad of circumstance. The craving for office with which statesmen are so often reproached is, perhaps, in the more active of them, quite as much a craving for business as for emolument or power; and their unseasonable love of business grows out of their forfeiture of the love of leisure. Rarely as well as fortunately endowed by nature is that man who can love one or the other according to his
But if leisure cannot be loved for its own sake by a statesman quitting office, it may yet be valued by him, if he considers well even the less worthy of the uses which may be made of these intervals in a busy career. His mind may not be (what few are) sufficiently rich, elastic, and various to find a compensation for the sunshine in the deeper verdure which grows beneath the shade; but he may nevertheless estimate at something the profits to be derived from it, in the spirit of that husbandry which
looks for a ranker growth when thorns have been thrown over the turf. Let him consider, therefore, what are the defects of knowledge which have been most sensibly felt by him when in office, and which he had then no time or opportunity to supply; and let this be his season of such preparation as shall enable him to resume office at a future time with more ample
His health, also, will need to be recruited; and seldom as statesmen have the prudence to retire from office voluntarily on this account, it is not unfrequently, perhaps, that health and life are saved to them by dismissal. For it may be observed that few of the effective statesmen who, in this country and in these times, have enjoyed a long unbroken tenure of office, have lived their threescore years and ten.
Another purpose which may be answered by retirement, is to enable the statesman to see more clearly what course he has been pursuing
in life, and whither it is leading him. When he quits the King's highway of office, he should endeavour to gain an eminence from which he may survey the region through which he has travelled, and his track through it, lying distinctly below him as in a map. In every man's career, and especially in that of a statesman, a change, a pause, a break, is necessary from time to time, to enable him to understand his life, and to weigh permanent interests and durable effects in an undisturbed medium. Change also, considered merely as change, helps to enlarge the nature of one who is competent to deal with adversity and prosperity. By vicissitude a reflecting mind is cultivated and informed; a mind which is not too weak to bear it is invigorated; and one which tends upwards is elevated.
Whilst these advantages are to be derived from retirement, it will very often happen in this country that a leading statesman's loss of
office is attended with but little loss of political importance. Even for the activity which is directed to immediate effects he may have no inconsiderable scope in the conduct of a parliamentary opposition; and he will continue to cover a space in the public mind proportioned to the reputation which he has acquired. It might be thought, therefore, that in many such cases the change would be acceptable. In point of fact, however, it seems to be rarely so; and the reason would appear to be, that most statesmen do not find themselves enabled to bring home to their own minds a satisfactory sense of their importance merely by the contemplation of that in which it really consists, unaided by impressions upon the senses. A number of very little things, which go to make up the bustle of greatness, are necessary to keep up in them a strong and lively assurance that they are great. When Sir Walter Scott describes the greatness of Buonaparte in the most brilliant