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Title: Secret History of the Court of England, from the Accession of George the Third to the Death of George the Fourth, Volume II (of 2)
Including, Among Other Important Matters, Full Particulars of the Mysterious Death of the Princess Charlotte
Author: Lady Anne Hamilton
Release Date: September 30, 2011 [eBook #37571]
Character set encoding: UTF-8
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SECRET HISTORY OF THE COURT OF ENGLAND, FROM THE ACCESSION OF GEORGE THE THIRD TO THE DEATH OF GEORGE THE FOURTH, VOLUME II (OF 2)***
|Note:||Project Gutenberg also has Volume I of this work. See http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/37570|
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The coronation of George the Fourth, which had been postponed from time to time, at length took place on the 19th of July. We think, situated as her majesty then was, she ought to have been attended to the Abbey by all the noblemen and gentlemen whose courage and honour had permitted them to espouse and support her cause; and, with such a phalanx, could she have been refused admittance? Instead of such arrangement, however, her majesty went at an early hour, accompanied by two ladies and one gentleman!—was refused admittance at the first door, and sought for entrance at another, with the same ill success. It was true, her majesty had not an imperative right to be crowned, though she had an undoubted title to be present at the ceremony of her husband's coronation. Nay, claiming her right of admission in the character of cousin to his majesty, ought to have entitled her to very different treatment. Her majesty would not have encroached upon another's privileges, by entering Westminster Hall, because that might be considered the king's dining room; and the queen was too well informed to pass the boundary of privilege.
On the evening of the 18th of July, Lord and Lady Hood slept at Cambridge House, and, after retiring for the night, they were disturbed by the announcement that a messenger waited from Mr. Brougham to see Lord Hood. His lordship saw the messenger, whose business was to say, "If Lord Hood wanted any tickets for the coronation, he might have as many as he pleased." Lord Hood said, "I have my own, and that is quite enough; I need no more." It becomes a wise general to provide against the inroad of an enemy, and Lord Hood ought, and was in duty bound, to have accepted Mr. Brougham's offer of tickets, though that offer was made so SECRETLY, and at such a late hour. Lord Hood was either not sufficiently firm in the interest of her majesty, or else some previous understanding had existed upon the subject of these tendered tickets; for all well-dressed ladies were admitted upon the presentation of a ticket, and the name never required. There cannot be a doubt that the king had positive fears of the arrival of her majesty, because his carriage was kept in waiting to convey him to Carlton House, should the queen be announced. Well might he say to the bearers of his train, "Hold it wider." Yes, indeed, he required room to breathe, for CONSCIENCE is an obtrusive monitor, as well as a privileged guest, in all companies.
In addition to the negligence of the professed friends of the queen, we are sorry to say, that the ministers had prepared means, very demeaning, as well as perfectly unconstitutional. A covered boat was in waiting at the back of the hall, on the Thames, to convey the queen (if deemed needful) to the Tower; but, some persons of principle and property being aware of this abuse of power, many boats were upon the river, to render assistance, if required, to an insulted queen. Eight regiments of soldiers were in and near London, FIVE of which were THE DETERMINED FRIENDS OF THE QUEEN! Was it not rather a peculiar circumstance that Alderman Wood (who was in the procession of the lord mayor) was the loudest in his applause to the king? But, before we conclude this work, our readers will have no reason to be surprised at this conduct of the inconsistent and interested alderman. It was likewise very strange, that Lord Liverpool, the then first lord of the Treasury, was NOT PRESENT AT THE CORONATION! From whence was this unusual non-attendance upon the monarch to be attributed? Because Lord Liverpool, seeing the danger likely to result from the refusal of her majesty to the coronation, had advised the king to receive his consort. At first, his majesty consented, but shortly afterwards retracted his promise. Lord Liverpool, however, had caused this permission of his majesty for the queen's presence at the coronation to be made known to her, and a plan of the interior of the Abbey was enclosed at the same time, in which a seat was expressly ordered to be prepared for her majesty. We can positively assure our readers of the truth of this; for, two evenings previous to the coronation, we were sitting with one of her majesty's private friends, when the servant brought in a note, which that friend read with the greatest vivacity. It contained an assurance, that the king had consented to her majesty's being received at the banquet, and a plan was produced, exhibiting a seat, in which the queen and her attendants were to sit. Her majesty's impression was, we can confidently say, "That the Earl of Liverpool had advised the king to permit her to be received, in order to prevent ill consequences; for that, in case any riot should take place during the procession, the king might have been smothered in the crowd!" The Earl of Liverpool, however, had disobliged his majesty in the November previous, by abandoning the Bill of Pains and Penalties; but what else could he have done? If sentence had been passed against her, the mighty rush of public opinion would have probably overwhelmed the whole regal circle. Doubtless, Earl Lauderdale had given his royal master another version of the matter, as, from his representation, the king again refused to see his consort; in consequence of which, the most arbitrary measures were taken to prevent the appearance of the queen at the coronation. We must also place upon record that, on the 24th of the same month, Lord Lauderdale's honours (extra knight of the thistle, &c.) appeared in the Gazette, which were, no doubt, bestowed upon him for his avowed enmity to the queen.
We are sorry that Lord Hood, her majesty's only male attendant to the coronation, did not act a little more as became his duty to his royal mistress on this trying occasion. His lordship offered neither resistance nor remonstrance to the insult of refusing her majesty an admittance to the Abbey; but tamely, not to say cowardly, submitted to it, as he immediately led the queen to her carriage! Yet Lord Hood was a peer! but, gentle reader, he was also a—PENSIONER! We put the question to every honest-hearted Englishman, what force would have dared to oppose the queen's entry into the Abbey, if she had been properly surrounded and attended by her legal advisers and friends? Had such been the case, the "accomplished gentleman" would have met his injured, basely-treated wife, whose gaze must have brought a blush upon his guilty cheek. Such an unexpected visit had been contrary to his royally-fixed determination, as he then would have "met her in public."
The English character has ever been proverbial for morality, gallantry, justice, and humanity; though we cannot help thinking it suffered a little degradation when the queen was refused admittance to the scene of her husband's coronation. This, indeed, is a blot upon the annals of our country, which the stream of time will never be able to wash away. History cannot forget the conduct of the sovereign in this instance, who, when about to enter into a solemn compact with his people, and while calling the Omnipotent God to witness his faith and sincerity, "that he will most truly deal out justice, and love mercy, in his kingly station," at the same moment refused BOTH to his own wife! Let not such vindictive and disgraceful conduct be forgotten, when the taste and elegant manners of George the Fourth are extolled!
Amongst the gay throng of fawning courtiers that attended this ceremony was the Marquis of Londonderry, whose glittering appendages and costly array were of an unusual quality. Yet, gorgeous as was the sight, the absence of the queen rendered the coronation pomp an uninteresting scene of solemn mockery in its character, and an insulting imposition to the nation, who, while hearing the royal engagements made to them, nationally and individually, saw the first law of nature inverted by the very personage for whom this "mighty show" was designed. But are we not justified in supposing that George the Fourth possessed but a weak understanding, a frail heart, and strong prejudices, and that his judgment was perverted by bad counsel? Had his majesty been a sensible man, he would have perceived that all the advantages of his rank and station were conferred upon him by his fellow-men, and would not have squandered the national wealth upon unworthy characters. The title of king carries no such charm with it as to exempt its possessor from any of those infirmities which are incidental to his species; but he is doomed to drag about with him a frail tenement of clay, sometimes well and sometimes ill shaped, and liable every moment to be dissolved, and reduced to a state of putrefaction, in common with all those who contribute, by their labour, to its support. But how differently did George the Fourth consider his title and power at this period of his vanity! He concealed, as much as possible, the defects of his nature from "vulgar eyes," by exhibiting himself on a public stage, in borrowed plumes, like the jackdaw in the fable, who astonished his fellow-daws by assuming the gaudy plumage of the peacock. Thousands of weak mortals flocked about the royal actor, and expressed such extreme delight at the pageant scene, that we could hardly wonder to find him and his created nobles so inflated with pride as to consider themselves of a superior nature to the rest of mankind, and to believe that those who so much admired their external appendages were born to be their slaves. We deprecate such grovelling servility in the people as much as we pity the pride of the nobles. As well might a worm or a grub, when decorated with the ephemeral wings of a butterfly, look contemptuously on the crawling snail!
But a few years before the insult was offered to the queen at the coronation, her brother, the Duke of Brunswick, had fallen in the field of battle, while bravely fighting against Napoleon at Waterloo. Her majesty was now, therefore, bereft of every natural connexion, save her vindictive and cruel husband; and history hardly presents a more trying situation than that in which the persecuted and shamefully-treated Queen of England was placed.
The Duke of Newcastle, who distinguished himself upon the queen's trial, by pronouncing judgment against her majesty without hearing the evidence in her favour, was the boroughmonger selected to bear the "sword of mercy" before the king at the coronation! We ought not, probably, to find fault with the choice of George the Fourth in this instance; as the duke's subsequent acts have proved him so worthy of being the bearer of such an emblem,—to which the people of Newark can fully testify!
Upon her majesty's arrival at Brandenburgh House, after being refused admittance to the coronation, she took a cup of tea, and then retired to her room for nearly four hours. In this interval, the queen resolved to visit Scotland; she wrote to Lord Liverpool upon the subject, and requested his lordship to apprize the king of her intention. This letter was received by his lordship, and answered in the usual strain, "that he (Lord Liverpool) had laid her majesty's letter before the king, but had not received his majesty's commands thereon." In the intermediate time, it was announced, the king would visit Ireland; and his majesty left Carlton House at half-past eleven o'clock, on the 31st of July, on his way to Portsmouth for Dublin.
On the 30th of July, the evening previous to the king's departure, her majesty visited the theatre, and was much indisposed, but would not be persuaded to retire before the performance was concluded; indeed, it was the queen's usual line of conduct not to disturb any public assembly by retiring earlier than was positively needful. Before her majesty went to the theatre, she felt indisposed, but declined remaining at home, for fear of disappointing the people. When her majesty returned from the theatre, she was very sick, and had much pain in her bowels the next day. In the afternoon of this day, Dr. Holland called, apparently by chance, and, on feeling her pulse, said she must have further advice. She objected, as having most confidence in him, who had travelled with her; but to satisfy his mind, her majesty said he might bring whom he liked. Next day (Wednesday) he brought Dr. Ainslie, who desired to have more assistance called in; and on Thursday morning, Dr. Warren accompanied the other two, both king's physicians, according to etiquette, we believe. Previous to this, she seemed much surprised herself at her illness, and said to Dr. Holland, "DO YOU THINK I AM POISONED?" This day she was told, they hoped things would end well; but if she had any papers of consequence, she had better dispose of them, as, in the event of her decease, every thing must go to the king, or the ministers,—we forget which. At this, she astonished them all by her greatness of mind; for her majesty did not betray the slightest agitation, but immediately and coolly answered—"O yes, I understand you; it shall be done." She sat up almost the whole of that night with her maid Brunette only, burning letters, papers, and MS. books. She then called Hyronemus (her maître d'hôtel) and made him swear to burn every thing she gave, him in the kitchen fire. More letters, papers, and MS. books were then given him, besides a large folio book, full, or nearly so, of her own writing. It was about two feet long, and five or six inches thick, and bound. This book she always said contained the whole history of her life ever since she came to this country, together with the characters of the different persons she had been intimate with. Besides papers, she sorted all her little trinkets, wrapped them in separate papers, and wrote herself the names of all her different friends who were to have them, charging Brunette to dispose of them after her death according to the directions; but these presents never reached their destination.
From Thursday, her majesty seemed regularly to get worse, and the inquiries after her health by the people at large were equal to the interest she had raised in the country. It was pretty generally said that her majesty's danger arose from a stoppage in the bowels. Various were the remedies prescribed; and, among innumerable others, a bottle of Croton Oil, with the following kind letter, was sent to an individual of her majesty's household:
"I am aware that nothing but the great, the very great, danger her majesty is in would excuse this unauthorised intrusion; but, learning from the papers the nature of her majesty's complaint, I have taken the liberty to forward to you, with the view of having it handed to Doctor Maton, or Dr. Warren, a medicine of strong aperient properties, called "Croton Oil," one drop of which is a dose. There is no doubt but it is known to some of her majesty's medical advisers. It is but lately known in this country. It may be proper to observe that Doctor Pemberton has himself taken it. I have given it to more than one person; its operation is quick and safe. Two drops, when made into pills with bread, usually produce alvine evacuations in half or three quarters of an hour. It has struck me that this medicine may be administered with success to her majesty. At all events, I can have done no harm in taking the liberty to suggest it. Fearful of appearing anxious to make myself obtrusive, I have declined giving my name.
"Some suspicion may, perhaps, be attached to the circumstance of this letter being anonymous. I can only answer, that Dr. Warren or Dr. Maton will know the medicine to be what it is represented; if not, the chemist at Hammersmith may be referred to.
"God save the Queen!"
Both the medicine and the letter were referred to Dr. Pemberton, of Great George-street, Hanover-square, who used to attend her majesty, but had been obliged to give up practice from suffering with the "tic douloureux." The poor old man came, though bent double with pain, saw the remedy, and gave it as his decided opinion, "that, if a passage cannot be obtained in any other way, I certainly would try this, which is sure to have EFFECT, as without it her majesty must die; I have, indeed, taken two drops of it myself, therefore the queen might very safely take one."
When the king's physicians were told Dr. Pemberton's opinion, they still persisted that they could not take it upon themselves to give her majesty the medicine!
No one was suffered to approach the queen but the king's physicians, except in their presence, though her majesty most anxiously asked for William Austin, saying, "How odd it is that he never comes near me;" in the meanwhile, he was weeping bitterly outside the door, but was always told, either "the queen is asleep," or else, "too ill to see him." Her majesty's sufferings must have been dreadful, and they seemed to come on periodically, when her cries could be heard in all the adjacent rooms, and then it appeared that the doctors dosed her with laudanum, which, of course, added to the CONSTIPATION of her bowels, as well as rendered her quite insensible when her friends did see her. Her majesty seemed most partial to Dr. Holland, who sat up with her every night, till Saturday, when she was a little better; but, being called to town, he left her majesty under the care of Dr. Ainslie, we think. Next morning, being Sunday, her majesty got up and dressed herself, and sat in her chair. Either in the night or in the morning, Dr. Ainslie brought her majesty a draught to take, which the queen dashed out of his hand, in a very marked manner, spilt it, and said, "I am well; do you not see I am well, Sir? I want no physic." At which, Dr. Ainslie felt somewhat offended, as well he might.
On the Sunday before her death, her majesty said, "I should much like to take the sacrament; and I desire that the clergyman who does the duty at Hammersmith may be sent for to administer it." Application was immediately made; but the gentleman said, "I cannot administer it, without leave from the rector, who is now at Richmond." A messenger went to Richmond, and found that the rector had gone to dine in London, and that the clergyman must either go there to him, or solicit permission from the king's ministers! Notwithstanding this unfeeling piece of tyranny, her majesty said, "I do not doubt but my intentions will be accepted by God, the same as if I had been permitted to receive it." The queen was truly an example of patience and resignation, for she never repined, not even in her most agonizing moments. Her majesty, alas! too well knew she must eventually be the VICTIM OF TYRANNY.
Let every thinking being contrast the profession of Christianity with the contemptible procedure set forth in the anecdote just related. At the time her majesty requested to receive the sacrament, she believed herself near death; and, in accordance with the sentiments and doctrines of the Church of England, she very naturally desired to express her reliance on the Saviour by receiving this ordinance; yet even this gratification was denied her, until she was sinking into the embrace of death! This disgraceful circumstance is almost without a parallel in the annals of persecution. A virtuous and noble-minded queen, lying on the bed of death, which had been prepared for her by the hand of cruel and ill-judged Malignity, was refused this last comfort of religion; while a felon, who may have imbued his hands in the blood of his fellow-creature, is allowed to receive this emblem of salvation previous to his transition from time to eternity! Here, then, is sufficient to inform "The Many" of the policy of the "Established Church." May we not ask how far the English clergy are removed from Popery? as it is evident that the attentions of a rector or a bishop (under the crown) are equally difficult to be obtained as the Catholics believe those of St. Peter to be!
In contemplating the above exposure of malice, many questions naturally suggest themselves; for instance, What could prevent the curate's immediate attention to the wish of the dying queen? for had even the meanest parishioner desired it, HE MUST have attended to the request. What was meant by asking leave of "the rector, or the king's ministers," who were at some distance from the abode of sorrow? Was it not intended to add fresh insults to injuries already too deep? Did the ministry think thereby to prevent an encroachment upon his majesty's comforts in the world to come, (as he had declared, that he never again would meet the queen) and, by refusing the outward rites of the church, shut the door of hope in the sufferer's face?
Her majesty, in her agony, frequently exclaimed, "I know I am dying,—THEY HAVE KILLED ME AT LAST! but I forgive all my enemies, even Dumont," her maid Brunette's sister, who had done her majesty the greatest injury,—"I charge you (turning to her maid Brunette) to tell her so." Brunette and her majesty's maître d'hôtel, Hyronemus, wished to marry. Her majesty called them to her, and joined their hands over her body, (one standing on each side of the couch) and charged Hyronemus to be kind to Brunette. Her majesty then told them, she had left them all her linen (by right, belonging to her lady in waiting) and two of her carriages. On Tuesday, her majesty became much worse, and moaned terribly with pain, from four o'clock till ten at night, when she rapidly grew weaker, till Dr. Holland, with the awful watch in his hand, feeling her pulse, at last closed her majesty's eyelids, and declared "All is over!"
Malice and Crime had now done their worst; the fatal blow had been struck, and Caroline, the injured and innocent Queen of England was for ever relieved from her despicable and heartless persecutors!
Every person now left the room, except Dr. Lushington (one of the executors) and Lady Hamilton. Dr. Lushington said, "You, my lady, or Lady Hood, must not quit the body." Lady Hamilton replied, "Then, sir, let it be me." Shortly afterwards, the alderman and Mrs. Wood went into the chamber of death, the alderman offering the services of his wife to assist in the last sad duties to the lamented queen. In the interval, Brunette, the queen's maid, said that her majesty had desired no one might go near her body except herself; and Dr. Lushington complied with the request. Lady Hamilton observed, Brunette was not strong enough to move the body; Brunette, therefore, chose the housemaid to assist her. Shortly afterwards, Dr. Lushington requested Lady Hamilton's presence again; and, upon her appearance in the gloomy chamber, said, "Now, you  must remain here; and promise me not to lift up the sheet which covers the body, or permit any one else to do so." Lady Hamilton promised; when very soon afterwards Mrs. Wood went into the room, as she said, "to have a peep." Lady Hamilton prevented it, saying, she had given her word, and Mrs. Wood must therefore desist. The body, very speedily after life was extinct, became much discoloured, and, though it was washed and prepared for the grave-clothes in less than two hours after the decease, it exhibited a very great change, as well as being much swollen. The housemaid who assisted Brunette to prepare her majesty for the grave-clothes, said, the body turned quite BLACK before their task was finished, and swelled exceedingly, and on the following Thursday became quite offensive, when the leaden coffin arrived. On the Monday after, the rooms were lighted up, and hung with black, for her majesty to lie in state! Oh! sad mockery to her persecuted remains!
The housemaid, who helped Brunette to lay her majesty out, was quite disgusted at the unfeeling manner in which Brunette performed this sad duty; for she tossed the body about most indecently; and, when remonstrated with for such behaviour, said, "La! I mind her no more than an old hen!!!" The morning after her majesty's death, Lady Anne Hamilton's own maid went creeping into Brunette's room, expecting to find some show of grief, at least, for the loss of so good a mistress. What, then, was her astonishment to find her up, dressed, and in the  highest spirits! "I never was so happy," said she, "in all my life. I can now get up when I like, go to bed when I like, and do every thing as I like!"
Previous to the funeral, some difficulty arose from an uncertainty where the deceased queen had kept her cash; and, without any ceremony, Mr. Wilde took up her majesty's watch, (the one presented by the inhabitants of Coventry, and which was very valuable) and said, "I will advance forty pounds, and return the watch when the money is paid!!!" Yet, at the time of her majesty's death, she must have been in possession of fourteen or fifteen hundred pounds! because Mr. Obequina had advanced the queen, but a few days before her death, the sum of two thousand pounds; and it was an indisputable fact, that not more than four or five hundred pounds had been expended out of this sum. The queen deposited this money where she always kept her trinkets, in a small blue box. In this box also her majesty frequently kept the Coventry watch, (which she seldom wore) as well as two miniature pictures of herself. This identical box, the executors gave into the care of Lord Hood; but he very properly refused to receive it, until they locked it and took the key. Dr. Lushington promised one of the miniatures to Lady Hamilton, and the other to William Austin, the protégé of the ill-fated queen; but, up to this period, such promise has not been fulfilled in either case.
It is well known that the queen, in her jocular moments, used to say, "They did not like my young bones, so they shall not have my old ones;" and, in her last illness, her majesty unfortunately added, "and that as soon as possible." This formed an excuse for the tools of George the Fourth to hurry her funeral beyond all decorum; as, in one single week after her majesty's death, did Lord Liverpool order that all the cavalcade should be ready. The route was chalked out, and strict orders given that, on no account, was the procession to go through the city; but every avenue was so choked up and barricaded by overturned coaches, carts, and rubbish, that they were obliged, at Piccadilly, to turn through Hyde Park; and, at Cumberland Gate, the scene of bloodshed commenced. We observed a pool of blood in the gateway, and a woman with her face all over blood, and two men lying dead. The people had pulled down the wall and railing for a hundred yards opposite Connaught-place; and the horse-soldiers (the Blues, we think) were pursuing the unarmed multitude down the park. A spent ball had fallen very near the hearse, and a gentleman in the retinue got off his horse, picked it up, and said, "This will be proof against them." At last Sir Robert Wilson, being a military man, rode up to the soldiers, and contrived to end the combat. The procession was then suffered to pass quietly along Edgeware and the New Roads till it came opposite to Portland-road, when the same obstructions of overturned carts, waggons, &c., prevented the cavalcade from continuing along the City-road, or turning into any street eastward, until it arrived at Temple Bar, when it turned into the city, to the great joy and acclamations of the millions of people who had followed, and who had lined the streets, windows, and tops of houses, although it rained in torrents, and the well-dressed women who attended were ancle deep in mud; nor did the people gradually drop away till the procession had entirely left the suburbs of London.
Sir George Naylor, king at arms, had his instructions where they should rest each night. The delays in London had been so many, that they were obliged (to fulfil orders) to travel at full trot to Ilford, where the procession arrived a little after six o'clock in the evening, having been more than twelve hours in performing this first stage of the journey. We pass over the insulting orders of Lord Liverpool, in their minute detail, and only advert to that part of them wherein he states to Mr. Bailey, the undertaker, that the body was to reach Harwich the second night. Various disgraceful altercations took place during the several stoppages on the road; and the mourners were treated similarly to their departed mistress. At length the sea opened upon their view; and the most prominent object upon it was the "Glasgow" frigate, stationed at some distance from Languard Fort. The procession arrived at Harwich, on Thursday, at half-past eleven, at which place, not even a single hour was allowed for retirement or repose; for the order was almost immediately given, that the coffin should be taken to the quay, and from thence lowered by a crane into a small barge. This was not accomplished without great difficulty, the coffin being extremely heavy. Four men rowed the boat to the side of the "Glasgow," which was waiting to receive the remains of England's injured queen. Sir G. Naylor and his secretary, with Mr. Bailey, accompanied it, and added the sad mockery of laying a paltry crown upon the coffin. The ladies and the rest of the suite followed in boats. At this moment, the first gun was fired from the fort. Such was the indelicate hurry and rude touch of the persons engaged in the removal of the royal coffin, that before it was received on board the "Glasgow," the crimson velvet was torn in many places, and hung in slips. When the boat reached the "Pioneer" schooner, the coffin was hoisted on board, the crown and cushion were laid upon it, and the pall was thrown out of the boat to a sailor on deck, by one of the three gentlemen who had it in charge, with no more ceremony than if it had been his cloak. Before it could possibly be announced that the corpse was safe on deck, the sailors were busily employed in unfurling the sails, and in less then ten minutes the "Pioneer" was under sail, to join the "Glasgow" frigate. The body and the mourners were at length received on board the "Glasgow," and here followed perplexity upon perplexity. The captain had not been informed of the probable number in this melancholy procession, and was incompetent to set before them sufficient food, or furnish them with suitable accommodation. Corn beef was therefore their daily fare; and hammocks, slung under the guns, were the beds assigned to the gentlemen, while the ladies were very little better provided for in the confined cabins. The coffin was placed in a separate cabin, guarded by soldiers, and with lights continually burning. On the 19th of August, the "Glasgow" appeared before the port at Cuxhaven; and, as she drew too much water to get up the Stade, she resigned her charge to the "Wye," commanded by Captain Fisher.
On Monday evening, the 20th, the remains of the Queen of England were landed at Stade. The coffin, without pall, or covering of any kind, was brought up the creek, a distance of three miles, the mourners following in boats. On their arrival at the quay, no preparation had been made for receiving the body on shore, and had it not been for the sympathy of the inhabitants of the place, the coffin must have been laid upon the earth; but they were so impressed with the necessity of paying regard to decency, and so incensed against the heartless and abominable conduct manifested towards the queen, that they, as if by one consent, brought out their tables and chairs, to afford an elevation for the coffin from the ground; and thus a kind of platform was raised, on which it was protected from further injury. After a short delay, arising from want of due notice having been given of the arrival of the procession, the citizens of the town, headed by the magistrates and priests, proceeded to meet it. The coffin was then taken up, and carried into the church, which was lighted, and partially hung with black. A solemn anthem was sung, accompanied by the deep-toned organ; after which the numberless crowd retired, leaving the royal corpse to the care of those who were appointed to watch over it. Early the next day the procession departed for Buxtehude. About a quarter of a mile from this town, it was met by the citizens and magistrates, who attended it, bareheaded, to the church, where the royal remains were deposited for the night. On the ensuing day, the 22nd, the procession was met on its entrance into Saltan, by the authorities, in the same manner as before named. On the 23d, it reached Celle, where the coffin was carried into the great church of the city, and placed upon the tomb of the unfortunate sister of George the Third, Matilda, Queen of Denmark. On the 24th, the procession was met at Offau, by Count Aldenslaben, the grand chamberlain of the court, and arrangements were made, that the funeral should take place at midnight. The mourners were immediately to proceed to Brunswick, and the funeral procession to follow, so as to arrive by ten the same night at the gates of the city, there to be met by the mourners; but further delay of interment than this was strictly forbidden. At the appointed hour, the last stage of the cavalcade commenced. On a near approach to the church, whose vaults were to receive the remains of this royal victim, the children of a school (founded and supported by a lady of truly patriotic principles) walked before the hearse, strewing flowers on the road. Arriving at the church, the Brunswick soldiers demanded the privilege to bear the remains of their beloved princess through the church to the vault, in which were deposited those of her illustrious ancestors. This being granted, the corpse was borne by as many of them as could stand under the coffin into the abode of death. It was then placed upon an elevation in the centre of the vault, which had previously been prepared for its reception, and where it will remain until another occupy its place; her majesty's coffin will then be removed to the space appointed for it. After an oration had been delivered in German, the curtain was drawn over our persecuted and destroyed queen. The mourners retired, and the assembled crowds dispersed, shortly after two o'clock.
It may possibly be asked, "Did not the nephew of the queen (the son of her brother, the late duke) meet the funeral, and follow it to the last abode of royalty?" To the eternal disgrace of George the Fourth, this youth was not permitted to do so. The kingdom of Brunswick was governed by two commissioners, under the controul of the King of England, and the young prince had been commanded to leave Brunswick previous to the ceremony of the interment of his aunt! The inhabitants of Brunswick had also been ordered to keep within their houses, to shut their windows, and not to appear upon the occasion. This imperious order was generally attended to. One gentleman, however, was independent and noble-minded enough to furnish flambeaux to be carried before and on each side of the procession, until it had reached the church. Every expression of the inhabitants indicated how much they were attached to the Princess of Brunswick, and the more superior and well-informed part of the community mourned that her days had been blighted by the delusive prospects held out to her family, in her alliance to the heir-apparent of England. The Brunswickers were afraid to express their sentiments in public companies; but, privately, they could not suppress their opinions, that "it was very strange not the least notice of the funeral had been communicated to them until the evening previous to the ceremony."
These unconstitutional and vindictive arrangements for the queen's funeral will ever be considered an indelible stain on the characters of those who concocted them. The law enacts that the dead shall be carried the nearest way to the place of interment; but the "notorious government" laid all possible restrictions in this case, and, in short, offered every indignity to the departed. If the English people had been resolute, and the lord mayor but consented, the body might have been taken into the Mansion-House, and the corpse EXAMINED, previous to its being taken from London, as considerable suspicion was caused by the unusual privacy and secrecy required immediately after her majesty's demise. The lord mayor (Thorpe) was the acknowledged friend of the queen, and ought not to have demurred to the generally-expressed opinion upon this subject.
It was rather a peculiar circumstance that George the Fourth should have contrived so well to be out of the way of death, both in his daughter's and his consort's case! But the prerogatives of royalty are numerous as well as unnatural, particularly when exercised by DESPOTIC PRINCES, who live only for their own gratification, and with whom the good of the people is an unimportant consideration. When the tidings of her majesty's death were communicated to her heartless husband by Lord Londonderry, the royal yacht was lying in Holyhead roads. Etiquette prevented the landing of the king while the unburied remains of his consort were upon English ground; therefore, despatches were forwarded to cause the first lord of the Treasury to press for an early removal of the body of the queen, in order that facility might be given to the landing of the king in Ireland.
After paying this formal attention to the awful intelligence he had received, his majesty landed at Howth, and, as soon as he had reached the viceregal lodge, addressed the gaping multitude in the following eloquent speech:
"My Lords and Gentlemen, and
my good Yeomanry,
"I cannot express to you the gratification at the kind and warm reception I have met with on this day of my landing amongst my Irish subjects. I am obliged to you, very much obliged to you; I am particularly obliged by your escorting me to my very door. I may not be able to express my feelings as I wish. I have travelled far; that is, I have made a long sea voyage; I have sailed down the English Channel, and sailed up the Irish Channel; and I have landed from a steam boat; besides which, particular circumstances have occurred, known to you all, of which it is BETTER, at present, not to speak (alluding to the queen's sudden death) upon these subjects. I leave it to your DELICATE and generous hearts to APPRECIATE MY FEELINGS! However, I can assure you that THIS IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE! I have long wished to visit you; my heart has always been IRISH!! From the day it first beat, I have loved Ireland. This day has shewn me, that I am beloved by my Irish subjects. Rank, station, honours, are nothing; but to feel that I live in the hearts of my Irish subjects is, to me, the most exalted happiness!
"I must now, once more, thank you for your kindness, and bid you farewell. Go and do by me as I shall do by you; drink my health in a bumper; and I shall drink all your's in a bumper of good Irish whiskey!!!"
Who that reads this address will not acknowledge his majesty's genius for speaking was equal to his talents for ruling? Shades of Fox, Grattan, and Sheridan, what a display of eloquence was here, delivered, too, by the "most polished man in Europe!" We may easily account for the rapturous admiration which the Irish people evinced for their monarch! Naturally eloquent themselves, they knew how to appreciate the energy and beauty of what a king addressed to their taste and understanding. When he assured them, in the most elegant and lofty language, that "his heart was entirely Irish," and that, in proof of the sincerity of his royal professions, he would "drink all their healths in a bumper of good Irish whiskey," they felt, with its superiority, the exhilirating stimulant of kingly declamation, and yielded to all the ecstacy that forms so prominent a characteristic of their sensations. The declaration of a British king, that his heart was wholly Irish was a kindness as highly strained, with respect to them, as disheartening to the feelings of all his other subjects. Great as was our admiration of the nobleness, both in matter and style, of this oratorical display, we scarcely were able, for a time, to reconcile our startled judgment to the perfect equity of this sudden partiality for a people who had never before experienced any mighty favours from the same quarter. But our error, we frankly confess, was the child of our stupidity: we understood his majesty to the simple letter, rather than in the royal meaning, of what he addressed to his long-forsaken children, and were too dull to understand his language till some time afterwards, when he visited his German dominions. But when, after assuring his Hibernian subjects that his heart was wholly Irish, he, in the same exquisite style, protested that his heart was entirely Hanoverian, we were wise enough to comprehend his majesty. There is a kind of ductility in this sort of affection that soars as much above the ordinary course of human feeling as the language in which the sentiment is conveyed surpasses the general powers of lingual eloquence. Such goodness and such eloquence may be ADMIRED, but we hope they will never be COPIED!
However gaily and flatteringly his majesty was received by his Irish subjects, all unbiassed people were shocked at the unbecoming incongruity of a king lost in the intoxication of mirth and wine, while his persecuted consort's passing hearse was calling forth the tears of his pitying people. Even under circumstances the most proper and respectful towards her late majesty, in regard to the conveyance of her remains to their destined place of rest, the appalling knowledge that, while her obsequies were performing, her husband's heart and soul were wrapped in the transports of convivial enjoyment, would have deepened the gloom of the dismal occasion, and excited exclamations of anguish and astonishment; but, witnessing the sordid neglect and studied insult with which the government conducted the melancholy preparation and procession, they combined with the sad spectacle the idea of her husband's simultaneous joy and merriment, and felt disgusted at such indecent and unmanly conduct. Of the qualities of the Irish character, generally viewed, there is much to admire; they are liberal and kind-hearted, and, in some few instances, have shewn a public spirit and a manly sense of their political wrongs and oppressions. We cannot, however, compliment either their delicacy, as men, in not feeling for the cruel death of an amiable woman, or their loyalty, as subjects, in slighting the memory of their sacrificed queen. At the cold indifference manifested by the Hibernian ladies, at this period, we were perfectly amazed. Over and above the tenderness natural to their hearts, their sex had an interest in her case, which ought to have awakened their concern, and commanded their tears. But the whole drama of life abounds with discordant scenes; and, without female inconsistency, the piece would be incomplete.
A tyrant drops his head upon the scaffold, and they weep!—an innocent queen is poisoned, and they "show no sign of sorrow!"—a cruel, cowardly yeomanry, and a brutal, sanguinary soldiery, massacre an unarmed populace, and thanks and a subscription acknowledge and reward their heroism!—here a people are stripped of their rights and privileges, and content themselves with complaining!—there a country is everwhelmed in penury and wretchedness, and finds a cure for all its distresses in the casual visit of its despotic ruler, and his unmeaning and stupid speeches!
The despicable figure which the king made at this period, and the fulsome flatteries bestowed upon him by the Irish people, did not escape the keen penetration of the illustrious and patriotic Lord Byron. We had the pleasure of his lordship's acquaintance for some years before his lamented death; and he was in the habit of sending us many brilliant effusions of his muse, which he probably never intended for publication. But the following verses, on the subject of which we have just been speaking, possess so much poetical beauty and justness of expression, that we cannot refrain from gratifying our readers by inserting them in this place.
THE IRISH AVATER[31:A].
Speedily after the queen's death, Lord Sidmouth retired from office, and was succeeded by Mr. Robert Peel. Several other changes also took place in the ministry.
There was only one occurrence that could have been more gratifying to the people of England than the secession of Lord Sidmouth from office, and that was—his being rendered amenable to the laws for his share in the frequent outrages of the constitution, and his almost numberless violations of the liberties of the subject. We had hoped that he would have remained in office until he had received his FULL REWARD, in the return of the days of ministerial responsibility, in spite of bills of indemnity and venal majorities. But, for the honour of justice, we hope yet to see the day when he shall be subject to an honest tribunal for his political misdeeds. His name will ever awaken the liveliest indignation in the bosoms of Englishmen; not, indeed, that his talents made him formidable against the liberties of his country, but because he so readily lent himself to the dangerous views of his superiors. Personally, he was of no importance. The son of a provincial medicine-vender, he had neither rank nor birth to command respect. The tool of Mr. Pitt in early life, Mr. Addington had cunning enough to stipulate for a peerage just at the time he was found unfit for a minister. The failure of his attempt to abridge the liberties of the dissenters covered him with disgrace. Such a design should have been entrusted to abler hands; but it was not his lordship's fault that the dissenters escaped religious persecution. His next exploit, however, proved more successful; he declared eternal hatred of reform and reformers in 1816. The seizure, the imprisonments, the tortures, and the outrages, occasioned by the employment of his moral friend Oliver have, in the language of Pope, occasioned him to be
The liberation of his victims, after long confinements, ruined in circumstances, wounded in mind, and some of them destined to premature death, through their unwholesome confinement, complete the picture of this nobleman's LEGISLATION! To prevent an investigation into such cruel acts, a bill of indemnity screened his lordship, his agents, and  minions, from the tribunals of that day; but if earthly justice should never be vindicated, there is a tribunal before which he must one day meet his victims! The part which Lord Sidmouth had in the reward of the Manchester massacre is well known, and will not be likely to add to the quiet of his repose. This lamentable portion of his history involves the double charge of misadvising his prince, and patronising a violation of the laws, in the most wanton and cruel manner! No man, indeed, has been more instrumental in the ruin of his country, and he may probably live to reap some of the bitter fruits himself!
During this year, the affable king made his pompous entrance into Hanover, where he threw gold and silver amongst the crowd, with as much confidence as if it had been his own!! If he had allowed some of this said "gold and silver" to have remained in the pockets of its real owners, it would have redounded much more to his credit.
In one single week this year, eleven persons were hung for forging Bank of England notes. Such a sanguinary penal code of laws as our's would really disgrace a nation of savages! Even our common laws, which ought to be intelligible to the meanest understanding, are an unfathomable abyss, and frequently exceed the utmost penetration of even the "gentlemen of the long robe." Indeed, our laws appear designed to perplex rather than to elucidate, to breed contentions rather than to prevent them. The principal MERIT of the English jurisprudence seems to consist in its intricacy, and the learned professors of it may almost be said to live upon the vitals of their clients. It not unfrequently happens that, for trivial omissions upon some useless observance of forms, the victim is incarcerated in a prison, and, after enduring all the horrors of these dens of thieves, expires in want, disease, and apparent infamy!
was one of great interest and importance, both abroad and at home; but to the latter we shall chiefly confine ourselves.
On the 18th of January, a cabinet council was held, at which Lord Sidmouth was present, notwithstanding his previous resignation of the seals of office. From this, it is evident that, though out of OFFICE in reality, this noble lord was in place specially.
Ireland, at this time, presented a sad appearance; outrages of every kind were of daily occurrence, and famine, with its appalling front, stared the lower classes in the face. Much blood was shed, and yet no efficient means were taken to subdue the cause of these fatal insurrections. The King of England, though he had professed so much love for his dear Irish subjects in his late eloquent speech, screened himself, under his assumed popularity, from blame on such serious charges, while his incompetent and mean advisers, believing their persons safe under the protection of their PUISSANT PRINCE, gave themselves no trouble about so insignificant a matter. Disgrace and infamy, however, will ever be attached to their names for so flagrant a dereliction of duty to the Irish people!
In April, Thomas Denman, esq., the late queen's solicitor-general, was elected to serve the office of common-sergeant for the city of London; and, on the 27th of May, he commenced his career with trying the unnamed servant of a bookseller for selling an irreligious and seditious book. Mr. Denman sentenced him to eighteen months' imprisonment in the House of Correction and, at the end of that time, to find sureties for five years, himself in one hundred pounds, and two others in forty pounds each!
In narrating this circumstance, we cannot forbear expressing our detestation of all prosecutions in matters of RELIGION. They neither redound to the honour of Christianity, nor effect the slightest benefit to morality. Every one has an undoubted right to entertain what religious opinions may best accord with the dictates of that all-powerful monitor—Conscience; and all endeavours to force different opinions are only so many attempts to make men hypocrites. "But," say our religious prosecutors, "the Bible must not be attacked, or the true religion will fall into contempt." As an answer to this argument, we say, that if the said true religion will not bear the test of examination and argument, the sooner it falls into contempt the better! The glorious truths of the New Testament, however, are sufficiently manifest, and do not require the puny and adventitious advocacy of Cant. The strong arm of the law is not requisite to uphold Christianity, for it possesses within its own pure doctrines sufficient to recommend it to the admiration and gratitude of mankind. When these doctrines are attacked, let Christians endeavour, by fair and mild reasoning, to support their beneficence and purity, and they will be sure to make converts. But, if they once attempt to FORCE CONVICTION, their defeat is inevitable! It is, therefore, contrary to common sense, as well as being unjust and deplorable, that a man should be punished for disbelieving any particular sentiment. What proof did Mr. Denman[40:A] give of the mild and forgiving doctrines of Christianity in his severe sentence against this man? Was it from motives of Christian charity that he traduced him before a public tribunal? Were the proceedings of the court at all calculated to impress the man's mind with the true spirit of Christianity? The contrary might well be said. For neither was the accusation distinguished by that moderation which ought to be observed even against the worst of criminals, nor was it very humane to imprison him eighteen months, and afterwards keep the arm of justice suspended by binding him in sureties for five years not to so offend again. It will be but fair to ask, whether, if the religious welfare of this man had been deemed by his prosecutors worthy of the slightest consideration, they would not have proceeded directly contrary to what they did? But, as Dr. Watts has justly observed, when speaking of religious prosecutors, "They are too apt to denounce damnation upon their neighbours without either justice or mercy; and, while pronouncing sentences of divine wrath against supposed heretics, they add their own human fire and indignation!" Such prosecutions, therefore, only tend to excite the contempt of those very persons who are expected to be made better by them. With respect to the other count of the foregoing indictment, "that the publication was calculated to bring the king and his ministers into contempt," we think such an attempt of the publisher was totally unnecessary; for both the king and his ministers were then in the full zenith of their fame, and had the sincere prayers of the greater part of the community for their speedy deliverance from—this world!
In the early part of this month, an elegant service of plate was presented to Alderman Wood, as an acknowledgement for his disinterested services in the cause of the late queen; while, strange to say, the large service of plate subscribed for the queen by the country, at only one shilling each, never reached its destination! The funds for this purpose were entrusted to the care of Messrs. Wood, Hume, and others; the amount collected was more than three thousand pounds during the first few months of the subscription, which regularly increased till the queen's death. The cause of the opening of this subscription was owing to the fact of her majesty being refused all suitable conveniences for the dinner table, as she could only have a dinner served upon blue-and-white earthenware! To this fact, the noblemen and gentlemen who dined at her majesty's table can fully attest. We are inclined to think, however, that the alderman's services to the queen have been a little overrated. That Mr. Wood was her majesty's best and most disinterested friend, thousands were led to believe; but that he was not so, we shall endeavour to PROVE.
When a subscription was proposed for a service of plate for her majesty, a Scotch lady forwarded one hundred guineas towards it. Alderman Wood had the chief management of this subscription, as of almost every thing else that related to the queen. The alderman employed one Pearson to collect the money. This Pearson was the fellow that cut such a figure in the Manchester massacre; and, therefore, he was thought, we suppose, a very capable person for such an undertaking. After collecting a considerable sum of money, Pearson was about taking his leave of this country for America; but, intimation having been given of his perfidy, he was stopped.
Alderman Wood said his friends also wished him to have a service of plate, but his subscription was to be raised by half-crowns; indeed it was expected that four or eight friends would join, and not present the alderman with less than a GOLDEN PIECE. Unfortunately, the poor queen died before the money the people intended to raise for her plate was completed. At first, her friends wished to have a monument erected to her memory in Hammersmith; but no ground could be obtained for this purpose, and it was feared that her enemies would treat any pillar to her honor with the same indignity that they had treated herself. Alms-houses were then proposed to be built, but NOTHING HAS YET BEEN  DONE WITH THE MONEY, (amounting to about three thousand pounds) either principal or interest. Mr. Wood has been frequently applied to, through the public papers, concerning this money, but no answer has ever been given. The alderman managed the subscription for his own plate much better; for he took good care to receive it as soon as possible! The alderman is known now to be very rich from his Cornwall mines; he has, besides, two distant relations in Gloucester, brothers, worth a million between them, which he may probably share, they having no relations. When, however, he went for the queen, his mines were unprofitable, and himself embarrassed. Be that as it may, the queen certainly, by his urgent entreaties, employed his coach-maker in South Audley-street, and most of his other tradespeople.
The ill-natured world will talk; and some people went so far as to accuse the disinterested and patriotic alderman with sinister motives in these recommendations, and that he had actually "a feeling in every thing that came into her majesty's house!" Whether or not this was the case, the alderman most assuredly spoke to the queen, very animatedly, to purchase Cambridge House, opposite to his own, in South Audley-street, though her majesty said she would never sleep in it, nor did she. The enormous sum which Mr. Wood persuaded the queen to give for this house was sixteen thousand pounds! but, notwithstanding her majesty made several improvements in it, it only sold at the queen's death for six thousand pounds!! This fact will speak volumes. Are no interested motives to be traced here?
We do not wish to deprive Alderman Wood of any merit that may justly be his due; but, though he accompanied her majesty to England, he certainly did not persuade her to come over, as some people have imagined. He, nor any one else, had any hand in that; it was the spontaneous determination of the queen herself! That the alderman REFUSED the house, 22, Portman-street, which was offered for the queen's accommodation till a better could be provided cannot be denied; he preferred receiving her majesty into his own house. It is also well known that the alderman, by his officious and ungentlemanly, nay, we may say, IMPUDENT conduct, lost her majesty many friends in the higher circles, who would not act with him. Nor can this be wondered at when his vulgar manners to his superiors are taken into consideration. That we may not be supposed to assert this without reason, we will here relate a few instances, which came immediately under our own observation.
The queen gave a dinner to the Duke of Bedford, Earl Grey, Lord Tankerville, and other noblemen and gentlemen. His grace of Bedford handed her majesty down the room, and sat on her right, and Earl Grey on her left. Instead of the vice-chamberlain (according to etiquette) sitting at the top of the table to carve, Mr. Wood seated himself there, above every one, and, grinning, ordered her vice-chamberlain to go to the other end opposite him, thus publicly proclaiming his ignorance and impudence! Earl Grey is reckoned the proudest man in England, and it was said, he observed, "It is the first, and shall be the last, time that the alderman shall sit above me."
When the queen came from Dover to town, accompanied by this alderman and Lady Anne Hamilton, he presumptuously seated himself by her majesty's side, thus forcing her lady to take the seat opposite, with her back to the horses! We need hardly offer a remark upon so great a breach of good manners; for any individual, possessing the spirit of an Englishman, would always give precedence to a lady.
When her majesty went to St. Paul's cathedral, Mr. Wood placed himself at the coach door to attend her out, and kept laughing and talking to her till they arrived near the statue of Queen Elizabeth, where the lord mayor and his retinue met her, after coming from the church for that purpose; but when his lordship (Thorpe, naturally a modest man) perceived that the queen was so engaged that she never lifted up her eyes, he and his procession were turning back in confusion to re-enter the church, when one of the queen's followers caught firmly hold of the officious alderman's gown, stopped them, and said, "Mr. Wood, Mr. Wood, don't you see the lord mayor come to hand the queen?—you would not affront the city so as not to let him?" Sir Robert Wilson, who was near, said, "Do run and call the lord mayor back, thousands of eyes are upon us!" His lordship turned round, and the procession proceeded into the church, as it ought to have done from the carriage door; but Mr. Wood was exceedingly angry, and would follow next to her majesty, though repeatedly told that it was Lady Anne Hamilton's place, as her majesty's lady in waiting.
At the city concert, also, Alderman Wood displayed his indecorous conduct. The orchestra was elevated about a foot, and at the right of the orchestra two chairs were placed, one for the queen, and the other for her lady in waiting, who sat next the people. Alderman Wood stood behind her majesty the whole time, laughing and whispering, in the most intimate style, in her ear; and though her lady kept her face towards them, wishing it to appear to the public that at least she had a share in the conversation, alas! too many saw she was never spoken to by either!
From such impudent and vulgar conduct as this, we heard a certain royal duke observe, "I wish to serve the queen, but I will not be Mr. Wood's cat's-paw, nor play second fiddle to him!" Similar observations were made by noblemen of the very first rank in this country. It may be asked, "Why did the queen allow herself to be guided so much by this alderman?" Because her majesty thought him honest, and was not aware that he kept any other persons away. "Could no one tell her majesty the real state of things?" No! for Mr. Wood actually set her against every one, except himself and his own creatures, in order to preserve entire influence over her majesty. Indeed, her legal advisers could hardly speak to the queen, without this very officious gentleman being present. He began by prejudicing her majesty against them all; for he said, "No lawyers are good for any thing; I esteem myself above them all." We ourselves heard him say so. When he had thus persuaded her majesty of his own superiority, and introduced himself into all the consultations of her law advisers, (unless they demanded a private audience) he began to attack the Whigs, and amused himself by constantly abusing them. He has frequently been heard to say, "The Whigs are worse enemies of your majesty than the ministers; they would sacrifice you if they could." But, for himself, he led her to believe that he could do any thing with the people! In the city, he conceitedly told her majesty, at the head of her own table, (where he usually sat, till Lord Hood took his place) in November, when his friend Thorp was elected mayor, that "they wanted to elect me mayor a third time, but I would not accept the office;" while, at this very election, there was but ONE SINGLE VOTE for him, and that was the new lord mayor's, who could not vote for himself!
It is very lamentable to consider that her majesty was so much guided by this one man in most of her actions, even to the fatal day of the coronation, upon which occasion, however, he took particular care not to attend her. There is every reason to believe, notwithstanding, that her going at all was owing to his secret advice, though he pretended to the contrary. Those who heard him at the king's dinner were disgusted at his being the loudest to applaud his majesty! Most certainly, the coronation day did not end to her majesty as she had been led to expect; and she discovered, or fancied so, that she had no friend or adviser in England on whom she could rely; and, therefore, determined to visit Scotland. It was remarked to the queen, by a true friend, who sought only her honour and happiness, that Scotland was a proud nation, and that it would not be there thought that Alderman Wood was of sufficient rank to attend her majesty. The queen quickly and indignantly replied, "Alderman Wood! I should never think of taking him! No, no; I shall only take Lord and Lady Hood, and Lady Hamilton!" All the world knows her majesty never named the alderman in her will; but all the world does not know that, a short time before her death, she said, "I owe Wood nothing!"
The alderman also seized every opportunity he could to persuade the queen to go abroad again. On one of these occasions, a friend of her majesty overheard the hypocritical adviser, and immediately said, "How can you, Mr. Wood, pretend to be her majesty's best friend, and yet want her to do that which would ruin her in the eyes of the whole country?" "I do not want her to go," replied he, "but if she will go, I wish to point out to her the best way of doing it." "Sir, there is no good way for the queen to quit the country, and if you should unfortunately succeed in persuading her to do it, you will be her ruin!"
Thus it will be seen, that "all is not gold that glitters;" but Mr. Wood ought hardly to find fault with us for stripping him of his borrowed plumes, considering the length of time he has been allowed to wear them! If the public had known these particulars at the time they occurred, it is doubtful whether the alderman would have ever received his plate; therefore, he owes us a little gratitude for not mentioning them before that (to him) golden opportunity!
Alderman Wood, however, we are sorry to say, was not the only false friend her majesty had to lament. Many others "held with the hare in one house, and ran with the hounds in another." Some of these even attended public meetings in the quality of friends, and then wrote as enemies in the public journals. Some inveighed against her in public, and wrote, spoke, and acted for her cause in private. One of her judges, to our positive knowledge, spoke admirably for her in parliament, and yet privately, in more places than one, impugned the character of her majesty! Even while the queen was abroad, her presumed friends were extremely negligent at home. They permitted insidious paragraphs to appear in the newspapers, day after day, month after month, and year after year, without either contradiction or explanation; by which shameful neglect, the public mind became so impregnated with falsehood and insinuation, that, had not the queen returned to this country as she did, her name would have been recorded in history as infamous! Sure never woman was so shamefully treated, both by friends and foes; indeed, her majesty might well have exclaimed, with Gay,
On the 12th of August, while his majesty was absent on a visit to Scotland, an extraordinary excitement prevailed by the reported "sudden death" of the Marquis of Londonderry. It is hardly necessary to enter into the various causes assigned for so unexpected an event; it is sufficient to know, that his lordship committed suicide, by cutting his throat with a small knife, at his seat, Foot's Cray, and that a coroner's inquest (either from conviction, or in kindness to his surviving friends) returned a verdict, that his lordship inflicted the wound while "delirious and of insane mind."
It is an obligation imposed upon every independent historian to lend his assistance to a just and honest estimate of the character of public men. It leads to useful, though not always to gratifying, reflections, to examine the causes which pointed them out as objects worthy of being entrusted with political command. By what strange union of circumstances, then, or by what unlucky direction of power, did the Marquis of Londonderry attain to the high and important offices which he successively held for so long a period?—a period the most momentous and ominous, the most fertile in change, the most wicked in court intrigue, and the most fraught with terror, of any in our annals! We have heard his lordship described as having been amiable in private life; but who has denied the manifest mediocrity of his genius for the situations he was allowed to fill? Some of his public proceedings, however, prove him not to have possessed much of "the milk of human kindness," as we shall presently shew. He was, indeed, only qualified to act as a mere associate, to be put forward in the face of Europe, not as himself a high and original power, but as a passive organ for the expression of sentiments, or for the execution of measures, hereafter traceable only as the opinions and actions of the "united cabinet" of a wicked chief magistrate. The panegyrists of his lordship have also trumpetted forth eulogiums on his "personal bravery." And if bravery consists in fighting duels, proposing the most unconstitutional acts, fearlessly oppressing the innocent, and in defying the power of a justly-enraged people, Lord Londonderry assuredly possessed "personal bravery" in an eminent degree!
His lordship was born on the 18th of June, 1769, and consequently died in the 53rd year of his age. He commenced his career, like his patron, Mr. Pitt, as the advocate of parliamentary reform; and, also like that apostate minister, Lord Londonderry abandoned his early patriotic pledges and principles for the emoluments of office, which he first entered in 1797, as keeper of the privy seal, and, shortly after, one of the lords of the treasury, of Ireland. In the following year, he became secretary to the lord lieutenant. Honours and places were now lavishly heaped upon him. In 1802, his lordship received the appointment of the Board of Controul, and, in 1805, was raised to the high and responsible office of minister of war! On the death of Mr. Pitt in 1806, his lordship was obliged to resign, with all the other "clerks in office," as the débris of Mr. Pitt's cabinet were called. On the resignation of the Grey and Grenville administration, in 1807, he resumed his former situation of minister of war, in which he continued till the ill-starred Walcheren expedition and his duel with Mr. Canning drove him from office, scorned and ridiculed by the whole of Europe. The year 1809 gave his lordship an opportunity of shewing how much he admired the existing abuses in church and state; for, on an investigation taking place into the Duke of York's shameful neglect of duty, as commander-in-chief, this year, the noble marquis was peculiarly active in his defence, and circulated a considerable sum of money in bribing those who were likely to appear as witnesses against the royal libertine. On the assassination of Mr. Perceval, in 1811, his lordship was made foreign minister, in which situation he continued till his death. Holding so high an office at a time when our foreign exertions were the most extensive and important, and acting as our negotiator when Europe might have been composed and re-adjusted by our councils, he had opportunities, which few ministers have enjoyed, of benefitting his country and the whole human race. But how did he employ these rare opportunities? Alas! his name is only to be found in treaties and conventions for clipping the boundaries, impairing the rights, or annihilating the existence of independent states; and he gloried in the opportunity of stifling liberty in all the lesser states of Europe. Even the colonial and commercial interests of Great Britain herself were bartered away for snuff boxes and the smiles of Continental despots! If, however, there is one action more than another calculated to brand the name of Castlereagh with immortal infamy, it is the mean, tyrannical, and inglorious conduct which he exercised towards the greatest man that ever reigned over a free and enlightened people—the Emperor Napoleon! To view the career of this truly illustrious man is to look back upon the course of a blazing star, that, drawing its fiery arch over the concave of heaven, fixes the admiring attention of the sublunary world, and dazzles, while it arrests, the wondering eye! What language can do justice to the mental powers and noble daring of the man who subdued the blood-thirsty enemies of his country, and laid Europe at his feet? In Napoleon, we saw the triumphant opposer of all despots, and the restorer of order to his own disorganized and distracted subjects. See him from his bold and judicious exertions at Toulon to his assumption of the imperial title, and the dread-inspiring attitude he presented to terrified and retiring Russia,—then judge his gigantic energy and valour! As first consul, he pacified Europe; and, as emperor and king, revenged her breach of the peace. Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Prussia, the Netherlands, Germany, Sardinia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Naples, were all in arms against his power; yet—all fell before it!
The termination of the great war in Europe was not the peculiar triumph of that cabinet of which Lord Londonderry was the most prominent tool. The campaigns of 1813 and 1814 were guided by the skill and spirit of Russian and German officers,—aided, to be sure, by British soldiers,—and with the whole civilized world for their allies. The English ministers, or rather, the MONIED INTEREST of England, were bankers to the "Grand Alliance," and furnished the sinews of the war. But, even with such mighty odds against him, the towering and gigantic genius of Napoleon would have defied them all, if English money had not BRIBED some of his generals. It was this, and this only, that completed his downfall. To talk of the Duke of Wellington as the conqueror of Napoleon is an insult to the understanding of any intelligent man, and for Lord Castlereagh to have boasted of having subdued him, as his lordship was wont to do, "was pitiful, was wonderous pitiful!" The English cabinet, at this period, was the same "incapable" cabinet. The men were the same satellites to Mr. Pitt, subordinates to Mr. Perceval,—nay, even to Lord Sidmouth, of Manchester notoriety,—whom the independent members of parliament had long known and despised. Circumstances ruled these ministers, whose position was chosen for them, and improved by others. They could not have resisted that universal impulse which they had not created, but which Bonaparte himself had provoked; for he defied the whole "Grand Alliance," and, so far, was the author of his own reverses, which, however, he would not so soon have experienced if Fouché, Duke of Otranto, had not suffered his avarice to get the better of his duty. It was this wicked duke, who, dreading the detection of his treachery, devised a plan for assassinating the Emperor Napoleon on his road to Waterloo. But, though this diabolical intention proved a failure, he succeeded too well in putting his illustrious master in the power of the British government. Not content, however, with betraying his king, Fouché, though he capitulated for Paris, gave up the rest of France to the discretion of her enemies and the tender mercies of the Russian cossacks! This most consummate of traitors likewise exposed those who had assisted him to execute his diabolical plans, and actually signed lists for their proscription! Even the treaty for the capitulation of Paris proved a mere juggle; for none of its provisions were properly adhered to by Lord Castlereagh. The Parisians were here most shamefully deceived. It could never have been contemplated by them, for instance, that the capital was to be rifled of all the monuments of art and antiquity, whereof she had become possessed by right of conquest. A reclamation of the great mortar in St. James' Park, or of the throne of the King of Ceylon, would have just as much appearance of fairness as that of Apollo by the Pope, and Venus by the Grand Duke of Tuscany. What a preposterous affectation of justice did our foreign secretary evince in employing British engineers to take down the brazen horses of Alexander the Great, that they might be re-erected in St. Mark's Place at Venice,—a city to which the Austrian emperor has no more equitable a claim than we have to Vienna! Lord Castlereagh's authority for emptying the Louvre was not only an act of unfairness to the French, but one of the greatest impolicy as concerned our own countrymen, since, by so doing, he removed beyond the reach of the great majority of British artists and students the finest models of sculpture and of painting the world has produced. Although England was made to bear the trouble and expense of these removals, the complacent Castlereagh gave all the spoil to foreign potentates, whose smiles and a few trifling presents compensated him for their loss! But what will posterity think of a British minister's violating a treaty for such paltry gratifications?
We come now to speak of the conduct of the departed minister to the betrayed Emperor of the French. Napoleon always declared that he gave himself up to England, in the confidence of promises, sacredly made to him by Lord Castlereagh, that he should be allowed to remain in this country. "My having given myself up to you," were Napoleon's words, "is not so simple a matter as you imagine. Before I went to Elba, Lord Castlereagh offered me an asylum in England, and said that I should be very well treated there, and much better off than at Elba." But how did his lordship fulfil these promises? This will be best explained in the language of Napoleon himself, in a protest which he wrote on board the Bellerophon, August 4th, 1815, of which the following is a translation:
"I hereby solemnly protest, in the face of heaven and of man, against the violence done me, and against the violation of my most sacred rights, in forcibly disposing of my person and my liberty. I came voluntarily on board of the Bellerophon; I am not a prisoner, I am the guest of England. I came on board even at the instigation of the captain, who told me he had orders from the government to receive me and my suite, and conduct me to England, if agreeable to me. I presented myself with good faith, to put myself under the protection of the English laws. As soon as I was on board the Bellerophon, I was under shelter of the British people.
"If the government, in giving orders to the captain of the Bellerophon to receive me, as well as my suite, only intended to LAY A SNARE FOR ME, it has forfeited its honour and disgraced its flag.
"If this act be consummated, the English will in vain boast to Europe of their integrity, their laws, and their liberty. British good faith will be lost in the hospitality of the Bellerophon.
"I appeal to history; it will say that an enemy, who for twenty years waged war against the English people, came voluntarily, in his misfortunes, to seek an asylum under their laws. What more brilliant proof could he give of his esteem and his confidence? But what return did England make for so much magnanimity? They feigned to stretch forth a friendly hand to that enemy; and when he delivered himself up in good faith, they sacrificed him.
Napoleon, however, acquitted the English PEOPLE of any participation in this crime, and said, "We must not judge of the character of a people by the conduct of their government."
Europe should understand how little the English people are implicated in the crimes of their king or his ministers. The PEOPLE did not vote millions after millions for a crusade against French and American liberty. They did not commission a Wellington to interfere in the re-enthronement of a Bourbon; they did not depute a Castlereagh to dictate the slavery of Saxony and Genoa; nor should they be charged with the gross injustice, dastardly inurbanity, and forcible imprisonment of the greatest man and the most magnificent monarch of modern or ancient times,—of a man whose mental superiority was honourable to human nature, and which threw into utter darkness the abilities of every other sovereign!
British annals have, indeed, been stained by many a dark and unsightly spot; our volumes will exhibit divers foul and desperate deeds in the domestic history of the last two kings: but never was an act more nationally disgraceful than the banishment of Napoleon to St. Helena! He was never accountable to England, much less to the English boroughmongers, for his political conduct. He had been the general, the first consul, and the emperor of the French. He arose amidst the storms of the revolution; he was (as he himself felt and said) the "sword-arm of the republic," with which it chastised and humbled to the dust the accursed confederacy of despots who had endeavoured to rivet an old, worn-out, oppressive, and rejected dynasty on thirty millions of Frenchmen. He conquered at first by the help of that flame of liberty which raged with a fierceness proportioned to its long suppression; and, latterly, having raised himself above his contemporaries by his powerful genius, he was made emperor by his countrymen and fellow-soldiers, partly because a large portion of the people, weary of the violent fluctuations of an ill-constituted democracy, desired the repose even of absolute government, and partly because he was looked upon as the fittest instrument for foreign conquest, which had become a favourite habit, though originating in an absolute necessity. Never let it be forgotten, that he was chosen first consul for life (a distinction used only for the sake of republican appearances, and known to mean king all over Europe) by the votes of the French people at large! The question was submitted to them in the separate departments; all voted that took interest in the affirmative or the negative; and the result was, his election by more than 3,500,000 voices against 374! Can the House of Hanover say as much for their succession to the throne of the Stuarts? Napoleon was not only the elected sovereign of the French people, but he was acknowledged in that capacity by all his enemies. As first consul, the allies, including England, made the treaty of Amiens with him. As emperor, the Continental sovereigns not only often acknowledged, but flattered, and bowed to the earth before him; and this country, at the least, negotiated with him for peace. Whence, then, arose Lord Castlereagh's right to treat him as an offender amenable to England? When, by a marvellous succession of ill-fortune, he fell from his towering height, and left for ever his post at the head of the French government, he became a private individual; and this country had no more business to interfere with his personal freedom than with that of Marshal Soult, or any other of the military men who had equally sought to crush us. Some canting and arrogant people talked of his crimes—his tyranny—his unjust aggressions in Spain and elsewhere. But we deny that Napoleon was a tyrant. After his return from Elba, he wished to be at peace with all mankind, and to devote the remainder of his days to increase the happiness and prosperity of his people. Which of his enemies could say as much? We quote the following letter in justification of what we here advance, which the emperor addressed to all the sovereigns of Europe:
"Paris, April 4, 1815.
"Sires, my Brothers,—You have no doubt learnt in the course of the last month my return to France, my entrance into Paris, and the departure of the family of the Bourbons. The true nature of those events must now be made known to your majesties. They are the results of an irresistible power,—the results of the unanimous wish of a great nation, which knows its duties and its rights. The dynasty which force had given to the French people was not fitted for it; the Bourbons neither associated with the national sentiments nor manners; France has therefore separated herself from them; her voice called for a liberator. The hopes which induced me to make the greatest sacrifice for her have been deceived; I came, and, from the spot where I first set my foot, the love of my people has borne me into the heart of my capital. The first wish of my heart is to repay so much affection by the maintenance of an honourable peace. The restoration of the imperial throne was necessary for the happiness of the French people. It is my sincere desire to render it at the same time subservient to the maintenance of the repose of Europe. Enough of glory has shone by turns on the colours of the various nations. The vicissitudes of fortune have often enough occasioned great reverse, followed by great success; a more brilliant arena is now open to sovereigns, and I am the first to descend into it. After having presented to the world the spectacles of great battles, it will now be more delightful to know no other rivalship in future but that resulting from the advantages of peace, and no other struggle but the sacred one of felicity for our people. France has been pleased to proclaim with candour this noble object of her unanimous wish. Jealous of her independence, the invariable principle of her policy will be the most rigid respect for the independence of other nations. If such then (as I trust they are) are the personal sentiments of your majesties, general tranquillity is secured for a long time to come, and Justice, seated on the confines of the various states, will of herself be sufficient to guard the frontiers.
"I am, &c.
If further proof be needed against his being a tyrant, it may be found in the following extracts from the Additional Act to the Constitution of the Empire of France, 1815:
"Rights of Citizens.—All Frenchmen are equal in the eye of the law, whether as contributors to the public taxes and imposts, or as to admission to civil and military employments. No one can be prosecuted, arrested, imprisoned, or exiled, except according to the forms prescribed by the law.
"Liberty of worship is granted to all.
"Every citizen has the right of printing and publishing his thoughts (signing his name) without any previous censorship, and subject only to legal responsibility after the publication, by the verdict of juries, even where there should be no occasion but for a correctional penalty. The right of petitioning is secured to all citizens. Every petition is individual.
"The French people declare moreover that, in the delegation which they have made, and which they shall make, of their powers, they have not intended to give, nor do they give, the right of proposing the re-establishment of the Bourbons, or any prince of that family, upon the throne, even in case of the extinction of the imperial dynasty; nor the right of re-establishing either the ancient feudal nobility, or the feudal and signorial privileges or titles, or any privileged and dominant worship; nor the power of making any attempt upon the irrevocability of the sale of the national domains: they formally interdict to the government, the chambers, and the citizens all propositions to that effect.
"Done at Paris the 20th of April, 1815.
Nothing but their own love of tyranny, therefore, could induce these sovereigns to wage war against a happy people, like the people of France. But Napoleon's virtues were too luminous for their dim eyes to look upon. The abolition of the slave-trade ought to be held in everlasting remembrance by all the friends of justice and humanity.
"Napoleon, Emperor of the French. We have decreed, and do decree, as follows:
"Art. 1.—From the date of the publication of the present decree, the trade in negroes is abolished. No expedition shall be allowed for this commerce, neither in the ports of France nor in those of our colonies.
"Art. 2.—There shall not be introduced to be sold in our colonies any negro, the produce of this trade, whether French or foreign.
"Art. 3.—Any infraction of this decree shall be punished with the confiscation of the ship and cargo, which shall be pronounced by our courts and tribunals.
"Art. 4.—However, the ship-owners who, before the publication of the present decree, shall have fitted out expeditions for the trade may sell the produce in our colonies.
"Our ministers are charged with the execution of the present decree.
Beside these noble examples of good government, many other advantages were bestowed on the French people by their emperor. Their "Code Napoleon," their "Legion of Honour," their "Central Schools," their new roads, bridges, and canals, will be lasting evidences of the gigantic powers of his mind, and of his sincere desire to serve his country, and render himself worthy of the exalted station to which he had been called by her gratitude for his pre-eminent military services. Had Napoleon bounded his ambition to the glory of ruling France upon free and liberal principles, it had been happy for himself, his relations, and his country; but to talk of his foreign despotism, and his carrying tyranny to where, in fact, he found tyranny,—tyranny the most rank and inveterate,—is to use the language of folly or of knavery, and to merit the contempt of every thinking mind.
But if it be even allowed that Napoleon was all that his enemies would make him, where did our ministers get the unheard-of privilege of setting themselves up as cosmopolite censors? By what right did the British government constitute itself a tribunal to judge and punish, in the last resort, delinquent monarchs? Could it by any reasoning have made out a claim to that office, was it just or decent to make a victim of one,—a man of unquestioned talent and greatness of soul,—and at the same moment to compliment and make alliances with all the worse tyrants, the maudlin hypocrites, and base violaters of their word? Or did these moral Quixotes and immaculate judges only profess to "do justice" upon one sinner "against the spirit of the age,"—and that one a fallen enemy?
The only plausible pretence for the treatment of the abdicated emperor was—that his surpassing genius, and his great hold on the military part of the French character, rendered him a necessary exception to the rule regarding prisoners of war, and made it indispensable to the safety and repose of the world, that he should be prevented from appearing again on the grand stage of European politics. This is confessedly on the dangerous plan of doing positive injustice for the sake of what the doers think safe and necessary. But we deny the necessity. We say the argument is built on utter ignorance of human nature, and a wilful blindness to all history and experience. Napoleon was grand in his views, because he admired and loved greatness for its own sake. He never sullied his conquests by partitioning and dividing the conquered. He could afford not to weaken his enemies by petty violations of national integrity. He encouraged every thing liberal and noble, which did not at the same time interfere with his personal authority. He cherished literature, art, and science; and they, in return, reflected true glory upon him. He never insulted and mocked mankind by pretending an eternal right in himself and his successors to trample them under his feet, because he was an emperor. He had always a respect for liberty, though he so often forgot it in his greater eagerness for power. He never laid claim to holiness, but acknowledged himself, in his proudest moments, sovereign, "by the constitutions of the empire." He was not vindictive; his long military rule was never sullied by any act which could be compared in infamy with the imprisonment of the unfortunate Trenck by that Prussian Frederick, whom the legitimate abusers of Napoleon call "the Great." The prominent fault of his career as a leader of a new and revolutionary period, was that, instead of looking forward, he looked backward, and became an imitator instead of an original. He evidently had the glories of former ages strongly in his view; and was to be a great conqueror, not because the times wanted him, but because there are medals and statues in the world, and dynasties were founded by Cæsar. In the height of his prosperity, he was a Charlemagne—another "Emperor of the West;" and, in his adversity, he forgot the Prince Regent of England so far as to talk to him of Themistocles[68:A]. And yet there was a romance even in this, which set him above all ordinary conquerors. He had the poetry, as well as the prose, of the military art about him. He would never have sunk into a mere lounger and man of pleasure, or stood behind any commonplace man with a gold stick in his hand.
As a soldier, his military career has never been surpassed in brilliancy. Quick, active, decisive, he never paused in the vigorous and persevering execution of the plans which his genius prompted him to undertake. He introduced a new, high, and successful mode of conquest, by striking immediately at the centre of armies and countries; and he was finally overthrown, both as general and sovereign, not because his individual antagonists were greater, but because the very physical remains of old English liberty were greater, and because public opinion was greater than all. He possessed, in an eminent degree, the great art of estimating and working upon the characters of his adversaries, and the still greater art of gaining the affections of his soldiers, who were always passionately fond of him, and who at this day adore his memory.
As a prince and a conqueror, his master-passion was a restless ambition, the impetuous tide of which bore him onward to his ends through many signal acts of injustice and violence. We shall not dwell upon them: there has been plenty of "envy, hatred, and all uncharitableness," to ring the changes on his worst deeds, and an abundance of those feelings, we find, survive the object that particularly roused them. Neither shall we indulge in uselessly regretting the good he failed to do, or in reproaching him with the want of moderation and wisdom. Our business is with the illustrious soldier as he was, not as he might have been without his defects:
His character was spoilt, or at least not adapted to the purposes of freedom, by a military education. The Bourbons brought him up at one of their military schools, where his head was filled with Cæsar and Alexander, and then complained of him for his ambition: that is to say, the legitimate monarchs will let you be as ambitious and warlike as you please, provided you assist their ambition and wars; but if not, you are a blood-thirsty conqueror and a tyrant. Some writers have attempted to confound, on this occasion, ambition with mere ordinary selfishness. This is paltry and ridiculous. Napoleon was never so cool as when contemplating eminent success. Those who have carried him the news of victory have frequently supposed that he had learnt it before, or that he did not credit them. It warmed no feature of his countenance; it lit up no additional lustre in his eye. Yet this was not indifference; he had acquired a habit of subduing the ordinary emotions of mankind. Defeat and error certainly enraged him towards those who contributed to such mortifications; but they never had power to hurry him into any efforts to repair disaster. His intemperance never extended itself to his plans or resources, as a general. Let us look to the course of his feelings when the thunderbolt of his fortune was expended at Moscow. He had recourse to no dribbling efforts on which to hang the flame of military hope. He negotiated the plan of his retreat with all the precision of an attorney, who leaves nothing unprovided for. Trifles alone disturbed Napoleon. The offence of an inattention on the part of an attendant would make him angry; but if the world had burst asunder, and only left him a place to stand upon, he would have regarded it through his eye-glass as an experiment in natural philosophy!
Had Napoleon lived in times of less turbulence, he would have been a still greater statesman than a warrior. It is a fact not to be disputed, that it was this great man who definitively freed the entire Continent of Europe from that democratic mania, of all other tyrannies the most cruel, savage, and unrelenting, and which was in full, though less rapid, progress when he, by accepting the diadem of France, restored the principles of monarchy to its vigour, and, at one blow, overturned the many-headed monster of revolution. To attain this beneficial end, HE SPILT NO BLOOD! The decapitation of Louis, in which he could have had no concern, completely overwhelmed the Bourbon dynasty; but Napoleon, in one single day, re-established that monarchial form of government which the imbecile ministers of England had, with so much expense of human life and treasure, been for many years unsuccessfully attempting to restore!
One of Napoleon's greatest admirers was Mr. Fox, who, speaking of him one day, said, "If we even shut our eyes on the martial deeds of this great man, we must allow that his eloquence alone has elevated the French people to a higher degree of civilization than any other nation in Europe,—they have advanced a century during the last five years. Bonaparte combines the declamation of a Cicero with the soul-stirring philippicks of a Demosthenes; he appeals to the head and the heart, to honour and to self-interest, at the same time. Had this wonderful man turned his attention to poetry, instead of war, he would have beaten Homer out of the field! Whatever his manner of delivery may be, and I understand it is impressive, he is certainly the greatest orator that the world ever produced. The soaring grandeur of his conceptions is admirable, and his adaptation of the deeds and sayings of the heroes and statesmen of ancient times to present circumstances, not only shows the extent of his reading and the correctness of his taste in their application, but also serves to assure the French people that he is as capable of governing as he has proved himself to be in leading them forth to conquest. But it is in his power of simplification that he shines most; although as romantic as Ossian, he disdains all rodomontade and circumlocution; and, by stripping his subject of all extraneous matter, he reduces the most complex proposition down to the laconic simplicity of a self-evident axiom."
What, then, are we to think of a British minister, who could violate his most sacred pledges of protection to a man of this exalted description? But Lord Castlereagh's mind was not capable of estimating the worth and talents of Napoleon, and the mean expedient to which his lordship resorted to gain possession of the emperor's person will ever reflect the greatest possible disgrace upon his character, both as a man and a minister. The petty, vexatious, and unjustifiable conduct, to which the Emperor Napoleon was afterwards subjected at St. Helena, was equal in meanness to his capture. When the emperor quitted the Bellerophon, on the 8th of August, the officers and ship's company were in consternation; they felt implicated in the shame and the injustice of such a procedure. Napoleon traversed the deck to descend into the sloop, with calmness and a smile upon his lips, having at his side Admiral Keith. He stopped before Captain Maitland, charged him to testify his satisfaction to the officers and crew of the Bellerophon, and, seeing him extremely grieved, said to him, by way of consolation, "Posterity cannot, in any way, accuse you for what is taking place; you have been deceived as well as myself." Napoleon enjoyed, during twenty-four days, the protection of the British flag; he sojourned in the inner roads of Torbay and Plymouth; and it was not until after that lapse of time, on the 8th of August, when passing on board the Northumberland, that Admiral Keith disarmed the French,—the delivering up of arms being one of the characteristics of prisoners of war. The arms of the emperor, however, were not demanded.
It would be unnecessary to give a copy of the "official" regulations, which Lord Castlereagh ordered to be observed towards the illustrious Napoleon; their tyrannical operation will be made manifest in the following correspondence:
LETTER FROM COUNT MONTHOLON TO THE
GOVERNOR, SIR HUDSON LOWE.
"Longwood, 23rd August, 1816.
"I have received the treaty of the 2nd August, 1815, concluded between his Britannic Majesty, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of Russia, and the King of Prussia, which was annexed to your letter of the 23rd July.
"The Emperor Napoleon protests against the contents of that treaty. He is not the prisoner of England: after having abdicated, into the hands of the representatives of the nation, for the advantage of the constitution adopted by the French people, and in favour of his son, he repaired voluntarily and freely to England, to live there as a private individual, in retirement, under the protection of the British laws. The violation of all laws cannot constitute a right; in point of fact, the person of the Emperor Napoleon is in the power of England; but in fact, and of right, he has not been and is not in the power of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, even according to the laws and customs of England, who never admitted into the balance, in the exchange of prisoners, the Russians, the Austrians, the Prussians, the Spaniards, the Portuguese, although she was united to those powers by treaties of alliance, and made war conjointly with them. The convention of the 2nd August, made fifteen days after the Emperor Napoleon was in England, cannot, of right, have any effect; it exhibits only a spectacle of a coalition of the four great powers of Europe for the oppression of a SINGLE MAN!—a coalition disclaimed by the opinion of all people, and at variance with all the principles of sound morality. The Emperors of Austria and of Russia, and the King of Prussia, not having, either in fact or of right, any controul over the person of the Emperor Napoleon, they have had no power to decree any thing concerning him. If the Emperor Napoleon had been in the power of the Emperor of Austria, that prince would have recollected the relations which religion and nature have placed between a father and a son,—relations which are never violated with impunity. He would have recollected, that Napoleon has four times restored him to his throne: at Leoben, in 1797, and at Luneville, in 1801, when his armies were under the walls of Vienna; at Presburg, in 1806, and at Vienna, in 1809, when his armies were masters of the capital, and of three-fourths of the monarchy. That prince would have recollected the protestations which he made to him at the bivouac of Moravia, in 1806, and at the interviews at Dresden, in 1812. If the person of the Emperor Napoleon had been in the power of the Emperor Alexander, he would have called to mind the bonds of friendship contracted at Tilsit, at Erfurt, and during twelve years of daily intercourse. He would have remembered the conduct of the Emperor Napoleon on the day after the battle of Austerlitz, when, having it in his power to make him prisoner with the wreck of his army, he contented himself with his parole, and suffered him to operate his retreat. He would have called to mind the dangers which the Emperor Napoleon personally braved to extinguish the conflagration of Moscow, and preserve to him that capital. Certainly, that prince would not have violated the duties of friendship and gratitude towards a friend in misfortune. If the person of the Emperor Napoleon had even been in the power of the King of Prussia, that sovereign would not have forgotten, that it depended on the emperor, after the day of Friedland, to place another prince on the throne of Berlin; he would not have forgotten, in the presence of a disarmed enemy, the protestations of devotedness and the sentiments which he expressed to him in 1812, at the interviews of Dresden. Accordingly, it is obvious in the Articles 2 and 9 of the said treaty of the 2nd August, that, being unable in any way to influence the fate of the Emperor Napoleon's person, which is not in their power, those same persons agree to what shall be done thereon by the King of Great Britain, who undertakes to fulfil all obligations. These princes have reproached the Emperor Napoleon with having preferred the protection of the English laws to their protection. The false notions which the Emperor Napoleon had of the English laws, and of the influence which the opinion of a great, generous, and free people had on their government, induced him to prefer the protection of their laws to that of his father-in-law, or his old friend. The Emperor Napoleon was ever competent to ensure what concerned him personally, by a diplomatic treaty, either by replacing himself at the head of the army of the Loire, or by placing himself at the head of the army of the Gironde, which General Claus commanded. But, seeking thenceforward only retirement, and the protection of the laws of a free nation, either English or American, all stipulations appeared to him unnecessary. He thought the English would be more bound by his frank, noble, and confident procedure, than they would have been by the most solemn treaties. He was mistaken. But this error will always make true Britons blush; and, both in the present and in future generations, it will be a proof of the faithlessness of the English administration. An Austrian and a Russian commissioner have arrived at St. Helena. If the object of their mission be the fulfilment of the duties which the Emperors of Austria and Russia contracted by the treaty of the 2nd of August, and to see that the English agents, in a small colony, in the midst of the ocean, do not fail in the attentions due to a prince, bound to them by the ties of kindred and by so many other relations, there may be recognised in this procedure some characteristics of those sovereigns. But you, sir, have affirmed that those commissioners had neither the right nor the power to form any opinion as to whatever takes place on this rock.
"The English ministry have caused the Emperor Napoleon to be transported to St. Helena, 2000 leagues from Europe. This rock is situated in the tropic, 900 leagues from any continent; it is subject to the consuming heats of this latitude; it is covered with clouds and fogs during three quarters of the year; it is at once the driest and the most humid country in the world; such a climate is most adverse to the emperor's health. It was hatred that dictated the choice of this abode, as well as the instructions given by the English ministry to the officers commanding at this place. They have been ordered to call the Emperor Napoleon, 'General,' wishing to oblige him to acknowledge that he has never reigned in France; and this has determined him not to assume a name of incognito, as he had resolved to do on quitting France. As first magistrate, for life, of the republic, he concluded the preliminaries of London and the treaty of Amiens with the King of Great Britain; he received, as ambassadors, Lord Cornwallis, Mr. Merry, and Lord Whitworth, who sojourned in this quality at his court. He accredited to the King of England Count Otto and General Andreossy, who resided as ambassadors at the court of Windsor. When, after an interchange of letters between the two administrations of foreign affairs, Lord Lauderdale came to Paris, invested with full powers from the King of England, he treated with plenipotentiaries invested with full powers from the Emperor Napoleon, and sojourned several months at the court of the Thuilleries. When, subsequently, at Chatillon, Lord Castlereagh signed the ultimatum which the allied powers presented to the plenipotentiaries of the Emperor Napoleon, he thereby recognised the fourth dynasty. That ultimatum was more advantageous than the treaty of Paris; but it was demanded that France should renounce Belgium and the left bank of the Rhine, which was contrary to the propositions of Frankfort, and to the proclamations of the allied powers, which was contrary also to the oath by which at his coronation the emperor had sworn to the integrity of the empire. The emperor then thought that the natural limits were necessary to the guarantee of France, and to the equilibrium of Europe. He thought that the French nation, in their then existing circumstances, ought rather to incur all the chances of war than to depart from them. France would have obtained that integrity, and with it preserved her honour, if TREASON had not come to the aid of the allies.
"The treaty of the 2nd August and the British bill in parliament call the emperor, 'Napoleon Bonaparte,' and do not give him the title of general. The title of General Bonaparte is doubtless eminently glorious; the emperor bore it at Lodi, at Castiglione, at Rivoli, at Arcola, at Leoben, at the Pyramids, at Aboukir; but for seventeen years he has borne that of first consul and of emperor. It would be to allow that he has not been either first magistrate of the republic, or sovereign of the fourth dynasty. Those who think that nations are mere flocks, which belong, by divine right, to certain families, are not in the spirit of the age, nor even in that of the English legislature, which several times changed the order of its dynasty, because great changes that had taken place in opinions, in which the reigning princes did not participate, had rendered them inimical to the welfare and to a great majority of that nation. For kings are only hereditary magistrates, who exist but for the welfare of nations, and not nations for the satisfaction of kings. It was the same spirit of hatred which ordained that 'the Emperor Napoleon should not write or receive any letter, unless it was opened and read by the English ministers and the officers of St. Helena.' He has thus been denied the possibility of receiving news from his mother, his wife, his son, his brothers; and when, desirous of avoiding the inconvenience of seeing his letters read by subaltern officers, he wished to send letters sealed to the Prince Regent, the answer was, that they could only undertake to let open letters pass; that 'such were the instructions of the ministry.' This measure needs not be reflected on; it will give strange ideas of the spirit of the administration which dictated it; it would even be disclaimed at Algiers! Letters have arrived for general officers of the emperor's suite; they were unsealed, and were remitted to you; you did not communicate them, because they had not passed through the channel of the English ministry. It was necessary to make them travel over again 4000 leagues, and those officers had the pain of knowing that there existed on this rock, news from a wife, a mother, children, which they were not to know for six months. The heart rises at this!! We were not allowed to subscribe for the Morning Chronicle, the Morning Post, and some French journals. Some odd numbers of the Times were now and then sent to Longwood. Upon the demand made on board the Northumberland, some books were sent, but all those relative to transactions of late years were carefully withheld. It was afterwards wished to correspond with a London bookseller, in order to have direct means of obtaining some books that were wanted, and those which related to the events of the day: this was prevented. An English author having performed a voyage in France, and having printed it in London, took the trouble to send it you, that it might be offered to the emperor; but you did not think yourself empowered to transmit it to him, because it had not come to you by the channel of your government. It is also said that other books sent by their authors could not be transmitted, because on the title page of some were the words 'To the Emperor Napoleon,' and on others 'To Napoleon the Great.' The English ministry are not authorized to order any of these vexations; the law of the British parliament, though iniquitous, considers the Emperor Napoleon as a prisoner of war; and prisoners of war have never been forbidden to subscribe for journals, or to receive books which are printed. Such a prohibition is made only in the dungeons of the inquisition.
"The isle of St. Helena is ten leagues in circumference; it is inaccessible on all sides; the coast is surrounded by some brigs, and there are posts placed on its verge within sight of each other, which render all communication with the sea impracticable. There is only one small village, James Town, where vessels arrive and depart. To prevent an individual from quitting the island, it is sufficient to guard the coast by sea and land. In interdicting the interior of the island, therefore, there can only be one object, that of excluding an easy ride of eight or ten miles, which exclusion, in the opinion of professional men, is shortening the life of the emperor.
"The emperor has been established at Longwood, a site exposed to all winds, a sterile tract, uninhabited, destitute of water, unsusceptible of any culture. There is a precinct of about 1200 toises uncultivated; at the distance of 300 or 400 toises, upon a peak, they have established a camp; another has just been placed about the same distance, in the opposite direction; so that, amidst the tropic heats, on whatever side we turn, we behold nothing but camps. Admiral Malcolm, having conceived how useful a tent would be to the emperor in such a situation, has caused one to be pitched by his sailors, twenty paces in front of the house; this is the only place where any shade can be found. However, the emperor has no reason but to be satisfied with the spirit which animates the officers and soldiers of the brave 53rd., as he also was with the crew of the Northumberland. Longwood House was built to serve as a barn for the Company's farm; subsequently, the lieutenant-governor of the island had some rooms fitted up there; it served him as a country-house, but it had none of the conveniencies of a dwelling. For a year past, men have been constantly at work there, and the emperor has been continually exposed to the inconvenience and insalubrity of inhabiting a house in a state of building. The room in which he sleeps is too small to contain a bed of ordinary dimensions: but every addition to Longwood House would prolong the annoyance of the workmen's attendance. Yet in this miserable island there are beautiful spots, presenting fine trees, gardens, and pretty good houses, Plantation House among others; but the positive instructions of the ministry prohibit you from giving that house, which might have spared much expense from your treasure, expense employed in building at Longwood some cottages covered with pitched paper, which are already out of repair. You have forbidden all correspondence between us and the inhabitants of the isle; you have in fact placed the house of Longwood in a state of exclusion; you have even fettered the communications of the officers of the garrison. It seems to have been a study to deprive us of the few resources which this miserable country affords, and we are here as we should be on the uncultivated and uninhabited rock of Ascension. During the four months that you, Sir, have been at St. Helena, you have deteriorated the situation of the emperor. Count Bertrand observed to you, that you were violating even the law of your legislature; that you were trampling under foot the rights of general officers, prisoners of war: you answered, that you recognised only the letter of your instructions, that they were worse even than your conduct appeared to us.
"I have the honour to be, General,
"Your very humble and obedient Servant,
"P.S. I had signed this letter, Sir, when I received your's of the 17th. You annex to it an estimate of an annual sum of twenty thousand pounds sterling, which you deem indispensable to meet the expenditure of the establishment at Longwood, after all the reductions have been made which you have judged practicable. The discussion of this statement cannot in any manner concern us. The emperor's table is scarcely what is strictly necessary; all the provisions are of bad quality, and four times dearer than at Paris. You ask of the emperor a fund of twelve thousand pounds sterling, your government allowing you only eight thousand pounds sterling, for all these expenses. I have had the honour to tell you that the emperor had no funds; that for a year past he had not received or written any letter; and that he was in complete ignorance as to what is passing or may have been passing in Europe. Transported by violence to this rock, 2000 leagues distant, without the power of receiving or writing any letter, he now remains entirely at the discretion of the English agents. The emperor has always desired, and does desire, to defray all expenses whatever himself; and he will do so as soon as you will make it possible for him, by removing the prohibition imposed on the merchants of the island, of forwarding his correspondence, and by consenting that it shall not be subject to any inquisition by you or any of your agents. As soon as the wants of the emperor shall be known in Europe, the persons who are interested concerning him will send the necessary funds for supplying them.
"The letter of Lord Bathurst, which you have communicated to me, gives rise to some strange ideas. Were your ministers then ignorant that the spectacle of a great man struggling with adversity is the sublimest of spectacles? Were they ignorant that Napoleon at St. Helena, amidst persecutions of all kinds, which he confronts only with serenity, is greater, more sacred, more venerable, than on the first throne in the world, where he was so long the arbiter of kings? Those who in this position are wanting in what is due to Napoleon, vilify only their own character, and the nation which they represent.
FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
"Longwood, 9th September, 1816.
"I have received your two letters of the 30th August; there is one of them which I have not communicated. Count Bertrand and myself have had the honour of telling you several times, that we could not take charge of any thing which would be contrary to the august character of the emperor. You know better than any one, Sir, how many letters have been sent from the post-office to Plantation House; you have forgotten that, upon the representations which we have made to you repeatedly, you answered, that your instructions obliged you to let nothing go to Longwood, either letter, book, or pamphlet, unless those articles had passed the scrutiny of your government. The lieutenant of the Newcastle having been the bearer of a letter to Count Lascases, you kept that letter, but the officer deeming his delicacy compromised, you transmitted it thirty days after it had reached this island, &c. We are sure that our families and our friends write to us often; hitherto we have received very few of their letters. But it is by virtue of the same principle, that you this day disavow that you have retained the books and pamphlets that have been addressed to you, and yet you keep them.
"Your second letter of the 30th August, Sir, is no answer to that which I had the honour to write to you, to remonstrate against the changes effected by you in the course of that month, and which demolish all the basis of our establishment in this country.
"1. 'There is no part of my written instructions more definite, or to which my attention is more pointedly called, than that no person whatever should hold any communication with (the emperor) except through my agency.' You give a Judaical interpretation to your instructions; there is nothing in them which justifies or authorizes your conduct. Those instructions your predecessor had; you had them for three months previous to the changes which you effected a month ago. In short, it was not difficult for you to reconcile your different duties.
"2. 'I have already acquainted (the emperor) personally of this.'
"3. 'In addressing all strangers and other persons, except those whose duty might lead them to Longwood, in the first instance to Count Bertrand, (or asking myself) to ascertain whether (the emperor) would receive their visit, and in not giving passes, except to such persons as had ascertained this point, or were directed to do it, I conceive,' &c.
"4. 'It is not, Sir, in my power to extend such privilege, as you require, to Count Bertrand,' &c.
"I am obliged to declare to you, Sir, 1st, That you have communicated nothing to the emperor. 2nd. For more than two months you have had no communication with Count Bertrand. 3rd. We require of you no privilege for Count Bertrand, since I only ask a continuation of that state of things which existed for nine months.
"5. 'I regret to learn that (the emperor) has been incommoded with the visits,' &c. This is bitter irony.
"Instead of endeavouring to reconcile your different duties, Sir, you seemed determined to persist in a system of continual vexations. Will this do honour to your character? Will it merit the approbation of your government and your nation? Permit me to doubt it.
"Several general officers, who arrived in the Cornwallis, desired to be presented at Longwood. If you had referred them to Count Bertrand, as you had hitherto referred all strangers presenting themselves in the island, they would have been received. You have doubtless your reasons for preventing persons of some distinction from coming to Longwood; allege, if you choose, as you commonly do, the tenour of your instructions; but do not misrepresent the intentions of the emperor.
"The younger Lascases and Capt. Pionkowski were yesterday in the town. An English lieutenant accompanied them thither, and then, conformably to orders existing until that day, left them at liberty to go and see what persons they wished. Whilst young Lascases was talking with some young ladies, the officer came, and, with extreme pain at being charged with so disagreeable a commission, declared that your orders were not to lose sight of him. This is contrary to what has taken place heretofore. It would, I think, be proper that you should make known to us the changes you are effecting. This is forbidding us every visit to town, and thus violating your instructions[88:A]. Yet you know that scarcely one of the persons at Longwood goes to the town once a month, and there is no circumstance which can authorize you to change the established order. This is carrying persecution very far! I cannot conceive what has occasioned your letter of the 8th of September; I refer, Sir, to the postscript of my letter of the 23rd August. The emperor is ill, in consequence of the bad climate and privations of all kinds, and I have not made known to him all the fastidious details that have been made to me on your part. All this has been going on for two months, and should have been terminated long ago, as the postscript of my letter of the 23rd August is explicit. It is now high time that the thing should be ended; but it appears to be a text from which to insult us.
"I have the honour to be, General,
"Your very humble and obedient servant,
Count Lascases also felt so indignant at the treatment which his noble master experienced, that he reproached the governor, in no very measured terms, with his want of common humanity, and boldly asked him, "Do you or do you not wish to kill the emperor?" For this, and writing complaints to his friends, all his private papers were seized, and himself dismissed the island. The following farewell letter was written to him, on this occasion, by the emperor:
"My dear Count Lascases
"My heart sensibly feels what you endure; torn away fifteen days ago from my presence, you were shut up during that period in secret, without my being able to receive, or give you, any news, without your having communicated with any one, French or English; deprived even of the servant of your choice.
"Your conduct at St. Helena has been, like your life, honourable, and without reproach: I love to tell you so.
"Your letter to one of your friends, a lady in London, has nothing in it that is reprehensible; you there pour forth your whole heart into the bosom of friendship. That letter is like eight or ten others, which you have written to the same person, and which you have sent unsealed. The commandant of this place, having had the delicacy to sift out the expressions which you confide to friendship, has reproached you with them. Latterly he threatened to send you away from the island, if your letters contained any more complaints against him. He has, by so doing, violated the first duty of his place, the first article of his instructions, and the first sentiment of honour. He has thus authorized you to seek the means of conveying the effusions of your feelings to the bosom of your friends, and of acquainting them with the culpable conduct of the commandant. But you have been very artless: it has been very easy to take your confidence by surprise.
"They were waiting for a pretext to seize your papers; but your letter to your London friend could not authorize a police visit to you; for it contains no plot, no mystery; it is simply the expression of a noble and frank heart. The illegal and precipitate conduct pursued on this occasion bears the stamp of a very base personal hatred.
"In countries the least civilized, exiles, prisoners, and even criminals, are under the protection of the laws, and of the magistrates. The persons appointed to guard them have chiefs, either in the administrative or judicial order, who superintend them. Upon this rock, the man who makes the most absurd regulations executes them with violence, transgresses all laws, and there is no one to restrain the excesses of his temper.
"They envelop Longwood with a mystery, which they would wish to render impenetrable, in order to conceal a criminal conduct; and this leaves room for suspecting the most criminal intentions!!
"By some rumours artfully spread, it was wished to mislead the officers, strangers, inhabitants, and even the agents who are said to be maintained by Austria and Russia in this place; doubtless, the English government is deceived in the same way by adroit and fallacious statements.
"Your papers, among which it was known that there were some belonging to me, have been seized without any formality, near my apartment, with a marked and ferocious exultation. I was apprized of this a few moments afterwards: I looked through the window, and saw that they were taking you away. A numerous staff was parading round the house; I could fancy I saw so many South Sea islanders dancing round the prisoners whom they were going to devour.
"Your society was necessary to me; you alone read, spoke, and understood English. How many nights have you sat up, during my fits of sickness! Yet I enjoin you, and, if need be, I order you, to request the commandant of this place to send you back to the Continent. He cannot refuse that, since he has no controul over you, but by the voluntary act which you have signed. It will be a great consolation to me to know, that you are on your way to more fortunate countries.
"On arriving in Europe, whether you go to England, or return home, dismiss the remembrance of the ills which they have made you suffer; boast of the fidelity which you have shewn me, and of the great affection which I bear you.
"If you should one day see my wife and my son, embrace them. For two years, I have not heard from them, directly or indirectly. There has been for six months in this place a German botanist who saw them in the garden of Schoenbrunn, some months before his departure; the barbarians have carefully prevented him from giving me any news from them.
"My body is in the power of the hatred of my enemies; they forget nothing which can glut their vengeance. They are killing me by inches. But the insalubrity of this devouring climate, the want of every thing that sustains life, will, I feel, put a speedy end to this existence, the last moments of which will be an opprobrium on the English character; and Europe will one day signalize with horror that crafty and wicked man[94:A], whom true Englishmen will disown as a Briton.
"As there is every reason to think, that you will not be permitted to come to see me before your departure, receive my embraces, the assurance of my esteem, and my friendship. Be happy.
"11th December, 1816."
We might add many other proofs of the inhumanity exercised towards Napoleon, were it necessary to our purpose. Let our readers look over the writings of O'Meara, Lascases[94:B], and numerous other persons now living, both French and English, who bear the most heart-rending testimony to all that was done to torture and to put an end to the life of this great man.
The inhuman conduct pursued towards the captive emperor at length became the subject of parliamentary inquiry. A motion to this effect was introduced to the House of Peers by Lord Holland, in the month of March, 1817. Of the motives by which this noble lord was actuated, it is difficult to award sufficient praise. He declared, "My chief motive in bringing forward this motion is to rescue parliament and the country from the stain that will attach to them, if any harsh or ungenerous treatment has been used towards Napoleon." Such an anxiety for the character of his country was, doubtless, a patriotic and proper motive; but it never ought to claim precedence of the great, permanent, and universal feelings of pity for the unfortunate, which are among the noblest characteristics of our nature. His lordship, therefore, might have insisted more upon the merit of a motive to which, on all occasions, he has shewn himself to be eminently entitled. That the praiseworthy object of Lord Holland's motion was not attained must be matter of deep regret to every man who wishes to maintain the reputation of his country. But the ministers shuffled over the charge by reading partial extracts from those documents which his lordship wished to have produced, while they refused an examination of the entire papers. This, to say the least of it, had a very suspicious appearance. Such a mode of proceeding was contrary to the long-established usages of the House, to the laws of evidence, and to the common course of practice in all investigation; and, however it might answer Lord Castlereagh's purpose, was little calculated to dispel the doubts of impartial inquirers, or to make a satisfactory case to the world and to posterity. What judgment would a foreigner form of this matter, who might have heard the blessings of our happy administration of justice extolled to the skies? A captive, the most illustrious ever classed under that head, complained of the unnecessary rigour of his treatment. A British peer made a motion in parliament to inquire into the truth of these allegations, and for the production of papers connected with and tending to elucidate the subject. The secretary of state contended, that the assertions of the complainant were groundless, read partial extracts from the papers in question, but refused their entire production, and negatived the motion for them, without assigning any sufficient reason. If Lord Castlereagh thought the inference to be drawn from such a garbled statement would be favourable to his cause, he must have built his logic, not upon the REASON of the matter, but upon the VOTES OF HIS PENSIONED ADHERENTS,—a mode of conclusion not at all uncommon or unnatural to this minister. His lordship, indeed, considered his conduct to Napoleon as meritorious, on account of that great man having been the enemy of England! But does it follow that, because the uncertain events of war had placed the French emperor in a situation to claim the protection of our laws as a private individual, that his lordship was justified in betraying his misplaced confidence, or in treating him with the same spirit of hostility when he was a helpless captive, as when he was a powerful general arrayed in arms against the whole of Europe? A doctrine, more repugnant to humanity, more dangerous in its consequences to society, cannot be conceived. From what code of morality, or from what system of religion, did his lordship borrow such a principle? Much has been said of Lord Castlereagh's kindness of heart; but what a dark scroll of evidence does the treatment of Napoleon at St. Helena exhibit against such an assertion! To commiserate a fallen foe, to be moved by the sad spectacle of his fortunes, is the natural propensity and inseparable concomitant of every man possessing "PERSONAL COURAGE," or "KINDNESS OF HEART:"
while to oppress an adversary in your power, whether among nations or individuals, is not only considered cowardly, but abject, ungenerous, and savage. There is no circumstance which reflects so much disgrace on the national character of the Romans as their behaviour to Hannibal. The treatment which he received has been stigmatized as an act of complicated meanness, cruelty, and injustice. In modern times, the case of Napoleon seems most closely to resemble that of Hannibal, both in the splendour of his achievements while he was victorious, and in the sad similitude of fortune after his being defeated and betrayed into the hands of his enemies. It is true that Napoleon did not "play the Roman" and kill himself, as Hannibal did[97:A]; but a portion of the words which the Carthaginian general used on that occasion might have been aptly repeated by Napoleon, with merely an alteration of names: "The victory which Flamininus gains over a man, disarmed and betrayed, will not do him much honour. This single day will be a lasting testimony of the great degeneracy of the Romans. They have deputed a person of consular dignity to spirit up Prusias impiously to murder one who is his guest!" It is curious to reflect that, in the annals of the world, the same action, according to circumstances, at one time is a crime,—at another, an act of heroism! The same man is at one time a Claudius,—at another, a Marcus Aurelius. Cataline is but a vile conspirator. If, however, he had been able to found an empire, like Cæsar, he would have been esteemed a benefactor. Our Oliver Cromwell was acknowledged till his last hour, and his protection sought by all sovereigns; but after his death, his body was suspended on a gibbet: he only wanted a son like himself to enable him to form a new dynasty. So long as Napoleon was fortunate, Europe bowed at his footstool, while the first princes thought it an honour to ally themselves with his family, and to obtain his smile was esteemed a favour. As soon, however, as he fell a prey to treachery, it was pretended that he was nothing more than a miserable adventurer, an usurper, without talent and without courage!
But, even allowing that any sufficient argument could have been urged for the detention of Napoleon, surely all restraint beyond what was strictly necessary for the security of his person was unjustifiable, and every species of mortification, not only ungenerous, but absolutely criminal. Lord Castlereagh ought, at least, in giving directions for his custody, to have been particularly circumspect that no real or seeming unkindnesses were exercised against the captive emperor. If the coercive measures adopted were thought necessary, they should have been introduced in a more conciliatory manner, and with every allowance for the irritation and impatience which exile and imprisonment will be sure to produce upon the most apathetic being in creation. But, when we take into consideration the ungentlemanly and ignoble proceedings pursued against Napoleon at St. Helena, can we feel surprised at the bursts of indignation which now and then escaped him at the cowardly conduct of his jailer? That he should have viewed Sir Hudson Lowe as the meanest creature in existence, is not at all to be wondered at; for it appeared as if
Neither could Napoleon help considering Lord Castlereagh as the "demon" here alluded to. His lordship had induced him on board a British ship, under the most sacred promises of bringing him over to this country, that he might pass the remainder of his days under the blessings of our so-much-boasted constitution, as being "the envy and admiration of the whole world!" What milder appellation than "demon," therefore, did his lordship deserve, when, violating every principle of hospitality, he took advantage of Napoleon's faith in such promises, and seized upon the opportunity it afforded him of arresting the emperor as a prisoner of war, and of sending him to a barren rock, far from his wife, child, and friends, to be a prey to an unwholesome climate, and the rude insults of a mean and pitiful man like Sir Hudson Lowe!
Indeed, there was once a time when this same Lord Castlereagh might have been taken prisoner by Napoleon, which would most probably have been done, if the French emperor had possessed no loftier ideas of justice and honour than his lordship exhibited. This circumstance is related by Mr. O'Meara, in Bonaparte's own words, as follows:
"When Castlereagh was at Chatillon with the ambassadors of the allied powers, after some successes of mine, and when I had, in a manner, invested the town, he was greatly alarmed lest I might seize him and make him prisoner. Not being accredited as an ambassador, nor invested with any diplomatic character to France, I might have taken him as an enemy. He went to Caulincourt, to whom he mentioned that he laboured under considerable apprehensions that I should cause violent hands to be laid upon him, as he acknowledged I had a right to do. It was impossible for him to get away without falling in with my troops. Caulincourt replied, that as far as his opinion went, he would say that I should not meddle with him; but that he could not answer for what I might do. Immediately after, he (Caulincourt) wrote to me what Castlereagh had said, and his answer. I signified to him in reply, that he was to tell Castlereagh to make his mind easy, and stay where he was: that I would consider him as an ambassador. At Chatillon, (continued Bonaparte) when speaking about the liberty enjoyed in England, Castlereagh observed, in a contemptuous manner, that it was not the thing most to be esteemed in England; that it was an USAGE they were obliged to put up with; but that it had become an abuse, and would not answer for other countries."
It will thus be seen that GRATITUDE, at least, ought to have prompted different conduct in Lord Castlereagh towards Napoleon; instead of which, the charges brought against Sir Hudson Lowe by Mr. O'Meara were not only deemed unworthy of inquiry, but his lordship actually dismissed the accuser from the British service. Thus a deserving and generous-minded officer was ruined, without even a hearing, for merely attempting to do an act of justice to the exiled Emperor of France! The charges against Sir Hudson Lowe, however, remained the same, and this summary mode of revenge inflicted on Mr. O'Meara was not at all calculated to acquit Lord Castlereagh from sharing in the accusation of wantonly oppressing Napoleon. Could any thing tend more to criminate his lordship than the sudden punishment of the accuser, while in the act of preferring his complaint? Grant that Mr. O'Meara had misconducted himself, and that he had thus given his employer a right to dismiss him, surely he ought not, in common honesty, to have done so till he had first given him every opportunity of making good his charges. His lordship's readiness to stigmatize, and even silence him, in this manner, wore any appearance but that of an honourable anxiety to meet and to defy his adversary. We cannot devote space sufficient to bring forward the charges of Mr. O'Meara; but the inquirer will find himself amply repaid for his trouble by their perusal. As Sir Hudson Lowe can only be looked upon as a cowardly ruffian, who scrupled not to execute the orders of his superiors in office, however unjust they might be, the real odium of Napoleon's treatment and death must rest upon the government, of which Lord Castlereagh was the most active member. Mr. O'Meara was appointed medical attendant upon the emperor by this government, and his professional ability and private worth have never been questioned. If Lord Castlereagh, therefore, willed not the death of Napoleon, it was his duty to have removed those causes of complaint which Mr. O'Meara emphatically pointed out "would render Bonaparte's PREMATURE DEATH as inevitable as if it were to take place under the hands of the EXECUTIONER!" The public are aware how fatally this prediction was fulfilled; but the whole evidence of Mr. O'Meara would carry conviction to the mind of any man who had not previously determined to disbelieve truth. Indeed, he has been confirmed in many essential points of his statements by the admissions of either the governor's advocates or the governor himself. One of these advocates stated that Mr. O'Meara was discharged for disobeying orders; but of what nature were those orders? The governor wanted him to act as a spy upon the emperor, and to sign false reports of the state of his health! Consequently, Mr. O'Meara did indignantly refuse to perform such a base and cruel service; and what man of honour and principle would not have done the same? A refusal of this kind reflects no disgrace upon Mr. O'Meara, but will rather hand his name down to posterity as one deserving better treatment than he unfortunately experienced.
In contemplating the manifold deprivations to which Napoleon ultimately fell a victim, we cannot help remarking upon one peculiar trait of the human mind,—that of being more moved by fiction than reality; for a tale of imaginary woe will excite more exquisite feeling, more real sympathy, than the severest reverses of fortune which may have occurred in our time, or which may be even present to our view! If Napoleon, for instance, had been an ideal personage, and the history of his life had been made the subject of romance or poetry, what mind so dull but would have moralized upon the vicissitude of human affairs?—what heart so cold but would have felt some commiseration for the captive? But when all that a poet's fancy could have formed and blended of surprising extremes, to raise the interest of the reader in the hero of the tragedy, had actually occurred and been signally manifested in this extraordinary man,—when he, who at one time was raised to an elevation and possessed a power never enjoyed by any other individual, was hurled headlong from his height to the abyss of humiliation, was imprisoned, exiled, captive, and forlorn,—how happened it that the feelings of our nature were not to take their accustomed course, that the sources of sympathy were to be dried up, and compassion, which had hitherto been considered amongst the most amiable of virtues, was all at once to lose its very essence and property, and not only not to be numbered amongst our weaknesses, but catalogued amongst our crimes? For the prevalence of this disposition,—which, alas! was too observable even among those classes in whom education and the intercourse of enlightened society would have naturally led to an expectation of better feelings and sounder conclusions on the subject,—it is difficult to account; unless it be true in morals, as in mechanics, that the motion may be continued when the impulse has ceased, and that to this we must refer the state of national feeling at the time Napoleon was suffering an accumulation of indignities at St. Helena. Since his death, however, the injustice and inhumanity of his treatment have been freely acknowledged and severely commented on; and there is every reason to believe that his great name will be finally rescued from that misrepresentation which interested writers have endeavoured to surround all his actions.
From the affinity between fear and hatred, there is no wonder that when Napoleon was arrayed as our enemy, we joined hatred with hostility. But, at the time of his seizure on board the Bellerophon, he was no longer formidable; he was then in our hands. Upon what principle, then, did active hatred continue when both hostility and apprehension had ceased? Did a consciousness of inclemency (to use the mildest term that the occasion will admit) towards the object of it sufficiently account for the continuance of this hatred? It had been better, indeed, if Lord Castlereagh, as well as his coadjutors at that period, who cherished this inextinguishable species of enmity, had considered whether the world and posterity might not be apt to ascribe the meanest and most wicked of motives to such conduct. And let all the detracters of Napoleon recollect, that the illiberal invectives in which they have so freely indulged against him will, instead of making any lasting impression upon his fame, only serve to perpetuate their own disgrace and that of his ignoble persecutors. While his figure will stand conspicuous through history, the crowd of monarchs and ministers, who have alternately crouched to and calumniated, truckled to or trampled upon him, can only escape oblivion as they make the group which shade the back ground of the picture, and give a force, by forming a contrast, to the grandeur of the leading figure. Lord Castlereagh will assuredly form one of this back-ground group; but we envy him not in such fame. The conduct of his lordship to Napoleon, instead of displaying that dignified sentiment and enlightened understanding which should adorn the character of a nobleman, and which we should naturally be led to expect from a "secretary of state for foreign affairs," has degraded his name to the level of the meanest of the mean. We will not say that we had rather been a chimney-sweeper than have been guilty of his lordship's treachery to Napoleon; but, considering it as a deliberate exposition of the wickedness of his heart and his abandonment of every honourable feeling, which will be put on record, and handed down to posterity, we certainly will say, that all the wealth and titles of Lord Londonderry, together with his immense political power and the smiles bestowed on him by his despotic patrons, should never have induced us to have done the like.
Would that it were in our power here to close the catalogue of crimes, which are written in characters of blood, against the Marquis of Londonderry. The death of Napoleon was followed by the persecutions of an innocent and noble-minded WOMAN,—"the injured Queen of England!" But this self-important man had been so hardened in iniquity, that it was by no means a difficult task to persuade him to assist in her ruin. Her majesty was too well acquainted with the SECRETS OF STATE to be allowed the free exercise of her rights; and as his lordship had lent his assistance to prevent many of these disreputable secrets from being made public[107:A], self-preservation might have operated as a further inducement for him to enter the lists of her most bitter enemies. How fatally the Marquis of Londonderry and his colleagues succeeded in their diabolical plans have been already explained. But the inglorious triumph added not to his lordship's peace of mind; for, from that period, he was observed to exhibit "a conscience ill at ease." And it was a very remarkable fact, that the marquis should have selected the precise time of the year, only twelve months after, for his own destruction as that in which his royal mistress met her fate! A circumstance of this singular nature should operate as a great moral lesson for the consideration of mankind generally, though Providence might have designed it as a warning to the "titled wickedness" of our land. Such is the condition of our nature, that we cannot mortgage either our moral or our physical energies so as always to repel the accusations of our own hearts, which are sure, eventually, to reprove us for evils committed.
On what a slender thread hangs human life, and how worthless are titles and wealth, if all is not at peace within! On what a "beetling ledge" the favourite of royalty tracks his uncertain way! By what a fragile tenure the courtier holds the rewards of his servility, on which he is so accustomed to pride himself! The suicide of the gay and puissant Marquis of Londonderry was, indeed, a memento full of lessons of humility to the fawning parasites of power.
In the October of this year, Mr. Henry Nugent Bell, of whom we have before had occasion to speak, died at his house, Whitehall Place, in the 30th year of his age. This individual merits a little commiseration, notwithstanding the disgraceful part he took in the Manchester murders, and other similar missions of Lord Sidmouth; because, though the tool of despotic ministers, he made some amends to the public by betraying his base employers. The newspapers generally reported his death to have proceeded from a natural cause; but this was not the case. We can POSITIVELY state that he died UNFAIRLY; but whether from his own hand, or from the design of an enemy, we are not able to determine. Mr. Bell appears never to have forgiven himself for his dereliction from the path of virtue, and only urged, in extenuation of his conduct, the cruel necessity he was under to oblige his patron. Once enlisted under the banners of Sidmouth, the unfortunate man soon found out the necessity of not being over-scrupulous in his actions. One crime succeeded another; and thus a man of education and talent was made the victim of unjust and diabolical proceedings.
After a great deal of ministerial manÅ“uvring, Mr. Canning succeeded in his suit for the foreign secretaryship. The situation of the Marquis of Londonderry had long been the darling, though for many years the unattainable, object of this gentleman's intrigues or importunities. The country, however, had no cause to rejoice in the appointment of Mr. Canning to an office of such conspicuous importance, and many people felt considerable surprise at so unexpected a promotion, as the right honourable gentleman had been previously selected as the new governor-general of India. It was a well-known fact, that Mr. Canning had fallen into personal disgrace with his majesty, and all his vacillating conduct with respect to our ill-treated queen had not been able to restore him to royal favour. There have, however, been instances where a minister has been forced upon the king by public opinion, as was the case with the first Mr. Pitt, in the reign of George the Second. This Mr. Pitt was in high favour with the PEOPLE of England, acquired through his known attachment to freedom, and through the irresistible ascendency of his upright and unbending character. George the Second, notwithstanding, showed great opposition to the appointment of this worthy man, who was hated by his king only because he feared his politics; yet Mr. Pitt was finally made secretary of state, and proved himself worthy of the popularity with which the PEOPLE had invested him. But the case of Mr. Canning was of a widely different nature. In him, the PEOPLE took no interest, except that which leads all men to watch their enemy's motions. He had not the honour of being disliked at court for his politics,—they were of the most accommodating character; he had given a personal offence to the "first gentleman of the land." By the country, on the other hand, it was his political principles, history, and character, that were held in the most disrepute. Placed in such circumstances, the public must have been aware that this political adventurer would not be very patriotic in his endeavours to obtain pardon for his crime against the "puissant prince;" and how far, therefore, such a man could be entrusted with power was a question not difficult to solve. As for the nation generally, they regarded Mr. Canning but in the nature of an HIRED ADVOCATE, retained for the mean purpose of palliating the weaknesses or transgressions of a cabinet, the great majority of whose members he excelled in making witty or fallacious speeches. His countrymen recollected his conduct through life too well to imagine that he was made foreign secretary to introduce any real improvement into the policy or councils of the nation. They felt convinced of his being chosen as the apologist of bad measures, not the author of good ones; and that he held the language of one of Shakespeare's heroes to be good sentiment: "A plague of opinion!—a man may wear it on both sides, like a leather jerkin!"
Mr. Canning was, indeed, known to be a fit agent for the "Holy Alliance;" he was the sworn antagonist of every reform in church and state; and wheresoever a grievance or an abuse appeared, there stood he, arrogantly to charge as public enemies all who testified to the existence of either. Even the unfortunate country gentlemen, reduced as they now were, by their blind support of Mr. Canning's system, to a state bordering on pauperism, could hardly have hoped, from such a rooted foe to liberty, for any shadow of relief or of assistance. "Be quiet, gentlemen," was the self-important style of his addresses, "see what an example the poor have set you; be patient, as they are, and you will soon be prosperous, like me!" From a minister of this description, no consolatory expectations could possibly be formed by any class or party. We might certainly look for a few better speeches than Lord Londonderry made; for his were, indeed, but poor maudlin affairs. The new acts would only have a better chance of being varnished over, while we might expect them to be much worse in their nature than they had been; because, as ministers had no intention to reform the system, it must, of necessity, become more vicious every day. The only measure on which Mr. Canning had ever taken any particularly active part, was the emancipation of the Catholics; and our readers will form some opinion of his SINCERITY on this subject, and of the IMPORTANCE which Mr. Canning attached to it, when we inform them that the honourable gentleman actually promised the Earl of Liverpool not to discuss the matter if he might only be allowed to retain the foreign secretaryship! The conduct of the Earl of Liverpool, also, leads to an observation which reflects any thing but honour on the character of his lordship. We know that the power of this premier over the king was omnipotent, owing to his being in possession of SECRETS, of the most vital importance to his majesty and the royal family. By his lordship threatening to be no longer prime minister, he could, at almost any time, have forced his own schemes of policy upon the vitiated court. By the admission of Mr. Canning to office, he had driven his royal master to the wall, and compelled him to do that which all the world had before supposed would have been more unpalatable to his proud feelings than the admission of even the Whigs to office. If Lord Liverpool could, therefore, bring in a minister so personally disliked as Mr. Canning notoriously was by his majesty, could he not also have prevented that odious and atrocious measure, commonly called the "Queen's TRIAL,"—Mr. Canning's declared disapprobation of which created the very difficulty which had just been overcome? That disgraceful proceeding against an injured woman, with all its horrid consequences, it now became indisputably evident, might have been avoided, had Lord Liverpool but only have shown as much pertinacity in the CAUSE OF INNOCENCE as he had now done in that of PARTY. His personal power in the cabinet was, however, much increased by the nomination of Mr. Canning. There was a tacit, though well-understood, separation of interests during the life of Lord Londonderry, who usually headed one division of the ministers, with the Duke of Wellington in the number of the subalterns of his party, while Lord Liverpool led the other wing of Tory pensioners. There was nothing now, therefore, to stand against the first lord of the Treasury, unless Mr. Canning's inveterate spirit of intrigue should possess him (a thing by no means unlikely) to see a rival in his benefactor, and to undermine Lord Liverpool, as he had done one of his former colleagues.
What an enviable opportunity to enter office did this period afford to any man having the real welfare of his country at heart; for all the blessings that had been promised from the "glorious battle of Waterloo,"—that wind-up of a war against the liberties of Europe,—were yet to come: taxation remained undiminished; the liberties of the subject were gradually declining; the commerce of England was almost at an end; and her people poor and unhappy. Here, then, was a wide field for a patriotic minister to display his abilities, by restoring the country to its wonted prosperity! But, while Mr. Canning and his colleagues were indulging in luxury at the expense of the nation, the just complaints of the public were designated "the cries of a faction," and the miserable victims of their misrule said to betray an "ignorant impatience" when they prayed for relief. After years of peace, the expenditure of government exceeded the income of the Treasury, and our visionary and delusive system of finance required to be bolstered up by additions to our already overwhelming debt; strength of council was superseded by strength of army; all public discussion, however peaceably conducted, was opposed; acts of coercion were encouraged and abetted; and England, once the pride of nations, became desolated by the worst complication of ignorance and obstinacy that ever disgraced a cabinet! To whatever department of the state we turned our eyes, the same indifference to its prosperity seemed manifest. The ARMY, preponderating beyond all precedent in time of peace, had become an overgrown source of profligacy and barter; commissions and promotions, instead of being rewards for service and merit, were sold to the best bidder, and the produce applied to pamper the vitiated appetite of royalty. In the NAVY, once our bulwark and our boast, the services of effeminate lordlings seemed more courted than those of bluff and able seamen, commissioners more important than shipwrights, and large expensive establishments kept up on shore, while our fleets were rotting in the docks. Our TRADE was neglected, while pirates infested the seas, and destroyed our merchantmen. In our FOREIGN POLICY, all was danger and uncertainty; the calm of peace was only prolonged by our unexampled apathy and puerile forbearance. Foreign powers owed us money that we dare not demand; nations were struggling for liberty and independence that we must not assist; and outrages committed that we could not avenge. In the past, a long and sanguinary war, in which were sacrificed an incalculable number of lives and immense treasure; while in the future was exhibited the most dreary prospect of our declining power. At home, our decay was still more apparent: the sacred flame of liberty, to which we were indebted for our preference over other nations, was attacked on all sides by every means that treachery could devise; the malignity of the ministers visited faithful servants with dismissal without inquiry or hearing; the sovereign was recommended and advised to treat his subjects with contumely and neglect; while the constitution itself was assailed by spies and informers, who first created and abetted the commission of the crimes which they afterwards denounced! This was, indeed, a fearful state of affairs; but history will justify us in the picture we have drawn. Though these and ten thousand other evils were evidently the results of imbecility, folly, and knavery, which had mainly been assisted by bribery, lavishly bestowed on those who had possessed themselves of those secrets of state recorded in our volumes, yet he who dared to hint at such an unpleasant truth, or even to doubt the honesty of ministers, was sure to be denounced a traitor. But, thank heaven! the power of the Tories now received a check. The manly stand made by a few members of the House of Commons, during the previous session of parliament, had opened the eyes of the long-blinded public, and the late acts of oppression[116:A], with which the Londonderry cabinet had disgraced itself, furnished fresh cause for censure and new inducements for perseverance. The ministry, therefore, which Mr. Canning joined were humbled and degraded before he became one of its members; but, instead of raising it from the disgrace into which it had fallen, his underhanded conduct only aggravated matters, and rendered him a greater object of suspicion to patriotic men than even their avowed enemies.
Various royal diversions and exhibitions were displayed throughout this year, and the "first gentleman in the world" was too often made to appear the "first knave on the stage of life." George the Fourth's means had been bestowed so bounteously, that he had become arrogant, and considered THE PEOPLE merely in the light of SLAVES, created only to administer to his passions and caprices. He could hardly be said to know the nation, except by the representation of his hirelings. Neither did he care to know the subjects from whom his strength was derived, because they sometimes exhibited more independence than suited his princely ideas of decorum. Indeed, he not unfrequently found the popular voice rather formidable against the attainment of some of his wishes; and it would have been well if parliament had taken a lesson from former and better times in this particular. In the works of our oldest honest historians, we find very plain language used by parliaments to their kings, and the latter generally receiving the sharpest rebukes for their vanity and partiality,—not as designed affronts, but as wholesome chastisements. Matthew Paris tells us, when Henry the Third asked for money to defray the expenses of a foreign expedition, "which his people thought did not at all concern England," that his parliament told him, "It was very imprudent in him to ask money for any such purposes, and thereby impoverishing his subjects at home, by his squandering it in idle expeditions, and that they flatly refused supplying him on any such account." Upon thus remonstrating, "that he had engaged his royal word to go abroad in person that year, and that he must have a supply," they asked him, "What has become of all the money your majesty has had already, and how it comes to be lavished without this kingdom being one shilling the better?" But the freedom with which the people treated their sovereigns in those days was not confined to remonstrances. One of the greatest and most victorious of our princes, Edward the First, had an inordinate desire of making, in person, a campaign in Flanders, that he might support a confederacy he had entered into, to reduce the power of France, and had demanded an extraordinary supply for that purpose. The people, conceiving the quarrel to be very indifferent to England, strongly opposed his leaving the kingdom upon any such idle expedition. "The people of England," said the parliament, "do not think it proper for you to go to Flanders, unless you can secure out of that country some equivalent, which may indemnify us for the expense." We have a like instance in the reign of that great and powerful king, Henry the Second. This prince being strongly tempted to make an expedition abroad, in person, became so fond of the proposal that he laid it before his parliament, with a most earnest request for their consent, "it being the sole and darling purpose of his heart!" But his parliament, honest to the people, thought that he had no business abroad, and "that it was much better for him to keep the money at home." Accordingly, the question was put and carried, for "An address to the king to keep within his own dominions, according to his duty." Edward the Third likewise received several mortifications of the like kind; and it appears from the whole tenor of history, that the great care of our ancestors was to root from the breast of their kings every principle of vain glory, which, the more ridiculous it is, becomes generally the more expensive to the nation. What an amazing contrast, then, does all this offer to the proceedings of the parliament of George the Fourth, who generally addressed him in the most adulatory language, and gave him money to gratify all his inordinate vanity. But the House of Commons, during his reign, spoke not the sentiments of the PEOPLE.
At the commencement of the year
some friends of the late ill-fated queen addressed Mr. Canning upon the subject of certain letters and papers, preserved from the period of her majesty leaving this country in 1814. Mr. Canning, however, did not think proper to reply to this communication. At the expiration of two months, another respectful inquiry was submitted, but it also shared the fate of its predecessor. A third expostulatory epistle was forwarded, and a certain individual received an anonymous reply, saying, "Things were changed; times were altered; and it was impossible that Mr. Canning could serve the king and the cause of the person so much disliked by his majesty!" This circumstance affords indubitable proof, that a man in office can never prove himself free from the trammels of party, or unwarped by elevation to power. Humanity and generosity were, however, alike forgotten in this case for interested motives,—a meanness which no man of integrity would have committed. But, to any one acquainted with the truckling arts of Mr. Canning, such conduct was no more than might have been expected.
Early in this year, Mr. Vansittart was released from the fatigues of the financial department, and raised to the chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster, at the same time sinking his humble name for the more agreeable title of Lord Bexley. Mr. Robinson succeeded him in the Exchequer, and Mr. Huskisson was appointed president of the Board of Trade. The latter changes gave the public much pleasure, as those individuals were supposed to possess a manly sense of propriety, as well as liberal opinions, from which the country hoped to reap some benefit in financial and commercial administration.
Very soon after these political arrangements were completed, the royal family were much annoyed by applications on behalf of the protégé of her late majesty, William Austin, as the trifling income he received was not sufficient to support him in comfort and respectability. But, although he had been left her majesty's residuary legatee, his claims were totally disregarded.
Notwithstanding the bold language used in memorials and private addresses to the king at this time, the interest and happiness of the population of this mighty empire were treated as subjects of no consequence. The besotted "Prince of Dandies" was rioting in luxury and adulterous embraces, and neither felt nor cared for public distress. He was too great, in his own estimation, to condescend to men of low estate; he was too mighty to listen to the cry of the destitute; and too noble to heed the incessant petitions of the rabble, as all those who complained of existing grievances were denominated by him and his ministers. But the "accomplished gentleman" was not above receiving half the peasant's loaf; and, like the locust, he made the increase of the land his prey. It was acknowledged in the House of Commons that the coronation expenses amounted to two hundred and thirty-eight thousand pounds! and that even the DRESS of the monarch, for whom such a mighty show was made, cost twenty-four thousand pounds!!! This abominable expenditure, too, was for the honour of George the Fourth, whose excesses and debaucheries would have disgraced the most debased of his subjects,—the man who had dishonestly permitted the most valuable jewel to be extracted from the crown of England, to bestow upon the lusty person of his mistress. A beautiful jewel, that formerly belonged to his deceased daughter Charlotte, was also given to this same kind lady. The jewel belonging to the crown was, upon compulsion only, afterwards restored, but the other is still retained! Some celebrated jewellers, not ten miles from Ludgate Hill, could bear testimony, that the choicest trinkets in their possession were culled, by this "Prince of Abominations," for presents to his mistresses and confidants. Such, however, was the easy character of the English nation, that they submitted to the absolute command of a tinselled despot, and became dupes to custom.
The misrule of the year
opened with the unfortunate ratification of the "movements" in Italy and Spain, which tended to consolidate arbitrary power throughout Europe, so that the Continent might be considered as one federal despotism, each state possessing its peculiar coercive government, under the controul of the "Holy Alliance," improperly so called.
The public now lost an uncompromising friend in Thomas, Lord Erskine, who died on the 17th of January, in the 74th year of his age. His lordship was not a favourite with the king; his sentiments were of too liberal a cast for George the Fourth's ideas of subjection and tyranny. Neither did Lord Erskine ever become a welcome visiter at the palace, because the court-minions knew that he despised intrigue and villany. The poison of the court was of too malignant a character for his lordship. There, all direct terms were disused in discourse, and distant insinuations supplied their place. Every shining reputation was sure to be sullied, and the ministers, as well as the officers of the army, and clergymen of the "Established" church, were perpetually left to the discretion of that sort of people, who, as they could not be useful to the state themselves, suffered none to serve it with reputation and glory. The king himself had no informations but what were conveyed to him by the canal of a few favourites, who acted always in concert together, and even when they seemed to disagree in their opinions, they were only in the province of a single person to their sovereign. A tainted atmosphere like this was, therefore, ill-suited to the enlightened and patriotic mind of Lord Erskine, who proved himself to be a talented and equitable judge, an admirable statesman, and a most accomplished and kind-hearted gentleman. The native sweetness of his disposition inclined him to universal humanity; his unbiassed judgment and his keen penetration well fitted him for the important situation of Lord Chancellor; and his unclouded understanding guided him to support beneficial measures for the people, while his indignant and noble soul poured forth its majestic language on the oppressors of his long-enslaved country. His lordship was ever actuated by the best of motives, while his conduct was free from all party extremes. On the memorable proceedings against Queen Caroline, his lordship freely delivered his sentiments upon their unjustness and wickedness, and we shall never forget the energy with which he closed his eloquent remarks: "All the powers of Europe," said he, "are in array against one deserted, betrayed, and unprotected woman! I am an old man, and have had more experience than most of your lordships in proceedings of this kind; I could not have interest or object in attempting to deceive or mislead you; and, therefore, I shall ever defend myself against any imputation which may be directed against the purity of my motives, in doing what I thank my God I have done, and which, under similar circumstances, if unhappily they occurred, I should repeat." The freshness and vigour of youth glistened in his lordship's eye as these words burst from his lips, which proclaimed him deserving of being numbered among the venerated champions of our injured and oppressed queen.
We have also to record the death of another determined enemy of tyranny, in the person of Lord Byron, who expired at Missolonghi, on the 19th of April, after an illness of ten days. His lordship had rendered himself highly popular among the Greeks by his pecuniary and personal services in their good cause, and, to show their great respect for his worth, and sorrow for his loss, they would not permit the celebration of their usual festivities at Easter. His lordship's genius as a poet is freely acknowledged; but, though he possessed many public and private virtues, they have been but little estimated, while the tongue of Slander has enlarged upon his frailties with much greater severity than they really deserved. As we were personally intimate with his lordship, we may be allowed to know something of his private sentiments and opinions, and we willingly testify to the exalted ideas he entertained in the cause of universal freedom and equitable government, as well as to his general benevolence and kindness of heart. In religion, his lordship avowed himself a free thinker, a determined enemy to pious fraud and cant, and a despiser of all prosecutions, having for their object the stifling of conscientious opinion. These liberal sentiments called forth the pious rage of many ignorant and intolerant ministers of the gospel, who attempted to darken his bright fame by their bigotted tirades against his pretended infidelity, as well from the PULPIT as in their numerous vituperating pamphlets. Such a system of enforcing the mild and benevolent doctrines of Christianity, however, will work no conversions but on those whose minds are clouded by the baneful effects of ignorance. The gigantic power of Lord Byron's genius could not tamely endure the thraldom of being confined to certain modes of narrow-minded faith. He felt that he had a right to examine and to judge for himself in matters of such vital importance to his eternal peace, and for which no one should have condemned him. If his lordship occasionally expressed his indignation at religious prosecutors and Pharisees, ought it, therefore, to be inferred that he was an infidel? No real Christian, we are convinced, would so demean himself; and from the intolerant portion of religious professors, his lordship's fame has little to fear. Posterity will be the best judge of such matters, as it will be sure to discard all private acrimony and party feeling; to its award, therefore, we shall confidently look for a removal of the stigma of "INFIDEL" from the character of the illustrious author of "Childe Harold."
Would that it were in our power, before closing the account of this year, to record the passing of some beneficial act for relieving the oppressed people of England; but we cannot. Our ministers seemed as resolutely determined as ever to plunge and flounder onward in the track that had already procured them the detestation of the British public, and effected the ruin and misery of our once-flourishing and happy country. Looking backward upon their conduct, nothing could be seen but political turpitude; the present was pregnant with wretchedness; but, in contemplating the future, the patriot was animated to exertion by the cheering star of Hope. The baneful influence of the cabinet over our legislative assemblies, the time-serving politics of our church dignitaries and their dependants, and the sycophantic spirit of all those who came within the vortex of the court, formed in themselves a combination of evils, to remove which would indeed require the united moral energies of the people.
The king, as usual, was hunting after the most frivolous pleasures, and gave himself no manner of concern about the grievances of his people. How applicable is the language of Cowper to this vitiated monarch:
That derogatory doctrine, however, which proclaims "the king can do no wrong," has proved the evil genius of liberty, and the very soul of despotism. George the Fourth ever made it his shield, and was content to let the odium of his actions fall upon his ministers. But his majesty should have recollected that a king of England is not king by hereditary right. The nation is not a patrimony. He was not king by his own power, but by the power of the LAW. All the authority he possessed was given him by the law, under whose protection alone he reigned. It may, therefore, seem surprising that this monarch so frequently dared to outrage the very power to which he owed his existence as a king; but it is still more surprising that the people permitted him to do it with impunity: for no king ought to have been allowed
This is, indeed, powerful language; the importance of the subject was deeply felt by the poet; but its truth will plead the best justification of the censure. George the Fourth unhappily considered himself of a different species to the rest of mankind, and lost all the natural feelings of our nature for his subjects. Blinded with prejudices, the truth stung him like a scorpion; his wounded pride instantly took the alarm, and the rash intruder upon his dignity and his pleasures was sure to be dismissed with hauteur, if not ever after denied the royal presence. This was, indeed, a lamentable state of things; but which, however, had one consolation: it was impossible that it could continue much longer; for if nothing else happened, its own iniquity would be sure to produce its destruction.
We now enter upon the year
the eleventh of peace, though not of plenty. It is true that public opinion now began to gain considerable ascendency, though every possible advantage was taken to undermine the liberty of the press, and heavy fines were imposed upon various persons for publishing facts disreputable to the lordlings in power.
In the January of this year, several most respectable individuals expressed an earnest desire to press for a public inquiry into the mysterious and hitherto-unaccounted-for death of her royal highness the Princess Charlotte. Among the rest was Lord Tullamore, who obtained an audience of the Earl of Liverpool for this purpose on the 18th. The premier, at first, treated his lordship with much coolness and reserve; but when Lord Tullamore mentioned the letter of Queen Charlotte to Dr. Sir Richard Croft, the noble earl exhibited signs of the most acute pain, and became dreadfully agitated. His lordship eagerly inquired if that letter was forthcoming; and admitted, that the subject had been mentioned to him before, but that the party was not so respectable as the present. Lord Tullamore then repeated those words from the other letter to the doctor—"Come, my boy, throw physic to the dogs,"—when the earl became so confused and embarrassed, that it was quite evident he was well acquainted with the contents of both those letters. Previous to Lord Tullamore's retiring from this audience, the premier requested to know if he had Queen Charlotte's letter in his possession, to which Lord Tullamore replied, that his instructions went no further. Though suffering exceedingly from the gout in his feet, the Earl of Liverpool politely rose from his seat, pressed his lordship's hand, called him his dear lord, and hoped to see him again.
When detailing the particulars of this interview on the ensuing day, Lord Tullamore said, that the noble earl had certainly admitted the fact of THE MANNER OF THE DEATH OF THE PRINCESS!
Shortly afterwards, a second interview took place with the same noblemen, when Lord Liverpool was more composed, and said the business did not rest with him, but that it must be investigated in the office of the secretary, by Mr. Peel. His lordship then, saying he was in haste, took leave of Lord Tullamore in the kindest manner, very different from the cool and reserved demeanour and address so conspicuous upon his first reception. Immediate application was made at Mr. Peel's office, but that secretary was not in the administration when the melancholy event occurred, and therefore could not be responsible for any circumstance attending it!!
Let the unprejudiced reader duly weigh this simple statement of facts, and judge dispassionately. Lord Liverpool was first lord of the Treasury at this time, as well as at the period of the princess' death; he was, therefore, of necessity the principal actor in all state business; he well knew that a secretary of state was answerable only for circumstances and transactions in his department during his secretaryship; no one could be amenable for that which occurred at the period his predecessor held office. Yet this premier, by the most unmanly and guilty-looking subterfuge, put off all inquiry upon such an important subject, pretending that it did not belong to his department, and then referring it to a secretary, by whom Lord Liverpool well knew the matter could not be investigated, for the reasons before mentioned. In consequence of these shuffling contrivances against justice, this most serious inquiry was negatived, while every principle of right was set at open defiance, and the most honourable of the community privately insulted. One fact, however, may clearly be deduced from this circumstance: that Lord Liverpool was TOO WELL INFORMED upon all this most heart-rending tragedy, and he therefore, for his own sake, put off the inquiry, hoping the subject would be either forgotten, or adverted to in a more agreeable manner.
While these unsuccessful attempts were making to obtain a public inquiry into the cause of the Princess Charlotte's death, the well-paid court-minions were busily employed in calumniating the characters of every person engaged in so laudable an undertaking. The most unfounded reports were industriously circulated to wound their good names, while reasons, the farthest from the truth, were injuriously assigned to blacken their motives. Yet, if we take into account the wickedness and voluptuousness of the court at this period, as well as the imbecility and arrogancy of the king's ministers, Surprise will naturally give way to Disgust, and Anger wonder at Toleration. The Junius that exposed and animadverted upon the ministerial delinquencies of a Bedford and a Grafton, a Sandwich and a Barrington, neither knew, nor could possibly imagine, the incomparably bolder task of doing justice to the public and private turpitude of a Liverpool and a Sidmouth, a Bathurst and a Canning, a Wellington and a Bexley, an Eldon and a Melville! To paint the characters of these men in their true colours would, indeed, be a difficult task. Our darkest tints and our deepest shades would give but a faint outline of the blackness of the originals. When we look back upon the accumulated burthens, the ills upon property and patience which they inflicted, what an ocean of insults and what a wild waste of oppressions do we behold! The three grand pillars of the state in its purity, and the people in their freedom, were nearly demolished. Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, and the Family Compact, were scrolls mouldering on the shelves of these ministers, and ready to be swept out of their several departments, together with the copies of their oaths "to advise their royal master according to the dictates of their consciences,"—consciences, the only proof of the existence of which was given in their constant violation. If it be urged, that Lord Sidmouth, who was the home-secretary at the death of the Princess Charlotte, was not in office at the time of Lord Tullamore's interview with the premier, we can only say, his power to do harm was as great as if he had been, if not greater, and that he took especial care to exert himself strenuously, that no "inquiry" about the Princess Charlotte should be instituted.
The premier, at this eventful period, was eager to engage the assistance of all his Tory friends, whether in or out of office, to enable him to bolster up his own misrule. The ancient author who correctly observed, that "there are vices of MEN and vices of TIMES," would have improved, as well as have enlarged, his maxim by adding, that "bad times are made by bad men." Of the truth, that "bad rulers too often make a mean people," the ministerial subjugation of nations has afforded innumerable evidences. But, with science and the manual arts, the knowledge of the best means of banishing liberty and liberal sentiments had now wonderfully advanced. The proficiency in despotism to which the Earl of Liverpool and his junto had attained certainly entitled them to take precedence of any anterior ministry. These men, throughout their whole conduct, from the highest down to the humblest of their misdeeds,—whether they betrayed the king who received their services, or the people who paid their salaries,—whether they dishonoured the crown by insulting a virtuous queen, or injured the country by screening public plunderers and private murderers,—whether they outraged justice by acquitting the guilty and convicting the innocent,—were ever true to themselves. With all their arts, however, they could not destroy the SPIRIT of our free constitution; for that will ever remain immoveably fixed in the British bosom. The flame whose rays shot hence across the Atlantic can never be wholly extinguished. The sparks with which England herself animated the hearts of her regenerated colonists, warmly cherished by every American, will never cease to feed the parent fire. Lord Liverpool might have assisted to re-burthen France with the hated Bourbons, and other parts of the Continent with their legitimate despots; but this could only last for a time. The fire of liberty was but smothered for a season, as after events have sufficiently attested.
It will assuredly be matter of great surprise to posterity, how men of such circumscribed talents as were to be found in the cabinet of the Earl of Liverpool should find it possible to effect so much mischief. But Fortune delights in maintaining a sort of rivalship with Wisdom, and piques herself on her power to favour fools as well as knaves. These beings, however, were indebted to various aids for their long and too successful career; yet their principal dependance rested on the supineness of the people. The generous forbearance of Englishmen unhappily cherished the power which their patriotic vengeance should have destroyed. They were looking for gratuitous justice and liberality, instead of deserving relief by the ardour and nobleness of their own exertions. Had Britons but borne in mind that "zeal, without action, is nothing worth," their condition had been very different to what it was at the period of Lord Tullamore's praiseworthy attempts to obtain an inquiry into one of the blackest crimes recorded in our annals; for Thought is the projector, and Faith the encourager, of all our views and wishes; though it is only Action that can render them effectual and profitable.
At the period of Lord Tullamore's interviews with the premier, the Marchioness of Conyngham held an entire and very injurious sway over the actions of our voluptuous monarch; her will soon became an absolute law, and, to supply means for this lady's insatiable wishes, the nation was burthened beyond all honourable limits. Yet, strange to say, one of her ladyship's sons, Lord Mountcharles, professed himself most anxious to be entrusted with the previously-named "INQUIRY." His lordship was, consequently, allowed to undertake that the matter should be investigated; but no sooner had the marchioness' son obtained an interview with George the Fourth, than he hypocritically said, "The inquiry into the death of the Princess Charlotte is all useless. You may rely upon it, the idea has originated in some ungenerous feeling towards his majesty." But, in this particular, my Lord Mountcharles acted dishonourably to the trust reposed in him. From undoubted authority, WE KNOW that George the Fourth received Lord Mountcharles into his friendship to prevent the further elucidation of this matter,—at least, as far as his lordship was concerned. Another of the professed friends of justice, also, who was known to have been a witness upon this business, was speedily afterwards enlisted under the "royal banner," and, though previously poor and in "holy orders," soon found abundant means to play for no trivial sums in St. James'. But his principles may be more correctly ascertained by the fact that, after receiving the most generous services from his friends, he was mean enough to abscond from his bail, when fifty pounds was offered for his apprehension. Such was the Reverend Joseph B——, whose apostacy in this common cause fixes upon his name eternal discredit. Yet, notwithstanding his dissolute habits, this clergyman has very frequently occupied a seat at the table of Lord Teynham, and was in the habit of receiving considerable attentions from many of the lordlings in power. If his word might be deemed worthy of credit, he was no stranger to the friendship of his royal highness the Duke of Sussex, and other branches of the royal family. But of one point, we are well assured, that he who was mean enough to desert a post of duty, though it might be a post of danger, to revel in ease and luxury, was, at least, undeserving the notice of any honourable man. However strange it may appear, this divine (so called) was most unceasing in his endeavours to rouse the country to a due sense of the impositions forced upon it, declaring all consequent sufferings would be "light as dust in the balance," compared to the tortures of a guilty and harassed conscience. Thus, under the mask of religion and patriotism, did this faithless character hide his real sentiments and intentions, and while professing to serve the cause of liberty, he was in reality the aider and abettor of tyrants,—dishonourable in his engagements, and a disgrace to his order. We may pity and even forgive his want of honour to his friends; but the subject from which he shrunk was of such vast national importance, that his desertion of the cause of justice and his dereliction from the path of duty in this matter must always be considered as unpardonable offences.
Such vacillating conduct, however, we are sorry to record, was not confined to the two gentlemen just mentioned. Many, whose prospects of aggrandizement appeared upon the wane, exhibited an anxiety to ascertain the probable result of this inquiry. Amongst this number, was a fashionable fortune-hunter, who boasted of being the illegitimate son of a royal duke,—the sudden and unexpected death of whom, it was currently reported, had left this unfortunate offspring totally unprovided for. Added to a tolerably honest appearance and pleasant address, this gentleman possessed considerable talent, which he could exemplify in farce, comedy, or tragedy, as the circumstances might require. In the words of Lord Byron, "he had ten thousand names, and twice as many attributes." He also professed himself the uncompromising enemy of oppressors, and as being ever ready to hazard his life in bringing the murderers of the Princess Charlotte to their merited punishment. But exteriors are too frequently deceptive, and this self-styled patriot was ultimately proved unworthy of the notice of any respectable person. Under false pretences, he found means to reach "the board of hospitality," fed upon the ample provision, and then, like the reptile of eastern climes, stung the benevolent hand that had furnished the sources for his enjoyment, by an attempt to defame one of the proudest and most noble characters our country can boast!
Would that we had no more instances of treachery to offer; but too many others might be given of persons, calling themselves professional gentlemen,—particularly one residing in Duke-street, St. James',—who, after volunteering their services to bring this "hidden thing of darkness to light," forsook their friends, and accepted a BRIBE as a reward for their silence. We could also extend our record of mean expedients adopted by men in power to suppress this disgraceful business,—such, indeed, as would almost stagger the faith of those who had not been eye-witnesses of their depravity. Indignation rises in our breasts while contemplating such a picture of human wickedness! Our readers, we feel assured, do not desire more proofs than we have already given of the principal fact,—that the Princess Charlotte was poisoned, through the instrumentality of those who ought to have been the first to protect so amiable and virtuous a woman! It is, therefore, only a matter of minor importance to expose those who have failed in their loud professions of seeing justice enforced on her murderers. No history, perhaps, is richer in recorded crime than that of our own country; but neither the annals of this or any other empire can furnish a more striking instance of unmanly barbarity, of greater wickedness, or of more horrid depravity, than that of which we are now speaking. Let us hope the people of 1832 will seriously reflect on the enormity of this revolting act, and be no longer lost in an apathy that has already proved so disastrous to their liberties. Let them not suffer their good sense to be lulled and amused by the "raree-shows" of royalty, or by the glitter of any grandeur supplied by the produce of their own labour. Nothing confers, either on a king or his ministers, any real dignity or glory, except their virtue and their good deeds; and the people ought, therefore, not to suffer their courage to be deterred, or their judgment to be imposed upon, by the pomp and glare of state ostentation. The people, we say, ought now to make amends for their long neglect, and exhibit a stronger and more determinate resolution than ever for that "inquiry" which Lord Liverpool so often refused; for, so long as the death of the Princess Charlotte remains unavenged, so long will cowardice and ignominy be attached to the name of Englishman!
In the month of April, Mr. Brougham visited his native country, for the purpose of being invested with the title of "Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow." We should not have noticed a circumstance of such trivial importance to the public, did it not afford us an opportunity of introducing a most admirable speech, which that learned gentleman had an opportunity of delivering on the occasion by reason of some allusion being made to the trial of the late Queen Caroline. To explain the impropriety of calling such persecuting proceedings a "trial," Mr. Brougham said,
"If he could bring himself, on such a day as this, to those habits of contentious discussion to which he was sometimes accustomed, he should have to analyze his friend's splendid speech, and object to the whole of his eulogy. But there was one part of that speech which had caused him considerable pain: his friend had talked of 'the trial' of the late queen. Never had he (Mr. Brougham) either in public or private, before heard so great a profanation of the attributes of those judicial proceedings, which by profession and habit he had been taught to revere, than to use the name of 'trial' when speaking of such an event. It was no trial, he said, and so did the world. The subject was gone by, and not introduced by him; but still the phrase, when dropped, must be corrected; for 'trial' it was none. Was that a trial where the accused had to plead before those who were interested in her destruction?—where those who sat on the bench of justice, aye, and pretended to be her judges, had pre-ordained her fate? Trial!" continued Mr. Brougham, "I repeat there was, there could be, none, where every channel of defamation was allowed to empty itself upon the accused, borne down by the strong arm of power, overwhelmed by the alliance of the powers and the princedoms of the state, and defended only by that innocence and that law which those powers and those princedoms, united with the powers of darkness, had combined to destroy. Trial it was none, where every form of justice was obliged to be broken through on the very surface before the accusers could get at the imputed grounds of their accusations. This, forsooth, a trial!—call it not so, for the sake of truth and law. While that event deformed the page of their history, let them be silent about eastern submissiveness; let them talk not of Agas, the Pachas, and the Beys,—all judges, too, at least so they call themselves,—while they were doomed to remember they had had in their own times ministers of their own crown, who, under the absolute authority of their own master, consented to violate their own pledge, to compromise and stifle their own avowed feelings, and to act as slaves, crouching before the foot-stool of power, to administer to its caprice. Let them call that a trial which was so conducted, and then he would say the queen had been tried at the time when he stood for fifty-six days witnessing the sacrilegious proceeding. Did he now, for the first time, utter this description of its character? No, no; day after day did he repeat it in the presence of all the parties, and dared them to deny the imputation; he dared them then, but not now, lest he should be forced to see the same faces in the same place again, professing to exercise the same functions. If it were in his power to repeat in their hearing now what he had said in their presence before, they might, indeed, call that a trial in his case which they had called it in the other; but to whom it looked not like a chamber of justice, but rather the gloominess of the den; not indeed of judgment, for he could not liken it to such, but rather to others—(here Mr. Brougham paused)—But no, he could not sustain the allusion, lest, perchance, for the very saying of it, (for he could not be prevented from thinking of it so) he should again have to submit to the test of power,—an alternative which his veneration for the constitution of his country and its honours forbade him to precipitate.
"How many long years," said Mr. Brougham, "had they not seen, when to be an Englishman on the Continent was a painful, if not a degrading, condition? He meant, during that dark and murky night of power, when the machinations of the family of the tyrants of Europe were at work, and when they could reckon upon the minister of England as silently suffering, nay, permitting their deadly march against the liberties of mankind. England then had her fair name degraded by being considered as the ABETTOR of every tyrant's plan for the subjugation of his subjects. Then was the time when no despot could open his glaring eye, flashing with vengeance for his prey, without catching the glistening eye of the supplicant British minister. Then was the time when no tyrant could hold out his hand, after shaking in it the chains he had forged to bind and excoriate his people, without its meeting the cordial grasp of friendship of the British minister. Then was the time when the oppressor stalked abroad with the countenance of the rulers of that land, which was called the champion and the protectress of the free. Then did horrid tyranny, more grim in its blasted actions than even in the vices of its original debasement, disfigure the fair face of Europe, while linked and leagued (O, shame upon the pen of history!) with the freest government upon earth,—to which, nevertheless, the tyrant never turned his glance, or stretched his hand in vain, during such disastrous times. That black and disgraceful night of intellect and freedom had now gone down, the sky was clear, and the view was changed into a brighter prospect. Now," continued Mr. Brougham, "we can speak out, and look abroad with clear vision. What man is there now, I ask, in half-represented England, in unrepresented Scotland,—aye, where and which of you, in either country, or even in tortured, insulted, and persecuted Ireland,—where, I say, can the man be found, who dared to look forth in the broad face of day, who dared to raise his voice before his fellow-men, and say, 'I befriend the Holy Alliance?' Not only, I repeat, is there no such man, I will not say so wicked, but so childish,—I will not say so stricken with hostility to free principles, or so bent upon the destruction of his own individual character,—in the whole walk of society, as to avow such sentiments. O, no; not out of Bedlam could we find him!—hardly there, save in the precipitation of a maniac's rage, could we behold a being in the shape of a man to stand up and say, 'I am the friend of the Holy Alliance.' If there be the man where freedom shines, who could look with complaisance on the accomplished despot who fills the Calmuc throne, who can behold with meekness that specious and ungrateful imbecility which promised first, and then refused, free institutions to the Germans who had bled and died in thousands to restore his throne; if there be any man who can approve the scourge of fair Italy, and the tyrant of Austria; if there be, I repeat, any such man, so reckless of himself as to admire or approve, (for that is out of the maddest rage of speculation) but even to tolerate the mere mention of the name of that cruel tyrant of his people at home,—the baffled despot, thank God! of South America,—but whose sway it pleased Providence still to permit at home, and to suspend for a short season the doom of that nameless despot. If there be a man, I say, so monstrous and unnatural as to approve of these royal minions, then it was a consolation to know that he had the grace to confine his thoughts to the regions best adapted for their culture, to lock them up in the innermost recesses of the offices of state, or to confine his silent migrations to the merest purlieus of the court, or perchance to lurk 'behind the arras,' to live there among the vermin which were its natural tenants, and there to gloat upon the merits of Alexander, Frederick, Francis, or Ferdinand,—have I named him?—among the spiders, the vipers, the toads, and those who hated the toads, the lizards. To such an association and contact were these lovers of despots confined; not a word of approbation from any member of the government could be extorted for them. He had often seen much ability and ingenuity devised and exercised to endeavour to get out even a smooth word in favour of the Holy Alliance in parliament; but no, the attempt was fruitless,—all cheered the sentiments which were breathed against these tyrants. So that whoever loved them 'behind the arras,' had at least, if not the better principle, the better taste,—was, if not better in demeanour, at least more ashamed in practice to avow himself as their champion, and rather to prefer to hide himself from that sun of day, which would almost feel disgraced by being compelled to shine upon him in common with the better part of mankind."
The facts and well-merited castigations contained in this most eloquent address were not very creditable to the character of the voluptuous king and his servile ministers. Mr. Brougham here uttered some startling TRUTHS, and accompanied their recital with that keenness of remark for which he is so famous. We need hardly say how heartily we agree with him in the detestation he expressed against the queen's persecutors. Would that he had performed HIS OWN PART more consistently with her majesty's wishes and interests!
On the 6th of March, Science mourned the death of her favourite son, in the Reverend Doctor Samuel Parr, a celebrated philologist, erudite classical scholar, and a profound mathematician, in the 79th year of his age. The weekly, monthly, and annual registers, did not forget to name the transcendent merits of the deceased in literary pursuits; but they either forgot or declined to mention the interest this worthy gentleman had taken in the cause of the Princess of Wales, and also after she became Queen of England. The memorials and testimonies of Doctor Parr in her cause were not chimerical opinions, as some have imagined, but the real sentiments of his honest and manly heart.
The close of this eventful year was marked with unprecedented calamity. The "panic," as it was briefly termed, which prevailed in the city of London, seemed to have overtaken the most wealthy of its inhabitants, and poverty and consternation appeared in all their terrors. The political horizon was also of the most foreboding and gloomy character. The "House of Incurables," however, still arrogantly boasted of the "freedom and prosperity of the nation," and shut their eyes against all the proofs of a contrary nature.
There was a time when some atonement for unjust acts would have been instantly demanded from the sovereign by the people; for we read in "Rapin," that Edward the Second, when conquered and made prisoner by his wife, was tried by the parliament, which decreed, "that (though kings are supposed incapable of doing wrong) he had done all possible wrong, and thereby must forfeit his right to the crown." Again, for the sake of illustration, we may mention, that the parliament tried and convicted Richard the Second; thirty-one articles were alleged against him, in the form of an impeachment, two of which were very remarkable, though perhaps not uncommon; the first was, "that he had BORROWED MONEY WITHOUT INTENDING TO PAY IT AGAIN!!!" the other, "that he had declared, before witnesses, 'he was master of the lives and property of his subjects.'" What a lesson, also, does the wretched death of our first Charles offer of the imbecility of kings, and of their blind contempt for the people, from whom their crowns and their wealth must always be derived. But, with some men, example is disregarded, and advice neglected, if not despised. George the Fourth, for instance, reckless of all consequences, appears to have held it as a maxim, "I am determined to make every body as miserable as I can; and, so long as all my wants are supplied, no matter from what source they are derived!"
At an early part of
the Duke of Devonshire attended the coronation of the despotic Nicholas, since the murderer of the brave Poles, as the representative of George the Fourth, King of England; and his splendid retinues and sumptuous fêtes created no little astonishment in the Russian capital at John Bull's extravagance.
In January, his majesty returned one thousand pounds of the public money, to relieve the distressed Spitalfields' weavers, who were suffering every possible hardship from the want of employment. We feel great pleasure in recording every instance of the charitable intentions of this king, entertaining no fear of being wearied with their detail. We should be equally happy, were it in our power, to record the payment of those loans and promissory notes, to which this personage had subscribed while Prince of Wales. It is a good old maxim, "Be just before you are generous;" and we cannot help thinking, that if the "first gentleman in the world" had given his accommodating ladies a little less, and satisfied the demands of the holders of those bonds, he would have acted more "as became a man." But no; his kingly dignity kept him aloof from the civil proceedings of his foreign creditors, and, being a stranger to honour, the documents were left undischarged!
The king at this period being reported unwell, the parliament was opened by commission. His majesty's indisposition could hardly be wondered at, when the gay life he had led was taken into consideration. Besides, as he was now getting into the "sear and yellow leaf," it might naturally be supposed that the prickings of Conscience sometimes annoyed him into bodily pain. Indeed, though the fact was only known to a few persons at court, his majesty had long been getting into a very low and desponding state, and frequently appeared lost in abstraction, from which he was but seldom relieved by shedding tears! He knew that there were blemishes upon his escutcheon, which, though he had long been able to conceal them by bribery and trickery, might some day or another be exposed to the rude gaze of the multitude. He had long unsheathed the sword of oppression against his suffering people, and he could not possibly tell at what period it might be lifted against his royal self.
The Tory government of persecuted England still appeared to think that the persons composing their Sanhedrim were the only interested individuals in giving and opposing laws. But had not every Englishman a direct interest in the affairs of government? If government should act a part that might endanger the safety of the community, surely every man's property would be equally at stake. All national affairs, therefore, ought to be conducted with a view to the general good, and not for the mere aggrandizement of a privileged and self-elected set of hirelings. When secret missions were the order of the day, as was the case at this period, the public might be assured that "something was rotten in the state of Denmark!" for state secrecy is always the forerunner of evil to the people. But no men of upright principles were to be found in George the Fourth's cabinet. We do not mean to say that England did not possess such characters, but then they had taken the advice of the poet,
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought forward his budget this year, the galleries and lobbies of the House of Commons were actually converted into a "Stock Exchange." We need not offer a remark upon this circumstance,—the intelligent reader will draw his own inferences from such an exhibition. Shortly after this, the House proposed "that five thousand pounds per annum be added to the salary of Mr. Huskisson." Repeated discussion ensued, but the proposition was finally abandoned, and two thousand pounds only agreed to. Mr. Huskisson was undoubtedly a man of great talent; yet he was already in the receipt of a sufficient remuneration for the exercise of that talent, as he then enjoyed two incomes from the people: as treasurer to the navy, three thousand pounds, and as president of the Board of Controul, five thousand pounds, making together the annual amount of eight thousand pounds! Some people, however, are not to be satisfied, as Mr. Huskisson said, that he felt considerable anxiety and hardship arising from the union of the two offices or situations, and that, from the great pecuniary responsibility attached to the treasurer of the navy, the two offices were more than he could possibly attend to! "Then," modestly added the president, "the pay-master is an officer fully acquainted with the details of business, and perfectly familiar with all the operations necessary for the proper and effective management of the department." We do not doubt the verity of this remark, or dispute the qualifications of Mr. Huskisson for one of the offices; yet we cannot help thinking it was a little slip of the tongue, when this gentleman said, "I cannot say from my own knowledge whether, at this moment, matters are going on right or wrong in my office, but I have entire confidence in the pay-master." This curious confession of Mr. Huskisson proved that he enjoyed the emoluments arising from a situation, to the business of which he paid little or no attention! Would an unprejudiced and honest administration have exercised the imposing means here set forth? or would any real representatives of the people have sanctioned such mal-practices by their vote?
The manufacturing districts unfortunately continued in a most melancholy and alarming situation. Riots, disorder, and distress, universally prevailed. To relieve the people's grievances, however, the king returned eight thousand pounds more of the public money to the distressed weavers of Spitalfields. But we cannot help thinking, that such an inadequate sort of relief very much resembled a bankrupt's paying one farthing in the pound, and then claiming the gratitude of his ruined creditors!
Let not our readers suppose that the worthy parliament were idle this year. The matter printed for the House during its short sitting, from February to May, occupied twenty-nine bulky folio volumes, independent of the journals, votes, private acts, and other matters of equal importance to the nation! In this brief session, also, no less than seventy-nine new acts of parliament were added to the already ponderous and indigestible statute-book. Here was industry indeed! But, good reader, in all this mass of business, not a single act was passed for the amelioration of the distressed condition of the people.
The health of the Duke of York now began to decline; and, although he had been in the receipt of such enormous sums from the people, he was actually destitute of a home,—at least of one he could call his own. Here was a disgraceful circumstance!—the heir presumptive to the throne of England, through his abominable and reckless extravagance, obliged to accept the hospitality of an acquaintance! An accumulation of diseases, arising from excesses of every kind, soon became manifest, and the duke was at length declared to be seriously indisposed. On the 14th December, he was pronounced, by his medical attendants, to be in the most imminent danger.
The revenue was deficient in its returns from the former year, two hundred and thirty-three thousand, nine hundred, and forty pounds! which arose from the very general stagnation of trade and the paralization of commerce. This enormous deficiency in the country's income, however, had no effect upon the men in power; for the most wanton expenditure was still kept up, both at home and abroad. Our ambassadors appeared the very type of their sight-loving and spendthrift master, and thousands were swallowed up in glittering baubles and unmeaning pageantry. At the time the "Dandy of Sixty," (as the ingenious and patriotic Mr. Hone usually termed him) was meditating on the most expeditious way of squandering the hard-earnings of the poor, his wicked and unmanly ministers pampered the royal appetite in all its childish wishes and unconstitutional desires, verifying the words of Pope,
The internal state of the country at the opening of
exhibited the most lowering prospects; for when the people are suffering from oppressive enactments and injurious policy, the country cannot possibly wear a smiling countenance. Some of the milk-sop daily journals, notwithstanding, were very profuse in their complimentary language to royalty, and announced, as a matter of wonderful importance, the kindness and brotherly affection manifested by the king to the Duke of York, as his majesty had spent nearly two hours with his brother at the residence of his Grace of Rutland! What astonishing kindness! what inexpressible condescension that a man should visit his own brother who was at the point of death! But the king's condescension did not put aside the visit of the general conqueror, Death! for the Duke of York expired, at the mansion of the before-named nobleman, on the 5th of January, being then in the sixty-fourth year of his age.
If we were to form our judgment by the eulogiums bestowed on the character of the deceased duke, by the greater portion of the press, he was one of the brightest and most illustrious ornaments of society. But such disgraceful truckling to royalty and the "powers that be" could only tend to degrade the national character in the consideration of all well-informed men, who would observe in such unmerited compliments a convincing proof that Truth was a creditor, whose claims were "more honoured in the breach than in the observance." To prove that our complaints on this head are well-founded, let our readers look over the following outline of the royal duke's virtues, which we copy from "Baldwin's Annual Register for the year 1827:"
"Never was the death of a prince accompanied by more sincere and universal regret; and seldom have the public services of one so near the throne BEQUEATHED TO THE COUNTRY SO MUCH SOLID AND LASTING GOOD, as resulted from his long administration of the British army. His private character, frank, HONOURABLE, and SINCERE, was formed to conciliate personal attachments; a personal enemy he had never made, and a friend once gained, he had never lost. Failings there were: he was improvident in pecuniary matters; his love of pleasure, though it observed the decencies, did not always respect the moralities, of private life; and his errors in that respect had been paraded in the public view by the labours of unwearying malice, and shameless unblushing profligacy. But in the failings of the Duke of York, there was nothing that was un-English, nothing that was un-princely.
"Never was man more easy of access, more fair and upright in his dealings, more affable, and even simple, in his manners. Every one who had intercourse with him was impressed with the openness, sincerity, and kindness, which appeared in all his actions; and it was truly said of him, that he never broke a promise, and never deserted a friend. Beloved by those who enjoyed the honour of his private intercourse, his administration of a high public office had excited one universal sentiment of respect and esteem. In his youth, he had been tried as a general in the field. The campaigns in Flanders terminated in a retreat; but the duke,—unexperienced as he was, at the head of an army which, abounding in valour, had yet much to learn in tactics, and compelled to act in concert with allies who were not always either unanimous or decided,—displayed many of the qualities of an able general, and nobly supported that high character for daring and dauntless courage which is the patrimony of his house. He was subsequently raised to the office of commander-in-chief of all his majesty's forces; that office he held for upwards of thirty-two years, and his administration of it did not merely improve, it literally created, an army. During his campaigns, he had felt keenly the abuses which disgraced its internal organization, and rendered its bravery ineffectual; he applied himself, with a soldier's devotion, to the task of removing them; he identified himself with the welfare and the fame of the service; he possessed great readiness and clearness of comprehension in discovering means, and great steadiness and honesty of purpose in applying them. By unceasing diligence, he gave to the common soldier comfort and respectability; the army ceased to be considered as a sort of pest-house for the reception of moral lepers; discipline and regularity were exacted with unyielding strictness; THE OFFICERS WERE RAISED BY A GRADUAL AND WELL-ORDERED SYSTEM OF PROMOTION, which gave merit a chance of not being pushed aside to make way for mere ignorant rank and wealth. The head as well as the heart of the soldier took a higher pitch; the best man in the field was the most welcome at the Horse Guards; there was no longer even a suspicion that unjust partiality disposed of commissions, or that peculation was allowed to fatten upon the spoils of the men; the officer knew that one path was open to all, and the private felt that his recompense was secure."
In a similar strain, the writer continues at a far greater length than our patience will allow us to quote. What man of understanding but must have felt disgusted at such a fulsome panegyric, which has not so much as a word of truth to recommend it! We despise the historian who sacrifices his integrity by an attempt to mislead posterity in this manner. It will, however, prove but an attempt; for will posterity overlook the general iniquitous and abandoned conduct of the royal libertine, both abroad and at home?—his cowardice and want of skill in the field?—his tergiversation to his creditors?—his infamous conduct with regard to certain foreign bondholders?—his notorious practices as a seducer?—his gross and unpardonable dereliction of duty at the Horse Guards?—his refusal to inquire into the conduct of the soldiers at the Manchester massacre?—his shameful acceptance of ten thousand pounds a year of the public money, for only calling upon his dying father twice a week, which Earl Grey pronounced to be "an insult to the people to ask it?"—his receiving this sum, and his going down to Windsor with a bible in his carriage, on pretence of visiting his royal father after he had ceased to exist?—or his bigotted, ridiculous, and futile opposition to the claims of the Catholics? Will posterity, we repeat, forget to canvass all this, and much more, of which the Duke of York was notoriously guilty?
If we pass over the meanness of the royal duke in accepting payment for visiting his own father, we are naturally led to inquire why this money was paid from the public purse, when the king was allowed sixty thousand pounds per annum for his private demands? Could this fund have been better applied than for the use of him for whom it was voted? If, therefore, it was considered necessary to pay a son for visiting his father, surely such money ought to have been applied for the purpose. Was it justifiable, in times of universal suffering and distress, to raise from an over-taxed and over-burthened people such a sum unnecessarily, when there were funds from which it might have been taken,—funds which must else be diverted from the purpose of their creation, and pass into hands for whom they were not intended? Was it not an insult to the sense of the nation to debate about what might be the feelings of the sovereign, if he should recover from the gloomy condition into which he was plunged by the afflicting hand of providence, and find his money had been so appropriated? Would not his majesty's feelings have been more hurt, in such an event, by his knowing that a reward was necessary to induce a son to take care of his father? Was there no delight in filial affection? Was not the sense of duty powerful enough? Was there no beauty in the common charities of our nature? No loveliness in gratitude? Were the claims of veneration cold?—the warmth of regard frozen? With respect to the country, it presented a serious aspect. Admitting that his royal highness, in the discharge of his office, must attend twenty times a-year at Windsor, then he would be paid five hundred pounds a time for such attendance: a single journey would discharge the wages of a thousand labourers for a week, and the annual salary satisfy twenty thousand for the same period. Would it not have been more beneficial to the state, more conducive to the happiness of society, to have expended the ten thousand pounds in some honourable employment, in the erection of some work of art, that would have called hundreds into action, who were steeped up to the neck in penury, and worn down to the earth by wretchedness, than in forming a salary for the royal duke for doing that which it was his bounden duty to perform? But even this view does not put the question in its broadest light. The sixty thousand pounds set apart as the annual privy purse of the king was now useless to his majesty, for he could no longer recognize his property, direct its disposal, or enjoy it. In fact, during the greater part of the Duke of York's guardianship, his father was a corpse! On what ground, on what pretence, then, could this wicked grant be continued, as well as the accumulation of the sixty thousand pounds a year, for the service of one who no longer needed either? Why, only for the purpose of feeding the inordinate profligacy of the Duke of York, and for the gratification of the regent's malice against his innocent, though calumniated, wife! What, also, will posterity think of Lord Castlereagh's conduct on this occasion, who proposed the disgusting grant to parliament? He stigmatized as infamous the refusal to grant from the public purse that which the public ought not to pay; thus boldly classing virtue with crime,—pourtraying prodigality to be right,—disguising corruption under the mask of honour,—and attempting to cast the dark shade of infamy over those few who were honest enough to oppose measures, which justice disapproved, and good policy condemned. By reducing such cases down to the level of common life, we the better discover their injustice and unfold their rapacity. If the constable of a village possessed of a rental, arising from a parochial allowance for his services more than adequate to supply his wants, were deprived of reason, and rendered unfit for his office, and if one of his sons were to declare that he would not superintend the care of his infirm and aged father, unless he was allowed a salary for performing his duty, what would be thought of such a son? But if this son averred that he would not take this salary from his father's allowance, but would demand it from the parish, how severe would be the censure that would follow his footsteps, and imprint itself on his name! However difficult it may be found to believe, it is nevertheless a fact, that the Duke of York would only receive the said ten thousand pounds a year from the PUBLIC, and refused to take it from the privy purse of his father. But this privy purse being already drained by his royal elder brother, he had not the opportunity of taking it from that source! Ought the country to have been thus trifled with and plundered, when it was writhing under general distress and an immense load of taxation,—taxation produced by bestowing unmerited pensions and unnecessary salaries? But ministers imagined, that when their countrymen became impoverished, their spirits would get depressed, and their liberties fall an easier prey to their pecuniary plunderers. But why were not bolder exertions made to defeat this grant by those members of the House of Commons who were in the habit of talking loudly of their patriotism? Why was not the unblushing audacity of ministers and their time-serving tools put to the test? Why were they not told that, among all the distressing periods of our history, not one could be mentioned in which the people were less able to sustain any additional burthens,—not one in which it would have been more indecorous, disgraceful, and unfeeling than at that juncture? Why did they not represent how much better it were that a son should pay to his father the attentions dictated by nature, without fee or reward, than that, oppressed as the community already was with the failure of trade and the expenses of government, another shilling of taxation should be added to their burthens? Why did they not ask the Treasury Bench with what face it could talk of retrenchment and economy, while it augmented the weight by which the country was borne down? When we reflect on the scandalous meanness that turned so many poor clerks adrift, while it kept safely floating in the harbour of ease and plenty, men who were doing so little for the public service,—when we consider this, and add to it the circumstance of the Duke of York's unconscionable grant,—when we place together the wretchedness of the ministry's savings, and the enormity of their waste,—our indignation rises at the injustice. We feel that we are Britons; for we feel that we detest such oppression and oppressors. Our hearts are held to the patriotic minority by a spontaneous and involuntary attachment, as sure and lasting as our hatred and disdain of that portion of parliament, whose only object in obtaining their seats, and only business in exercising their privileges, was to serve the interest of the ministry at the expense of the people, and to promote and help to perpetuate the mystery and the humiliation, the impoverishment and the slavery, it was their especial duty to prevent or diminish.
Of his royal highness' profligacy and neglect of duty, enough was proved in the exposures of Mrs. Clarke to satisfy the most scrupulous of their enormity. Of his utter recklessness of every honourable principle and disregard of virtue, many families, whose peace he was the cause of ruining, yet live to bear their afflicting testimony. Of his imbecility and cowardness in the field of battle, we need only mention his disastrous and disgraceful campaign in Holland, to call forth the indignation and contempt of every honest man, who must also feel shocked at the number of lives sacrificed to his royal highness' headstrong obstinacy. Of his achievements, particularly after his return from Germany, we believe they were chiefly confined to the parade in St. James' park, and to the Tennis Court in James-street, with pretty frequent relaxation amongst the nymphs of Berkeley-row. Nevertheless, his royal parents early pronounced him the "Hope of the Family;" and once, in an hour of festivity, when this prince was so intoxicated as to fall senseless under the table, his elegant and accomplished elder brother, with his glass in hand, standing over the fallen soldier, performed the ceremony of baptism, triumphantly and sarcastically exclaiming,
Of his ridiculous and futile opposition to the Catholics, after times have given abundant proof. And of his getting into debt without the means of paying is a deplorable fact, to which his ruined creditors are even now (in 1832) freely testifying! Would it not have been thought treason had they suspected that the king's son,—the prince who, according to the writer in the Annual Register, "never broke a promise," "whose failings had nothing in them un-English or un-princely," and "who was fair and upright in his dealings,"—would have treated them as a common swindler, by getting their forbearance during his life, and dying without discharging his obligations? It is true that the duke left some property, which he consigned to his brother, the king, for the purpose of discharging his debts. We also know that the king promised to do so, and to supply any deficiency that might arise; but with what fidelity it was kept, the world is pretty well aware. The extortionate demands of a mercenary mistress were stronger in the eyes of George the Fourth than a solemn engagement made to a brother on his death-bed!
Though the executors of the late duke declared that his freehold and leasehold estates were mortgaged beyond their intrinsic value, nothing satisfactory was said about the jewels of his royal highness, which were valued a very few days after his death, and were calculated as being worth one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. These jewels, we are aware, were carried down to Windsor by desire of his majesty, but how they were disposed of remains to be explained. It was known that a large portion of these valuables had belonged to the Duchess of York in her lifetime, and as some legacies bequeathed by her royal highness at her demise have been paid since the death of her husband, it is inferred that the jewels have been, in some way or other, made available for that purpose. The legality of the application of any part of the personal property of the duke to purposes in which the interests of the creditors at large have not been consulted is, however, very questionable. Some part of the duke's property was bequeathed to his sister Sophia; but how far such a bequest was consistent in a man overwhelmed in debt, or how any honourable woman could accept from a brother that which was not his to give, is a matter totally irreconcileable with our notions of justice and fair dealing. One of these said jewels was also bestowed on the king's mistress, which, whenever and wherever it is recognized, cannot possibly add any lustre to her corpulent charms.
The Duke of York was elected Bishop of Osnaburgh when only eleven months old; but we leave the reader to judge how capable a child of this age was to perform the duties of a bishop! Here, indeed, was a wanton disgrace inflicted on religion and the Established Church of England! If money had been wanted to purchase toys for this baby prince, could it not have been supplied from some more creditable source? We are here naturally led to inquire, who was the former Bishop of Osnaburgh? If this question should lead to inquiry among the friends of Truth and Justice, it may possibly be productive of much good to a CERTAIN INJURED AND PERSECUTED INDIVIDUAL.
Among the high church and high tory characters, his royal highness was held in much esteem for his PIETY! They boasted of his always travelling with a bible in one pocket of his carriage and a prayer-book in the other, but we know that the last journey he took, thus equipped, was on a Sunday, in order to make some bets on a race-course for the ensuing day!
In contemplating the enormous means possessed by his royal highness, we are at a loss to account for his dying so deeply in debt. We find him enjoying out of the taxes an annuity of twenty-six thousand pounds, a pension of seven thousand pounds, and an annuity of twelve thousand pounds sponged from the poor people of Hanover. Notwithstanding this income of forty-five thousand pounds a-year, and his immense receipts as commander-in-chief, colonel of regiments, &c. &c., such an embarrassed, pauper-like state of existence has seldom been exposed,—head and ears in debt, and himself dying in another man's house, without a roof of his own to cover his shame! At his principal banker's, he had but a balance of forty-four pounds, fifteen shillings, and a penny, at his death. Like the old story of the many items of sack to one item of bread, we find that his royal highness' horses were more valuable than his books. But one of his disgraceful transactions more deeply concerns the public:—the scandalous grant of public land for a rent never paid, and an advance of forty-seven thousand pounds of the public money, by way of accommodation, upon a mortgage of land which already belonged to the people. Common honesty required that the late Tory ministers, in leasing public land to the duke, should exact its fair value; but, so far from it, the duke obtained an immediate advance of thirty thousand pounds, and eventually of forty-seven thousand pounds, upon his lease. Never was there a more flagrant exposure of the insolent impunity with which Tory ministers betrayed the public interests. It was the duty, the sworn duty, of the Tory commissioners of woods and forests, to let the public land upon the best terms. Instead of which, they not only granted a lease to a notorious insolvent, a man who for very many years had never paid his way,—a man so involved that sheriff's officers followed his carriage and seized it directly he got out of it,—but they granted this man a lease so much under its value that he immediately got thirty thousand pounds advanced upon it. In other terms, the public were defrauded of thirty thousand pounds; but this is purity compared to what follows. These Tory ministers advance forty-seven thousand pounds of the public money to the duke, knowing that he is insolvent and cannot pay the interest. Their mode of securing the principal is still more nefarious. Instead of pursuing the usual course of business, when ground landlords advance money to tenants covering their estates on building leases, they paid the money, not to those who built on the land, or not by instalments exactly as the land was covered, but to the duke, who got people to build for him on credit, and never paid them. The crown, of course, seized for its claims of rent and loan, and, possessing itself of the property of the duke's creditors, the builders, left them the victims of their misplaced confidence in the royal honour,—of a man who once thought that his mere word "on the honour of a prince" was sufficient to paralyze the House of Commons in their inquiries into his malversation of office. Such a playing into the hands of the duke, whilst he was defrauding the confiding tradesmen and workmen, is monstrous. We ask a question, Were not sums of money clandestinely paid to the duke, and smuggled into the accounts of the Army Pay-office, and did not, on one occasion, one of the sworn commissioners, in examining and passing the accounts of the paymaster-general, publicly declare, that the ministers who had signed the warrant for this illegal payment to the duke,—a payment without any vote of parliament,—deserved to be IMPEACHED?
From the above statement, it will be seen why the late Tory administration so resolutely resisted all attempts made in the House of Commons to obtain an annual statement of the land-revenue department. The grant to the duke of a lease for sixty years of valuable mines in Nova Scotia, also appears to be a job infamous beyond any recent precedent. The public ought to have nothing to do with the private debts of this weak, bad man; and it should rest with the royal family whether they suffer the duke to go to his account, with all his imperfections on his head, as an insolvent, defrauding his creditors.
When the disreputable life of the duke is taken into consideration, what an insult was offered to the understandings of an informed people, at the command issued for all persons to robe themselves in garments of decent mourning, upon the demise of this son of Mars and Venus! The country, indeed, had more cause for rejoicing than mourning; as they had lost an enemy to every thing liberal and beneficial. "What!" said the inquiring citizen, "am I to put on the garb of sorrow when I have no cause to mourn? What was the Duke of York to me, or to my family? Nothing less than an intruder upon our scanty means, and yet we are commanded, as good citizens and loyal subjects, to put ourselves and families into decent mourning?" But such was the order issued from the office of the Lord Chamberlain, and it was certainly complied with by all those who depended upon the favour of the court, and by persons who wished to be thought—fashionable! Happy, however, are we to know, that the sensible and independent portion of the nation viewed such an absurd order with the contempt it merited. Had the duke been a private gentleman, he would have had the exact portion of tears shed to his memory as he deserved,—would have been buried and forgotten, except by his creditors, who would scarcely have waited till the turf had covered him, before his house and effects would have been sold, his family turned into the street, and every one paid as much in the pound as his property would have allowed. But the adored of Mrs. Clarke, being the son of a king, no such insult was offered to his manes. His disappointed creditors were left nothing but promises for the articles with which he had been so lavishly supplied; and some of these broken-hearted men, we can attest from personal knowledge, were afterwards reduced to the greatest possible distress, while others have closed their miserable days in a parish work-house,—martyrs to the broken faith of his royal highness the Duke of York, of whom Sir Walter Scott impiously said, in the language of Scripture "There has fallen this day in our Israel, a prince, and a great man!" How forcibly the language of Shakespeare applies here:
Indeed, the whole panegyric which follows the quotation from Scripture is of that description which is sure to raise for its author a monument, whereon will be engraved, "Grovelling servility to royalty, and a mean sacrifice of public duty at the altar of private friendship." The following brief extract will be sufficient to establish the justness of our censure:
"The RELIGION of the Duke of York was SINCERE. His family affections were strong, and the public cannot have forgotten the pious tenderness with which he discharged the duty of watching the last days of his royal father. No pleasure, no business, was ever known to interrupt his regular visits to Windsor, where his unhappy parent could neither be grateful for, nor even be sensible of, his unremitted attentions. (!!!) His royal highness prepared the most splendid victories our annals boast, by an unceasing attention to the character and talents of the officers, and the comforts and health of the men. Terms of service were fixed for every rank, and neither influence nor money was permitted to FORCE any individual forward. (!!!) It has never been disputed(?) that, in the field, his royal highness displayed INTELLIGENCE,(!) MILITARY SKILL,(!!) and his family attribute, the most UNALTERABLE COURAGE.(!!!) If a tradesman, whose bill was unpaid by an officer, thought proper to apply to the Horse Guards, the debtor received a letter from HEADQUARTERS, requiring to know if there existed any objections to the account, and failing in rendering a satisfactory answer, he was put on stoppages until the creditor's demand was satisfied. Repeated applications of this kind might endanger the officer's commission, which was then sold for the payment of his creditors."
While Sir Walter enlarges upon the duke's VIRTUES, (virtues, indeed!) in a similar strain to the above, he uses the most palliative language to gloss over his notorious vices. Not a syllable does he say about his royal highness' OWN CREDITORS BEING LEFT UNPAID, nor does he advocate the propriety, that the commander-in-chief ought to have been "put on stoppages until HIS numerous creditors were satisfied," or that the several commissions he held in the British army should have been "sold for the payment of HIS creditors!" In eulogizing the "military skill, intelligence, and unalterable courage of his royal highness," all allusion to the duke's precipitate flight from Lisle is carefully omitted, and that Houchard, the governor of that fortress, lost his head for not driving him into the sea, which it was proved he might easily have done, through the duke's obstinacy and WANT of military skill!!! Are the very clear statements and unshaken evidence of Mrs. Clarke also to be set at nought, because a small majority of the most venal House of Commons of any in our history thought proper to acquit his royal highness from her charges? Was not every honourable man in England convinced of their verity? And did not universal execration COMPEL the commander-in-chief TO RESIGN, in defiance of that contemptible and loathed majority? Yet all these well-known FACTS are so smoothed down by misrepresentation and shuffling excuses, that his royal highness is actually made to appear a MARTYR TO POPULAR OPINION!!! When speaking of the duke's "pious attentions" to his royal father, the "celebrated novel-writer" says not a syllable about the infamy of receiving ten thousand pounds a-year for such unnecessary services,—unnecessary, because, at their commencement, they were only formally bestowed for the sake of gain, and not through a sense of filial duty; and, for a greater part of the period, they were less necessary, for forms could be of no use to a dead monarch!
We entertain the highest possible opinion of Sir Walter Scott's literary talents, which makes us the more regret that so fair a fame should be clouded by this incontestable proof of his want of principle and his total disregard of historical verity. We do not wish to quarrel with the talented knight's POLITICS or his gratitude to George the Fourth for bestowing on him a title, which adds little to the character of any man of sterling worth, and nothing to him who was before a stranger to virtuous principles; but we do not like to see the historian's glorious shield—TRUTH—broken in pieces by bespattering a public defaulter with praises, when such a man deserved nothing but the contempt and detestation of all who regard upright dealings. Let not Sir Walter Scott, then, thus attempt to mislead the people of England in the character of their princes, by palliating their public abuses, and varnishing their private misconduct; nor let him disseminate doctrines unnatural, nonsensical, and injurious to the rights of human nature. History is materially injured when the waters of truth are corrupted by infusing into their channel the flatterer's poison. Such a vile cause cannot be maintained without having recourse to falsehood, and the cowardly concealment of conscious malversation. Honest purposes love the light of truth; and the friends of liberty and man become justly alarmed whenever they see the press disgraced by its perversion. We are well aware that the Tories were lavish in their rewards to obsequious political writers, and that needy, unprincipled, and aspiring persons, to receive the infection, were always at hand. But can any man be really great and honourable, can he be a patriot or a philanthropist, can he be a zealous and sincere friend to law, order, and religion, who thus hesitates not to break down all the fences of honour, truth, and integrity? Did Sir Walter Scott, when he penned the character of the late Duke of York, mean to proclaim to the world that vice is virtue, guilt is innocence, cowardice is bravery, swindling is correct dealing?—or that conscience is but a name, and honour a phantom? Since the art of printing was invented,—since the era when Ignorance and Superstition were first driven before the light of Reason, exhibited in the circulation of a free press,—we unhesitatingly affirm there has never been published an eulogium so totally at variance with fact as that written by the author of "Waverly" on his royal highness of York. In sober reason and in the language of common sense, we would calmly appeal to the dispassionate reflection of every thinking Englishman, whether such a prostitution of truth and genius is becoming the proud fame of Sir Walter Scott? The power of such a celebrated writer over general opinion is too considerable not to deeply deplore the certainty of his misguiding some portion of the public by the apparent sincerity of his mis-placed eulogium, and by his neglecting to lead his readers to a path of just thinking. Scorning alike the meanness of flattery and the crime of delusion, we have not hesitated to deliver our unbiassed sentiments on the character of the Duke of York, (which are certainly more in accordance with facts) with that freedom to which we deem the historian to be justly entitled. We have not allowed the example of Sir Walter Scott to interfere with our fixed purpose,—that of "AWARDING HONOUR ONLY WHERE HONOUR IS DUE!"
It is a melancholy reflection that so little protection or encouragement should have been afforded to writers of strict independence and integrity, more particularly about the period of the Duke of York's death, when Toryism was flourishing in the plenitude of its glory and its power. The former patriotic spirit of literary men had almost disappeared before ministerial bribery; and to write with that honesty and boldness of purpose which Junius wrote was a matter of rare occurrence; and when any author did venture to imitate that great benefactor of mankind, his temerity was sure to call down the vengeance of the powerful, and, too frequently, without awakening the sympathy of the public. Had those noble authors, who once defended the cause of freedom and truth, been living at this period, how would they have despised such instances of the degradation of talent as those we have quoted! Could they, for a moment, have risen from their graves, what would have been their astonishment at such a perversion of the blessings of the press? In a country professing to be free, and boasting of its rights and privileges, it was surely natural to expect, that he who advocated its best and dearest interests would be certain of its ardent support; that whoever devoted his time and talent to the exposition of public abuses would be an object of general esteem, and enjoy the protection of the PEOPLE, at least, if not of the government. But such was seldom the case; and hence but too many writers resigned their probity, and betrayed the public, by making ministerial delinquencies appear as good government, and royal vices as elegant pastimes and gentlemanly exploits! Most of the daily and other periodical publications were in the pay of government, and they scrupled not to deny the most glaring truths, if, by so doing, they could please their patrons.
We deeply regret that so many could be found to wage war against the sound principles of the English constitution, and so few that invariably adhered to the cause of liberty and justice. That writer, who is prompted by the pure love of his country's weal, and acknowledging no party, seeks no adherents but those who are friends to her sacred cause, will look back upon such a debased state of the press with mingled feelings of indignation and pity. Be it ever remembered, that the general corruption of that powerful engine is always first aimed at by a minister who intends the slavery of the people. Had public writers but maintained one grand universal adherence to the broad and general light of TRUTH, the people of England would never have been burthened by such men as Liverpool, Londonderry, and Sidmouth; nor would they have had to endure their present immense load of taxation. Whenever the people are properly united, and headed by an honest press, not all the standing armies of their enemies will prevent them from obtaining their constitutional rights. But when the people stand apart from each other, and when ministers can obtain the services of venal writers, the star of liberty grows dim, and patriotism becomes dangerous and obsolete.
The Earl of Liverpool was prevented from taking his seat at the head of the government at this period, by a sudden attack of paralysis. His cabinet were consequently thrown into great disorder and contention. The united influence of Lord Eldon, the Duke of Wellington, and Mr. Peel, however, proved inefficient to prevent the choice of prime minister falling on Mr. Canning. Many discussions arose upon this change of administration, and the frequent quarrels in the cabinet were of a nature not very reputable to the members composing it. Within forty-eight hours after Mr. Canning had received his majesty's commands to form a ministry, no less than seven of the former leading members resigned office, through vexation and jealousy at his appointment. The inconsistent Lord Bexley, however, considered that second thoughts were best, and retracted his resignation. Sir John Copley was created Baron Lyndhurst, and appointed Lord High Chancellor, upon the resignation of the Tory veteran Lord Eldon, who, though he had for so many years been amassing enormous wealth, was now mean enough to be an idle pauper upon the resources of our impoverished country for the annual income of four thousand pounds! His lordship had been for more than twenty years Speaker of the House of Peers, at a salary of three thousand pounds, and Lord Chancellor at fifteen thousand pounds per annum; while the salaries of the offices in his gift, in the legal department alone, amounted to more than forty-two thousand pounds per annum. The legal and ecclesiastical patronage at his disposal was also immense; yet this pretended poor man would not retire without an ex-chancellor's salary! While "this keeper of the king's conscience" took especial care of his own purse, he did not forget to look after that of his family; and places, pensions, and church preferments were most bountifully heaped upon them.
In contemplating the long period of his lordship's enjoying the emoluments of his office, we are led to consider "the means whereby he got the office." His unmanly desertion of the virtuous cause of Queen Caroline was the principal, though not the only, reason of his rapid promotion. In this instance, he committed an indelible stain upon his integrity for the sake of obtaining patronage and wealth. Let the following passage, dictated by this time-serving lawyer, when he advocated the Princess of Wales' cause against the Douglases, bear us out in the justness of our remarks:
"However Sir John and Lady Douglas may appear my ostensible accusers, I have other enemies, whose ill-will I may have occasion to FEAR, without feeling myself assured that it will be strictly regulated, in its proceedings against me, by the principles of fairness and justice!"
Who would suppose that boaster of "fairness and justice," Lord Eldon, one of the most forward of the professed friends of the Princess of Wales, could have proved so heartless and active an oppressor of Queen Caroline? We are forcibly reminded of two passages of Scripture, which powerfully apply to his lordship's desertion from the path of honour in this instance; namely, the 2nd Book of Kings, ch. viii, v. 13, and the 2nd Book of Samuel, ch. xii, v. 7 and 8! Lord Eldon not only at that time, however, expressed his decided opinion that other enemies existed, but he afterwards named the very parties, and pointed out with what clearness and facility the offence might have been proved against them! But his lordship soon afterwards sneaked into lucrative office, and had something better to do for himself than procuring justice for the injured, insulted, and persecuted Princess of Wales! Out upon such blood-suckers of their country, we say, and may their crying professions of SINCERITY and CONSCIENTIOUS MOTIVES ever be viewed as the ravings of hypocrisy!
Mr. Canning's ministry proved but of short duration. Soon after his appointment to the premiership, his health began to decline, and within four months he was numbered with the dead. This event took place on the morning of the 8th of August, and his remains were consigned to the tomb prepared to receive them, in Westminster Abbey, followed by a long procession of dukes, lords, and other great personages,—the admirers of his political principles.
In taking an impartial review of Mr. Canning's political career, we cannot help thinking that all his public acts were aristocratical, and afforded indubitable proof of his love of place. Like most men who have risen to great eminence, he owed much to chance. He was lucky in the time of his decease, and in the day of his deserting his old friends. To very few has it happened to be supported by a party as long as its support was useful, and to be repudiated by it when its affection would have been injurious. The same men who, as friends, had given him power,—as enemies, conferred on him reputation! But his name is not connected with any great act of legislation. No law will be handed down to posterity protected by his support. After generations will see in him a lamentable proof of prostituted talent, and little or nothing to claim their gratitude. The memorialist may delight in painting the talents he displayed, but the historian will find little to say of the benefits he bestowed. Mr. Canning was very irritable and bold in his manners. He defended his conduct in the House and out of it; that is to say, he made some bitter speeches in parliament, and wrote three challenges, or demands for explanation: one to Mr. Hume, one to Sir Francis Burdett, and one to an anonymous pamphleteer. The author of this pamphlet was Mr. (now Sir John Cam) Hobhouse, though the fact is little known; but, for some unexplained cause, the book was speedily withdrawn from publication. A few having been sold, however, we were fortunate enough to procure one, the following extracts from which may not prove unacceptable to our readers:
"Sir,—I shall address you without ceremony, for you are deserving of none. There is nothing in your station, in your abilities, or in your character, which entitles you to respect. The first is too often the reward of political, and frequently of PRIVATE, crimes. Your talents, such as they are, you have abused; and, as for your character, I know not an individual of any party, or in any class of society, who would not consider the defence of it a paradox. Low as public principle has sunk, you are still justly appreciated; and no one is deceived by qualities, which, even in their happiest exertions, are not calculated or employed to conciliate esteem.
"To what a state of degradation are we sunk, when a defendant is to be cheered into being a plaintiff; to be applauded when he assaults the sufferings of the oppressed, and arraigns the motives of men of honour and unsullied reputation! You are yourself aware, sir, that in no other assembly in England would you have been allowed to proceed, for an instant, in so gross a violation of all decencies of life as was hazarded by that speech, which found a patient and a pleased audience in the House of Commons. Can there exist in that body,—composed as it undoubtedly is of men, who, in the private relations of life, are distinguished for many good qualities,—an habitual disregard of decency, a contempt for public opinion, an absurd confidence, either individually or in mass, to which, absolving themselves from the rules of common life, they look for protection against the censures of their fellow-citizens? Were it not for such a groundless persuasion, there is not a gentleman (for such a being is not quite extinct in parliament) who would not have thought himself compromised by listening to your insolent attacks upon the national character, and to a flashy declamation, which, from beginning to end, supposed an audience devoid of all taste, judgment, spirit, and humanity.
"I am at a loss, sir, to account for the insulting policy of your colleagues in office, who, though they take their full share with you in the public hatred, are far from being equal competitors for its contempt. Those worthies must have had some motive, deeper than their avowed designs, for entrusting their defence to such 'inept hands.' Were they afraid of your partially redeeming your character by silence? Were they resolved, that if you were yet not enough known, some decisive overt act should reduce you below the ministerial level? Did they suspect, that you were again willing to rebel or betray? How was it that you were selected for the odious and TREACHEROUS task of justifying the rigorous measures of the imbecile, but unfeeling, Sidmouth, directed as they were against the aged, the infirm, the powerless of his own countrymen? How was it that you were required to emerge from your suspected, though prudent, silence, in behalf of him whom you had first insulted by the offer of your alliance, then by your coarse hostility, and, lastly, by the accepted tender of an insidious reconciliation?
"You know, sir, and the world should know, that when your seducer, Pitt, was tired of you, you offered yourself to this silly, vain man, who thought your keeping too dear at the proposed price, and accordingly declined the bargain. You know, and the world may remember, the immediate consequence of this slight of proffered service was your lampoons in parliament, your speeches in the papers,—I forget where they fell, but whether in one or the other, they were equally unprepared and opportune; these, and other assaults, manfully directed against those whose forbearance was the sole protection of your audacity, can hardly have slipped through the meshes of the ill-woven memories of your colleagues. Perhaps, then, it was intended to reduce you to irretrievable humiliation, and to fit you for the lowest agency, by making you the loudest encomiast of the most undefensible measure of him whom you have reprobated as the 'most incapable of all ministers, the most inept of all statesmen.' You have kissed the hand that chastised you, and have lost but few opportunities of testifying your FEIGNED REPENTANCE to him who commands you from that eminence, which you were adjudged incapable to occupy, even so as to save the few appearances required from ministerial manners.
"Your submission to Lord Castlereagh, tricked out, as he appears, in those decorations of fortune which might well deceive a vulgar eye, was not surprising: it was the natural deference of meanness to success. But it was not expected, even from your condescension, that the butt of his party, the agent of that department which had, even in these times of peace, with infinite address, contrived to make the executive administration not only hateful but ridiculous, that the very minister who had no character for talents should be defended by him who had shewn himself unequal to the defence of his own. Your reply to those who spoke the language of their constituents, of unprejudiced Englishmen, of human nature itself, and who stepped forward to rescue the parliament from indelible disgrace, was such as is seldom hiccupped up from the Bacchanalian triumph of ministerial majorities.
"What, sir! one of the present cabinet dare to accuse any individual of too much faith in common rumour or in proffered information? A member of that cabinet, whose belief in the idle, malicious falsehoods of spies, pimps, bullies, and all the abandoned broken characters, whom their promises allured into perjury, has been proved by the verdict of juries, has been recorded in the courts, has been the object of general indignation, and, after having been the cause and excuse of a wanton attack on our liberties, has been judged by the cabinet itself so little qualified for examination that believing parliament has been instructed to indemnify the rogues who told the lies, and the fools who believed them. What! an apologist for the gulled, the gaping Sidmouth, to deprecate the indiscriminating reception of tales and tale-bearers? a defender of him who put his trust in Castles, who employed Oliver, and who, on the faith of atrocious fabrications, of which he was alike the encourager and the dupe, has persecuted and imprisoned, has fettered and fractured, and might have put to death, his fellow-countrymen, even to decimation.
"You tell us, you should have thought yourself 'a dolt and idiot' to have listened for a moment to complaints against an agent of the home department, a runner of Bow-street, a gaoler's turnkey, or a secretary's secretary. Mighty well, sir! but let a runaway from the hulks, a convicted felon, tell you, that a bankrupt apothecary, a broken-down farmer, and a cobbler, are the centre of a widely-spread conspiracy, have formed and partially executed a plan for razing the kingdom, and for taking the Tower of London,—have provided arms, have published manifestoes; let the same respectable evidence impeach the loyalty of the nobles and gentry in particular districts, and of the lower classes in all; let this single felon assert that he is honest, and the majority of his countrymen are rogues,—you do not think YOURSELF A DOLT AND IDIOT!!! you do not think Lord Sidmouth a dolt and idiot for proceeding, chiefly upon such information, to hang, draw, and quarter the first individuals designated by this credible witness! But whatever you or your colleagues thought, the JURY did think the secretary of the home department a DOLT AND IDIOT, and shewed their opinion by their verdict. I will take leave to observe, that there is this difference between the credulity of such men as Mr. Lambton, and of such ministers as yourself and your colleagues: the former may interpose to save, but the consequence of the latter has been to destroy.
"To brand with the names of 'rebel and traitor' those whom you have been unable to prove rebellious and traitorous, is but in the ordinary course of official perseverance and incorrigible folly; but that you should presume to assail those unfortunate individuals, the victims of your own recorded credulity, by making a mockery of old age and of natural infirmities, which have been occasioned by your own injustice!!—such an outrage upon your audience—how is that to be accounted for? 'The revered and ruptured Ogden!!!' This mad, this monstrous sally was applauded—was received with roars of laughter! and if there was a confession from some more candid lips, that such allusions were not 'quite in good taste,' an excuse was drawn from the warmth of the debate, clear as it was, to those accustomed to your patchwork, that the stupid alliteration was one of the ill-tempered weapons coolly selected from your oratorical armoury.
"The little knot of dependants, who were willing to make common stock and carry themselves to market with you, have become ashamed of the trifling, oscillating buffoon, whom they mistook for the head of a party, and who accepted the first and lowest vacancy that could replace him in the precincts of power. Even the miserable chuck-farthing, Ward, who has learnt from you how to run riot on his apostacy, owns, that he hesitates between the disgrace of 'serving without wages, and of being dismissed without a character.'
"Go on, sir, I pray you; proceed with your pleasantries; light up the dungeon with the flashes of your merriment,—make us familiar, make us pleased, with the anguish of the captive; teach us how to look upon torture and tyranny as agreeable trifles; let whips and manacles become the play-things of parliament; let patriotism and principle be preserved only as vain names, the materials of a jest; and, as you have disturbed the bed of sickness with your unhallowed mirth, hasten, with appropriate mockery, the long foretold approaching Euthanasia of the expiring constitution. But confine your efforts to that assembly where they have been so favourably, so thankfully received. You will find no other hearers. You are nothing but on that stage. The clerks, the candles, the heated atmosphere, the mummeries and decorations, the trained, packed paper audience, confused, belated, and jaded into an appetite for the grossest stimulants; these are the preparations indispensable to your exhibition. Thank heaven, however, the House of Commons is not the only tribunal; and it is possible, that, in spite of your extraordinary progress and probable success, there may still be, in this country, a body of men, now dispersed, but whom their common interest will ONE DAY COLLECT AND UNITE, FOR THE DEFENCE OF THEIR RIGHTS AND THE PUNISHMENT OF THEIR OPPRESSORS[187:A].
"Believe me, sir, not an echo of those shouts of laughter which hailed your jests upon rebellious old age and traitorous disease, not an echo has been lost in the wide circumference of the British islands. Those shouts still ring in our ears; they will never die away as long as the day of retribution is deferred; they will never die away until we are finally extirpated by your triumph, or you are annihilated by our indignation. Do not flatter yourself that, by securing the connivance of parliament, you are safe from all national censure. Parliament does not represent the feelings of the British nation. It would be an assault upon the character of this great, this glorious people, to suppose that their representatives were sent to the House of Commons to encourage the playful ferocity of a hardened politician. The nobler portion of the nation are certainly not members of either house: the better educated, the more enlightened, and the more wealthy, at least the more independent, are to be found without the walls of parliament. You are (and what ministerial man is not?) an enemy to reform. But you shall be told, sir, that the necessity of reform, and of choosing our representatives from some other classes of society, was never so decidedly shewn as in the reception of your speech. If Mr. Canning was, on a former occasion[188:A], applauded for saying, that the constitution of that assembly could not be bad, which 'worked so well in practice' as to admit of the selection of such men as Mr. Windham and Mr. Horner, I am sure it is to be allowed me to say, that the assembly can have no feelings or opinions, in common with the rest of their countrymen, which would receive, with shouts of approving laughter, such a speech as this of Mr. Canning.
"You cannot be far from the close of your career; for, either we shall be so lost that all your farther efforts will be superfluous, or you will be so resisted as to disable you for ever from all noxious exertion. This, then, may be the time for summing up the evidence, furnished by the unbiassed, uncontradictory witnesses of your life; and for enabling your countrymen to pass the verdict.
"Let him speak who ever knew you in possession of any respectable reputation. The rag you stole from Mr. Sheridan's mantle was always too scanty to cover your nakedness: like all mimics, you caught only the meaner characteristics of your archetype; oratorical, not orator; poetaster, not poet; witling, not wit. You were never the first or best in any one line of action. You might not have been altogether inept or slow in playing second parts, but on no one occasion have you ever evinced that sincerity, either of principle or capacity, which the lowest amongst us are accustomed to require from the pretenders to excellence. Your spirit was rebuked in presence of those accomplished persons whom the followers of all parties recognized as beings of a higher order, and were willing to yield even more deference than their unambitious merit required. The chances of survivorship have left you a great man in these days of little men; but you keep true to the epic rule; you end as you began; power has conferred upon you no dignity,—elevation has not made your posture more erect. The decency of your character consists in its entire conformity to the original conception formed of you in early life. It has borrowed nothing from station, nothing from experience. It becomes you, but would disgrace any other man."
To a person of Mr. Canning's warmth of temper, such a production was felt most acutely; for he could not, with all his ready eloquence and talent, deny the truth of the writer's charges, or the justness of his severe censure. When men find themselves exposed, without the possibility of making out a good defence by argument, however speciously employed, it is no uncommon thing for them to abuse their accusers, by stigmatizing them with the epithets of "SLANDERER," "LIAR," "COWARD," "DOLT," "IDIOT," and similar opprobrious names, which, however, generally fall harmless on the person to whom they are applied, while they recoil, with ten-fold vigour, on the head of him who disgraces himself and his cause by their adoption. Such was precisely the case with Mr. Canning, as the following letters will testify:
MR. CANNING'S LETTER.
"Gloucester Lodge, April 10, 1818.
"Sir,—I received early in the last week the copy of your pamphlet, which you (I take for granted) had the attention to send to me.
"Soon after I was informed, on the authority of your publisher, that you had withdrawn the whole impression from him, with a view (as was supposed) of suppressing the publication.
"I since learn, however, that the pamphlet, though not sold, is circulated under blank covers.
"I learn this from (among others) the gentleman to whom the pamphlet has been industriously attributed, but who has voluntarily and absolutely denied to me that he has any knowledge of it or its author.
"To you, sir, whoever you may be, I address myself thus directly, for the purpose of expressing to you my opinion, that,
"You are a liar and a slanderer, and want courage only to be an assassin.
"I have only to add, that no man knows of my writing to you; that I shall maintain the same reserve so long as I have an expectation of hearing from you in your own name; and that I shall not give up that expectation till to-morrow (Saturday) night.
"The same address which brought me your pamphlet will bring any letter safe to my hands.
"I am, sir, your humble servant,
"N.B. Mr. Ridgway is requested to forward this letter to its destination."
THE AUTHOR'S REPLY,
Addressed to the Editor of the Examiner.
"Sir,—You are requested to insert in your paper the reply of the Right Hon. George Canning to my public remonstrance with that gentleman on the insult he lately dared to offer to the people of England.
"I am agreeably disappointed. After ten days' deliberation, he acknowledges the tribunal, and has determined to plead.
"Whilst his judges are deciding on the merits of his defence, it shall be my care to provide the gentleman with another opportunity of displaying his taste and talents in the protection of his character.
"In the mean time, whilst Mr. Lambton is a 'dolt and an idiot,' I am content to be a 'liar and a slanderer, and an assassin,' according to the same inimitable master of the vulgar tongue.
"I am, sir, your obedient servant,
"The Author of the
It was hard indeed for Liberty to have so ready and so ruthless an antagonist as Mr. Canning. This minister was not satisfied with those legitimate and classical weapons he was so well skilled to wield, forgot the days of the "Anti-jacobin," and vociferated against and challenged every one whose pen or voice was raised in opposition to him. Thus, whether squibbing "the Doctor," as Lord Sidmouth was called, fighting my Lord Castlereagh, cutting heartless jokes on poor Mr. Ogden, flatly contradicting Mr. Brougham, swaggering over the Holy Alliance, or quarrelling with the Duke of Wellington, he was in perpetual personal scrapes,—one of the reasons which created for him so much personal interest during the whole of his parliamentary career. No imaginative artist, fresh from reading that career, would sit down to paint him with the broad and deep forehead, the stern, compressed lip, the deeply thoughtful and concentrated air of Napoleon. As little would the idea of his eloquence or ambition call to our recollection the swarth and iron features, the bold and haughty dignity, of Strafford. We cannot fancy in his eye the volumed depth of Richelieu's, the volcanic flash of Mirabeau's, or the offended majesty of Chatham's. We should sketch him from our imagination as we see him identically before us, with a countenance rather marked by intelligence, sentiment, and satire, than meditation, passion, or sternness,—with more of the petulant than the proud, more of the playful than the profound, more of the quick irritability of a lively temperament in its expression, than of the fixed or fiery aspect which belongs to the rarer race of men, whose characters are wrought from the most inflexible and violent materials of human nature. We do not wish to deny that Mr. Canning was an orator, a wit, and a poet. Such talents and accomplishments, however, are not of pre-eminent importance to the situation which he occupied at his death. A premier ought to be the bold opposer of corruption, the solid friend of his sovereign, and the uncompromising champion of the people's rights. He should always remember that the security of the throne arises from the interest which the sovereign possesses in the hearts of his subjects, and that all attempts to stifle their voice, under a sense of grievances, must tend to alienate their affections, and inevitably lead to similar calamities which, in other countries, have been produced by arbitrary and corrupt measures. Whether Mr. Canning was such a statesman, we need only refer to his general vacillating conduct to his superiors in office, and to the return made in 1820, that this gentleman had received from the country, during his public association with government, two hundred thousand pounds! Upon the demise of Mr. Canning, a pension was granted, by act of parliament, to the trustees of the family, of three thousand pounds per annum, and his widow, shortly after, created a peeress!
The ensuing motley ministry, headed by Lord Goderich, (late Mr. Robinson) soon exhibited symptoms of its inefficiency to stand against the powerful phalanx of Toryism, then in array to oppose every thing like liberty. The philosopher, however, deeply deploring the many vicissitudes, the varying process, through which Opinion has to pass in order to be refined to Truth, but calmly aware that the sense of a people never ultimately retrogrades, might have observed through the clouds which, at this period, dimmed the political horizon, the sun of Liberty darting forth its smiling beams, and exhibiting signs of a speedy victory over the murky enemies of mankind,—the brighter period, when a more enlarged intelligence would necessarily triumph,—when warlike Tory despotism, founded on a feverish desire to keep the people down by the bayonet, would wear out its own harassed existence, and a system of freedom, sanctioned and confirmed by a long previous disposition of thought, would be realized, and the spirit and letter of that solemn compact, made and ratified between the crown and the people in 1688, be finally restored to the country.
No Englishman, who cherishes in his heart a love of freedom, and who is at all conversant with the history of his country from its earliest era down to the period of the revolution, can be insensible of the acquisitions procured at that eventful period,—of the accumulation of strength gained by the popular branch of the constitution, the limitation to the power of the crown, and the extension of the admitted and declared rights of the people. Before the revolution, we were the slaves of kingly despotism, and the House of Commons itself was as much subservient to the tyranny of the throne as the personal liberty of the subject. We have heard much talk about Magna Charta, and the triumph over John at Runnymede, by the people,—who, by the way, had nothing to do with the struggle, for it was the struggle of the barons and the king, the former of whom in their several domains were as despotic to those beneath them as they felt the tyranny of the king they sought to humble. It was the invasion of their own power and possessions by John that fired their resentment and animated their public spirit, and hence ensued Magna Charta. But, with the exception of the single clause that forbids arbitrary and vexatious imprisonment, it scarcely adds, either in spirit or letter, any thing to the liberties of the people. Not so, however, with the compact as settled at the revolution,—not so with the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement. The prerogative of the crown was by these measures curtailed, and the liberty of the people greatly extended and more clearly defined; the purity of the elective right was provided for, as also the short duration of parliaments, the discretionary power of the crown was prohibited, and standing armies in time of peace declared to be illegal! The pretended right of suspending or of carrying into execution the laws, at the pleasure of the crown, was done away with; the levying of money for the use of the crown, by pretence of prerogative, without the consent of parliament, was forbidden; the right of the subject to petition the king was established; all elections of members of parliament were declared ought to be free; excessive bail and excessive fines were declared should neither be required nor enforced, nor cruel punishments inflicted; and for amending, strengthening, and preserving the laws, it was declared that parliaments ought to be held frequently. The further wise provisions and legislative enactments of that period are proofs that the liberties and happiness of the nation were the chief objects contemplated by our ancestors.
But as all the wise limitations imposed by the friends of liberty on the power of the crown would be rendered ineffectual and useless, without a pure and freely-elected House of Commons, it had long been the chief design of the Tories to destroy this sacred palladium by bribery and corruption. How fatally they succeeded is well known. Thus all the hazards which our forefathers had incurred, all the treasures which they had expended, and all the blood that was shed to establish the freedom of themselves and their posterity, were rendered useless by Mr. Pitt, the Earl of Liverpool, Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Canning, and their mercenary adherents. When this lamentable state of the power of the Tories is considered, and which had been produced by fifty bitter years of misrule, the difficulty of any other ministry being kept together will be apparent. The cabinet of Lord Goderich was a confused mixture of Whigs and Tories, and as the latter possessed a corrupted House of Commons, it were easy to prophesy which party would gain the ascendency, at least for a time; though it were equally observable, that
In the month of September, the House of Commons lost one of its worthiest members in the Right Hon. Lord Archibald Hamilton, who died in the fifty-eighth year of his age, after a long and painful illness. His lordship was more than twenty years the representative of the county of Lanark, and one of his constituents publicly declared, that "the noble lord had conducted himself, throughout that long period, so much to the satisfaction of the county and honour to himself, that he was justly considered the pride of Clydesdale and the glory of Scotland." The name of his lordship was always to be found among those who supported the people's rights. His virtues and his talents placed him at the head of civil and religious liberty; he advocated every measure, both in and out of parliament, which had for its object the welfare of man,—of the meanest peasant as well as of the greatest lord. His affability and kindness of heart secured to him a numerous circle of friends, and his unwearied opposition in parliament to corruption and grants to pamper royal libertines gained for him the proud and inestimable title of PATRIOT.
In November, the unfortunate creditors of the late Duke of York were informed that the assets of his royal highness would not furnish means to pay more than one shilling in the pound! We know that the duke, in his dying hours, declared himself solvent. Whether he went out of the world with a falsehood in his heart and on his tongue, whether he was kept in ignorance of his affairs by those around him, or whether his estate had been foully dealt with by his family or others, are points which ought to have been better elucidated. We cordially pity the creditors, many of whom have been more grossly defrauded than in any case which has been punished in the Insolvent Court. The conduct of the royal family and the executors of the Duke of York must have appeared to the public in a very unamiable light; for why was not a thoroughly clear account of every thing laid before the creditors? Nothing, however, was said about the duke's jewels and the valuable diamond necklace belonging to his duchess!!! We impute nothing to the executors, Sir Herbert Taylor and Sir Benjamin Stephenson, both, doubtless, honourable men,—good Tory placemen; but if people will not make executorship accounts clear and public to all concerned in them, they are liable to be complained of. The wills and affairs of dead princes are always smuggled over and hushed up; but the creditors surely have a right to demand, because they have an interest in demanding, that the wills and executorship accounts of the royal family should be made as public as those of other individuals.
During the session of parliament this year, Mr. Hume made a motion to repeal one of the odious "Six Acts" against the liberty of the press, which subjected to a stamp-duty those cheap periodical tracts that formed the most powerful instruments against the oppression of Toryism. The treatment which Mr. Hume received on this occasion will ever reflect the greatest disgrace on the pretended Whig government and their friends. All those members who had opposed the passing of this act now either purposely absented themselves or advocated its utility, and the honourable member for Aberdeen had the mortification to see his good intentions frustrated at a time when he calculated upon certain success.
Independently of the vexatious trouble which this act of Lord Castlereagh's framing caused the booksellers, it was found materially to injure the spreading of knowledge. But it was for this very purpose that it became the law of the land. Lord Castlereagh was aware of the truism, that
and consequently, to further his own unconstitutional views, he used every exertion to fetter the press and clap a padlock on the mouth of political knowledge. Wiser and better men, however, knowing that the free education of the people is the surest safeguard to the permanent happiness of the community, have lifted up their voices and given their votes against the subjugation of the Press,—the Leviathan protector of all that is worth living for. "The great mass of British subjects," said the venerable and patriotic Lord Erskine, "have no surer means of being informed of what passes in parliament and in the courts of justice, or of the general transactions of the world, than through cheap publications within their means of purchase; and I desire to express my dissent from that principle and opinion, that the safety of the state, and the happiness of the multitude in the laborious condition of life, may be best secured by their being kept in ignorance of political controversies and opinions. I hold, on the contrary, that the government of this country can only continue to be secure while it conducts itself with fidelity and justice, and as all its acts shall, as heretofore, be thoroughly known and understood by all classes of the people." Lord Erskine, however, is not singular in his view of this subject; for every philanthropist cannot but subscribe to the justice and equity of such doctrines. The prohibitory duty, therefore, on political periodicals must be considered as a scheme, emanating from a bad heart and weak head, to favour despotism. That law which requires publishers and printers of newspapers to enter into heavy securities, to answer to the consequences of the remote contingency of a LIBEL,—that is, publishing any thing having a tendency to bring either house of parliament or his majesty's ministers into contempt,—must ever operate perniciously to the cause of freedom. For is it not one of the most sacred duties which a rational being owes to society, to his family, and to himself, to endeavour to "bring into contempt" a government, if it really be contemptible? To what did we owe the wreck of our liberties, at this period, except to the contempt into which the preceding cabinets had been brought among the people? Is there an Englishman, possessing a particle of manhood, or breathing the inspirations of his ancestors, who would not blush at the human form, could he witness a being so debased as not to perpetuate the contempt into which public virtue had happily brought the names of Liverpool, Castlereagh, Eldon, Sidmouth, and the whole tribe of Tory locusts that so long fastened upon the vitals of his country? In America, the idea of indicting a man for endeavouring "to bring the government into contempt," would appear ludicrous. The language of the public authorities in America would be, "If the government is not contemptible, it will only gain strength from attacks; if it be contemptible, the citizens have a right to prove it so, and to demand a change: it is their duty to discuss the point, and to settle it by reason, and not to suppress it by indictment." Our readers will acknowledge, that we do not here advocate a doctrine we dare not practice; for we despise the unjustness of the "Six Acts," and will never allow their unconstitutional powers to intimidate us in the discharge of our public duty.
On the 29th of January,
parliament was opened by commission, when the ministry, headed by Lord Goderich, was dissolved. The Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel succeeded the former premier and secretary of state,—a change that could not possibly afford any satisfaction to the public. Mr. Brougham, in an address to the House of Commons on this subject, said, "Though I entertain the highest opinion of the duke's military genius, still I do not like to see him at the head of the finances of the country, enjoying, as he does, the full and perfect confidence of his sovereign,—enjoying all the patronage of the crown,—enjoying the patronage of the army,—enjoying the patronage of the church,—and, in fact, enjoying almost all the patronage of the state. The noble duke is likewise entrusted with the delicate functions of conveying constant and delicate advice to the ears of his royal master. As a constitutional man, this state of things strikes me as being most unconstitutional." Mr. Brougham further added, "I have no fear of slavery being introduced into this country by the power of the sword. The noble duke (of Wellington) may take the army,—he may take the navy,—he may take the mitre, he may take the great seal,—I will make the noble duke a present of them all. Let him come on with his whole force, sword in hand, against the constitution, and the energies of the people of this country would not only beat him, but laugh at his efforts." These were the excellent sentiments of Mr. Brougham, and we wish the noble Lord Chancellor may long continue the undeviating advocate of the people's rights and liberties.
We have now to record the death of the Earl of Liverpool, which took place at his residence, Coome Wood, on the 4th of December, in the fifty-ninth year of his age, regretted by none but those who had feasted on the wealth of our country, under his long unfortunate sway over national affairs.
Could we write as severe as the ministerial qualities of Lord Liverpool were injurious to the British people, what a hideous draught of distortion, both in principle and conduct, should we exhibit! Looking at the insignificant origin of his lordship, and the crooked crags of his political progress, we trace the wily ascent of an intriguing speculator, clinging to his towry height by principles hostile to the constitution of England. His career is marked by a glazy ichor, which, though repulsive to the chaste eye of public virtue, and offensive to the independent feelings of public spirit, will be as memorable as odious. Long after the praises of his lordship's minions shall be buried in oblivion, the iniquity of his deeds will pain the recollection of all good men, while he will be regarded as the favourite model of those who aspire to the ruin of their country. The character of this weak and daring man would not deserve the attention of history, if it were not so fatally united with the misfortunes of our country, which are mainly to be attributed to him and his notoriously wicked and over-bearing junta.
When in the House of Commons in 1793, he (then Mr. Jenkinson) was foremost in opposing the memorable petition for parliamentary reform, brought forward by Mr. (now Earl) Grey, and defended the then existing state of the representation, maintaining, "that the House of Commons, constituted as it was, had answered the end for which it was designed,"—namely, we suppose, to subdue the people!
Upon the assassination of Mr. Perceval in 1812, Lord Liverpool became first lord of the Treasury, by the especial request of the regent. Upon his lordship's advancement to this high and important office, Lord Sidmouth and Mr. Vansittart were announced as new members of the ministry. The first act of Lord Liverpool, or what may be termed his first important measure, was the introduction of a bill to increase the magisterial power in various districts of the country, where the inhabitants were suffering from want of employment. By this bill, such persons were not allowed the use of fire-arms, and forbidden to meet in companies. His lordship here mistook tyranny for justice, and appeared to set at defiance the opinion of the admirable Locke, that "there is a way whereby governments are dissolved, and that is, when the legislature and the prince, or either of them, act contrary to their trust."
Another grievous inroad upon the liberties of the people, during the administration of this puissant lord, was his frequent union of offices diametrically opposite to each other; one of which, appointing the clergy to sit on the judicial bench, must ever be considered as an infringement upon that religion which his lordship considered as "part and parcel of the law of the land." The studies of clergymen were originally designed to fit them for the diffusion of "peace and good-will towards men," and not to form them for the exercise of temporal power. We do not mean to say that, when people become clergymen, they are to renounce their rights as men; but this is a widely-different matter from investing them with the power of punishing a delinquent. Christ himself exercised no such functions, but left them to the secular authorities. Why, then, should those who pretend to be the followers of Christ presume to that which their master condemned? Alas! their conduct has too often proved them to be no followers of his; yet Lord Liverpool, well knowing the general vindictiveness and domineering austerity of their hearts, considered them the better fit for the magisterial office, as his intention was to rule by forcing the people into obedience, instead of soothing their irritated minds by a few timely concessions. For the sake of Christianity itself, we hope to see such an unholy union of spiritual and secular power speedily abolished.
It was also under Lord Liverpool's administration that the most revolting scenes of MILITARY FLOGGING occurred. We might relate numerous instances of this barbarous custom, but one will be sufficient for the purpose of illustration: Three soldiers, (MERE BOYS!) in July, 1817, in company with others, met at the Rose and Crown public-house, Tower Hill, where at length a fight ensued. A court-martial being held, Thomas Hayes, Francis Hayes, and George Staniford were ordered to receive eight hundred lashes each! The execution of this sentence, so disgraceful to a civilized country, was commenced; but after Thomas Hayes (who was only twenty years of age) had received six hundred and seventy-five lashes, the surgeon pronounced his life to be in danger, and he was, therefore, carried away. Francis Hayes, only sixteen years of age, received three hundred and thirty-five lashes; and George Staniford, only seventeen years of age, two hundred lashes!—when both the latter had the remaining part of their sentence commuted, upon condition of their entering a condemned regiment! Thus three of our fellow-creatures, who had the misfortune to be English soldiers, and therefore, of all other men in the world, alone liable to be subjected to a system of refined cruelty, alike distinguished for its cold-blooded atrocity and the utter absence of any reasonable plea for its infliction, were tortured in this Christian land as long as nature would bear the anguish, and that, too, before the number of lashes awarded by their unmerciful judges had been inflicted upon their poor backs! Is there a man whose heart retains a spark of feeling,—who has not been hardened by military education and habits,—that does not feel an involuntary shudder, a sickening of the heart, when he learns that three of his countrymen—free-born Englishmen, (oh, what a satire has that term become!)—were sentenced to have "the living flesh torn from their backs" by the horrid laceration of the "cat-o'-nine-tails," for being guilty of a public-house brawl! In the name of an all-merciful Providence, of what materials are military officers composed that they can endure such disgusting spectacles? We wonder how they have so long dared to set at defiance the indignation of the public, and tempt the just vengeance of heaven! Can they, after witnessing such scenes of unbearable torture,—of worse than Russian barbarity,—return to their wives and families, and eat their food with an appetite? But officers are GENTLEMEN,—young sprigs of nobility, in most cases,—and the sufferings of the private soldier may possibly be SPORT TO THEM! We hope, however, to see a law passed to give equal rights to the soldier as to the brute, at least; for no man in England, be he whom he may, is permitted to treat a dog as soldiers have been and are even now treated. Were all Englishmen punished in the same manner for the offence of brawling and drunkenness, where would the flogging system terminate? Certainly not with the private soldier or the foremast sailor; it would assuredly find its way to their officers, to the noble, the bishop, and the prince!!!
Lord Liverpool allowed himself to be a prominent actor in the unprecedented persecutions against the Princess of Wales. Had not his lordship arranged the form of the secret proceedings abroad, and consented to the lavish expenditure of our means to suppress truth in that partial business, both the queen and her daughter might, at this time, have been in the enjoyment of health and happiness. His lordship said publicly, that the prosecution against her majesty in 1820 was "the most embarrassing question which ever perplexed any government." This short declaration spoke volumes; for truth is simple, and requires no adornment of language. At the conclusion of the mock trial of her majesty, there appeared, in the House of Lords, a majority of NINE for the Bill against the queen; yet, under these circumstances, his lordship thought proper to abandon the charges against her majesty! His motives for acting thus, we shall presently explain; but in the mean time we contend that such a proceeding was unconstitutional, and not to be defended on any honourable grounds. If the peers had really voted conscientiously, they were entitled to the award from their majority; if they had not so voted, then they ought to have been expelled from the House for ever, as well as from all honourable society. Either way, therefore, Lord Liverpool acted wrong, and fully proved the verity of the old adage, "Power usurped is weakness when exposed; conscious of wrong, it is pusillanimous, and prone to flight."
At the period of which we are speaking, certain documents were laid before Lord Liverpool, relative to the bonds and promissory notes entered into so solemnly by certain royal princes; and his lordship was assured that, if the bill of pains and penalties did pass, these disgraceful engagements, together with the attendant circumstances, should immediately meet the public eye. Here then was one of the secret reasons of his lordship's abandoning the infamous bill against the queen!
The following is a true copy of the letter conveying this unwelcome intelligence, and which was delivered into Lord Liverpool's own hand:
"Nov. 6th, 1820.
"Fearless of your displeasure, I beg to submit my sentiments to your lordship without further ceremony. I am in the possession of a copy of a certain bond, upon the execution of which your royal master was the first named, and to whom the largest share was to be advanced. If the bill against the queen pass, I will expose the whole transaction to the nation, and that will be sufficient to open the eyes even of the wilfully blind. You know the danger, and may provide against it in some degree. I shall also explain the unhappy consequences attendant upon some of the INJURED persons connected with this transaction.
"I am, my lord,
"Your humble servant,
"To the Right Hon.
We here subjoin an exact copy of the bond referred to in this letter:
Know all Men by these presents, that We, George Prince of Wales, Frederick Duke of York, and William Henry Duke of Clarence, all living in the City of Westminster, in the County of Middlesex, are jointly and severally, justly and truly, indebted to John Cator, of Beckenham, in the County of Kent, Esquire, and his Executors, Administrators, and Assigns, in the penal sum of Sixty Thousand Pounds, of good and lawful money of Great Britain, well and truly paid to Us, at or before the sealing of these presents. Sealed with our Seals this 16th day of December, in the Twenty-ninth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the Grace of God, King, Defender of the Faith, anno domini 1788.
The condition of the above-written obligation is such, that if the above bounden George Prince of Wales, Frederick Duke of York, and William Henry Duke of Clarence, or any or either of them, or any of their Heirs, Executors, or Administrators, shall well and truly pay, or cause to be paid, unto the above-named John Cator, his Executors, Administrators, or Assigns, the full sum of Sixty Thousand Pounds of lawful money of Great Britain, within the space or time of six calendar months next, after any one or either of us, the said George Prince of Wales, Frederick Duke of York, and William Henry Duke of Clarence, shall come to and ascend the Throne of England, together with lawful interest on the same; to be computed from the day that such event shall happen, upon whom, to the time of paying off this obligation, then, and in such case, the same shall become null and void; otherwise to be and remain in full force and virtue.
|George Prince of Wales.
To save the exhibition of this bond, as well as several others of a similar description, much to the discredit of the sovereign, Lord Liverpool readily gave his assistance, and thus was forced to abandon the bill against the queen.
In 1823, Lord Liverpool said in the House, that "The policy of the British government rested on the principle of the law of nations, which allowed every country to judge how it could best be governed, and what ought to be its institutions." This paragraph in his lordship's speech sufficiently proved him to be an aristocrat, in the true sense of the word. The policy of his government was, doubtless, to concentrate power in the hands of the rulers, and to force the mass of the people to submissive degradation and wretchedness.
In 1825, his lordship was again disturbed by an inquiry into some state arrangements, relative to the mysterious demise of the Princess Charlotte, which had been made in 1817, and to which his lordship had been privy. But he declined all inquiries into this disgraceful subject, in a manner not very consistent with his own honour, or the importance of the question. In 1826, his lordship was once more solicited to receive the information, but he still declined, though he must have been aware of the justness of the claim. As we have fully explained these appeals to his lordship in a former part of our work, we have only considered it necessary to glance at them in this place.
At length this statesman, after serving his king in direct opposition to the interests of the people, fell into the stupor of apoplectic and paralytic disease, and expired as previously stated.
In this year, an inquiry was instituted into the death of the patriot Hampden; and, in order to ascertain, if possible, the sort of wound by which he had been killed, his body was disinterred from Hampden church, Bucks. The exhumation was attended by Lord Nugent, Mr. Denman, and several other gentlemen. The following account of the investigation was given to the public by one of the party:
"After examining the initials and dates on several leaden coffins, we came to the one in question, the plate of which was so corroded, that it crumbled and broke into small pieces on touching it. It was therefore impossible to ascertain the name of the individual it contained. The coffin had originally been enclosed in wood, covered with velvet, a small portion only of which was apparent near the bottom, at the left side, which was not the case with those of a later date, where the initials were very distinct, and the lead more perfect and fresher in appearance. The register stated, that Hampden was interred on the 25th day of June, 1643, and an old document, still in existence, gives a curious and full account of the grand procession on the occasion; we were, therefore, pretty confident that this must be the one in question, having examined all the others in succession. It was lying under the western window, near the tablet erected by him, when living, to the memory of his beloved wife, whose virtues he extols in the most affectionate language. Without positive proof, it was reasonable to suppose that he would be interred near his adored partner, and this being found at her feet, it was unanimously agreed that the lid should be cut open to ascertain the fact, which proved afterwards that we were not mistaken. The parish plumber descended, and commenced cutting across the coffin, then longitudinally, until the whole was sufficiently loosened to roll back, in order to lift off the wooden lid beneath, which was found in such good preservation that it came off nearly entire. Beneath this was another lid of the same material, which was raised without much giving way. The coffin had originally been filled up with sawdust, which was found undisturbed, except the centre, where the abdomen had fallen in. The sawdust was then removed, and the process of examination commenced. Silence reigned. Lord Nugent descended into the grave, and first removed the outer cloth, which was firmly wrapped round the body; then the second and a third, such care having been extended to preserve the body from the worm of corruption. Here a very singular scene presented itself. No regular features were apparent, although the face retained a death-like whiteness, and shewed the various windings of the blood-vessels beneath the skin. The upper row of teeth were perfect, and those that remained in the under jaw, on being taken out and examined, were quite sound. A little beard remained on the lower part of the chin; and the whiskers were strong, and somewhat lighter than his hair, which was a full auburn brown; the upper part of the bridge of the nose still remained elevated; the remainder had given way to the pressure of the cloths, which had been firmly bound round the head. The eyes were but slightly sunk in, and were covered with the same white film which characterized the general appearance of the face. As a difference of opinion existed concerning the indentation in the left shoulder, where it was supposed he had been wounded, it was unanimously agreed upon to raise up the coffin altogether, and place it in the centre of the church, where a more accurate examination might take place. The coffin was extremely heavy; but, by elevating one end with a crow-bar, two strong ropes were adjusted under either end, and thus drawn up by twelve men, in the most careful manner possible. The first operation was, to examine the arms, which nearly retained their original size, and presented a very muscular appearance. On lifting up the right arm, we found that it was dispossessed of its hand. We might, therefore, naturally conjecture that it had been amputated, as the bone presented a perfectly flat appearance, as if sawn off by some very sharp instrument. On searching carefully under the cloths, to our no small astonishment, we found the hand, or rather a number of small bones, enclosed in a separate cloth. For about six inches up the arm, the greater part of the flesh had wasted away, being evidently smaller than the lower part of the left arm, to which the hand was very firmly united, and which presented no symptoms of decay further than the two bones of the fore-finger being loose. Even the nails remained entire, of which we saw no appearance in the cloth containing the remains of the right hand. In order to corroborate or disprove the different statements relative to his having been wounded in the right shoulder, a close examination of each took place. The clavicle of the right shoulder was firmly united in the scapula, nor did there appear any contusion or indentation that evinced symptoms of any wound ever having been inflicted. The left shoulder, on the contrary, was smaller and sunken in, as if the clavicle had been displaced. To remove all doubts, it was judged necessary to remove the arms, which were amputated with a penknife. The socket of the left arm was perfectly white and healthy, and the clavicle firmly united to the scapula, nor was there the least appearance of contusion or wound. The socket of the right shoulder, on the contrary, was of a brownish cast, and the clavicle being found quite loose and disunited from the scapula, proved that dislocation had taken place. The bones, however, were quite perfect. Such dislocation, therefore, must have arisen, either from the force of a ball, or from Colonel Hampden having fallen from his horse, when he lost the power of holding the reins, by reason of his hand having been so dreadfully shattered. The latter, in all probability, was the case, as it would be barely impossible for a ball to pass through the shoulder without some fracture, either of the clavicle or scapula. In order to examine the head and hair, the body was raised up and supported with a shovel; on removing the cloths, which adhered firmly to the back of the head, we found the hair in a complete state of preservation. It was a dark auburn colour, and, according to the custom of the times, was very long,—from five to six inches. It was drawn up and tied round at the top of the head with black thread or silk. The ends had the appearance of having been cut off. On taking hold of the top-knot, it soon gave way, and came off like a wig. Here a singular scene presented itself. The worm of corruption was busily employed; the skull, in some places, being perfectly bare, whilst in others the skin remained nearly entire, upon which we discovered a number of maggots and small red worms on the feed with great activity. This was the only spot where any symptoms of life was apparent, as if the brain contained a vital principle within it, which engendered its own destruction; otherwise, how can we account, after the lapse of nearly two centuries, in finding living creatures preying upon the seat of intellect, when they were no where else to be found, in no other part of the body? He was five feet, nine inches, in height, apparently of great muscular strength, of a vigorous and robust frame; forehead broad and high; the skull altogether well formed, such an one as the imagination would conceive capable of great exploits."
We offer no apology for inserting this very interesting inquiry into the cause of the death of one of England's greatest characters. Such investigations, we consider, possess peculiar interest to the lovers of truth, as well as being calculated to effect much public good. The deaths of many other illustrious individuals are yet involved in mystery, which may probably, at no distant period, be cleared up in the same way as that of Hampden has been. The sudden death of George the Third's next brother, Edward, Duke of York, calls aloud for inquiry; and, though it is impossible to make reparation to the departed duke himself, yet such inquiry might lead to the benefit of his INNOCENT, INJURED, and STILL SURVIVING OFFSPRING.
The excesses of the court at this period, as usual, were enormous. The man who had sworn to do justice and love mercy proved, by his deportment, that he cared not for either. In defiance of prudence, he continued to revel in gaiety and wantonness, totally regardless of the sorrows of his subjects, whose condition daily became more grievous, and whose petitions were disregarded in proportion to the pressure of their miseries. This man of pleasure exhausted what time he could spare from the indulgence of his passions in the invention of expensive and useless decorations and embellishments to the already gorgeous palaces in which he pleased to reside. He was still unwearied in his monstrous demands from the resources of the people, indefatigable in the accomplishment of all his lascivious pursuits, and deaf to the voice of remonstrance and humanity.
At the commencement of the year
the Catholics of Ireland exhibited so strong a determination to be emancipated from their long oppression, that the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel considered it expedient to pass a bill for their relief. We cordially agree in the principle of removing all civil disabilities from men on account of their religion; but we must nevertheless view the conduct of these two inconsistent ministers with the greatest possible contempt. Headed by the wicked Duke of York, they had frequently declared their fixed determination to oppose any further concessions to the Catholics, for fear of endangering the "established church," and had violently and obstinately opposed their just demands on every ground of right and of expediency! Even during the discussions of the preceding year, both of them had expressed no inclination to desert the principles which they had uniformly defended; yet, strange to say, all of a sudden, their opinions changed, and that which had so long appeared to them as being fraught with the greatest danger received their most zealous advocacy and support!
Amongst the occurrences of this time, we cannot help noticing the pompous enthronement of one of the pretended followers of the meek and lowly Jesus,—the Bishop of London,—which took place in St. Paul's Cathedral, on the 16th of January. The cathedral was filled, at a very early hour, with a crowd of curious people to witness the installation of Dr. Bloomfield. After the parade of being met by the Bishop of Llandaff (Dr. Copleston), the prebends, canons, and other functionaries, the lord mayor, &c., the installation speech was delivered in the following words:—"I, Dr. Copleston, of the cathedral church of St. Paul, do induct, instal, and enthrone You, the Right Reverend Father in God, Charles James, by divine permission (or by permission of the Lord Chancellor?) Bishop of London, into the bishopric and episcopacy of London; and the Lord preserve thy going out and coming in, from this time forth for ever more; and mayest thou remain in justice and sanctity, and adorn the place thou art delegated to by God! God is powerful, and may he increase your grace." How far the bishop was delegated by God, we do not pretend to determine; but fifteen thousand pounds per annum for the great labours attendant upon this office were not, we think, a matter of indifference to the pious bishop; because such a sum would enable his right reverend lordship to be "charitable to the poor," as well as to keep his "church in good repair," for which purposes such an immense sum was originally designed.
In the November of this year, died Thomas Garth, esquire, general in his majesty's service, and colonel of the first regiment of dragoons. This gallant general had the good fortune to render himself agreeable to a certain lady of illustrious birth, by whom, it was said, he had one son, who bears the general's name, and who now is a captain in the army. This son was the chief mourner at the funeral of the general, which took place on the 27th of November, at St. Martin's in the Fields. It is, however, very probable, that the mystery of this very extraordinary affair will, ere long, be explained, though it may not redound to the chastity of royalty. Many places and pensions have been bestowed to prevent an exposure of the circumstances attending the captain's birth, but we have reason to think that TRUTH will ultimately prevail. We could ourselves elucidate this mysterious business, if we deemed it requisite; but, as the matter is now pending in a court of law, it would be improper for us to interfere. In referring to subjects of this nature, we cannot help pitying the imbecility and sorrows of George the Third, which were, doubtless, considerably heightened, though not originally produced, by the delinquencies of his family, both male and female.
In the early part of the year
the king's health materially declined, though the greatest secrecy prevailed at Windsor upon the subject. His disease, however, progressively increased, and in the latter end of March, he became unable to take his usual exercise in the park. From time to time, the organs of the court pronounced his majesty again in tolerable health, and announced his intention to hold a drawing room at St. James'; but at the same time they well knew there was no probability that such an event could take place.
On the 15th of April, the first bulletin was issued, and this official document regularly appeared till the announcement of the royal demise, which was as follows:
"His majesty expired at a quarter past three o'clock this morning, in the 68th year of his age, and in the eleventh of his reign.—June 26th, 1830, Windsor Castle."
The death was lingering and painful, which is not to be wondered at when we consider what an artificial system of body there was to break up, and to what a magnitude it had grown. The wonder is, considering the life which the king had led in his youth, and the ease and luxury in which he indulged afterwards, that he lasted so long. After the usual ceremony of lying in state had been observed, his majesty was consigned to the royal vault at Windsor, on Thursday, the 15th of July. Immediately after which, the greatest bustle was observed in the apartments occupied at Windsor by the Marchioness of Conyngham, and a general scramble and a rapid packing up of valuables took place.
We have so often had occasion to speak of the actions of George the Fourth, that little remains to be said of his general character. That he was handsome, dressed and lived extravagantly, put on fascinating manners when he wished to gain his point, and had an extraordinary good opinion of himself, are accomplishments which we believe he possessed in an eminent degree. But what were such insignificant matters to the country in general, when their possessor owned the basest and most vindictive heart that ever disgraced the human bosom? Would his handsome person atone, in the eyes of doting parents, for the seduction of their daughters? Would his splendid habiliments afford a recompense to his ruined creditors? Would his fascinating manners compensate his injured and cruelly-oppressed wife for the brutal, unmanly, and infamous treatment she received from him? Or would his self-love satisfy the heavily-taxed people, who were compelled to administer to his extravagant demands for finery and baubles? Assuredly not; and such "accomplishments," therefore, only tended to render the actions of his majesty more disgusting in the eyes of the better part of the community. In truth, George the Fourth thought of nothing but his personal ease and comforts. When his mistresses or his friends became troublesome, they were instantly and unceremoniously dismissed, without causing the "first gentleman in the world" the least uneasiness as to their future good or ill fortune. In politics, he leagued himself with the Whigs as long as they served his purpose; but, directly they gave him the least trouble, he disowned their acquaintance. He indulged the follies and vices of his chosen companions, till indulging them longer became irksome. He supported the principles of his family as long as supporting them answered his ends. He consented to the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill on the same principle as he had shaken off poor Mrs. Robinson. Protestantism and Perdita were voted bores, and he therefore took the easiest course to rid himself of both. In the latter years of his life, he disliked public exhibitions, because they gave him trouble, and kept him a few hours from indulging his private passions, which he considered as so much time lost. This is the true character of George the Fourth, whatever his minions may say to the contrary.
Passing over many circumstances of dubious import, relative to the departed monarch, we proceed to notice some transactions of an unhappy complexion, and which reflect no small portion of dishonour upon his memory. When the late Duke of York returned from his military education in Prussia, he unfortunately brought with him the prevailing vice of the principal courts of Germany,—that of GAMBLING; and to his inordinate attachment to that ruinous propensity may be attributed the frequent loss of property and personal disgrace he endured. The late monarch, also, was equally addicted to a love of play, and the sum allowed him when he attained his majority soon proved insufficient to supply the natural consequences of that uncontrolled passion and his very lavish expenditure in finery of all kinds.
In consequence of the mutual embarrassments of these royal brothers, they found themselves under the absolute necessity of raising money to discharge some of their most pressing accounts. The prince, in conjunction with the Dukes of York and Clarence, tried every imaginable source in this country, from which it was thought a supply could be raised, sufficient to avert the impending storm that hung over their heads; but all their endeavours failed. As a last resource, the late monarch was advised to attempt a loan in Holland; and Messrs. Bonney and Sunderland, then of George-yard, Lombard-street, were appointed notarial agents for the verification of the bonds; and the late Mr. Thomas Hammersley, of Pall-mall, banker, was to receive the subscriptions, and to pay the dividends thereon to the holders on the joint bonds of the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Clarence. The sum intended to be raised was about one million sterling, the greater part of which was subscribed for by foreign houses only, at a price which would have proved very satisfactory if the contract had been faithfully performed. The negotiation for this loan commenced in 1788; but an interruption to its completion was occasioned by the death of Mr. Bonney, the notary. It was ultimately confirmed, to the great loss of those who had so rashly speculated in such a questionable security. The loan was to bear six per cent. interest, and the revenues of their royal highnesses were to be invested in the hands of the late Dukes of Northumberland and Portland, in order to ensure the due payment of interest and principal. A large portion of the money, to the amount of nearly half a million, had been received by the princes when the revolution in France, in 1793, presented an opportunity to resist the payment of those bonds which had been circulated, and even the interest due upon them was refused. During the revolution, some of the holders of these bonds escaped, and arrived in England; and, as their last resource, they made numerous applications to the princes for the interest due to them, if it were not quite convenient to discharge the bonds in full. But the law-advisers of the princes pretended that the present holders were not entitled to the interest, as they presumed the bonâ-fide holders had perished during the troubles in France and Holland; and that, consequently, other claims were not legal. On the part of the claimants, the bonds were produced which they had bought, and their right asserted to claim interest and principal equally as if they had been the original subscribers.
This evasive attempt to resist the just discharge of loans, raised at such great hazards, must ever be considered as an indelible stain upon the characters of the princes concerned. We, however, would acquit the Duke of Clarence from any participation in the profits of these bonds; his natural affection for his two elder brothers induced him to add his name to the bonds merely as a further security to their holders; and we doubt not that his present majesty will, if he have not already done so, make all the reparation in his power to the heirs of the original sufferers in these very dishonourable transactions.
The holders of these bonds finding themselves so unjustly treated, M. Martignac, one of the original subscribers to them, made an application to the Court of Chancery, and the affair came on by way of motion. Sir Arthur Pigott, who was then Attorney-General to the Duchy of Cornwall, replied, "that he had never heard of the existence of such bonds; but his own opinion was, that the unhappy condition of France and Holland rendered the identification of the bonâ-fide holders almost impossible, even presuming they ever had existed; but the inquiry should be made in the proper quarter!" That inquiry, however, never benefitted the distressed refugees. Sir Arthur Pigott, the legal adviser of the Prince of Wales, might, to please his master, attempt to deny the existence of these nominal securities; yet positive proof against such denial was, that they were actually floating in the "money market," as common as any other security, AT THAT VERY TIME! There was, indeed, scarcely a broker on the Exchange who had not some portion of them for sale; and it was an indisputable truth that means, of a disreputable nature, were used to depreciate their value in the money market.
We must not here pass over the suspicious conduct (relative to these bonds) of the then secretary of state for the home department. Under the specious pretext of enforcing the Alien Act, this gentleman caused the whole of these injured claimants to be taken and put on board a vessel in the Thames, which was stated to be ready to sail for Holland. This vessel, however, cast anchor at the Nore, for the professed purpose of waiting to receive the necessary papers from the office of the secretary of state. The heart-rending destiny of the unfortunate victims now only remains to be told. Although no charge was preferred against them, they were thus unceremoniously sent out of the kingdom by the decree of arbitrary power. From the list of twenty-six unfortunate creditors of the princes, fourteen of them were traced to the guillotine. The other twelve perished by another concocted plan. The two principal money-lenders, M. Abraham and M. Simeon Boas, of the Hague, were endeavouring to maintain their shattered credit, and actually paid the interest themselves due upon these bonds for two years; but they were finally ruined, and one of the brothers put an end to his existence by a pistol,—the other by poison!
Similar tragical scenes were attendant upon another loan, raised for the princes by M. John James de Beaume, and prepared by Mr. Becknel. The signed acknowledgment of the princes was for one hundred thousand pounds, payable to the said De Beaume, and vesting in him the power to divide this bond into shares of one thousand pounds each, by printed copies of the bond, &c. The original bond was deposited, for safety, in the bank of Ransom, Morland, and Hammersley, while an attested copy, as well as the bankers' acknowledgment of their holding such security, were given to De Beaume as a proof of his authority in being the agent of the three English princes. They also gave him a letter of introduction to their correspondent in Paris, M. Perregaux. After considerable difficulty, and after having remitted and paid to the princes two hundred thousand pounds, in money and jewels, M. de Beaume and his associates were apprehended, and charged with treason, for asserting that George the Third of England was King of France!!! These unfortunate men were tried, condemned, and actually executed upon this paltry charge within twenty-four hours after their mock trial! So perished Richard Chaudot, Mestrirer Niette, De Beaume, and Aubert, either for purchasing the shares of the princes' securities, or for negotiating them. Such also was the fate of Viette, a rich jeweller, who had bought largely of the shares from De Beaume.
Would that we could here close the catalogue of black offences against certain individuals; but we are obliged, as honest historians, to refer to the cruel death of Charles Vaucher, a banker in Paris. This gentleman quitted France in 1793, and fixed his residence in England, where he married an English lady. He had been the purchaser of twenty shares of the princes' bond, and, as was naturally to be expected, made application for the interest due thereon. The claim being refused, the injured gentleman applied for legal assistance; but the interest was still rejected, because the bond had not been named in the schedule laid before the commissioners appointed to examine into the extent of the debts of the Prince George! Further application was made; though, instead of obtaining justice, this unfortunate gentleman received an official order to quit England within the space of four days! Having other affairs to arrange, M. Vaucher petitioned the Duke of Portland (then prime minister) to allow him to remain until his affairs could be arranged; but his petition was refused, and a warrant issued, signed by the duke, directing William Ross and George Higgins, two of his majesty's messengers, to take M. Vaucher into custody till he should be sent out of the country, which was immediately put in force! He was conveyed to Rotterdam, and from thence to Paris, where he was imprisoned. On the 22nd of December, 1795, his trial took place upon similar charges to those of M. de Beaume, and he was soon found guilty, and guillotined!
We could recite many other crimes relative to these bonds; but we think we hear the shocked reader exclaim, "Hold! enough!" Indeed such sickening details can hardly obtain credence in the minds of men, possessed of even the common feelings of our nature. To offer any palliation of such monstrous atrocities would only be an insult to the understandings of all unprejudiced observers of royalty!
At the time of the Prince of Wales' greatest embarrassments, an attempt was made to divert the country into a belief of the honourable intentions of his royal highness by the sale of his racing stud, and some other property. But no sooner had parliament voted sufficient money to relieve the prince from his debts than the turf-establishment was revived in a more ruinous style than ever, the field of dissipation and extravagance enlarged, and fresh debts contracted to an enormous amount, which were not either in his or the nation's power to discharge. Strong doubts were also entertained that the money voted by parliament to this "prodigal son" was not applied to the purpose for which it was granted. Had a private individual so committed himself, he would have become the outcast of his family, while all the virtuous part of the community had instantly avoided him; but in the case of this prince, where the example was ten thousand times more contagious, such a flagrant breach of faith and such base ingratitude hardly received the slightest animadversion! Why should more indulgence have been shewn to this man, whose peculiar duty it was to respect popular favour, and to act in such a manner as to deserve it, and from whose exalted station the public had a right to expect lessons of morality and virtue, than to a private person, whose deviation from their rules only produces partial effects, and can be of no detriment to the community at large. How unjust it is, what an inversion of every fair and honourable principle, to suffer the bauble rank to afford a veil to moral depravity! To protect genius, to reward merit, and to relieve distress, is what ought to be the duty of a prince; but when the nation was called on to liquidate immense debts, without a single instance of this kind on record to justify such a perversion of their money, it was perfidy to the public, and not a warranted liberality towards the prince, for any parliament to do so. Such conduct, indeed, would not have been tolerated had not the professed representatives of England (who were the nominees of a haughty and unfeeling aristocracy) put it beyond the remedy of the majority of the people. At the periods to which we now refer, the most disgraceful sums were also voted for the repairs and embellishments of Brighton Pavilion, Windsor Castle, Windsor Cottage, (so called) the Palace at Pimlico, and other fanciful buildings of royalty. The money required for these purposes, be it remembered, was drained from a heavily-oppressed people, whose industry, economy, and honesty were, in the aggregate, without a parallel. But it is a serious fact, that, from the accession of George the Third to the death of George the Fourth, the royal expenditure was ninety-two millions, ninety thousand, eight hundred, and seven pounds! Yet, in this amount, the salaries and official emoluments of the royal dukes are not included from the year 1815. We cannot help contrasting the evil done with the benefits that might have been bestowed by this money. What a fund it had made to lessen the hardships imposed upon the poor!—to mitigate the sufferings of the mechanic!—and to lighten the burdens of the honest citizen! Instead of which, it was expended merely to gratify pride and vice. The delight of doing good was the last sentiment for consideration; and though a vast field was open for the exercise of benevolence, yet the offices of real greatness were always neglected by George the Fourth and the greater part of his family.
Having now brought our history down to the providential release of England by the death of George the Fourth, we cannot part company with our readers before taking a general survey of the lamentable truths it contains. Authors have too often demeaned themselves by concealing facts, and, instead of being historians of an action, have proved themselves the mere lawyers of a party; they are retained by their principles, and bribed by their interests; their narrations are an opening of their case, and in front of their histories, therefore, ought to be written—"I am for the defendant," or "I am for the plaintiff." With such unworthy writers, we should be ashamed to claim affinity. Our unflinching exposures have been made with no sinister motives; for we have dared to brave prosecutions and persecutions, despising the bribes and defying the hate of the minions of power! Our's is the cause, the righteous cause, of the insulted and harassed classes,—the real productors of the national wealth,—who have so long endured the galling yoke of oppression. The time, however, is now fast approaching when fallacious speeches must yield precedence to solid reasoning, when honest governments must supersede systems of despotism, when vice must be recognized and punished in the case of the prince as well as in that of the peasant; when superior talents must be permitted to occupy superior stations; when individuals, most suited to serve the real interests of the kingdom, will be solicited to guide the helm of state; when all policy, opposed to freedom, will be annihilated; when interested men will be compelled to quit their seats in the councils, and weak men be afraid to venture another trial; when he who has the heart of a coward, or the spirit of a sycophant, will not dare to present himself for the suffrages of a free people! Yes, we repeat, such an era is at hand, and "the people" of England are about to enjoy that liberty and happiness, from which they have unjustly been debarred by the cruel and haughty hand of tyranny. An unjust government, whether professing Whig or Tory principles, will vainly attempt to stop this march of liberty by raising the old bugbear cry of—"Anarchy and confusion will be the consequences of entrusting the people with their political rights and privileges!" Such an unnatural doctrine has been held far too long by the titled and wealthy mortality of our land, who are not contented with enjoying the great advantages of rank and property, whether hereditary or acquired, but seem, by their behaviour, determined to prevent their less-fortunate brethren from tasting the happiness which would arise from a possession of their political rights. The tyrannical nature of such characters, unsatisfied with the elevation which their birth or fortune has given them, wish to trample on their "inferiors," and to force them still lower in the scale of intelligent beings. Contemptible proud men, thus to insult those who minister to their luxuries and their wealth! Such vain conduct, however, will never fail to excite the honest indignation of all who can think and feel, and who are remote from the sphere of corrupting influence. It is not only most highly culpable in a moral view, but extremely dangerous in a political. It arises from the hateful spirit of despotism, and, if not timely checked by the people, must soon become universal. A spirit of this nature would allow no rights to the poor but those which cannot be taken away,—the rights of mere animal nature. Such a spirit hates "the people," and would gladly annihilate all of them but those who administer to pride and luxury, either as menial servants, dependent tradesmen, or mechanics,—or common soldiers, ready to shed the blood of those who might render themselves obnoxious to their lordly tyrants. Notwithstanding such contempt of "the people," however, these mighty of the land think they are entitled to represent them in parliament; yet what can be expected from such proud men but that they should be as servilely mean and obsequious to a minister as they are cruel and unfeeling in their behaviour to the poor of their vicinity? By such behaviour, the ARISTOCRATS attempt to form a little world of their own, where Folly and Vanity reign supreme, but where Virtue, Learning, and Usefulness are alike unknown. The grand secret of its constitution is to claim dignity, distinction, power, and place, exclusively, without the painful labour of deserving either by personal merit, or by services to the commonwealth. They talk and laugh loud, applauding each other's self-complacency, and would not be supposed to cast an eye on the "inferior crowd," whose admiration, nevertheless, they are at the same time courting by every silly effort of pragmatical vanity! Men of this cast pay no more, and frequently not so much, as other people; yet they strangely conceive themselves privileged to treat tradesmen,—certainly respectable when honest, sober, and industrious,—as if they were not of the same flesh and blood with "gentlemen," but to be ranked with the ass and the swine. Such proud pretenders to superiority consider the world was only made for them, while their families and their houses must studiously be kept from plebeian contamination. This aristocratical insolence is also visible even at church,—in the immediate presence of Him who made high and low, rich and poor, and where the gilded and painted ornaments on the walls seem to mock the folly of all human pride. The pew of "the great man" is raised above the others, and furnished with curtains, adorned with linings, and accommodated with cushions. Even those who do not bow at the name of Jesus are yet expected to make their lowly obeisance to the lord in the gallery! However indifferent such mighty persons may feel towards religion, they are still zealous for the church; for this is useful, not only in providing genteely for their poorer relations and dependants, but as an engine to KEEP DOWN THE PEOPLE! The temporalities and splendours of the "established" church endear it to them; but, if it had continued in its primitive state, when poor fishermen were its bishops, how differently would they have viewed it!
Against principles so dangerous and hostile to liberty, every friend of his country will not hesitate to shew a determined opposition. The poorer part of mankind,—that is, "the people,"—when they are not blinded by ignorance, in which the "great ones" have always endeavoured to keep them, may safely be entrusted with political power. "The people" have lately been presented with a proof of the selfish motives of these "great ones," which have done wonders in opening their eyes to the degraded condition in which they have so long been held, and the natural consequences of such enlightenment are rapidly being made known in language not to be misunderstood. They begin to view themselves as essential parts of one great body; they are therefore determined to possess an equal portion of political rights, and peaceably possess them; for they are too sensible not to be aware that all violence is not only wrong, but totally unnecessary to accomplish this end. If our exposition of the long-hidden things of darkness, as well as of the characters of their oppressors, should assist in producing this happy consummation, our reward will be ample; we desire no more.
In taking a review of our past pages, the intelligent reader will hardly wonder at the awful complexion the present times have assumed. Every evil has its origin, and, however remote it may be, will ultimately produce its effects. What, then, it may be asked, is the cause of the present unhappy state of England,—of its political struggles and divisions? Have they not been mainly produced by the long-concealed secrets of state, which have, alas! led to the commission of crimes—of murders—that must force the tear of pity from the eye of compassionating humanity?
According to the pure fabric of the British constitution, no nation on the surface of the globe ought to have been more happy, more consolidated in friendly intercourse and good understanding, nor more prosperous and contented, than this country. But, from the time of Queen Anne, the state has been gradually retrograding and divided into two aristocratical parties,—Whigs and Tories,—whose watch-words were principles, (which might be said to be constitutionally attached to opposition or place) but whose struggles have ever been for power. The spirit of party has been said to furnish aliment to the spirit of liberty; and so perhaps it does, but in this way: by first creating the despotism which it is the office of the spirit of liberty to counteract, and, if possible, to overthrow. If there had never been the party of the usurpers and abusers of power, there would have been no occasion for that of the leaguers and reformers. It is of necessity that party spirit must, on the whole, have done more harm than good, since assuredly it has raised more giants than it has yet slain. All party spirit, generally speaking, is injurious. It has been truly denounced by one of the greatest friends of freedom the world has ever seen,—the illustrious Washington,—as "the very worst enemy of popular governments." In his farewell address to the American people, he earnestly warns them against it as the thing from which, of all others, they had most to fear. "It serves always," he tells them, "to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one class against another; foments, occasionally, riots and insurrections; it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself, through the channels of party passions." All party ascendencies have this character in common: that they serve to make the interests of the country subordinate to private ends. It is the established mode with dominant factions to distribute the loaves and fishes among their own adherents exclusively,—they could not, in fact, exist as factions otherwise. Worth and talent are no farther regarded than is necessary for the saving of appearances. The sort of followers whom your party minister delights to honour are those who will stick at nothing, who will stand by a leader through thick and thin, who will never consider the right or wrong of any thing, but support whatever their patron supports, and resist to the utmost whenever he gives the word,—men, in short, who are prepared to look only to their own and their party's advantage, without at all caring how the interests of the community at large may be affected by their conduct. Ever since the revolution of 1688, England has never been free from the trammels of some such dominant faction or other; and what have been the consequences? One long course of misgovernment, one unceasing heaping of burdens on the people, and of pensions and sinecures on the aristocracy,—one unvarying round of oppression, plunder, murder, corruption, and extravagance. Whether it was Tory or whether it was Whig that was in power, the result to the people was almost always the same. If the Whigs have, on the whole, been less to blame than their rivals, it is to be remembered, on the other hand, that their opportunities of doing evil have been fewer. However the two parties may differ, or affect to differ, on general principles of government, they have always agreed marvellously on one point, namely: the perfect propriety of making the most of their time while in office, to enrich themselves, their relations, and dependants, at the expense of the nation[240:A]. Thus, public opinion has long been the opinion of certain coteries, and public men, generally speaking, men neither brought forward by the public, nor for the sake of the public! It has been thought necessary that some one should make such a speech as would "tell well," and procure a round of cheers from the House. If such an individual could be found with a large landed estate and a coronet entailed upon him, so much the better; if not, why he must be sought for elsewhere. A school or college reputation, an able pamphlet, a club or county-meeting oration, pointed him out. The minister, or the great man who wished to be the minister, brought him into parliament: if he failed, he sank into insignificance; if he succeeded, he worked for his master during a certain time, and then became a minister or a great man himself. As for the people, he had nothing whatever to do with them; they returned some jolly 'squire, who feasted them well, or some nabob who purchased their votes. Under such a state of things, cheerfully acquiesced in, we say, it is hardly to be wondered at that what are called "the people" should have been very much plundered and very much despised. Were this base party spirit only banished from among us, were all party badges, watchwords, and distinctions, only discarded for ever, were superior talent and tried integrity but once to become the sole passports to preferment, our social system would then be placed on the very best possible footing. The time of so desirable a consummation, we hope and trust, is not far distant; though we are still in the midst of the manifold evils of which the so-much-lauded party spirit has been the source, and we must necessarily deal with matters as they are. Tory is again contending against Whig for the mastery, and with both the real interests of the people seem, as usual, to form only a secondary consideration. A greater proof of this cannot possibly be offered than in the following extract from a late parliamentary report:
"Mr. Dawson, in reference to the appointment of Lord Durham to be lord privy seal, asked whether any portion of the salary due to the noble lord from the time of his appointment to this period had been paid, or whether he had made any application for the payment of this salary. He wished to know the same with respect to the post-master-general.
"Sir George Warrender said, that when the noble lord had found that his was an efficient public office, he had determined to take the salary. When the duke stated his determination not to take the salary, there was upon the part of the committee the general expression of an opinion that the noble duke, in so doing, would be unfair to the office. The committee communicated to him that he would be doing great injustice to the office.
"Mr. J. Wood corroborated the statement of the honourable baronet, both with respect to the Duke of Richmond and of Lord Durham.
"The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that Lord Durham had received a regular salary. The Duke of Richmond intended also to receive the whole of his salary. He was sure that every honourable member would agree with him in thinking that it was not proper, because an individual had a large income, that he should refuse his salary. Under these circumstances, he thought that both his noble friends did not judge right."
We can readily anticipate the surprise the public must have felt at the nonsensical and unjust doctrine here broached by the Whig Chancellor of the Exchequer. A man in the possession of a large income was doing injustice to an office if he refused to take the salary pertaining to it, though such salary was drained from a heavily-taxed people! But it is really wonderful how much a little acquaintance with office will alter the liberal and patriotic opinions of a man,—even of that boaster of economy and retrenchment, the honest-looking Lord Althorpe! When Lord Durham and the Duke of Richmond first accepted place, the public heard much of their high-minded contempt for gain, and were told how purely disinterested were their views on entering the public service. Time, however, proved that money was not altogether so offensive to these patriotic peers, and to avoid doing injustice to their offices, they at length consented (amazing condescension!) to receive their salaries. Such an act of justice to an office, which cannot be appreciated by the object, is in very bad taste, considering it is detrimental to the public, who would have felt grateful for a similar regard to its own interests. But the Duke of Richmond's conduct by no means surprised us: he who is only a Tory in disguise was just the man to pretend a contempt for salary before he was in place, and to clutch at it ravenously the moment he got into power. Some persons, when he first spoke of taking no pay, laughed at his unfitness for office, and he was strongly advised to resign, as he got nothing but ridicule for his pains. His grace heeded not this rebuke, but appears to have been actuated by the same feeling as the blind fiddler, who was recommended to begone, as every one laughed at him. "Hold thy peace," said the fiddler, "we shall have their money presently, and then we will laugh at them."
Thus it will be seen that the interests of the people have never been considered by any ministry, however great its pretensions to honesty and patriotism. Added to this lamentable fact, an all-opposing and insuperable obstacle has, for many years, been obtruding itself on the energies of the country,—the embarrassing and overwhelming STATE SECRETS. These have ever formed a paramount consideration with royalty; and, in order to prevent them being made public, the constitution has been openly and shamelessly infringed, morality and honesty set at defiance, and the order of society reversed! The enormous charges entailed on this country, by bribing the parties in possession of these secrets, have been made fully manifest in our preceding pages. Still it had been utterly impossible for ministers to carry on such a ruinous system of peculation and crime, if they had not contrived the corruption of the people's representatives. This was so effectually accomplished by Pitt, Liverpool, Castlereagh, and Sidmouth, that every law they thought proper to propose, and every supply of money they demanded, for whatever iniquitous purpose it might be required, was sure to meet with the ready acquiescence of the House of Commons. Hence the crown became a mighty host of power, perpetually acquiring an accession of purchased adherents, who ever exhibited the greatest readiness to accomplish the unconstitutional purposes of their abandoned employers.
It may here not be improper succinctly to explain of what materials this "host of power" consisted at the death of George the Fourth. Out of the six hundred and fifty-eight who composed the House of Commons, four hundred and eighty-eight, or nearly three-fourths, were returned by the influence or nomination of one hundred and forty-four peers, and one hundred and twenty-three commoners. These patrons, by themselves or their nominees, necessarily determined the decisions of both houses of parliament; and, consequently, engrossed the whole power of the state! In the exercise of this overgrown influence, however, they were happily a little restrained by the operation of public opinion, as prompted by the liberty of the press, and sustained by the trial by jury,—both of which they, in vain, attempted to destroy. This body of boroughmongers, as we have shewn, consisted of two hundred and sixty-seven individuals,—including lords, ladies, commoners, lunatics, and minors! They constituted the oligarchy,—that selfish faction so unhappily familiar to the public of the present day by the name of the "Conservatives," or the "Cumberland Club." Of this faction, so long the keepers of the now-explained secrets of state, the nominal ministers of the crown were, in effect, necessarily the tools or agents. Under such a monstrous system of government, carried on for the exclusive interest of the prevailing faction, the blackest deeds were countenanced by men in power, of the truth of which our volumes will furnish future generations with abundant proof. This usurpation of the whole power of the state by two hundred and sixty-seven persons, however, was not effected suddenly; it was the result of gradual encroachments on the right of suffrage by a succession of the votes of a corrupt and venal House of Commons, commencing with the septennial act, a little more than a century ago. As these two hundred and sixty-seven individuals returned nearly three-fourths of the Lower House, and constituted a majority in the Upper, their influence was supreme in both. To the one hundred and forty-four peers who influenced the House of Commons was added the whole tribe of the unchristianlike and ostentatious bishops, who, almost to a man, voted with the oligarchial members, in hopes of coming in for a share of the "loaves and fishes." From this, it is almost impossible to say which house of parliament was most corrupt of the two. Hence arose the incessant attempts to abridge the rights and liberties of the people, through the forms of the constitution. The independence of parliament became words of contempt to all who knew the secret spring of their automaton movements. But, independent of corruption, another grievous cause of complaint exists in the Upper House. It has been frequently proved that both IDIOTS and LUNATICS have exercised their "hereditary" right of assisting in the making of British laws!!! We also lately observed, in the farewell address of Lord Stanley, who is heir to a peerage, the reason assigned to his constituents for withdrawing from the House of Commons was, "the rapid growth of an infirmity under which he has long laboured." That infirmity is deafness; and here arises a curious question: if his lordship's infirmity disqualify him from sitting in a house whose functions are legislatorial, how can he be qualified for a seat in a house which is both legislatorial and judicial? If his lordship's deafness unfit him to be a maker of laws, how can he, when he becomes a member of the Upper House, be fit for the discharge of the duties both of legislator and judge,—HEARING, in the latter case, being more indispensable than in the former? How injurious is the doctrine of the legitimate descent of wisdom! A member of the Lower House becomes deaf, like Lord Stanley, or an idiot, like some scores of members who shall be nameless, and therefore unfit for the duties of legislation there; but if he happen to be the heir to a peerage, the death of a father makes the deaf to hear, and imbues the idiot with intellect; and he is in a moment fitted not only for legislatorial but for judicial functions! How much longer will the people tolerate such "hereditary" privileges? But, even from the dawn of the French revolution, and the lesson which Napoleon gave to tyrants, the oligarchy and the people have maintained a constant and increasing struggle; and the year 1832 has plainly proclaimed to which party the victory will be ultimately awarded.
From such an unconstitutional state of things as we have here briefly described, Englishmen may account for the unjust wars which have overwhelmed them with debt, poverty, and taxes, in order to retard the progress of liberty, and stultify the human intellect. In what a miserable plight did such wars leave this vast island, covered as she once was with the gorgeous mantle of successful agriculture! They left her "with Industry in rags, and Patience in despair: the merchant without a ledger, the shops without a customer, the Exchange deserted, and the Gazette crowded." Let us inquire for what purposes these wars were so obstinately maintained. Were they for the benefit of Europe?—for the happiness of mankind?—for the strengthening of liberty?—for the improvement of politics and philosophy? Alas! no. But, by these long and bloody wars, England has compelled the millions in America to manufacture for themselves, and the greater part of the Continent to do the same, to the manifest injury of our own artizans. Besides this impolicy, the American war, from 1776 to 1782, cost this country two thousand, two hundred, and seventy millions, and a half. The fleet alone, in 1779, created an expense of one hundred and eighty millions. During the crusade against French liberty, our national debt was increased from two hundred millions to nine hundred millions, and the interest from nine to forty-five millions per annum. And what was the object to be obtained by this war? To save Louis the Sixteenth, and to check that spirit of propagandism, announced in the French Chamber, from being formidably maintained and spread by the troops of France. To effect this, England took up arms when Louis the Sixteenth had gone to his ancestors, and when the Republican armies, flushed with victory, and threatened with the guillotine in the event of defeat, were become, from raw recruits, desperate and veteran soldiers. We reserved our defence of the monarch till he had perished on the scaffold,—our defence of the monarchy till the French Republic was declared "a besieged city, and France a vast camp!" Then we commenced a war with allies who were become anxious for peace, and who, in taking our money, reserved it to pay the expense of the campaign they had finished, without any consideration for the violent inclination for fighting which we had just been seized with. This was the policy which Mr. Pitt asked Mr. Canning if he approved of; this was the policy which Mr. Canning came into parliament to defend, and which he did defend on every occasion, and which he always boasted having defended to his dying day! But it is only a person well acquainted with the House of Commons at this period who could believe that Mr. Canning's defence of such ministerial imbecility received enthusiastic applause! There never was a collection of more glaring contradictions, more gaudy sophisms, than the youthful orator's declamatory harangue. The war was to be pursued because we were victorious; peace was to be refused on account of the successes of the enemy; France was too weak to be respected,—too formidable not to be opposed! As for the sums we were expending, they were insignificant when compared with the objects we had in view. Our ancestors, whose immaculate wisdom Mr. Canning was at that time so fond of citing, would certainly have been astonished to find that those objects were the re-establishment of Spain in its ancient power, and the subjugation of Rome to the authority of the Pope! The heart of any reflecting man must burn within him when he thinks that a sanguinary war was undertaken for the purpose of forcing France out of her undoubted right of choosing her own monarch,—a war which uprooted the very foundation of the English constitution, which declared tyranny eternal, and announced to the people, amidst the thunder of artillery, that, no matter how aggrieved, their only allowable attitude was that of supplication, which, when it told the French reformer of 1793 that his defeat was just, told the British reformer of 1688 his triumphal revolution was treason, forgetting that OUR KING HIMSELF WAS THE CREATURE OF THAT REVOLUTION! After an immense loss of life and treasure, the Bourbons were, for a time, restored to the throne of France, contrary to the wishes of at least nine-tenths of the French people; for the Bourbons had proved themselves incapable of learning Mercy from Misfortune, or Wisdom from Experience. Vindictive in prosperity, servile in defeat, timid in the field, vacillating in the cabinet, their very name had become odious to the ears of a Frenchman, and Napoleon had only to present himself to ensure their precipitate flight. The downfall of that great man, who shed a splendour around royalty unknown to it before, will ever be regretted by the majority of the French people, though British ministers have classed the unhallowed act in the list of their achievements! By the same tyrannical means, a prince was restored to Portugal, who, when his dominions were invaded, his people distracted, his crown in danger, and all that could interest the highest energies of man at issue, left his cause to be combatted by foreigners, and fled, with cowardly precipitation, to claim the shameful protection of Lord Castlereagh and his junta! A wretch was also restored to unhappy Spain, in the person of the "beloved" Ferdinand, who filled his dungeons and fed his rack with the heroic remnant that had braved war, famine, and massacre beneath his banners,—who rewarded Patriotism with a prison, Fidelity with torture, Heroism with the scaffold, and Piety with the inquisition! The royal monster proclaimed his humanity by the number of his death-warrants, and his religious zeal by embroidering petticoats for the blessed virgin! Such were the three dynasties restored by these cruel wars. As to the rest of Europe, how has it been ameliorated?—what solitary benefit have the "deliverers" conferred? If we look back to Lord Castlereagh's treaties of 1814 and 1815, we shall there find that the states of the feeble were given to the powerful, and guarantees made to preserve the institutions of every former tyranny. Saxony, Genoa, Norway, and, above all, unhappy Poland,—that speaking monument of regal murder and "legitimate" robbery, furnish a lamentable illustration of the cruel injustice of these treaties. Italy was also parcelled out to temporizing Austria, and Prussia, after fruitless toil and wreathless triumphs, was mocked with the promise of a visionary constitution; while England was left, eaten by the cancer of an incurable debt, exhausted by poor rates, supporting a "civil" list of near a million and a half annually, guarded by an unconstitutional standing army, misrepresented by the House of Commons, mocked with a military peace, and girt with the fortifications of a war establishment!!! This, frightful as the picture may appear, is but an outline of the miseries that have been produced by our long and sanguinary wars, undertaken to protect the monster of legitimacy, and to crush the rising liberties of an enlightened people! These are the "ACHIEVEMENTS" for which the Duke of Wellington received his title and his enormous wealth, and for which he unblushingly claims the gratitude of Englishmen!!!
While all this misery was being accomplished abroad, how were our ministers employed at home? Why, in feeding the bloated mammoth of sinecure, in weighing the farthings of some poor clerk's salary, in preparing Ireland for a garrison, and England for a poor-house,—in furnishing means for their spendthrift master to erect Chinese palaces, to decorate dragoons with his "tasteful" inventions, to purchase gold and silver baubles, and to load his mistresses and his minions with the produce of the people's industry! We had also, at this period, a "saint" in the Exchequer, who studied Scripture for some purpose: the famishing people cried out for bread, and the pious Vansittart gave them stones! But the idea that a man like Vansittart should entail a debt of above four hundred millions of pounds on the country; the idea that "the least, the meanest" of the Pitt tribe should make the House of Commons vote that the Bank note, worth twenty worn shillings, was as valuable as the guinea worth twenty-seven good ones, will hardly be credited by future generations. The weakest man that ever held office under a crown may well boast that he reduced the parliament of England to the lowest degradation, to the most abject servility, that a public assembly of gentlemen was ever trodden to. Yet, strange as it must appear, it was for such services that this same Vansittart was created—a lord!! Lord Bexley was consequently sent to the "Upper House," as a proof of the high approbation in which his talents were held by his admiring master! In that situation, he has since zealously exerted himself to preserve every existing abuse, and his ill-acquired title has ever figured in the list of those who vote against the people.
To keep up such an iniquitous state of affairs, it was deemed necessary to persecute those who struggled to bring back the constitution to its original principles. Hence the employment of spies and informers; hence systematic massacre, imprisonment, and cruelty; hence the regular manufacture of forged seditious placards for the purpose of affording a pretext for the military execution against the reformers at Manchester and elsewhere; and hence, for such atrocities could happen under no other system upon earth, the murders, the cold-blooded murders, recorded in our preceding pages.
Even the most superficial observer must be convinced that our country has long been gradually degenerating from its greatness, that the most fictitious and speculative means have uniformly been devised to prop her exchequer, and that the most plausible, though, to many, unintelligible, pleas advanced for introducing new taxes and new laws of an arbitrary description, tending to abridge the civil liberties and paralyze the energies of the people. These, however, have eventually failed of producing their desired end. Despotism, and the total thraldom of the mind, Providence will never allow to be the destiny of generous and noble-minded Englishmen,—at least for any length of time. An arbitrary use of power naturally leads to extremes, and these extremes eventually to a crisis, opening the door of dissatisfaction and inquiry, where a stand must be made, rescinding every possibility either of proceeding or of retreating. Is not such our present political situation? And whence, let us again inquire, arises this state of affairs? Surely not to be ascribed to a turbulent disposition or a moral degeneracy of the working classes. It is the grossest deceit and hypocrisy, not to say the most audacious and ungrateful calumny, to stigmatize them with such opprobrium; for never were any people more injured, more oppressed, nor more insulted, than were the tax-payers of England during the last two reigns! Ministers have too long imposed upon the credulity of the timid, by describing every riotous proceeding as the natural consequence of the progress of liberal opinions. The excesses of a few rioters, who most probably knew not the extent of the mischief they were doing, ought not to be attributed to the people generally. Such accusations are a gross libel on the peaceable spirit of Englishmen, and are only used by corrupt and designing men to raise an alarm against liberty; for mischief of this kind may be attributed, with more certainty, to the cowardice, folly, and wickedness of certain public functionaries, liberally paid to prevent such disgraceful exhibitions. But the "church and state" men have never failed to turn riots to the illustration of their own injurious theory. "See!" cry they, exulting over the scene, "the effects of power in the hands of the people!" Yet the people,—that is, the grand mass of the community,—were not at all concerned in effecting the mischief, for who beside such libellers would call an assemblage of all the refuse of society—the people? The first irregularities at Bristol, for instance, might have been suppressed by the slightest exertion of manly spirit; or, indeed, that destructive riot had never commenced but for the headstrong or cowardly, (we hardly know which to call it) conduct of Sir Charles Wetherell, who openly declared that he would insult the Bristol people with his detested person, "if a cannon forced his entrance!" Did not the Tories, then, we ask, both create and feed the riots at Bristol, for the purpose of frightening the people from reform? The people at large, we say, ought not to be blamed for such events; the whole of the culpability belongs to the aiders and abettors of them, and the appointed ministers of the law, in whom the people trust, but have mostly been deceived. This blame, however, has always been laid to the people, while all men of arbitrary principles rejoice at the calamity, as an auspicious event, confirming all their theories, and justifying their practice! But these have been some of the murderous means employed to augment and continue the political torpor of the people of England for the last sixty years. When any appeal to the people was in agitation on the subject of liberty, it was sufficient for Pitt, Liverpool, Castlereagh, Canning, Sidmouth, or any of their minions, to exclaim, "Remember the riots!" and the intended measure was sure to be relinquished immediately, when these despotic ministers chuckled over the success of their scheme, as though they had gained the most splendid victory. The excesses of the French revolution in 1793 were peculiarly grateful to the friends of tyranny in England. While the patriot wept, the factor of despotism triumphantly shouted, "Here is another instance of the people's unfitness to possess power, and the mischievous effects of excessive liberty!" Every art which ingenuity could practise, and influence assist in its operation, was exerted to vilify and misrepresent the real design of the French revolution. From this moment, persecutions were vigorously commenced against patriotism, and it became sedition to hint at parliamentary reform,—the root of the people's grievances. Never, since the expulsion of the Stuarts, were such vigorous laws enforced,—never before did Pitt so exult in the downfall of liberty. He and his followers no longer skulked, no longer walked in masquerade. They boasted of their principles, and claimed the honour of being the only friends to law, order, and religion! They talked of the English laws being too lenient for the punishment of sedition, and the acts consequently introduced for its more effectual suppression were made agreeable to the most refined notions of despotism. The clergy now stood forward in their pulpits, and preached, not the word of God, but that doctrine which led the nearest way to promotion, while many other needy and avaricious men wrote in favour of an arbitrary government. Thus fear in the well-meaning, self-interest in the knavish, and systematic subtlety among the state-secret keepers, caused a general uproar in favour of principles and practices at variance with constitutional liberty, and invested the reigning prince and his mother with all but absolute power. How zealously they took advantage of this state of alarm, our volumes fully explain. The friends of humanity, however, have now cause to rejoice that the film of deception is rapidly disappearing from before the eyes of the people, and that such panic fears, servile sycophantism, and artful bigotry, can no longer prevail over cool reason and liberal philanthropy. Such a feverish delirium has passed away, and sober sense perceives the necessity of destroying the destructive power which held so baneful a sway over English liberty during the last two reigns.
Let our readers also not forget the part which the "established church" acted during this long period of misrule. How many of its ministers sacrificed principle and honesty for the pleasure of basking in the sunshine of the vicious court! Gold was the only god they worshipped, and the political creed of tyrants the only testament they read. Ministerial imbecility could always reckon upon their "holy" services, and, in proportion to the callousness and hypocrisy displayed, they were rewarded with bishopricks, deaneries, and other such well-paid offices,—the duties of which they allowed their poorer brethren to perform at wages something less than a common labourer. It is indeed hardly to be credited that in haughty England, who held up her episcopal head so pompously during the reigns of which we are speaking,—in this very country which groaned, and is still groaning, beneath the overwhelming expenses of keeping up a church establishment,—that the real "labourers in the vineyard" were paid so scantily, that their wages, in thousands of instances, did not amount to those of a journeyman mechanic! Yes, in the very heart of this metropolis were to be found men, on whom the fond and foolish ambition of their parents had been exhausted in bringing them up in this profession, who possessed learning and intellectual refinement, starving in back attics, in filthy courts and alleys. This miserable state of the working clergy was not confined to London alone. In many parts of this country (Wales in particular) it was no uncommon thing for a clergyman, with seven children, to do duty for two parishes, at only ten pounds a year each! And we ourselves are acquainted with a gentleman, sixty-four years of age, who was in the church more than forty years, receiving no sort of promotion during the whole of that long period, because he entertained what are termed "liberal principles," and who has lately been obliged to retire from his scanty pittance, and throw himself on the generosity of his friends for a living in his old age.
Let us now take a glance at the drones of the hive,—the men who have ever shewn a peculiar readiness to make themselves a promotion-ladder out of the wreck of their country's liberties. The income of an Archbishop of Canterbury, exclusive of patronage and other valuable emoluments, is thirty thousand pounds. Most of the bishops are also paid, if not quite so extravagantly, in a degree amply sufficient to keep his grace in countenance. Many beneficed clergymen, particularly the younger sons and brothers of our aristocracy, who are not dignitaries of the church, by holding a plurality of livings, drain the country of incomes, varying from five thousand to twelve thousand pounds a year each. And yet these men neither distinguish themselves (although, as in every large class of society, there are honourable and favourable exceptions) either for their grace, learning, or piety,—the only qualification which they possess being the son, brother, nephew, or cousin of a peer, or commoner possessed of parliamentary influence.
A very able article lately appeared in "Blackwood's Magazine," setting forth the abuses here alluded to in such a clear and bold manner, that we cannot refrain from making the following extract from it:
"The trusts of the church are admitted to be, and used as, patronage in the most vulgar and corrupt sense of the term; and the minister of state who bestows them regularly does it to enrich his connexions, reward his adherents, or bribe his opponents. Why is this man made a bishop? He has been tutor in one noble family or is connected by blood with another, or he enjoys the patronage of some polluted female favourite of royalty, or he is the near relative of a minister, or at the nod of the premier, or he has been a traitor to the church in a matter affecting her existence. Why is this man made a dean? He has married a relative of the home secretary, or he is a turn-coat, who has joined the enemies of the church in the destruction of her securities, or it is necessary to preserve some powerful family from going into the opposition. Why is this stripling invested with an important dignity in the church? He is an illegitimate son of a member of the royal family, or he is the same to some nobleman, or he belongs to a family, which in consideration of it will give the ministry a certain number of votes in parliament. And why is this man endowed with a valuable benefice? He has potent interest, or it will prevent him from giving farther opposition to measures for injuring the church, or he has voted at an election for a ministerial candidate, or his connexions have much electioneering influence, or he is a political tool of the ministry. At the contest for the university of Oxford, which expelled Sir Robert Peel, it was generally asserted, that certain members of the ministry used every effort to gain votes for him by offers of church preferment; or, in other words, they used the property of the church as bribes to induce the clergy to support the assailant of her securities against the defender of them. After the carrying of the catholic question, the preferments, which fell into the hands of some of the apostate bishops or their connexions, proved that these men had been bought with their own property to turn their sacrilegious hands upon her. The disposal of what is called church patronage in this manner is not the exception, but the rule; it is not a matter of secrecy, or one that escapes public observation; it is looked on as a thing of course; and so far has this monstrous abuse been sanctified by custom, that while no one expects to see a vacancy in the church filled according to its merit, the filling of it in the most profligate way scarcely provokes reprobation.
"Let us now look at those appointments in the church which are not in the hands of government. A great number of livings are private property. On what principle are they disposed of? The owners fill them without the least regard for qualification; they practically give them to their relations while yet in the womb or the cradle, and these relatives enter into orders from no other reason than to enjoy them as private fortunes; or clergymen and others buy such livings solely for private benefit. In the appointment of curates, those are chosen who are cheapest, the least formidable as rivals, and, in consequence, the most disqualified; care for the interests of the church is out of the question.
"Then in the general appointment of the functionaries of the church, whether it rest with the government or individuals, qualification is disregarded. These are some of the inevitable consequences:—1st. The office of clergyman is sought by the very last people who ought to receive it. However brainless or profligate a youth may be, he still must enter into holy orders, because his friends have property or interest in the church; perhaps they select him for it in preference to his brothers, because he happens to be the dunce of the family. 2ndly. The system directly operates, not only to keep ability and piety at the lowest point amidst the clergy, but to render that portion of them which may be forced into orders useless to the church. 3rdly. The clergy and laity are separated from and arranged against each other. The minister has no interest in conciliating, preserving, and increasing the flock; its favour cannot benefit, and its hostility cannot injure, him. To give all this the most comprehensive powers of mischief, almost any man may, so far as concerns ability and character, gain admission into holy orders. A clergyman may be destitute of religious feelings, he may be grossly immoral, he may discharge his duties in the most incompetent manner, and lose his flock; he may do almost any thing short of legal crime, and still he will neither forfeit his living, nor draw on himself any punishment."
All unbiassed individuals must acknowledge the likeness of the picture here drawn, notwithstanding the high Tory quarter from which it is painted. We are willing to acknowledge that these abuses have been practised ever since the unholy alliance between church and state; but they were certainly carried to a greater extent in the last two reigns than previously known. The whole church-system, indeed, presented this anomalous, inconsistent, but distinguishing feature: while the country was drained for its support, the actual working clergy, as we have shewn, were paid as the most degraded parish hacks; when the enormous revenue which the system produced, and which was amply sufficient to support the whole, by a proper equalization, in comfort and respectability, was swallowed up by a few court-sycophants, who were pampered by the very excess produced by the starvation and degradation of their less fortunate (or more conscientious?) brethren! Little serious amendment in the particulars here complained of, however, can be reasonably expected, till this all-corrupting and derogatory alliance of God and mammon shall be severed; for never have we so much cause for fear as when the enemies of public freedom are concealed under the garb of sanctity. The spiritual peers themselves seem fully determined to hasten this "consummation so devoutly to be wished;" for they must have but little foresight if they cannot see that their mad opposition to the wishes of a united and determined people will, ere long, bring their already dilapidated building about their own ears.
Every person who will not abjectly resign his common understanding, and will bend his mind to investigate, IMPARTIALLY, what has been passing ever since the landing of Queen Charlotte upon our shores, must be satisfied of the bitter provocations which the British public have received,—the indignation arising from which has now burst forth, never to subside till some reparation be made. There are appointed limits to every evil; there are periods when things must reach their utmost boundary; when even forbearance becomes a crime. Such has been the issue of the long-concealed mysteries of state. Englishmen, we trust, will no more tolerate tyrannous power, murderous injustice, and oppressive enactments. The march of intellect has proclaimed her inquisitorial privileges; the enlightened understanding of the people of 1832 have discovered, to the utter dismay of tyranny, that no satisfactory reason can be assigned for the enormous load of taxation with which they have so long been oppressed. The discovery is now made, that there is no justice for the poor man, or man of inferior grade; but that all enactments have been scrupulously made in favour of the rich and the great. Impunity has been their privilege, while the mass of the community were forced to subscribe to the bitter penalty. Times have been, we are sorry to say, when even MURDER, if committed by rank, might be glossed over by a privy council, while the poor man, agonized by the reflections of his own accusing mind, was coldly, and even with asperity, consigned to the gallows! The lady of rank,—even of the highest,—might have an illegitimate offspring, and secretly hide her shame by consigning it to an asylum; but the poor woman, who had strayed from the path of virtue, through poverty, must be confronted with the moralizing, austere, brow-beating, clerical magistrate, reproached for her unfortunate lapse from rectitude, and be committed to the treadmill! Such an unequal administration of justice, we repeat, has been; but God grant that it may never occur again!
The present emancipation of the human mind from ignorance and vassalage, through the medium of dauntless and cheap publications, has discovered to all classes of the community that the administration of our national affairs have never been satisfactorily explained; that all has been artifice and delusion; that the rulers of the country have assumed to themselves an extraordinary stretch of power,—a power above law,—employing the country's revenues in enriching themselves, corrupting the sources of justice, and plotting schemes against the happiness of mankind generally. Hence, the people, weary of their burdens, with no prospect presented to them of having their condition ameliorated by their rulers, and disgusted with those who have so constantly deluded and insulted them, have at last been goaded into the exhibition of a determined spirit no longer to submit their privileges and their liberties to such a state of misrule. They have, indeed, as if with one accord, protested against all further fraud, imposition, and slavery. They are determined to have a parliament of their own selecting, and to demand that the principles and legitimate rights of the British constitution be restored to their pristine vigour.
It may here be proper to inquire, "Who and what are they that have so long opposed the just rights of the people?" Is there a member of the House of Lords who has been elevated to the peerage for the last sixty years and upwards, excepting some few individuals in the army and navy, who does not owe his wealth and title to his weight, interest, and exertions to further and perpetuate the corruption of the House of Commons, or for some courtly servility or secret crime committed to pamper the self-love, or to gratify the vindictive feelings, of their royal patrons? Let the facts recorded in our volumes supply the answer. The PEOPLE, however, are not now to be blinded with the glitter of nobility, or their ears startled by the pompous-sounding title of "My lord." They will rather view such ennobled characters in the light of enemies to their country, and pensioners on their industry. They have exhibited themselves as a proud, arbitrary, and selfish faction, leagued against the spirit of liberty, and anxious for nothing but their own individual aggrandizement. But as all unconstitutional power, sooner or later, is sure to over-reach itself, they have, by their exactions, frauds, and galling oppressions, sown the seeds of their own destruction. The people of England are naturally of an easy and contented disposition; but even their inherent generosity will not brook being treated exactly like the subjects of Russian Nicholas,—the assassin of the gallant Poles!
In recurring to the period of Queen Charlotte's tyranny, the enlightened mind must feel petrified at the callous delinquency displayed by her ministers. It is indeed hardly to be credited, that she should have found men,—we will not say English-men, because some were of another country,—so congenial to her own views and sentiments. To paint this German princess and her adherents in their proper colours would be impossible; but every crime and enormity was sanctioned in her reign (for George the Third was a mere cypher in the affairs of state) that crime and enormity can be supposed to comprehend; spoliation, murder, incest, espionage, sanguinary plottings, the most inhuman outrages, persecution, and oppression were of common occurrence. Who, we ask, was the secret contriver, aider, and abettor of most of the ills Queen Caroline endured? Who pocketted enormous sums from the illegal sale of cadetships? Who made unfair use of government information to speculate in the funds for the sake of "filthy lucre?" Who indulged in improper intimacies with that wholesale inventor of taxes, William Pitt? Who conceived some of the diabolical plots, executed, too fatally executed, against the holders of her favourite prince's bonds? And who wrote, as well as commanded to be written, such tender, comforting, and promising letters to the late Dr. Croft, just before and immediately after the execution of that cold-blooded deed,—the murder of Princess Charlotte? The answers will easily be supplied by the intelligent reader. But let us hope the day of retribution is fast approaching, when Justice will preside at the examination of all the circumstances attending that most unnatural act,—the foulest, blackest crime "that ever yet this land was guilty of." Had the secret actions of Queen Charlotte been generally known in her life, she would have appeared the basest and most abandoned of women; but the deception and shew of virtue which she so artfully practised made people think her the most amiable of queens. Had she not have shielded her myrmidons from exposure, they would, long ago, have appeared to the public eye as a class of beings of the basest and most odious description. Impeachment had followed impeachment, and the law would have denounced them as men who had violated every principle of honour, of humanity, and of Christianity!
Some of our readers may probably view these reproaches as unmerited aspersions, or hateful invectives, proceeding from a vindictive, malignant, and democratic spirit, and their author deserving to be anathematized as the most execrable of the human race. But Truth, irrefragable Truth, is our defence; she has now burst her bonds, and will no longer be prevented, by the threats of power, from boldly speaking out! Common observation, indeed, might have ascertained that the unnatural and usurped power, which so long controlled the destinies of this country, was of a foreign character, and totally at variance with the constitution and chartered rights of Englishmen! Did not Junius expose the illegality of this power? and did not the noble-minded Chatham remonstrate against it? But though Tyranny and Corruption trembled to their very centres at the attacks of these champions of liberty, the base fabricks remained unimpaired till the death of their mistress,—the puissant Charlotte of Mecklenburgh Strelitz!
We come now more immediately to the consideration of those political transactions that ensued when the final incapacity of George the Third to discharge the duties of his sovereignty was made known. At this period, Queen Charlotte, in collusion with her hopeful son, the Prince of Wales, came into full power, which she exercised with a spirit truly in accordance with her restless ambition and mercenary desires. A system of despotism, veiled under the specious garb of piety and the country's safety, was immediately put in force; and new taxes levied under various pretences, but in reality for the purpose of bestowing wealth on her zealous adherents. Indeed, in every proposition of the "devourers of the public wealth," for increasing the amount of "SECRET-SERVICE MONEY," a zealous abettor was always found in the queen. German craft is never at a loss for deceptive plans, nor is German prejudice easily pacified. No machinations were too hideous, nor too infamous, when suggested by the one to gratify the other. If the queen and her son had gained what they strenuously endeavoured to obtain—ABSOLUTE POWER—who would not have justly felt alarm, not merely for the liberties of his country, but for his own individual safety? The proscriptions of the Roman Decemviri and the more recent and horrible cruelties of the French Robespierre are appalling instances of what people CAN DO when armed with absolute power. Had these guardians of the British public, therefore, but succeeded in obtaining such power, to what lengths they would have gone may be estimated by the crimes they actually did commit and countenance without it! Where would the voice of mercy have prevailed on them to sheath the sword of persecution? Their ministers, by distorting the constitution from its original meaning, presumed to tear Englishmen from the bosom of their families, without any assigned cause, loading them with irons, and immolating them in damp and dreary dungeons! Some actually died, horrible as the fact may appear, under this treatment, while the survivers were released without any investigation, without any trial whatever,—nay, without their even being made acquainted with the nature of the suspected offence,—and denied the slightest redress for their cruel injuries! Considering, we say, that such monstrous injustice was practised, it is not too much to suppose that, with absolute power, the same parties would have erected the triangle at the Royal Exchange and at the Mews! We might then have expected to see Englishmen running naked through the streets of London, with caps of burning pitch upon their heads, and blood streaming from their lacerated bodies, or observed them hanging on the lamp-posts, or before their burning dwellings! Did not these horrors actually take place in Ireland in the years 1797 and 1798, when the tyrannical Castlereagh held a public situation in that betrayed, forlorn, and persecuted country? At the very time these atrocities were committed in Ireland, spies, informers, executioners, and all the refuse of society, were employed as the principal instruments of Castlereagh's government; and when Queen Charlotte and her son made that Hibernian monster minister of this country, Castle, Oliver, and Edwards, with many other such wretches, shared the smiles and favours of himself and his colleagues.
The history of Caroline of Brunswick, in whose unhappy fate every person possessed of Christian feeling and principle must be interested, also fully evinces the hateful passions of Queen Charlotte's heart. That victim of a detestable conspiracy was the object of a sanguinary determination from the moment she so unhappily came over to this kingdom. Queen Charlotte, finding herself then defeated in the ambitious desire she had always cherished, that one of her own relations should be the future queen of England, became this noble-minded woman's most uncompromising and inveterate enemy. Into the highest favour and most unlimited confidence, her majesty now received the abandoned Lady Jersey, though she pretended, with so much austerity, to preserve the unsullied PURITY OF HER COURT; but this pretension was only made the better to impose upon the country, and to effect the destruction of the guiltless and unoffending niece of the king her husband! Her majesty, however, did not live to see such a wicked scheme accomplished.
When the husband of the unfortunate Caroline attained, by the death of his father, to regal authority, surrounded by the titled hirelings of his own creation and the dependants on his bounty, he judged the opportunity peculiarly favourable to the final ruin of his long-persecuted consort. Every plot, therefore, that could be devised by a servile ministry and a corrupt parliament, was put into active operation for the purpose of depriving her of those constitutional rights which the demise of George the Third had entitled her to expect. The Duke of York stipulated with the king that, in the event of a divorce being granted, his majesty should not marry again,—otherwise, he threatened to take part with Queen Caroline! So much for the consistency, love of duty, and purity of motive, which the duke boasted in the House of Lords as solely actuating him in the line of conduct he had followed in opposing the queen!
The injurious reports which ministers circulated regarding Queen Caroline's conduct rendered it impossible for her majesty to remain abroad, even if she had so wished; for they presumed to treat her as the most abandoned of the human race, and therefore it became necessary for any virtuous woman, thus publicly accused, to appear in person, and assert her innocence. In the whole management of the ensuing "trial" against this ill-fated queen, justice, feeling, honour, and common sense were all equally outraged! What was the tribunal before which her majesty was called? How was it constituted? Who sat there "to administer evenhanded justice?" The ministers who brought forward the charges against their queen, the officers of the king's household, two of the king's brothers, with many other noble persons closely connected with the court, who held places and pensions at its will, and looked up to it for new honours, for patronage, for wealth, and for power! Were such people, then, calculated to administer justice? Justice, indeed! Was the refusing a list even of the names of the witnesses impartial justice? Was it impartial British justice, when the ministers of the king sat as judges, jurors, and accusers? Like triple-headed monsters, did they not, in that joint capacity, most profligately bribe, clothe, feed, house, and amuse a horde of discarded miscreant Italian servants? Was the instructing, drilling, marshalling, living, and conversing all together of these wretches, who were watched and kept under lock and key by these Cerberi, an example of the impartiality of British justice? Was the permitting the witnesses instantly to return to their den and communicate all their evidence to those who had not been before the House of Lords another proof of the impartiality of what is commonly termed "the highest court of judicature of the first nation in Europe?" Was the treating her majesty as guilty before her trial a fair specimen of the beauty of this court? Monstrous profanation of terms! Was ever common sense so insulted? Was justice ever so outraged? Were those iniquitous proceedings an evidence of that
When the law-officers of the crown declared, that "there existed no grounds upon which legal proceedings could be instituted," two obvious and distinct paths were open to ministers. They had their election to advise, either that her majesty should return to this country with all the honours and constitutional privileges belonging to her high station, or else that she should be prevailed upon to establish her court abroad. Yet ministers determined to deviate into a dark and crooked path. They did not venture openly to advise that the queen should return; and yet, as if determined that she should come to this country, they took care to render it impossible for her to remain abroad! Was not the name of the noble-minded Caroline insultingly excluded from the Liturgy? And what reason was assigned for so unjustifiable a proceeding? The Archbishop of Canterbury and other church pluralists gave this: "If any defiled name should there be inserted, the principles of morality would be invaded, the foundations of religion would be sapped, and the destruction of our constitution must inevitably follow!" Now, even allowing the queen to have been the abandoned character represented by her hireling enemies,—nay, more, had she been a MURDERESS,—these impudent and canting hypocrites need not have searched far for a precedent to prove her eligibility for a place in the Liturgy! Were Henry the Eighth, Queen Mary, Charles the Second and his queen, James the Second and his queen, all pure and undefiled? But the place-hunting clergy need not have gone out of their own generation for an example of infamy. What were Queen Charlotte, George the Fourth, the Duke of York, or, though last, not least in the VIRTUES of his family, the undefiled Ernest of Cumberland? Our volumes fully explain what they were! and yet their names graced the Liturgy, as the Attorney-General has declared that the words "Royal Family" comprehend all the individuals of the royal family. But it may be objected that the names of York and Cumberland were not specifically mentioned in the days of Queen Caroline's persecutions. Well, then, the Prince of Wales' name, at least, did figure in our Prayer Book, and was he "pure and undefiled?" The pious sons of the church formally prayed that "God would endue him with his holy spirit," &c.; but it did not appear, by his actions, that their prayers produced the least effect. When he became king, he was prayed for, "to be endued with heavenly gifts, to incline to the will of God, and walk in his ways." Did his infamous conduct to his wife, and his living in open adultery with the Marchioness of Conyngham and others, qualify him for a place in the prayers of the church, as "pure and undefiled?" If ministers, therefore, consented to deprive the queen of this dignity, because of her imputed immorality, might it not have proved a precedent against George the Fourth himself? The lawyers, even Lord Eldon, if it had suited his purpose, might have afterwards cited the case of Caroline as a case in point, while the country could not refuse to dethrone the king on the same plea as they had dethroned the queen, more particularly as it was so easy a matter to prove the gross adultery and immorality of George the Fourth; for his derelictions from virtue were as notorious as the sun at noon-day. Would to heaven, we say, that a king might have been dethroned for immoral conduct, as the world had not then been so cursed with their atrocious deeds. When at foreign courts, her majesty justly claimed the honours pertaining to her exalted rank, but was insultingly told that she was not known as a queen! Thus subjected, untried and unheard, to every indignity which could only have followed upon proof and condemnation, her majesty had no alternative left but to return to England, and boldly face her mean-spirited and unmanly enemies. Had her title been proclaimed, had foreign courts been instructed to receive her with the honours due to a queen of England, her continuing to remain abroad would not have worn the appearance of shrinking from the defence of her reputation,—a fear to which she was utterly a stranger. Her noble soul scorned danger; for a braver heart than her's never beat in human breast. But her husband's ministers rendered her absence from this country incompatible with her honour; they forced her to return, and they, and they alone, were responsible for all the mischief that might have ensued to the country from such an unavoidable step on the part of the queen. No one, we think, will doubt that the most serious mischief would have occurred, if these men had persisted in their headlong career. But, like all cowards, when they found the danger hovering over their own heads, they shrunk from the contest, and took refuge in a timely retreat!
Nothing in the whole history of human suffering could equal the wrongs of her majesty. With respect to the bill of Pains and Penalties, the various records of persecution may be searched in vain for a case so foul, so false, so full of premeditated and disciplined perjury,—the inquest on Sellis was JUSTICE when compared with this, though the hand of Lord Ellenborough may be traced in both. The mock "trial" of Caroline, Queen of England, we say, cannot be matched for rancour, cruelty, for monstrous and unnatural malignity. There never was a case at all like it: it is without an example in history, and can never become a precedent; for future generations will read it with pity and with horror. The foul charges preferred against the queen by the lowest of the low were disproved by noblemen of the first consideration, by ladies of the highest rank and of the most unblemished honour, by gentlemen of family, of education, and integrity, and by distinguished and gallant soldiers. The evidence of such respectable characters as these present a picture of her majesty which future generations will admire and venerate. But it is impossible that impartial and discerning Englishmen should believe that the "Bill of Pains and Penalties," nominally aimed against the queen, had not, for its main objects, the doing away with trial by jury and the liberty of the press, and, on their ruins, to establish a system of absolute despotism. Whether these effects were originally foreseen and intended by the sagacious projectors of that wicked measure, is a matter of little importance; it is quite obvious that such would have been its consequences. The place-loving Lord Eldon, however, tried hard to make people believe that bills of Pains and Penalties were then "part and parcel" of the constitution of the kingdom. But a trial of such an indescribably infamous description was never before attempted; and even if it had been, Lord Eldon, as a good chancellor, ought to have declared against it, instead of attempting to defend and perpetuate it. With overbearing oligarchs, any sort of precedent was deemed sufficient; and it is rather wonderful that they did not, by the help of precedent, endeavour to re-establish the Star Chamber! If they had succeeded in such a point, the first of the kind attempted in modern times, the faction would, doubtless, have considered themselves authorised, whenever it had suited their views, to proceed by a bill of Pains and Penalties against any obnoxious individual, instead of going before a common jury! To establish such a monstrous system, we repeat, was one of the real, though disguised, objects of ministers, in the prosecution of Queen Caroline; for they perceived the progress of political knowledge, and felt alarmed lest they should lose their arbitrary authority, if they could not adopt some such tyrannical measure to frighten the people into obedience. It was the glorious majesty of the press that bravely defeated such infamous machinations against liberty, for which future generations will have cause to venerate and worship it.
The queen, however, was most grievously slandered and ill-treated by the Tory portion of public writers. Nothing, indeed, could have been more villanous than the charges which blackened the columns of certain newspapers,—journals that, in their general colouring, were too foul and too dark to obtain belief. Well remunerated by government, the scurrilous editors of such libels against female majesty appeared to exult in the pain they inflicted; so long as they satisfied the hateful revenge of their abandoned employers, their end was answered. However much such prostitution of talent is to be lamented, there was yet a worse crime committed by the enemies of Queen Caroline. The ministers of the "established" church scrupled not to take part against her, and, instead of confining themselves to the exposition of the mild and forbearing doctrines of the Christian religion, not unfrequently indulged their wicked disloyalty by delivering the most foul and blasphemous denunciations against their queen, even from the pulpit! This, of course, could only be done with a view of pleasing those who had "rich livings" to reward their misplaced zeal. One of these contemptible reverends, by the name of Blacow, was so violent against her majesty, that the queen's law-advisers thought it right to punish his impertinence by an action, in the Court of King's Bench, for a malicious libel, which was contained in a sermon preached by him in St. Mark's Church, Liverpool, and which was afterwards published in the shape of a pamphlet. The jury having found the reverend defendant guilty, the following sentence was passed upon him by the presiding judge:
"The defendant," Mr. Justice Bailey said, "had been convicted of a libel, contained in a sermon preached by him. He was a clergyman, and had uttered the libel within the church. It was, he rejoiced to say, a rare instance of so sacred a place being corrupted to such purposes(?). Of all other places, the house of God, where charity and brotherly love alone should be inculcated, was the last which should be made a theatre for attacks upon the characters of living persons. Every man had enough to do to look to his own character, and it was not necessary to go abroad and make ourselves inquisitors into those of others. This libel was uttered at a time, and upon a subject, upon which there was no great unanimity of thinking, and was therefore, in its nature, calculated to excite far other feelings than such as ought to be indulged in within an edifice devoted to God. The defendant had exercised a most wise discretion to-day, in the line of conduct which he had adopted; and the court had reason to believe that, looking back to his past conduct, he felt contrition for what he had already done. Under all these circumstances, the court having taken the whole matter into their consideration, did order and adjudge that, for this offence, the defendant was to pay to the king a fine of one hundred pounds, be imprisoned in the King's Bench Prison for six months, and, at the end of that time, give securities for his good behaviour for five years, himself in five hundred pounds, and two sureties in one hundred pounds each, and to be further imprisoned until these sureties are perfected."
Thus foiled in patronizing clergymen and public writers to vilify their queen, as well as being compelled to abandon the "Bill of Pains and Penalties," ministers began to feel alarmed lest her majesty should publish an exposition of those state secrets and crimes, which she had so frequently threatened. A more certain plan, therefore, to rid themselves and their abandoned king from this dread of certain disgrace, if not of entire ruin, was now secretly put in force; and her majesty was devoted to a premature end, as we have before explained. One thing, however, we have forgotten to mention in our account of that period, which is this: Lord P——, one of the then ministers, and who is now a member of the Whig government, was fatally correct in FORETELLING the death of this injured woman; for he very incautiously said, in a letter to a friend, "The Queen will be dead in less than fourteen days!" The letter containing this fatal prediction is now in being; but we could not prevail upon its possessor to allow us to publish a copy of it.
If we have been too prolix in our account or too severe in our remarks respecting our late basely-treated queen, we hope our readers will excuse us. We certainly might say much more, but the subject being one of importance to history, we could not reconcile it with our duty to say less. We are sure every generous-minded Briton will lament, with us, the untimely end of her majesty. Alas! that the page of history should be darkened by such foul transactions as Truth has obliged us to record! Thousands and tens of thousands of the hard-earned money of the tax-payers of this kingdom, with the pledge of peerages to add to the "illustrious dignity" of the House of Lords, were presented to the persons who effected these diabolical acts of atrocity. The money might possibly have been paid; but, in one or two instances, the perpetrators of these sanguinary deeds became too remorse-stricken to wait for the honours of nobility, and made their exit from the world by committing suicide!
The public must have been frequently surprised at the number of persons, of obscure origin, who, without having either distinguished themselves in the world by their talents, or conferred the least benefit upon their country, were ennobled, loaded with wealth, and received into favour, by the profligate George the Fourth. But the following anecdotes, among many others that might be adduced, will explain to our readers the secret causes of such advancement.
Mr. William Knighton was a surgeon, and in his professional capacity attended Sir John M'Mahon (whose numerous villanies we have before set forth) in his last illness, and immediately upon his decease took possession of all his papers, and carried them away, under pretence that M'Mahon had given them to him. When the prince's grief had a little subsided, he went for these papers, but, to his great surprise and consternation, found all the drawers empty! He sent for Mr. Knighton, and asked him about the matter. "Yes," said Knighton, "M'Mahon gave them to me!" "But you mean, of course, to restore them?" "Yes, certainly; but only upon a proper remuneration." "Oh!" said the regent, "I always meant to give you M'Mahon's place!" Nor could he do less, since he then had made himself master, not only of the private secrets, but public ones also, which were of the greatest possible consequence. The Duchess of Gloucester was present at this dialogue between her brother the Prince Regent and Mr. Knighton. Our informant had this account from her royal highness' own lips, who also added, "And so my poor brother is obliged to keep this viper about him!" But the ministers said, "The prince may entrust his future secretary with his private affairs, but his public ones belong to us alone, as keepers of his conscience." Mr. Knighton, however, was compensated for this "loss of secrets" by receiving the honour of knighthood. He was also employed to deliver a certain titled lady of an illegitimate child, in Hanover-square, and his faithfulness, in keeping this secret from the public, was rewarded by making him a present of the house, most elegantly furnished, in which the disgraceful affair took place!!! Sir William Knighton had likewise a thousand pounds per annum for his professional attendance on the king!!!
Sir Benjamin Bloomfield, who was some time private secretary to his late majesty, also acquired place and wealth by possessing himself of his master's private transactions. This gentleman was sent from Windsor, by George the Fourth, to the Earl of Liverpool with a large bill for diamonds due to Messrs. Rundell & Co., and for money to pay it. The bill was so large (seventy thousand pounds) that the prime minister insisted upon knowing who these diamonds were for. Sir Benjamin very reluctantly confessed that they had been purchased for Lady Conyngham! Lord Liverpool instantly took Bloomfield with him in his own carriage to Windsor, and requested an audience of the king. His lordship, much to his credit, emphatically told his majesty that Sir B. Bloomfield must resign, or he himself would. The king was so enraged with his secretary for informing the earl of these particulars, that he struck Bloomfield a violent blow, when the mortified knight quickly asked, "Who poisoned the Princess Charlotte?" It was owing to this circumstance that Bloomfield was sent as ambassador to Sweden, into honourable exile, and, to soothe his wounded pride and prevent his exposure of certain infamous transactions, in which he himself had acted a very prominent part, he was shortly after created—a Lord!!! A good round sum of money was also given him to hush up the matter. We cannot help admiring the conduct of Lord Liverpool in this instance,—the only one, that we are acquainted with, which deserved the thanks of his country; for his lordship boldly refused to pay for the aforesaid diamonds without the consent of parliament, which the king, for shame, could not agree to!
The Duke of Wellington, who has been frequently termed the mushroom duke, obtained his wealth and titles for exposing the brave army of England to unnecessary dangers and hardships. The position which he chose for that army at Waterloo would have assuredly proved its entire destruction, if it had not been for the treachery of Field Marshal Grouchy, one of Napoleon's generals! But the Wellesley family were in possession of the STATE-SECRETS, and it was therefore deemed prudent to shower wealth and honours upon the whole family.
Mr. Conant, the chief magistrate of Bow-street, was knighted for conducting the secret investigation against the Princess of Wales in 1813.
The Marquis of Conyngham, it is well known, obtained his title through the prostitution of his wife to the libertine George the Fourth. The baneful influence which this designing woman exercised over his majesty, to the very last moments of his life, is a deplorable fact, which not only proved mischievous to the best interests of the country, but will for ever brand the name of her contemptible husband with derision and disgust. This shameless mistress stood as the fountain of emolument and preferment, and she took every advantage of that situation to promote the aggrandizement of her family. The indulgent country, however, would hardly have found fault with this second, Mrs. Clarke, had not, in some instances, the very laws of the constitution been infringed, and the domestic policy of the country become endangered, by the effects of her improper influence, which, as it was secret, was fraught with the greater injury. Had the marchioness confined herself to benefitting her own family, the mischief would not have been so deplorable; but when the highest offices in the church were bestowed on persons scarcely before heard of,—when political parties rose and fell, and ministers were created and deposed, to gratify the ambition of a prostitute,—then the palace of the king appeared as if surrounded by some pestilential air, and every honourable person avoided the court as alike fatal to private property and public virtue. Thus the entrance to Windsor Castle became, as it were, hermetically sealed, by the "lusty enchantress" within, to all but her favoured minions! The court of George the Fourth certainly differed from that of Charles the Second, although the number and reputation of their several mistresses were nearly the same in favour and character; but George the Fourth had no confiscations to confer on the instruments of his pleasure, and therefore took care to rob the country of gold to make up such deficiency. The reigns of these two monarchs, dissimilar as they might be in some respects, nevertheless possessed this resemblance: that an illegitimate progeny of royalty were thrust forward to the contempt of all decency, and proved a heavy tax on the forbearance of virtuous society. The wicked George the Fourth, as we have been very credibly informed, gave the Marchioness of Conyngham more than half a million of money, as well as bestowing many titles to gratify her insatiable ambition. We really have no words to express our abhorrence of such proceedings!
Towards the close of George the Fourth's wicked career, he pretended to be very much attached to the drama, and that accomplished and fascinating actress, Miss Chester, was therefore engaged as READER to his majesty. Sir Thomas Lawrence, at that time engaged in taking a portrait of this lady, as well as one of the king, was entrusted with the delicate negotiation. A meeting was soon obtained, and a kind of excuse adopted to have Miss Chester near the king's person, as "PRIVATE READER," at an annual salary of six hundred pounds! Thus was another beauty added to the royal establishment, and her name emblazoned in the "red book" of the country's burdens. For the kind attentions this lady bestowed on the "polished" monarch, she has lately been admitted to that refuge for royal mistresses, titled dames, and pensioned members of the aristocracy—Hampton-Court Palace! Without disputing Miss Chester's claims to be maintained at the public expense among the noble drones there domiciled, it is not without something like disgust and indignation that we view one of our most ancient kingly edifices, built by the liberality of the nation, and at this moment supported by the public purse, being converted into an asylum of this description. Englishmen are thus taxed to support the paramours, and minions of royalty in ease and luxury! But we need not confine our indignation to this one royal residence; for is not Bushy Park within a mile of Hampton, where the progeny of an actress kept at that place form now a portion of our noble aristocracy? We do not charge these unworthy doings exclusively on the Tories; for, alas! the Grey Whigs seem to be treading very closely in the footsteps of their predecessors in office, by tolerating such royal doings, as well as filling their own pockets and that of their families.
From such disreputable means of acquiring title and wealth, England has long been imposed on, and the ancient nobility of the country degraded. Any pre-eminent degree of merit, if exercised for the country's benefit, was sure to render its possessor a certain object of George the Fourth's vengeance. His private court, therefore, found their best security in their want of virtue. By a voluntary submission to the tyrant's caprices, they retained the high privilege of his smile and favour, and built the bulwark of their safety on their own personal insignificance! And yet, strange as the infatuation may appear, these very creatures fancied their nature had undergone a real metamorphosis by his majesty granting them a title; they considered themselves refined by a kind of chemical process, sublimed by the sunshine of royal favour, and thus separated from the dross and the dregs of ordinary humanity,—from that humanity of which the mass of mankind partake, and which, contemptible as it may seem to upstart lords, is the same with the prince upon the throne and the beggar upon the dunghill. But from such proud characters, we may trace the present contempt in which nobility is almost universally held. The great endeavour of George the Fourth's favourites has been to keep "the people" at a distance, lest their own purer nature should be contaminated by plebeian society; and the first lesson they teach their offspring is, not to revere God, but to maintain their own dignity in the scale of being! To men of such principles, the king had only to make his wishes known, however monstrous and unjust they might be, and they were immediately, and, in too many cases, fatally executed. Under such a government as that of the last sixty years and upwards, it was fortunate indeed to escape notice,—to creep through the vale of obscurity, and to die in old age, without the prison, the pointed steel, or the poisoned cup! From a vigorous mind, in every way calculated to find pleasure and honourable employment in noble and virtuous actions, George the Fourth degenerated into a monster, delighting in baubles and in a wantonness of wickedness that produced the most flagitious habits, and which rendered him the most despicable man in the whole circle of society; yet he was designated "the most accomplished gentleman of the age!!!" We are aware that he was surrounded with flatterers and sycophants, who wished to gratify their own avarice and pride by extending his tyrannical power; but ought such a mean excuse to be urged in extenuation of his crimes? A man, like him, endowed with nature's choicest gifts, both of mind and body, which were farther heightened by the most liberal education, should have spurned such minions from his presence, and kept company with none but the virtuous and the patriotic. Away, then, with that vindication of George the Fourth's unjust deeds, which would fix the stigma of crimes, prompted by his own love of sensuality, to the "advice of evil counsellors!" Evil counsellors would not have dared to present him the cup of flattery, if he had not shewn himself so greedily desirous of swallowing its contents. Let every friend of man and of his country, then, guard against two similar reigns of horror, and defy, as we do, fines and imprisonment, in attempting, by every lawful and rational means, to push back the gigantic strides of tyranny, whether in a king or an overbearing ministry. Even now we are cursed with a power, generated by Queen Charlotte and the late king, her son, which is trying, by every scheme of ingenuity and desperation, to bring back its former unjust, intolerant, and corrupt ascendency, both in church and state; but who is there that can contemplate the possibility of such a state of affairs occurring again, without feelings of horror? What man in the possession of his senses but would exclaim against the national misfortune of having another Pitt, a Liverpool, a Londonderry, a Canning, or a Wellington, in power? Awful, however, as the havoc appears which these men have made, the country need not yet give itself up to despair. We believe that there is a fund of vigour in the empire that may stand experiments, the least of which would shake the sickly frames of other empires to dissolution. There is probably no dominion on earth that has within itself so strong a repulsion of injury, or so vivid and rapid a spring and force of restoration. Its strength is renewed like that of the young eagle; and it is this very faculty of self-restoration that has so long allowed the empire to hold together, notwithstanding the infinite speculations, tamperings, absurdities, and crimes of men in power, under the guidance of Queen Charlotte and George the Fourth. Yet is it right that England should be kept merely above bankruptcy, while she has the original power of being the first, most vigorous, richest, and happiest portion of the world? Where does the earth contain a people so palpably marked out for superiority in all the means of private and public enjoyment of affluence, influence, and security? The most industrious, strong-minded, and fully-educated population of the world inhabit her island. She has the finest opportunities for commerce, the most indefatigable and sagacious efforts and contrivances for every necessity and luxury of mankind; inexhaustible mines of the most valuable minerals, and almost the exclusive possession of the most valuable of them all,—COAL; a singularly healthy and genial climate, where the human form naturally shapes itself into the most complete beauty and vigour; a situation the most happily fixed by Providence for a great people destined to influence Europe,—close enough to the Continent to watch every movement, and influence the good or peril of every kingdom of it from Russia to Turkey, and yet secured from the sudden shocks and casualties of European war by the Channel, of all defences, the cheapest, the most permanent, and the most impregnable!
When these immense and enviable advantages are compared with the present state of England, heavy indeed must the sins of our rulers appear! But a new class and character of hostility is now happily starting up to oppose further inroads upon our liberties, and the question will speedily be brought to a decision, not between the obsolete and formal parties of the two houses of parliament, but between the Treasury bench and the delegates of "the people,"—that people itself shewing a bold and virtuous character, commissioning its representatives with a voice of authority, and exhibiting a rigid determination to see that their duty is done, unexampled in the history of Britain! This is the kind of spirit that has long been wanted, and we look to it as the sure cure for the decaying vitality of the constitution. We are no advocates for a revolution brought about by popular passion, by the vulgar artifice of vulgar demi-gods, by the itinerant inflammation of pretended patriotism; but the present state of public feeling appeals not to the ambition of the democrat, to the baseness of the incendiary, the sordidness of the plunderer, or the fury of the assassin. There is nothing in it but the natural expression of honourable minds, disdaining to look calmly upon injustice, extortion, and royal profligacy, whether practised by Whig or Tory, and however sanctioned by time. The people are indignant at the callous venality of public men, and feel themselves insulted by the open spoil which bloated sinecurists and state-secret keepers have so long committed upon the honest gains of society. They cannot see the necessity of that strangling burthen of taxes which makes industry as poor as idleness, and they shrink from the view of their withering effect on the freedom and prosperity of England. The people who observe matters in this light are not the wild haters of all governments, nor the sullen conspirators against the peace of mankind; but the father of the industrious family, the man of genius, honesty, and virtue, the sincere patriot, are those who now feel themselves compelled to come from their willing obscurity into the front rank of public care, to raise up their voices, till now never heard beyond the study or the fireside, and demand that the House of Commons shall at last throw off its fetters, scorn the indolence, meanness, and venality of the Upper House, knowing no impulse but its duty, no patronage but that of public gratitude, and no party but its country! Such feelings are so just, that they have become universal, and so universal, that they have become IRRESISTIBLE! The minister, be he Whig or Tory, must yield to them, or he instantly descends from his power. All candidates for public distinction will thus be compelled to discover that the most prudent choice, as well as the most manly, generous, and principled, is to side with the country. Then may we hope to see sinecures extinguished; the obnoxious patronage of government destroyed; every superfluous expense of the public service rent away; the enormous salaries of ministers and the feeders on the civil list reduced; the annuities to ministerial aunts, cousins, and connexions of more dubious kinds, on the pension list, unsparingly expunged; which, by disburthening the nation of unnecessary taxes, will enable the Englishman to live by his labour. If these things may be done by the Russell reform bill, it will be only by a circuitous process. But England has no time to wait. What must be done at last cannot be done too speedily. The truth is, that the nation is disgusted with the insolent extravagance of the Grey cabinet, which utters the most zealous declarations of economy and withdrawal of taxes, while the people remain unrelieved of a single impost. They observe a premier lavish of the public money on his own family, while a Chancellor of the Exchequer starts up, and sapiently condemns certain members of the Whig government for refusing their salaries! Thus the old Tory system is still attempted to be perpetuated, under the banners of the Whigs; the tax-gatherer makes his appearance with undiminished demands; the necessaries of life increase in price as they decrease in excellence; every thing, in short, that man eats, drinks, or wears, loads him with an additional tax, paralyzing his industry, and overwhelming him in poverty.
Every candid and impartial observer will acknowledge that the public voice is not raised against government itself, nor against the many admirable institutions of this country; but against the perversions of government; against unconstitutional and wicked rulers; against abuses of trust, office, and authority; against impositions and corruptions pervading every department of the state, which have been reduced to system, and teem with every species of fraud, tyranny, and oppression; against the Star Chamber of Toryism; against the misappropriation of unnecessary, extortionate, and oppressive imposts; against despotic enactments; against fictitious prosecutions and arbitrary imprisonments; against the perversions of law and the decrees of political judges; against spies and hireling ruffians, suborned to deprive the subject of his liberty, aided by the corrupt practices of heart-hardened clerical and other magistrates; against packed juries, and the artful construction of libel; against the iniquitous forms and delays of the chancery and other courts;—against these, we say, and all such violations of the chartered rights of Britons, is that voice proclaiming its DETERMINATION TO BE FREE!—to be masters of their own wealth, their own industry, their own personal security, and their own liberties! The people of England will no longer be swayed by those upstart peers which George the Fourth created. What claims have such state-pensioners on public confidence? Why should sensible men give up their judgments to a selfish and hypocritical faction of—Lords? What better, in the name of heaven, are they than the rest of human creatures?
It is, indeed, idle to suppose that the present highly-enlightened inhabitants of this country can be thwarted from their wishes by the vote of such men; for almost all the ancient nobility are with the people. Englishmen, we repeat, care not for the vote of time-serving lords, for the prayers of worldly-minded bishops, or for the tears and vehement gestures of ex-chancellors! The people have resolved to redeem the constitution from their polluting hands. The pupils of those who have brought the country to its present impoverished state by their misrule, during the last two reigns of vice and profligacy, will seek in vain for the support of the people of 1832! A different form of government is now dawning upon us, and the Tories have "fallen, for ever fallen!" Murder, we trust, will now no longer be committed with impunity by rank; exactions, weighing down a people's existence, will cease; the needy will no longer be required to pamper the insatiable avarice and voluptuousness of the great; a system of pure justice in the administration of national affairs will rectify those abuses which have for so many years ingulphed the kingdom in misery. If the people do but prove true to themselves, nothing can now prevent their emancipation from the thraldom of that overgrown power, by which they have cruelly been enslaved. Yet the disease has been so long accumulating, that it still lies deep, and will require both energy and skill to eradicate it. They must, therefore, be upon their guard against the machinations of their wily enemies, who will magnify every little ebullition of public feeling into an attempt to overturn the existing institutions of the country. Sensible men, and true friends to the constitution, and therefore to the king, who forms so considerable a part of it, will understand the Tory cry of "See the effects of power in the hands of the people!" and will not be led into a fear of some future evil, from popular commotion, by such an attempt to divert them from their constitutional rights. In this respect, vigilance is highly necessary to protect them from the secret depredations of their former artful tyrants, who are ever on the alert to regain their lost power. Let the people, then, avoid all riots, tumults, and popular commotions, with the utmost care, and preserve peace, good order, and security to all ranks of society. True patriots will be careful to discourage every thing which tends to destroy these natural fruits of a free constitution, not only because whatever tends to destroy them tends to destroy all human happiness, but also because even an accidental outrage in popular assemblies and proceedings, as we have before shewn, is used by the enemies of freedom to discredit the cause of liberty. By the utmost attention to the preservation of the public peace, Englishmen will defeat the malicious designs of servile courtiers; but, whatever may happen, they will not desert the cause of humanity. Through a dread of licentiousness, they will not forsake the standard of liberty. It is the part of fools to fall upon Scylla in striving to avoid Charybdis. Who would wish to see restored the despotic sway of Queen Charlotte and George the Fourth, through the fear of a few transient outrages being committed by the excitation of a long-insulted people? Both these extremes are despotic while they last; but the former is a torrent that would rush its headlong course for ever, if it met not a barrier sufficiently strong to resist its power, while the latter may be compared to a spring flood, that covers the meadows to-day, and disappears on the morrow. The learned and eloquent Dr. Price has a passage so applicable to this subject, that our readers must excuse our introducing it. This humane philosopher observes,
"Licentiousness and despotism are more nearly allied than is commonly imagined. They are both alike inconsistent with liberty, and the true end of government; nor is there any other difference between them than that one is the licentiousness of great men, and the other the licentiousness of little men; or that by one, the persons and property of a people are subject to outrage and invasion from a king or a lawless body of grandees; and that by the other, they are subject to the like outrage from a lawless mob. In avoiding one of these evils, mankind have often run into the other. But all well-constituted governments guard equally against both. Indeed, of the two, the last is, on several accounts, the least to be dreaded, and has done the least mischief. It may be truly said, if licentiousness has destroyed its thousands, despotism has destroyed its millions. The former having little power, and no system to support it, necessarily finds its own remedy; and a people soon get out of the tumult and anarchy attending it. But a despotism, wearing a form of government, and being armed with its force, is an evil not to be conquered without dreadful struggles. It goes on from age to age, debasing the human faculties, levelling all distinctions, and preying on the rights and blessings of society. It deserves to be added, that in a state disturbed by licentiousness, there is an animation which is favourable to the human mind, and puts it upon exerting its powers; but in a state habituated to despotism, all is still and torpid. A dark and savage tyranny stifles every effort of genius, and the mind loses all its spirit and dignity."
Mr. Bailey, of Nottingham, an independent writer of great talent, has well defined the causes of political convulsions, and the line of conduct to be pursued by "the people" in times of great excitement. In that gentleman's "Discourse on Revolutions," he says,
"That the progress of civilization may be retarded in states, by the measures of governments, cannot be doubted. That the tendencies towards disturbance in states, which inevitably await on advancing civilization, may be restrained in their development by a politic or resolute government, even whilst its policy is anomalous to the spirit of the age, can as little be doubted. But what, it may be fairly asked, is in reality gained by this procedure? The principle of revolution is not annihilated, the nature of social man is not altered, the impetus of knowledge is not weakened, the momentum of public opinion is not broken! After every thing is done which cunning or tyranny can suggest, to avert the day of demand and concession, IT WILL ARRIVE, when demand will be made in a voice of thunder by an infuriated populace, and concession, of the most humiliating description, be granted by an abject sovereign!
"As fires longest pent up in obscurity at length burst out with the most resistless fury, so revolutions longest deferred are attended, in their crisis, with the most terrible consequences. Were the rulers of nations actuated by a spirit of sound wisdom, those dreadful convulsions could never arise in states, on account of social rights, which, after causing the death of thousands of the citizens, and desolating towns and provinces, leave palaces in ruins, and thrones vacant.
"Revolution ought always to be the work of the government, not of the people, except through the expression of public opinion. This is the only species of power which the people can beneficially employ for the redress of grievances,—at least, in old states, where a long indulgence in habits of venality and corruption by the government, and a widely-extended ramification of interests springing therefrom, and pervading all classes of the community, must create a strong disposition in favour of the existing order of things among large masses of the citizens. Physical force ought never to be employed for the correction of social evils, until every species of negative resistance has been proved to be unavailing.
"When despotism has arrived at that state of audacious temerity, that it makes a mockery of suffering, and tramples on remonstrances, sacrificing alike the property, the persons, and consciences of men to its ungovernable lust of dominion, it is justifiable to arraign such tyrants at the tribunal of nature, that so their impotence may be exposed, and their crimes punished."
Let us hope, therefore, that Englishmen, in freeing themselves from despotism, will studiously avoid such scenes as lately took place at Bristol. Britons should recollect that a determined and virtuous people can do any thing and every thing by firmness and quietness; but all violence defeats its own ends, and gives advantage to our enemies. A thorough reform in church and state MUST take place; a crisis is at hand, and those who wish to see England escape a trial of misery and blood will heartily wish, and openly and resolutely demand, to see a change of that long system, under which Corruption has thickened round the high, while Poverty and Taxation have smitten the low. A longer delay to remedy these evils may unhappily irritate the people into a spirit of vengeance, which the tears of Lord Eldon, the bullying of the Marquis of Londonderry, the professions of a Whig ministry, the intrigues of German women, or the threatenings of Wellington's bayonet law would vainly attempt to oppose! Sullen visions are now upon the clouds, to which place-hunters and renegados are afraid to lift their terrified eyes. But if they tremble at those visions, what will be their fate when they ripen into substance, and let loose their thunders upon the heads of the enemies of our country? May the necessity for such vengeance be obviated by a timely concession to the constitutional demands of an enlightened people is our sincere prayer!
[31:A] Avater is the Hindoo expression for a divinity assuming the human form, and residing on earth.
[40:A] Mr. Denman has since been created "Sir Thomas," and, at the period of our writing this, holds the office of attorney-general. On the 21st of May, 1832, Lord Stormont brought forward a motion in the House of Commons relative to a general crusade against the press, for what his lordship pleased to term "infamous, obscene, and scandalous libels." It must ever be gratifying to patriots when public men openly confess their errors; and we are, therefore, most happy to record the following extract from Sir Thomas Denman's speech, delivered on the above occasion, relative to the prosecution upon which we have so freely commented:
"In May, 1822, he (Sir Thomas Denman) first sat as common-sergeant, and was called upon to try a case of most atrocious libel in 'The Republican:' it contained a summing up of all the blasphemies which had ever been promulgated in that paper, and direct incitements to insurrection. The prosecution was instituted by a constitutional association, which thought the attorney-general was negligent of his duty; but he believed that that association obtained but little credit for thus undertaking his functions. There were two aldermen upon the bench, one of whom thought that two years' imprisonment was the least that could be awarded as a punishment, while the other thought that one year would be sufficient. The middle course was pursued, and the man was sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment. Though this was the mildest punishment which had been awarded on any case of a similar description at that time, yet he (the attorney-general) had been held up to odium as a cruel judge. The public, it was clear, had reaped no benefit whatever, and he (the attorney-general) had experienced some pain during the whole of the eighteen months that that man was in prison; for he felt a strong disinclination to proceed against any man who was fairly stating his opinions. The young man was twenty-one years of age, and what he was doing was certainly mischievous; but when his imprisonment expired, he could assure the House that it was to himself a great comfort. The liberty of the press was established in this country, and that alone was enough to induce people to publish those opinions; and that liberty would make him extremely cautious of prosecuting merely for opinion. During periods of public excitement, the classes from which juries were taken gave no encouragement to prosecutions, and if only one juryman stood out upon a case, the prosecution was obliged to be dropped. He, therefore, except some very atrocious circumstances should occur, did not think it expedient to proceed. In striking special juries, it was impossible to go into the heart of society, and act as spies in families to ascertain the sentiments of jurymen. It was necessary to submit to a great deal, lest by legal proceedings bad should be made worse. Prosecutions against the press were better left alone."
The last sentence of this speech contains advice which we hope to see practised by all future attorney-generals. In the case of Sir Thomas Denman, however, it is only adopted through necessity; for he freely confesses his wish to prosecute, if he could only insure the verdict of a jury! It is, indeed, a gratifying truth, that attorney-generals cannot controul the decisions of juries; and it is well for the people of England that they cannot. Were it otherwise, the press would soon become worse than useless, and every independent writer speedily be consigned to a prison. We cannot, consequently, join Sir Thomas Denman in his lamentation; and we regret that a gentleman of such lofty pretensions to liberality and patriotism should have tarnished his fame by thus exposing himself to the censure of his countrymen. While upon this subject, we would give a word of advice to Lord Stormont. His lordship has been described as a young man of considerable natural abilities, which have been highly improved by a liberal education. How, then, can he be so blind to the spirit of the present age as to suppose himself capable of restoring the very worst part of Toryism,—that of undermining the glorious LIBERTY OF THE PRESS? His noble father (who was educated in the Pitt school of politics) may have impressed him with an idea of its practicability; but the people are now changed, the age is changed, and we warn him not to expose himself to the disgust of the English people, by making futile attempts to destroy the grand palladium of national liberty. As well, indeed, might he essay to execute Herod's commands to slay the innocents, as to restore, by such means, the absolute power which the Tories so unfortunately exercised during the last two reigns!
[68:A] The following is a translation of the letter above referred to:
"Rocheford, 13th July, 1815.
"Your Royal Highness,
"A victim to the factions which distract my country, and to the enmity of the greatest powers of Europe, I have terminated my political career, and I come, like Themistocles, to throw myself upon the hospitality of the British people. I put myself under the protection of their laws, which I claim from your royal highness, as the most powerful, the most constant, and the most generous of my enemies.
[88:A] However tyrannical the orders of Lord Castlereagh might have been, we cannot help remarking on the petty pleasure Sir Hudson took in executing them, even to the very letter. It was this kind of conduct in Napoleon's jailer that gave rise to the following distich:
Napoleon himself said of this governor, "I have had to do with men of all countries; I never saw any who had so bad a physiognomy, and a more execrable conversation. He writes with the intention of being amicable. That is a contrast to the ignoble vexations that are daily imagined. There is something sinister in all this." Without contradicting the repeated asseverations of Sir Hudson Lowe, that he only acted according to instructions, we must say, that any man of honour should rather have resigned his office than have executed them; for they were not only unnecessary to the security of Napoleon, but they were also ILLEGAL. But Sir Hudson did not possess moral courage; he was captious and mistrustful, and was not at all calculated for the delicate offices he had to perform; he created his own fears, and lost his understanding in endeavouring to foresee misfortune. Count Lascases thus writes of him:
"The noble-minded English beside us," says the Count, "as well as those who merely visited the island, used to say that our treatment would experience a great and blessed change when the new governor appeared, &c. &c. This new Messiah at length came; but, gracious God!—the word escapes involuntarily from my pen,—it was an executioner, a gens-d'arme, whom they had sent. On his appearance, every thing assumed a dark and gloomy aspect; every appearance of external respect, and all the forms prescribed by a due regard to decency, which had hitherto been observed, at once disappeared; every day since has been to us a day of greater pain and more insulting treatment; he has narrowed still farther the boundaries prescribed to us, and even endeavoured to interfere with our domestic economy; he has strictly interdicted all intercourse with the natives, and even prohibited all society with officers of his own nation; he has ordered our residence to be surrounded with ditches and palisades; he has increased the number of soldiers, and endeavoured to make prisons within prisons; he has surrounded us with objects of affright, and reduced us to close custody. The emperor remains almost always in his prison, and no longer leaves his apartment. The few audiences which he has given to that officer have been highly disagreeable and oppressive to him; he has put an end to them, and determined not to see the governor any more. 'I had just grounds,' he observed, 'to complain of the Admiral, though he had at least a heart; but this man has not even a vestige of the character of an Englishman, he is nothing but a low Sicilian sbirro.' Sir Hudson Lowe pleads the instructions of his minister in justification of himself, with respect to all these complaints; if this justification is well founded, his instructions are most barbarous; but he can bear witness, at the same time, that he endeavours to carry them into execution in a barbarous manner."
[94:A] Sir Hudson Lowe is, doubtless, the person here alluded to by the emperor; but he would not have dared to act as he did if such tyrannical and unfeeling conduct had been against Lord Castlereagh's approbation.
[94:B] Particularly his eloquent and manly "Appeal to the Parliament of Great Britain, on the case of the Emperor Napoleon."
[97:A] Plutarch assigns him three different deaths; but Livy tells us, that Hannibal drank poison, which he always carried about with him, in case he should be taken by surprise.
[107:A] More particularly the affair of the bondholders. His lordship also strenuously exerted himself to prevent any public inquiry into the cruel death of the Princess Charlotte.
[116:A] The treatment and death of Napoleon, the funeral of the late queen, the conduct of the ministers and soldiers on that occasion, the murders at Cumberland Gate, the dismissal of Sir Robert Wilson for an attempt to stop the scene of bloodshed, formed but a portion of the black catalogue of their misdeeds.
[187:A] How well has part of this prediction been fulfilled by the people of 1832! May the rest be speedily accomplished!
[188:A] See motion for a new writ for the Borough of St. Mawes, in the room of Francis Horner, esq., deceased.
[240:A] How lamentably is this fact illustrated by the present Whig minister,—the disinterested Earl Grey,—who has added to the burdens of his country, by places and pensions to his own family alone, more than sixty-two thousand pounds annually!!!
Printed by W. H. Stevenson, 5, Whiskin Street, Clerkenwell.
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Page 1: Of meaner vice and villains[original has villians]
Page 47: When the queen came from Dover[original has Dovor] to town
Page 138: In the month of April, Mr.[period missing in original] Brougham
Page 144: 'behind the arras,'[original has double quote]
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Page 161: amongst the nymphs of Berkeley-row[original has Berkely-row]
Page 191: Sir,—You[original has Yor] are requested
Page 214: where[original has were] it was supposed he had been wounded
Page 219: the Bishop of Llandaff (Dr. Copleston),[comma missing in original] the prebends
Page 228: bank of Ransom, Morland, and Hammersley[original has Hammersly]
Page 263: presented this anomalous, inconsistent[original has inconsistant]
[94:A] had been against Lord Castlereagh's[original has Castereagh's]
***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SECRET HISTORY OF THE COURT OF ENGLAND, FROM THE ACCESSION OF GEORGE THE THIRD TO THE DEATH OF GEORGE THE FOURTH, VOLUME II (OF 2)***
******* This file should be named 37571-h.txt or 37571-h.zip *******
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