Imatges de pàgina

ties between Great-Britain, America, and Russia, the parliament holden in Corsica, the revival of the pop-gun plot, and the popular meetings at Chalk Farm, conclude the history of the year.

The twenty-second book commences with parliamentary affairs for the latter end of 1795, and beginning of 1796, proceeds to the military operations in Germany, and Bonaparte's wonderful campaign in Italy, our evacuation of Corsica, the internal affairs of France, and the ill success of lord Malmesbury's negotiation. The twenty-third book opens with the speech from the throne, in October 1796, and carries us through the debates of that session, in which the illegal advance of money to the emperor, by Mr. Pitt, affords room for spirited animadversion. The deranged affairs of the bank, and its stoppage of payment, the mutiny in the fleet, motions for dismissal of ministers, military affairs in Italy, lord Duncan's victory, interior state of France, lord Malmesbury's third attempt to negotiate, and the treaty at Campo Formio and congress at Rastadt, form the principal features of this book. The twenty-fourth and last book gives us the closing debates of the year 1797, and of the session in which they were continued in 1798; in which the triple assessments, the voluntary contributions, and motion for the removal of ministers, by the duke of Bedford, keep up the appearance of discussion afico the secession of the opposition: and the childish duel, between Pitt and Tierney, might have afforded larger scope for censure to one who, on other occasions, seems willing to deal it out on the first of these characters with a very liberal land. The Irish rebellion, subversion of the papal government, disastrous expedition to Ostend, Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt, subversion of the Neapolitan government, and the wise conduct of the king of Prussia, are the chief proceedings related of this year, which terminates with a most melancholy presage of future evils, and just reprobation of those who seemed little willing to remove from the oppressed inhabitants of Europe the horrors of war.

We have already observed that the late minister is the object (and we cannot deny the justice in general) of this writer's censure; but the dignity of history requires that such censure should be expressed in decorous terins, and betray no suspicion of the writer's being too much actuated by the spirit of party. Here we cannot but remark a failure in our author's siyle: the terms in which he stigmatises parts of the minister's conduct are low and unbecoming; and if we could reconcile ourselves to the title of that perfidious minister' (and his solid system of finance is deservedly an object of ridicule), yet it might be covered by better terms than those of this vapouring vaunting mountebank minister.' We might allow that in Mr. Tooke's trial “the unparalleled meanness and baseness of Mr. Pitt's disposition displayed itself in a most conspicuous manner;' yet it is aping too much the vulgar mode, of praising living monarchs as the best of kings, when the poor premier is represented as

the worst of men, in the commission of the worst of deeds. If it be too true that his visionary plans and projects have been every-where defeated, and his predictions have been uniformly falsified;' if he have proved himself to have been evidently destitute of the talents necessary for carrying on any war but the war of words.;' not even his ridiculous duel with Mr. Tierney can justify the epithets of "a bullying, boasting, Bobadil statesman.' His guilt may be very great; yet it was scarcely the business of the historian to be very solicitous after the imaginary horrors of his conscience.

Could so callous a heart, and so cold an imagination, be awakened to a just sense of its deep and inexpiable guilt, hosts of bloody spectres would haunt his solitude, his ears would be appalled with visionary shrieks, the very air would utter loud laments, and he would be doomed to feel all the tortures of remorse, all the unutterable agonies of despair!' P. 209.

Similar sentiments and expressions occur in many parts of the work; but at times the just indignation of the writer is well expressed, and the events of one or two years of the late administration seem to vindicate the following remark.

• Under the administration of Mr. Pitt, bigotry and malignity advanced with an accelerated progress, and every species of improvement, moral, intellectual, or political, seemed gradually to become the obiect first of cold indifference to this insidious statesman, then of dislike, and at length of fear, of hatred, and of horror.' P. 121.

The memorable campaign of 1794, which ended with the flight of the English from Holland, is said to have been conceived, on the part of the British ministry, in the spirit of madness, and conducted in that of the most complete imbecillity. In another place we are told, that,

• Mest unfortunately for the interests of the British empire, her affairs had now been for ten years in the hands of a minister of great eloquence, art, and address indeed, but who was alike destitute of that enlarged comprehension of mind, and of those generous feelings of the heart, which form, when combined, that greatest of human characters--the genuine patriot statesman. The voice of Mr. Pitt, when aspiring to political pre-eminence, had been beyond all others loudest in the clamor of reform; and, when he had attained to power, his hand was beyond all others heaviest in the oppression and persecution of those who had listened to his doctrines and had acted upon his principles.' P. 189.

Indeed no opportunity is lost of chastising the temerity of the fallen minister; and his attempt to reform the poor's laws justifies the severity of the censure.

Mr. Pitt, agreeably to his engagement, brought in a bill for the

reform of the poor's laws, so absurd, so indigested, and so impracticable, that it found not a single advocate, either in or out of the house ; and the sanguine expectations he had excited of a 'reform on this, as on other occasions of still higher moment, were most completely disappointed.' P.238.

The disgrace brought on the bank of England naturally excites the warmth of our historian; and the minister is said to have succeeded in converting it into a mere engine of government, in bringing an indelible disgrace on its reputation, and in making it entirely subservient to the advancement of his own ruinous, wicked, and frantic projects. But Mr. Pitt is not the only one who is thus chastised. The earl of Liverpool, late lord Hawkesbury, and still better known under the name of Charles Jenkinson,' is described as one who might almost be regarded as the evil genius of Britain personified ;' and the late king of Prussia is adorned with the epithet of that selfish, crafty, and unprincipled monarch.'

After the specimens we have given of the estimation in which the late premier is held by our writer, our readers will justly conclude that Mr. Fox is the object of his unbounded admiration. In such a situation of his mind, a principal actor in a third party could scarcely expect very favourable treatment; and Mr. Horne Tooke is, in consequence of his trial, thus introduced.

• After an interval of eleven days—no doubt days of chagrin and perplexity-on the part of the ministry, was brought to the bar of This high court of justice the celebrated John Horne Tooke, formerly and for many years a priest of the church of England—a man possessed of extraordinary intellectual talents, but of a peculiar kind, and blended with a considerable alloy of eccentricity. Of obscure : and nameless origin, he suddenly appeared in the political world as an extravagant and erring spirit burst from its confine. He first distinguished himself as a violent partizan of Mr. Wilkes, at the time of the famous Middlesex contest – being then curate of Brentford, where the election was held. Such was the enthusiastic ardor of his patriotic zeal at this early period of his life, that, to preserve the liberties of his country inviolate, he publicly declared his readiness to dye his black coat red. He possessed no mean degree of learning and knowledge, and his powers of elocution and self-possession were very uncommon. His habitual influence over the wills and passions of those with whom he was connected indicated a mind of great energy. On some occasions he exhibited himself to the judicious part of the public as a sincere and enlightened champion of the liberties of the people, and on others as an artful and aspiring demagogue, This singular man had the presumption, at the last general election, to offer himself as a candidate for the city of Westminster-pretending to be offended at the virtual compromise which had taken place between the court and country parties in the persons of lord Hood and Mr. Fox. On the eventual failure of his hopes (although he

polled a very great number of votes) he presented a petition to the house of commons against the return, drawn in the most audacious terms of political invective and reproach, but containing also much indisputable and melancholy truth. This petition, being referred, in the usual mode, to a committee, was declared frivolous and vexatious; but by a wise policy, too frequently and fatally departed from in matters of higher moment, no farther notice whatever was taken of it by the house. P. 129.

The historian is here singularly unfortunate in his attempi to delineate this very extraordinary character. To say, in England, that a man is of obscure and nameless origin, is a poor attempt to depreciate the merits of one who had received his education at Westminster and Eton, and had been distinguished for his abilities in the university of Cambridge; in which places he formed intimacies with persons of high rank and station, which were increased in the course of his travels over Europe. Where also is the presumption of this singular man in offering himself a candidate for Westminster, any more than in Tierney and Whitbread, men of equally obscure and nameless origin,' making similar offers at Southwark and Bedford ? The singular attempt was made by one who presented himself to the people

unassisted by aristocratical influence, and without the all-powa erful arms of wealth-he stood on real constitutional grounds, used none of the usual arts of elections, and obtained a considerable number of votes from the sense entertained of his abilities and integrity. In the progress of the work, however, our historian appeals for å sentiment to the authority of this singular rian. The public (says a man of talents, who has been unjustly stigmatised as a favourer of violent reform - Mr. Horne Tooke) ought never to receive a benefit at the expence of an individual.'—But our writer requires, it seems, some particular marks by which his characters are to be distinguished. It is “the celebrated M. de Calonne,” because we presume he held a high office in France;--it is one D'Ivernois, created Sir Francis D’Ivernois, a dealer, wholesale and retail, in ridiculous paradoxes,' because the writer did not recollect that this one d'Ivernois had been distinguished in his own country. We do not hold the reveries of the knight in very high estimation ; yet if he should in his future annual volumes celebrate our author, as one Belsham, a dealer in history, the retort would be justifiable ; for assuredly the name of D’Ivernois is not less known in this country, and through the whole of Europe, than that of our historian. - Our historian is not always sufficiently solicitous to give an accurate statement of facts. O'Coigley is said to have been o capitally convicted, and immediately executed;' whereas the execution did not for some time follow the convictionattempts being made in the interval to discover from him the extent of the conspiracy in which he had been engaged, No.

sual arts or the sente works by of this been une

eries Future Ter in


thing beyond presumptions (it is added) appearing against his companions,— Allen and Leary were, by the lenity of the English maxims of jurisprudence, set at liberty.' Now in what that lenity consisted we are at a loss to discover : Leary was declared by the jury not guilty; and it appeared, during the course of the trial, that he was merely a poor Irish boy, who followed his master in the capacity of groom. By the maxims of jurisprudence of the most barbarous country in Europe, such a servant would have been dismissed from the bar, and a contrary procedure would have been a disgrace to the country.-How far the historian is justified in pronouncing so positively on a circumstance which was disputed in the house of commons, it is not for us to determine.

' In the course of the preceding winter a treaty of marriage hall been negotiated between the prince of Wales and ihe princess Caroline, daughter to the duke of Bruns.vic. Early in the month of April the princess arrived in England, when the nuptials were celebrated with extraordinary magnificence. It was, however, well understood that the prince acceded to this alliance with much reluctance-his attachment to the accomplished Mrs. Fitzherbert, with whom the marriageceremony, though invalid by law, had undoubtedly passed, having suffered no diminution. He was induced to this fatal compliance by two considerations; first, the pressing instances of the king to dissolve his connexion with the lady who had so long been in possession no less of his esteem than his affection; and, secondly, the promise positively made to him that immediate provision should be made for the discharge of his debts, now increased to a vast amount. P. 172.

Now, if we could suppose the marriage ceremony to have passed, as we know of no act by which it has been invalidated, the two parties must be evidently still under that bond.-- In the case of another prince of the blood royal, united; avowedly, by the marriage-bond, to the daughter of a peer, an inquiry took place in Doctor's Commons, and the marriage was set aside; and consequently the issue by that marriage may be debarred from the privileges which they would otherwise have enjoyed in this country: but, as the marriage contract had the sanciion of the laws of another country, it is justly doubted whether the decision of our Commons can affect the rights of the royal issue of this marriage, which they may inherit from their father, independently of the laws of this island. On this account, our historian should have been extremely careful in his assertion respecting the supposed marriage of the prince of Wales; for if that also had taken place out of this island, dificulties might arise in the succession to the electorate, and other territories appending to the Brunswic family, and not to the crown of Grcat


We will now give our readers a specimen of an attempt at

« AnteriorContinua »