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For thou art with me, though I see no more
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A PROTOCOL.
Tis done! my race of life is finished. The rack and the iron are already prepared. This very night must those beauteous limbs ornament the hair of some stony-hearted lady's maid. The Dutch packet and my last hour have arrived. How short are the days of a Protocol ! He is cut down like a flower, and he vanishes as a shadow ! He sees the light, and is hurried into darkness! What is a weaver's shuttle, to the briefness with which he is spun and is unravelled ? Are not the insects that rise and perish in a day miracles of longevity, compared with the puff of his existence? Does he not come but to go? Is he not born but to die? Too true. But shall we perish ingloriously? Perish the thought ! Shall we not discuss ? Shall we not exhale? We will die like a Protocol! Here is a bottle and pens and ink. We will write the history of our life; and the fame of the Protocols shall be as immortal as their earthly duration was circumscribed.
It was at the Foreign Office in Downing Street, on the 15th September, at 20 minutes, 33 seconds, 18 thirds, and 22 fourths, after five o'clock in the afternoon, that I sprung in full armour from the head of Lord Palmerston. I bore in my right hand a long tin sword of extraordinary temper, and on my left a shield covered with polished parch. ment; the device was a lion in an ass's skin, and under it the words “Let him roar again.” My helmet, which was of brass, was surmounted by a goose in full flight, with its neck extended, and carrying in its bill a scroll—" Sic itur ad astra.” But as my transitory existence is nearly passed, and singular circumstances have enabled me to become the historian of our shortlived and much despised race, the few moments that remain will be employed in registering, for the wonder of posterity, the general course of the production and annihilation of a Protocol. Gratitude to the illustrious author of our being requires that personal vanity be sacrificed to his renown; and I fondly contemplate the day, when to the statesman and the historian, his Lordship, with all his progeny of Protocols after him, will exhibit as splendid an appearance as a comet with its tail, or a schoolboy's kite in the holydays.
First, as to the place of our production.
It was not to be supposed that such a phenomenon as his Lordship’s fertility would not have occupied the speculations of philosophers. In
fact, it created the most intense interest in all classes, both here and on the continent. The Scottish School of Metaphysicians were thrown into a state of extreme alarm; and a perplexity fully equal, though of a different kind, fell on the disciples of Kant, in Germany. The Political Economists next took it up. Mr. Malthus appealed to it as conclusive with regard to the soundness of his theory on population ; and Mr. Ensor and Mr. Sadler held it forth to the world as setting the copestone on their doctrines. A great variety of opinion accordingly prevailed on every point connected with us, but more particularly on the region of our birth. One philosopher, after dissecting a vast number of my brethren, decided that from our extreme hollowness, we must be created in one of the large frontal sinuses. Another, from the absence of mind which he thought he discovered in us, concluded we were pro.. duced in the pineal gland; which, as is well known, is generally believed to be the seat of the soul. An eminent phrenologist, observing the immense development of the organ of philoprogenitiveness in Lord Palmerston's poll, insisted we must come from the back part of the skull ; while another was equally positive that we must be from the fore part, where the organ of number is situated. This opinion gained much influence, from the elaborate calculation of our numbers, and of the rate at which we double our population, that was printed in the last volume of his great work upon this subject. A third ingenious writer argued that the real locality was the side of the head, as it is there the organ of destructiveness is placed; but he would not positively say whether this signified the immense waste of paper, or the injury done to Belgium by these glorious delays; this hesitation was fatal to his theory. He was supplanted by a countryman of his, who maintained that, from the firmness of our noble progenitor, the crown of the head must be the place, as it is there adhesiveness is situated. But it would weary the reader to detail all the erroneous notions upon the subject, supported by the clearest and most satisfactory demonstrations.
The fact is, we are produced neither in the occiput nor sinciput, the right nor left side, nor yet in the crown of the head, but in the centre of the corpus callosum of his Lordship’s brain. And the process of generation is as follows: As soon as his Lordship has read a despatch from the Hague, the whole brain, particularly the crura cerebelli, is thrown into a state of violent excitement. A windy sort of gas is generated in such large quantities, that the walls of the cranium, though of surprise ing thickness, are scarcely able to withstand the pressure of this vapour. The corpus callosum, however, remains in its usual insensible state. A subtle fluid soon ascends from the despatch, and, passing along the optic nerve, enters the corpus callosum. It must be observed that the apparatus of production is here exceedingly complex. There is a minute and extensive machinery, which proves that Lord Palmerston was specially fitted up for the multiplication of Protocols. As soon as the impregnation has taken place, his Lordship becomes almost ungovernable by the nurses round him : messengers are despatched for the Representatives of the other great Powers ; summonses for a Cabinet council are also prepared ; and some of the evening papers are apprized of the approaching event, which now never fails to put them at their wits' end with joy.
As soon as the Foreign Ministers have assembled, our great progeni. tor reads the despatch again ; and having made a few observations, is instantly seized with the pangs of labour, His hair stands on end, his face assumes a hideous expression of determined resolution, and becomes so deeply suffused with gall, that our mighty ancestor looks like a man in the last stage of the jaundice. At the same time the lips are drawn back so as to expose the teeth, which thus make a most ferocious appearance; but as it is well known that the muscles of the jaw are at the same time so violently contracted, that his Lordship cannot bite, the Foreign Ministers take not the slightest notice of it, nor do even the old women feel any alarm. The brain is soon in a state of great confusion. Both hemispheres tremble ; a rumbling noise, at least as loud as the new thunder in Covent Garden, is heard through the whole extent of the frontal sinus, and the crura cerebelli kick with immense vigour. The head is now as large as a pot, and the crisis approaches. Talleyrand pats his Lordship on the back of the head in a very affectionate manner; the other Ministers grasp their goose-quills to encourage him ; in about a minute, the coronal suture slowly opens; our great Parent gives a loud hem, which expresses his determination to uphold the character of England, to open the Scheldt, to astonish General Sebastiani, to compel Holland, if necessary, by force of arms, and, at the same time, do nothing to offend her; immediately after this the Protocol springs out upon the table.* The event is announced by a discharge of twenty-one pop-guns; and Couriers are dispatched, without a moment's delay, to foreign courts, in order to communicate, before its death, intelligence of the birth of the Protocol. His Lordship is immediately put to bed, the room darkened, and the streets thickly littered. His head is put into a bag of flour, as I understand those of pugilists are, after a severe fight, in order to reduce the swelling; and the strictest anti. phlogistic treatment is employed, the only diet permitted to the patient being flummery, and milk and water. Under this judicious system, in six hours, “he is as well as can be expected;" and in twelve, the tumour has quite subsided ; the wonderful resolution that screwed up his features to such a pitch of magnanimity is gone, and he walks about like a person of ordinary firmness and sagacity. No one, on meeting him in
As the 'scutcheon and device on my own shield have been mentioned, I ought in justice to insert those of some of my distinguished predecessors. The 70th Protocol bore the King of Holland, in the likeness of a pig, with a soaped tail, pursued by Lord Palmerston. The motto, Jam jamque tenet. The shield of the preceding one represented his Lordship at a table writing; the huge sheet before him was marked, P. No. 69. Motto :-Brevis esse laboro.
The 65th represented our great Parent fathoming Prince Metternich's brain. Motto:
-As for Palmerston, who knoweth the depth of him? The 60th showed a figure; some maintain it was Pistol ; others that it was Palmerston, eating a long roll,—of paper probably. Whatever it was intended for, it certainly was marked with the figures 5 and 9. Motto :-Must I bite? I eat, and eke I swear.
The 61st showed a schoolmaster whipping a school-boy, who bore a strong resemblance to our illustrious Author. Motto: Nec semel hoc fecit.
The 55th represented his Lordship in an attitude of amazing dignity. Over the figure were the words, Cedant arma toga. Underneath was the translation, Put a strait waistcoat on him.
The 520 bore his Lordship, immediately after being delivered of the 49th. The Foreign Ministers, with open mouths, are looking into his cranium. Motto :- Who hath put wisdom in thy inward parts ?
The 67th showed his Lordship, preceded by a penny trumpet : the Hague in the distance. Motto :-Quid dignum ianto féret hic promissor hiatu?
The 68th represented his Lordship with a look of unalterable resolution, writing in the Foreign Office. Motto :-Sedet, eternumque sedebit. In the centre there was also a miniature Protocol ; above it, the figures 1001; underneath, lleu, Marcellus eris !
the streets, would think he was THE ANCESTOR OF ALL THE PROTOCOLS. No one would give him credit for being the very great man he is. Who would, in that gay and debonair appearance, recognise the counterpart of the venerable patriarch, who had sixty sons and thirty daughters, all mounted, too, upon asses? Who would suspect him to be the man that has outwitted Metternich, Ancillon, and Pozzo di Borgo to boot ; and who has been so cunning of fence, as for two long years to keep that “ cool old sworder” of Holland at his weapon's point? Oh, shade of Chatham, you were nothing to the decision of Palmerston ! Grotius, how thick was thy wit compared with his ! And thou poetic animal, of " implicit augury,” what were thy “ prodigies of fertility” beside all the Protocols !
For some days, or to speak more precisely, until the return of the Dutch packet, a Protocol stalks about with an air of immense dignity. We are, however, cautioned to beware of the Morning Papers; and hens do not dread the vulture more than does all our generation, The Herald and Chronicle. Even The Times, which we thought safe, -why, the other day, one of my unfortunate predecessors approached its perch ; when instantly, with a loud scream, it struck its talons into him, and killed him on the spot. As for The Morning Post, the moment he descries one of us, he inverts his urn, like an ancient river god, and drenches us with abuse. The fate of those who are delivered to the foreign ministers is still more deplorable. They are subjected to the most cruel treatment. As soon as the minister reaches his own hotel, he tosses my wretched brother to his mischievous son, who tears him limb from limb to make “ messengers” for his new kite; or perhaps the servant seizes on him, and sells him as a slave to the grocer or bookseller. I am informed that one was reduced in this capacity to the degradation of conveying the Duke of Newcastle's last pamphlet ! Hear it, ye Powers of the Pathos and the Bathos! Indeed I am convinced that there is no atrocity of which the foreign ambassadors are not capable. In the very agonies of delivery, when a man of any bowels would pity Lord Palmerston, they are convulsed with laughter, and Talleyrand himself can scarcely keep his countenance. It is at the most violent throes that their mirth is greatest ; and what is still stronger, the succession of ferocious faces which his lordship makes, only throws them into more obstreperous delight. The ruin that threatens Holland ought not to be treated so lightly ; but such conduct to a person in Lord Palmerston's situation is absolutely inhuman; nor is it excused by the fact of his not being sensible of it. In truth, the only anxiety they have ever been observed to show, is at the moment the skull opens; and then they stand on the tips of their toes, and endeavour by all means to discover what is in it, hitherto, happily, without success.
But, supposing us to escape all these perils, our doom is certain at the return of the Dutch packet. The reader will, however, forgive me if I cannot detail the murder of so many of my brethern by that ruthless hand. Let us rather turn to a more pleasing theme, the continuation of our race. There are some who think that I am the last of my family ; but that is a grievous error. I had scarcely alighted on the obstetric table, when the Russian minister, turning to Talleyrand, asked, in a confidential tone, “ Isn't this the end of the Protocols ?”—“ It is the beginning of the end,” answered that sagacious plenipotentiary. I can, however, speak with more precision on that point; and I now, with all the solemnity of death, assure the world that Lord Palmerston is inexhausti. ble in Protocols ; that not only the corpus callosum, the whole brain, but even his entire body, may be spun into Protocols ; and that, if permit. ted, the Protocols and he will eat each other down to the tails. For every insult offered by the King of Holland, he has a Protocol ; every demur he answers with the same; and at every turn of the evasion he meets him again with a Protocol. The corpus callosum is, in fact, a mere heap of granulations, on each of which, with the aid of a good microscope, may be discerned the puny face of a Protocol. The brain, also, is a congeries of the same embryo diplomacy. When I left, there was an interminable series, like the eggs in the body of a goose, in different stages of life; some wanting nothing but the impregnating quality of a new contempt and derision from the King of Holland. But that is not all. As the young snake in the body of its mother contains a little snake within it, and this little snake another, and so ad infinitum ; so each Protocol contains within itself the rudiments of an innumerable quantity of Pro. tocols. If, therefore, no ever-to-be-deplored calamity cuts short the incubation of our great parent, the history of our species will always end (unless the paper manufactories of Great Britain fail) with the awful words, “ To be continued.”
THE BRIDE OF MARSEILLES.