Imatges de pÓgina

A poet-King ; nay, do not scoff;

The Monarch bath his Mews ;
Like those whose pensions he cuts off,

He's followed by the Blues.
Yet some our King and Queen must hate,

For see, besides a star,
Their houses they illuminate

With-"W, A. R!”

He's near the Abbey ; on the air

The guns their echoes threw;
And now the bishops make him swear

To mind their canons too.
That organ seems on ours to play

As if our love to nourish;
Be ruined by reform who may,

Those trumpeters must flourish.
A crown is brought, they make him King;

A King ! why they mistake;
Two crowns, each child must know the thing,

But half a sovereign make.
Well, he is ours; along the way

He hears his people's vow;
And as he goes, he seems to say,

“ Your Bill is passing now!"

THE LAUREATE'S LAY. [The Laureate's Lay will of course exist only in a blank pagc.

His lyre hath no chord left. He hath taken out a patent in the court of Apollo, for treating birthdays and coronations with contempt. He basks in the sunshine of idleness—the poetical privilege of doing nothing, except calling at the treasury once a-year. As he could not be conveniently omitted among the contributors to this collection, some emblematic device may be introduced—a camelion, or a rainbow: or you may paint him, if you will, glancing back upon the light of his early years, and paraphrasing the story of “ Little Wilhelmine" and the “ famous victory:"

“ They say it was a splendid sight,

Such sums were lavished then,
Although the nation at the time

Was full of famished men;
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous pageantry.
“ Much praise our gentle Monarch won,

And so did Grey and Brougham;"
But what good came of it at last.

Quoth simple Mr. Hume.
“ Why, that I cannot tell,” said he,
“ But'twas a famous pageantry.


Nations and their governments, like individuals, are apt to run from one extreme to another, by way of correcting their errors.

The British Ministry and people feeling at last the cost and barrenness of the subsidized coalitions which maintained, and the military glory which crowned, the war of the French Revolution, have now a nervous dread not only of foreign war but of frank and manly diplomacy. The English people (for it would be unjust to charge it exclusively upon the despotic councils and sympathies of George III.) entered upon a sort of knight-errant crusade against the French Republic in 1793—kept up the war against the French empire, lavishing their own blood and treasure, and paying other nations for fighting their battles, in their proper cause--and have found that their foreign interference, even though ultimately triumphant, was a foolish and pernicious game. They have become sick of it; and this is unfortunately no longer a secret to the other nations. England is in consequence gradually, but rapidly, losing her European position.

It is true that no proof has been given of the want of resources, or of what may be called physical weakness. But England has nevertheless sunk morally in the opinion of foreign powers. One cause is the knowledge throughout Europe of the extent and effect of her public debt. Another and more powerful cause is the want of energy or consistency in her foreign policy.

The foreign system of the late Ministry was unintelligible. It stigmatized in a speech from the throne that of Mr. Canning,—yet endeavoured to follow it in a manner at once servile and imperfect,—and finding itself inadequate to the crisis not only at home but abroad, retired from the helm, leaving the Sovereign and whole sphere of Executive Government in embarrassment. A new Ministry of opposite principles succeeded. Its councils were essentially and unavoidably directed to domestic matters—in fact, to a single measurethe all-absorbing one of Reform. Upon this its character and stability mainly depended. The question between Holland and Belgium forced itself on the new Ministers—they afforded upon this question some grounds of censure to all but those who were loudest in their complaints—the preceding administration and its friends. Their measures were not only of a more decisive character than those of their predecessors, but on the whole not unworthy of the country.

The sanguinary contest between the Russians and Poles next assumed an aspect which fixed the gaze of Europe upon the parties engaged and upon the Governments of the only two nations which might be expected to interfere, as being the only nations at once powerful and free, viz. England and France.

With the conduct of the French Ministry we have here nothing to do; but it may be observed in passing, that the Ministers of France announced that negociations were pending with a view to the pacification of Poland.

Lord Grey and Lord Palmerston in their respective places deprecated censure or even discussion with reference to the question, and declared that communications were pending from which they expected favourable results. Well, the public judgment was suspended,

and what has followed ? Warsaw has fallen—and fallen mainly through the delusive hopes and suggestions of negociation held out to the Poles. This is positively and formally declared to the world by the Polish Government, and the denial of the fact both in France and England is but a discreditable subterfuge. The Poles knew that the sympathy of the English, as of every other generous people, was with them ;-they knew that the British cabinet was formed upon the basis of liberality ;-they or their envoys and agents in this country heard the leading organs of that cabinet declare in Parliament that the arm of England was amicably interposed between them and the tyrant who, after oppressing and enslaving them until they embraced the desperate alternatives of death or freedom, threatened them with extermination —they knew and heard all this ;—they abandoned the advantages of desperation, -of that reckless energy and preternatural force which it inspires,—for the treacherous glimmering of a distant hope of mediation which has lured them to their destruction—and Warsaw, we repeat, has fallen. The Emperor of Russia declares that he will hear of nothing but unconditional submission ; that this has been his answer to the interference of England and France from the beginning—and the estimation of England, as an European power, has received a severer wound than that which was inflicted by the Bourbon invasion of constitutional Spain.

Communities, it is said, are mere abstractions, without humanity, without emotions; it may, therefore, appear idle to expect that a government or people should interfere to prevent an atrocious carnage, and, if possible, still more atrocious injustice on a distant theatre, from considerations of humanity or justice. We will endeavour to show that mediation-vigorous and efficient mediation-between the Poles and Russians was dictated, by sound policy and the most important interests, to the Ministers of this country—that Ministers had not only good grounds, but were under positive obligations to interfere, and that the fall of Poland, (for such we consider that of Warsaw,) threatens the most alarming consequences to the continental influence and naval supremacy of England.

An independent kingdom of Poland, sufficiently powerful for selfdefence, is an obvious, natural, and necessary barrier against the incursions of Russian ambition with its hordes and barbarism. This was strongly felt at the Congress of Vienna, in 1815. The independence of the Poles was particularly urged at that time by the English and French Ministers. M. de Talleyrand mingled on the occasion in his usual manner diplomatic finesse with sarcastic insinuation. “ The partition,” he says, “which destroyed the existence of Poland, was the prelude, in some measure the cause, perhaps even to a certain extent the apology, for the subsequent commotions to which Europe was exposed by the French revolution." In another note, he says—“ If justice is to be observed in politics, there should be no discussion about the manner of saving and incorporating Poland, but of restoring its independence, the dissolution of which is regarded by all Europe as the disgrace of the 18th century, which a new century should hasten to efface.” This was addressed to the Ministers of the three partitioning powers, and two of them, Austria and Prussia, in their dread of Russian aggrandisement, were willing to make repa

ration. Lord Castlereagh demanded earnestly in the name of England that Poland should be re-established, not only as an act of justice to a gallant and outraged nation in the eyes of Europe, but as a measure of policy. “It is,” said he, “the wish of England to see an independent power established in Poland, as a barrier between the great divisions of Europe." One may here apply to the British Minister what Gibbon says of a forgotten Christian poet—" that the consciousness of a generous sentiment seemed to elevate him, for a moment, above his usual mediocrity.” The politician, like the poet, soon descended to his natural level. He was at once intimidated and cajoled by the Emperor of Russia, that magnanimous Alexander whom Napoleon so happily characterised as “a true Greek of the Lower Empire—deceitful

, adroit

, and hypocritical.” An order of the day, addressed to the Poles by his brother in his name, is a chef d'ouvre of politic artifice. In it the national and military spirit of the Poles is doubly played upon to delude them into bondage, and intimidate the Ministers of the other powers :-"His Majesty the Emperor Alexander, your powerful protector,” says the gentle Constantine, “ calls upon you.

Rally round your standards. Let your hands be armed for the defence of your country-for the maintenance of your political existence. While this august monarch is occupied with the happiness which he designs for your country, show that you are ready to support his generous endeavours with your blood. The same chief's who led you for these twenty years to the field of honour will still show you the way.” This indirect menace had its effect, especially when the Russian Emperor had the hardihood to say, and Lord Castlereagh the meanness to hear patiently, that if others were not satisfied, “he was prepared to support his pretensions with 500,000 men.”

M. de Talleyrand could do little more than “ point his epigrams in prose." He was the representative, not of a powerful and independent nation, but of Louis the Eighteenth, the mere creature of the very powers which governed the Congress—he, of course, submitted. The Austrian and Prussian representatives were the more easily reconciled that they were sharers in the spoil.

“ Lord Castlereagh returned to England, re-appeared in his place in the House of Commons, and upon being asked by Mr. Whitbread what provision had been made at the Congress in favour of Poland, gave the enigmatical or oracular response,

" that the Poles should be treated as Poles !" They were treated as Poles truly, and with a vengeance! It was said by an old Polish general, during the atrocities of Catharine and Suwarrow, upon being offered on some occasion the pledge of Russian honour, that the Russians had no word to express honour in their vocabulary. Yet in spite of this, so completely had the Emperor of Russia imposed upon the most enlightened and virtuous Poles—upon Kosciusko himself-that the nation looked up to him as an angel of deliverance.

It was, however, provided by express compact, under the guarantee of the Congress, that not only the Duchy of Warsaw, which was grasped by Russia, but the smaller spoils of Poland, which fell to Austria and Prussia, should be governed by liberal and national institutions, “ conformably,” said Aiexander, " with the spirit of the age.


The Emperor of Austria and King of Prussia forgot their promises of “liberal institutions,” both to the Poles and their hereditary subjects. The Emperor of Russia bestowed upon his kingdom of Poland a constitution, consisting of 165 articles, which was to ensure the felicity

and gratitude of the Poles for ever. There were two deliberative Chambers and the Freedom of the Press. He


them at the same time his brother Constantine for their viceroy. This was omi

The Liberty of the Press had hardly given some signs of life, by pointing out grievances and suggesting improvements, when Constantine, in the name of Alexander, strangled it one morning in its cradle. The Poles were informed by an Imperial ukase, that they were henceforth to enjoy the Liberty of the Press, subject to the salutary restraints imposed at St. Petersburgh! The Polish Diet, and especially the members of the Lower Chamber, called Deputies, were permitted to discuss, and sometimes to reject the propositions made to them by the Imperial Viceroy; and their discussions were made public. This troublesome publicity was also disposed of by an ukase, which directed that the proceedings should be made public only during the formality of opening and closing the sessions. The press was strangled; the Diet silenced; the tribunals intimidated; and both the national and the political institutions of Poland became a mere mockery. Secret societies—the foci of national spirit, vengeance, and conspiracy—were formed at Warsaw, and even in some parts of Russia, among the younger officers who had served with the army of occupation in France. A horrible system of espionage, incarceration, degradation, and insult was practised under Constantine. Upon the death of Alexander, and Constantine's abdication of his right of inheritance, the latter avenged himself for his loss of empire in Russia by every species of despotism in Poland. He ruled at Warsaw by his arbitrary, savage will, without the slightest regard to law or justice. He endeavoured to debase the Poles to the standard, and clothe them in the uniform, of Russian vassalage.

Discomfiture, disgrace, and death overtook him in his career of tyranny.

The struggles of a gallant and generous people for their liberty are and rarely should be despaired of. Upon calm reflection, however, the expectation of Polish success was faint. They were attacked by an overpowering superiority of numbers and resources, and their country has not the facilities of strongholds, either from art or nature. They have no such mountains nor fortresses as Spain, for instance, to carry on a desultory and protracted war.

It was a heartless speculation to calculate upon their being able to work out their own independence. The British Ministry, in concert with that of France, or without it, should have made a humane and manly remonstrance to the Emperor of Russia ; and this remonstrance should have been enforced by the British flag in the Baltic and the Black Sea. There assuredly would have been no opposition or alarm on the part of Turkey to the appearance of a British naval force in the latter.

Two questions present themselves; one of right, and one of policy. In the first place, as to the right:—the Russian Viceroy and his

« AnteriorContinua »