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chiefly apply themselves, in supporting their word in his company." And to the same effect • desert, and insisting that, by the constitution of is the anecdote related by all his biograEngland, the throne can never by possibility be,
phers: in contemplation of the law, one moment vacant. Amidst these technicalities, the real struggle was whether there should be a change of dynasty, or visit London during the terms, the system of
“ His father,” says Lord Campbell, “ used to the experiment should be made of Protestant re.
agency between country and London attorneys gents governing in the name of Popish sovereigns not being then established; and, on his way, he Somers and the Whigs were not only afraid of the usually left his horse at the George Inn, at Acton, public confusion which might follow from such where he often mentioned his hopeful son at the an anomalous administration of the government, Temple.' The landlord, one day, in reply to his but were strongly convinced that there could be no permanent reformation of abuses, till, by a break panegyrics, said, ' why don't you let us see him, in the succession, the doctrines of Divine right’son to accompany him as far as Acton, on his re
Mr. Somers, in consequence, requested his should be necessarily renounced and discounte- turn home; but, on his arrival at the George, tako nanced by the family on the throne.”—pp. 93, 94. ing the landlord aside, said, I have brought
him, Cobbett; but you must not talk to him as Lord Campbell here seems to adopt the
you talk to me: he will not suffer such fellows sentiment of Bolingbroke, who says, “the as you in his company."-Camp., pp. 71, 72, dispute about the word 'abdicate' or 'desert,' might have been expected in some as- Somers also took a very prominent part in sembly of pedants, where young students that memorable debate, the result of which exercised themselves in disputation, but was to establish on the firmest basis the not in such an august assembly of the Lords power of the Commons, and the modern and Commons in solemn conference upon system of "responsible government,' the most important occasion.” Possibly debate on the settling of the revenue. On it would have been more dignified to have the accession of Charles II., and on that of followed the example of the Scottish Par- James, the Commons had settled on the liament, which came to a direct vote that king for life a revenue equal to the ordinary James had “forefaulted” the crown; but exigencies of government, merely leaving the fault, if fault there were, was not that extraordinary demands to be met by a temof pedantry, but of timidity. It can hardly porary grant. At the Restoration, the exbe supposed that the speakers attached any penditure was estimated at 1,200,0001. per real weight to the arguments they heard or annum ; to meet which, the excise and cusused: probably there was a very different toms duties were bestowed on the king for kind of discussion going on along the life. Owing to the increase of trade, the benches and round the fireplaces; but it was income derived from these sources at last not thought wise to expose the inysteries of exceeded 1,500,0001. a year; and, though state to the vulgar gaze; and it was neces- Charles's prodigality made even this insufisary to salve the dignity of the Lords, by cient, it was a sum that might have renderoffering them ostensible reasons that mighted a prudent monarch totally independent seem to justify a change of conduct. How- of his parliament. When the throne was ever, Somers and his party prevailed: the conferred on William, it was proposed to throne was declared vacant.
place his revenue on the same footing as The part taken by Somers in this trans- that of his predecessors. But Somers and action serves to show how great an ascen- his party, though they were pre-eminently dant the young barrister had gained with the king's friends," and though all their his party, and how much he was already hopes of power depended on the king's falooked up to as one of its leaders. This vor, resisted this suggestion. After a long elevation was the pure effect of his personal debate, they prevailed on the Commons to character; it was a homage paid, not so settle the greater portion of the revenue in much to intellect, as to integrity and single- a manner which made the continuance of it ness of purpose. From a very early age, dependent on an annual vote of the House. Somers had been accustomed to inspire all From that time forth, it became impossible who knew him with a peculiar and involun- for the most arbitrary prince to dispense tary respect. This is no doubt the mean- with the yearly convening of Parliament, ing of Seward, when he informs us that, or to retain in his service ministers from when Somers was quite a youth, “ by the whom the Commons should withhold their exactness of his knowledge and behavior, he confidence. This measure is therefore to discouraged his father and all the young be reckoned as the most important result of men that knew him; they were afraid to be the Revolution of 1688.
Somers's political services, joined to his priving him of his honors would have alreputation as a sound and accomplished layed the animosity of the other faction ; lawyer, naturally pointed him out as a sub- but nothing would satisfy the Tories except ject for promotion. He was made Solici- an impeachment. A variety of charges tor and Attorney General, and rose through were brought against the ex-Chancellor, the regular gradations, “always,” accord- frivolous and vexatious in the highest deing to Addison, "looked upon as one who greé, with one exception,—that which relatdeserved a superior station to that he was ed to his conduct on the Barrier Treaty. It possessed of,” until he reached the summit was this, in fact, which had been the cause of a lawyer's ambition, and took his seat in of his temporary unpopularity. It appears the Court of Chancery. Here he presided that William, while he left the internal adwith universal satisfaction. In an age when ministration of the country pretty much to party-spirit ran so high as to scruple at no his ministers, was accustomed to act as his extreme of slander or scurrility, and in own minister in all that related to foreign which even his own political and private affairs, wars, treaties, and negotiations. conduct were maligned by his enemies with- He had resolved to enter into that arrangeout mercy, his administration of the law was ment with Louis XIV., for the partition of so faultless that calumny itself never ventur- Spain, which_goes by the name of the ed to assail it. With this negative tribute First Barrier Treaty. He had announced to his praise we must rest contented ; his intention to Somers, and commanded for the crude and scanty reports of his de- him to send a commission under the great cisions, given by Vernon and Peere Wil- seal, in blank, for the appointment of liams, afford, as Lord Campbell tells us, no persons to negotiate. Somers found reason means of appreciating his judicial excel- highly to disapprove of the negotiation, lence.
and remonstrated with the king; but he But Somers, like many other eminent sent the commission. · The king paid no men, was to learn the lesson, that no pub- attention to his reasons, and completed a lic services can secure the lasting gratitude treaty, which proved most unpopular in of the multitude, or defend the author of this country. When all this became known, them from the fluctuations of party-feeling. a storm of indignation fell on the head of Seven years of war and taxes had brought Somers. The Tories, adopting for a purthe Whigs to unpopularity; their parlia- pose the principles of their adversaries, mentary majority was melting away; and, held that the king's command was no one by one, their leaders were made the justification of his minister, and that subject of attack, and driven from the Somers, having set the seals to the comcouncils of the king. Somers had his turn. mission and the treaty, was personally The commons addressed the king to re-responsible for those acts. According to move him from the woolsack, and William modern practice, Somers should be looked reluctantly complied. His enemies hurried upon as sharing that responsibility with on his dismissal with so much precipitancy, the other members of the cabinet; but in that the seals were taken from him before William's reign, a cabinet council, though successor was fixed upon or even sought for. no doubt always existing, was not an orIt was no easy matter to fill up the vacancy. ganized and recognised body as at present. The instability of the administration, and According to the practice of the time, the dread of so severe a test of fitness as Somers seems to have done nothing imawaited the successor of Somers, made the proper : but according to the theoretical more eminent members of the bar succes- doctrines of that constitutional party to sively decline the seals ; and it was not which he belonged, he ought to have refused without hesitation that they were accepted to perform the king's commands until they by a dull Nisi Prius barrister, one Sir should have received the sanction of the Nathan Wright, whose misplaced elevation Privy Council. This ancient and honoronly rendered him a butt for ridicule. So able body, however, had already grown too
, great indeed was the embarrassment of the numerous to be useful for executive purministry, that a scheme was set on foot for poses. Things were in a state of transition ; putting the seals into commission for a privy councils were losing their jurisdiction, while, and restoring them to Somers when while cabinet councils had scarcely acquired the clamor should have blown over. theirs. This circumstance, which makes
Somers's friends had hoped that the de- the reign of William so interesting to the Vol. XII. No. III.
student of political history, makes it diffi-| accused for an indefinite period. But this cult to pronounce a positive opinion as to Somers would not submit to. His friends the conduct of Somers in this business. in the Lords assisted him in forcing the
While the debate touching his impeach- question to an issue, by repeatedly urging ment was proceeding in the Commons, Lord the Commons to name a day for bringing Somers, with the boldness of a man con- up their evidence ; and at last when these scious of integrity, went down to the House attempts were found fruitless, by themand demanded to be heard in his own de- selves naming a day, on which the Lords fence. This was granted, and a chair was resolved they would positively proceed to a set for the ex-Chancellor a little within the trial, whether the prosecutors should appear bar. He then entered into a defence of his or not. The Commons, either affronted at conduct relative to the matters laid to his what they considered a discourtesy, or charge, and particularly to the Barrier perhaps not displeased to find a pretext for Treaty. He is reported to have said, " that abandoning a prosecution which was sure to he thought it would be taking too much up- be unpopular, resolved not to attend on the on himself if he should have put a stop to day appointed. Accordingly the day of a treaty of such consequence; that the trial came; the Lord High Steward's king's letter requiring the blank commis- Court was convened with all due solemnity; sions, he construed as a warrant which he the judges took their places, the audience was bound to obey: that the treaty being thronged the hall, and the accused answered concluded, he put the great seal to it by to his name: and then, no one appearing the king's command, as he thought he was to prosecute, the Lords pronounced by a bound to do.” In another part of his majority of 56 to 31, « T'hat John Lord speech he draws a distinction between his Somers be acquitted of the articles of imduty as a privy counsellor and his duty as a peachment against him exhibited by the chancellor, arguing that in the one charac- House of Commons, and all things therein ter he was bound to advise, and in the other contained, and that the said impeachment to obey. After having thus spoken, he be dismissed." withdrew. His defence is said to have A calm review of the proceedings conmade such an impression, that, if the House nected with this singular impeachment had gone to the vote immediately, the ma- must satisfy any impartial mind, we think, jority would have certainly been for letting that whatever may have been the misconthe prosecution drop. Sir R. Walpole, duct of Somers in this affair of the treaty, then a very young member, took Somers's the impeachment of him was a mere outpart warmly, and voted in his favor ; but, break of party violence ; that the advocates with his usual tact, abstained from speak- of it were precisely those whose principles ing, that the effect of the Chancellor's ar- most inclined them to look leniently on guments might not be weakened by an an- conduct which was only faulty so far as it gry discussion.
But Somers had other savored of undue deference to the crown; friends who were not equally discreet, and and that it was not Somers's error in this who assisted his adversaries in drawing out particular case, but that great error in the the debate till midnight. When the House eyes of the ultra Tories—his share in the divided, a majority of ten, out of nearly bringing over of the Prince of Orange-which four hundred present, voted “That John was the true ground of this attack on him. Lord Somers, by advising his Majesty in Party-spirit was then at a height now the year 1698, to the Treaty for Partition of scarcely credible ; but the Tories themthe Spanish monarchy, whereby large territo- selves were before long ashamed of having ries of the king of Spain's dominions were persecuted this great man. to be delivered up to France, was guilty of During the remainder of William's reign, a high crime and misdemeanor."
and the early part of that of Anne, Somers Notwithstanding this vote, the zeal of saw himself excluded from favor, and his the Commons scems to have been cooled personal enemies, Godolphin and Marldown. Perhaps the parties in the House borough, at the head of affairs. Neverthewere too nearly balanced to admit of a less, finding the administration gradually very energetic course of conduct. They conforming itself more and more to the old would neither drop the impeachment nor Whig principles, of which he himself was carry it forward, and seemed disposed to so consistent an adherent, and finding it askeep it hanging over the head of the sailed by the Tories under Bolingbroke and Oxford, Somers, to his infinite credit in war, and the clamor for peace brought in that corrupt age, remained a steady sup- the Tories, Somers went into opposition, porter of government.
and continued so till Queen Anne's death. During this period, Somers acted as one During the last years of her reign, his health of the Commissioners appointed respec- and mental faculties became gradually untively by the Parliaments of England and dermined ; and, though he took a part, as Scotland, to arrange the terms of an union a privy councillor, in welcoming George I., between the two countries. It is said, and he was no longer fit for public life. For there seems no reason to doubt it, that the some time before his death he was reduced negotiation was chiefly conducted by him, to a melancholy state of torpor and letharand that to his prudence and sagacity it gy, which was terminated by a fit of apomainly owed its success.
plexy on the 26th April, 1716, in the 55th In the autumn of 1708, a change was year of his age. made in the position of Lord Somers, by The character of Lord Somers has been the death of Prince George of Denmark. drawn by so many skilful hands, that it The prince, for some reason unknown, would seem equally needless and presumpseems to have taken a dislike to Somers; tuous to enlarge upon it here. Its distinand in spite of that abstinence from poli- guishing property was dignity, -a dignity tical interference which is commonly looked arising from self-respect, and inspiring upon as the prince's chief virtue, his feel respect in others,-a dignity which made ing was so far manifested as to keep Lord him shun, as beneath himself, the applauses Somers out of office during his lifetime. of men who could not appreciate him,Upon his death, the latter was made Pre- which kept him clear of every action and sident of the Council. During the short thought that was dishonorable,-guarded period of his holding this post, the Whigs him alike from precipitancy in forming or were in their most flourishing state, Marl- announcing his convictions, and from lightborough's victories having given a lustre to ness in abandoning them; and held him their administration, which for awhile com- forth to his contemporaries, in an age when pelled the queen to dissemble her partiality public virtue was rare indeed, a spectacle for their adversaries. According to the of pure unsullied integrity. To this he Duchess of Marlborough, Anne was pre-joined all the amenities which gain pervailed upon by Harley or Bolingbroke to sonal friends, and make the happiness of play upon Somers's ambition, with the hope, private life. Neither the cares of law nor apparently, of winning him over to the statesmanship could extinguish his taste Tories.
for elegant literature and the fine arts. He “I remember,” says the duchess, “to have was a liberal and a discerning patron. It been at several of Lord Son rs' conversatio is to him that Addison owed the leisure and with Queen Anne, to fill out their tea, and wash competency which enabled him to write the their cups. 'Tis certain that as soon as he got “Spectator,” and to pronounce that postinto his post, to obtain which I so often urged the humous eulogy of his benefactor, which Queen, he made his court to Abigail [Mrs. Ma will preserve his memory as long as the sham), and very seldom came to me, and it is true that Lord Oxford and St. John used to laugh English language shall exist, and in the in their cups—which came out by Lord Devon words of which we may here conclude: shire that they had instructed the Queen to be. have so as to make Lord Somers think he should “ He had worn bimself out in his application be her chief minister. She could act a part very to such studies as made him useful or ornamental well when her lesson was given her; and in a to the world, in concerting schemes for the wellittle time it appeared very plain to the Duke of fare of his country, and in prosecuting such meaMarlborough and Lord Godolphin, that Somers sures as were necessary for making those schemes thought of nothing so much as to flatter the Queen, effectual; but all this was done with a view to and went to her personally in private.”—Camp., p. the public good that should arise of these generous 203.
endeavors, and not of the fame that should accrue
to himself. Let the reputation of the action fall But any expectation of detaching Somers where it would, so his country reaped the benefit from the Whigs must have been founded on of it, he was satisfied. As this tumn of mind an ignorance of his character. He adhered threw off, in a great measure, the oppositions of to his opinions through many vicissitudes envy and competition, it enabled him to gain the
most vain and impracticable into his designs, and of fortune, with a constancy which no mo- to bring about several great events for the safety tives of personal ambition or interest could and advantage of the public which must have died shake. When the people grew tired of lin the birth had he been as desirous of appearing
beneficial to mankind as of being so. His life strength of reason. By approving the sentiments was in every part of it set off with that graceful of a person with whom he conversed, in such parmodesty and reserve, which made his virtues more ticulars as were just, he won him over from those beautiful ihe more they were cast in such agree- points in which he was mistaken ; and had so able shades. His great humanity appeared in the agreeable a way of conveying knowledge, that minutest circumstances of his conversation ; you whoever conferred with him grew the wiser, found it in the benevolence of his aspect, the com- without perceiving that he had been instructed. placency of his behavior, and the tone of bis His principles were founded in reason and supvoice. His great application to the severer studies ported by virtue, and, therefore, did not lie at the of the law had not infected his temper with any mercy of ambition, avarice, or resentment. His thing positive or litigious; he did not know what notions were no less steady and unshaken, than it was to wrangle on indifferent points, to triumph just and upright. In a word, he concluded his in the superiority of his understanding, or to be course among the same well-chosen friendships and supercilious on the side of truth. He joined the alliances with which he began it.”_" Freeholder,” greatest delicacy of good breeding to the greatest No. 39.
From the Dublin University Magazine.
LEAVES FROM THE LIFE OF PRINCE TALLEYRAND.
PART IV. CONCLUSION.
Soon after the elevation of Louis Philippe nomination as contrary to the policy which to the throne of France, that sagacious he considered it the interest of France to sovereign, desiring to draw closer the bonds adopt. M. Bignon concurred with the of national amity with Britain ; and feel- other ministers in disapproving such an aping, moreover, that France, emerging from pointment. Finding such to be the unania great internal political convulsion, with a mous opinion of the cabinet, the king put throne unsupported by the traditions of the an end to the conference. past or the right of legitimacy, had need of The following day Talleyrand dined with support from foreign alliance, and could M. Lafitte. " I thank you," said he, to look nowhere at that moment for such aid the minister, “for the compliments you and countenance so naturally as to Britain, paid me yesterday at the chateau. I know the first of the European States which ac- all: the king has related it to me.” “ You knowledged the Revolution of the Barri- are aware, then,” replied Lafitte, “ of the cades, ardently wished to send to London, terms in which I spoke of your capacity.” as his representative, a diplomatist distin- "Let that pass,” rejoined Talleyrand. guished at once by great ability, by a pre-“I added," continued Lafitte, “that I disposition to the British alliance, and by believed you to be incapable of violating the respect which illustrious descent is so your word.' “That," resumed Talleysure to obtain from the British aristocracy. rand," is what I meant to thank you for.” With these views his choice fell on Talley-" It is quite true, however," observed Larand. On the 4th September, 1830, he fitte, “ that I also spoke of your unpopuaccordingly submitted to the council of his larity.” Talleyrand smiled, and was siministers, assembled in the Tuileries, the lent. In a few hours afterwards Lafitte question of nominating his highness the learned from the mouth of the king that Prince Talleyrand to the embassy at Lon- Talleyrand was ambassador to the Court of don. This proposition instantly met seri- St. James. ous opposition in the cabinet: M. Lafitte This was one of the earliest cases in declared that such a choice would, in his which Louis Philippe showed that determiopinion, be attended with considerable dan- nation to interfere personally in the affairs ger, inasmuch as it would be extremely un- of the state, which has since rendered his popular. This opinion was still more reign so remarkable, and excited such lively warmly espoused by M. Dupont (de remonstrances on the part of the advocates l'Eure). Count Molė, who is well known for constitutional government, who regard to have always leaned to a Russian rather the Royal irresponsibility, and the abstithan an English alliance, opposed such al nence of the sovereign from personal inter