erns. Perhaps no rulers have in our time | soil till he was more than thirty years old. had a stronger hold on the affection of His speech bewrayed his foreign origin subjects than the Emperor Francis, and and breeding. His love for his native his son-in-law, the Emperor Napoleon. land, though the most amiable part of his But imagine a ruler with no better title character, was not likely to endear him to than Napoleon, and no better understand his British subjects. That he was never ing than Francis. Richard Cromwell was so happy as when he could exchange St. such a ruler; and, as soon as an arm was James's for Hernhausen ; that, year after lifted up against him, he fell without a year, our fleets were employed to convoy struggle, amidst universal derision. George him to the Continent; that the interests the First and George the Second were in a of his kingdom were as nothing to him situation which bore some resemblance to when compared with the interests of his that of Richard Cromwell. They were Electorate, could scarcely be denied. As saved from the fate of Richard Cromwell to the rest, he had neither the qualities by the strenuous and able exertions of the which make dulness respectable, nor the Whig party, and by the general conviction qualities which make libertinism attractive. that the nation had no choice but between He had been a bad son and a worse father; the house of Brunswick and Popery. But an unfaithful husband and an ungraceful by no class were the Guelphs regarded lover. Not one magnanimous or humane with that devoted affection, of which Charles action is recorded of him; but many inthe First, Charles the Second, and James stances of meanness, and of a harshness the Second, in spite of the greatest faults, which, but for the strong constitutional and in the midst of the greatest misfortunes, restraints under which he was placed, received innumerable proofs. Those Whigs might have made the misery of his peowho stood by the new dynasty so manfully ple. with purse and sword, did so on principles

He died ; and at once

new "world independent of, and indeed almost incom- opened. The young King was a born Enpatible with, the sentiment of devoted glishman. All his tastes and habits, good loyalty. The moderate Tories regarded or bad, were English. No portion of his the foreign dynasty as a great evil, which subjects had any thing to reproach him must be endured for fear of a greater evil. with. Even the remaining adherents of In the eyes of the high Tories, the Elector the house of Stuart could scarcely impute was the most hateful of robbers and tyrants. to him the guilt of usurpation. He was The crown of another was on his head; not responsible for the Revolution, for the the blood of the brave and loyal was on his Act of Settlement, for the suppression of hands. Thus, during many years, the the risings of 1715 and of 1745. He was Kings of England were objects of strong innocent of the blood of Derwentwater and personal aversion to many of their subjects, Kilmarnock, of Balmerino and Cameron. and of strong personal attachment to none. Born more than fifty years after the old They found, indeed, firm and cordial sup line had been expelled, fourth in descent port against the pretender to their throne; and third in succession of the Hanoverian but this support was given, not at all for dynasty, he might plead some show of hetheir sake, but for the sake of a religious reditary right. His age, his appearance, and political system which would have been and all that was known of his character, endangered by their fall. This support, conciliated public savor. He was in the too, they were compelled to purchase by bloom of youth ; his person and address perpetually sacrificing their private inclina- were pleasing. Scandal imputed to him tions to the party which had set them on no vice; and Aattery might, without any the throne, and which maintained them glaring absurdity, ascribe to him many there.

princely virtues. At the close of the reign of George the It is not strange, therefore, that the Second, the feeling of aversion with which sentiment of loyalty, a sentiment which the house of Brunswick had long been re- had lately seemed to be as much out of'. garded by half the nation had died away; date as the belief in witches or the pracbut no feeling of affection to that house tice of pilgrimage, should, from the day of had yet sprung up. There was little, in his accession, have begun to revive. The deed, in the old King's character to inspire Tories in particular, who had always been esteem or tenderness.

He was not our inclined to King-worship, and who had countryman. He never set foot on our long felt with pain the want of an idol be

fore whom they could bow themselves contaminating influence of such society. down, were as joyful as the priests of Apis, The moral advantages of the system of when, after a long interval, they had found education which formed the Duke of York, a new calf to adore. It was soon clear the Duke of Cumberland, and the Queen that George the Third was regarded by a of Denmark, may perhaps be questioned. portion of the nation with a very different George the Third was indeed no libertine; feeling from that which his two predeces- but he brought to the throne a mind only sors had inspired. They had been merely half opened, and was for some time entirely first Magistrates, Doges, Stadtholders; he under the influence of his mother and of was emphatically a King, the anointed of his Groom of the Stole, John Stuart, Earl heaven, the breath of his people's nostrils. of Bute. The years of the widowhood and mourning The Earl of Bute was scarcely known, of the Tory party were over. Dido had even by name, to the country which he was kept faith long enough to the cold ashes of soon to govern. He had indeed, a short a former lord; she had at last found a time before he came of age, been chosen comforter, and recognized the vestiges of to fill a vacancy which, in the middle of a the old flame. The golden days of Harley parliament, had taken place among the would return; the Somersets, the Lees, Scotch representative peers. He had disand the Wyndhams would again surround obliged the Whig ministers by giving some the throne. The latitudinarian Prelates, silent votes with the Tories, had consewho had not been ashamed to correspond quently lost his seat at the next dissolution, with Doddridge and to shake hands with and had never been re-elected. Near Whiston, would be succeeded by divines twenty years had elapsed since he had of the temper of South and Atterbury. The borne any part in politics. He had passed devotion which had been so signally shown some of those years at his seat in one of the to the house of Stuart—which had been Hebrides, and from that retirement he had proof against defeats, confiscations, and emerged as one of the household of Prince proscriptions, which perfidy, oppression, Frederic. Lord Bute, excluded from public ingratitude, could not weary out—was now life, had found out many ways of amusing transferred entire to the house of Bruns- his leisure. He was a tolerable actor in priwick. If George the Third would but vate theatricals, and was particularly sucaccept the homage of the Cavaliers and cessful in the part of Lothario. A handsome High-churchmen, he should be to them all leg, to which both painters and satirists that Charles the First and Charles the Sec- took care to give prominence, was among ond had been.

his chief qualifications for the stage. He The Prince whose accession was thus devised quaint dresses for masquerades. hailed by a great party long estranged from He dabbled in geometry, mechanics, and his house, had received from nature a strong botany. He paid some attention to anwill, a firmness of temper to which a harsh- tiquities and works of art, and was coner name night perhaps be given, and an sidered in his own circle as a judge of understanding not, indeed, acute or en- painting, architecture, and poetry. It is larged, but such as qualified him to be a said that his spelling was incorrect. But good man of business. But his character though, in our time, incorrect spelling is had not yet fully developed itself. He had justly considered as a proof of sordid ignobeen brought up in strict seclusion. The rance, it would be most unjust to apply the detractors of the Princess-Dowager of same rule to people who lived a century Wales affirmed that she had kept her chil- ago. The novel of Sir Charles Grandison dren from commerce with society, in order was published about the time at which Lord that she might hold an undivided empire Bute made his appearance at Leicester over their minds. She gave a very differ- House. Our readers may perhaps remement explanation of her conduct. She would ber the account which Charlotte Grandison

gladly, she said, see her sons and daugh- gives of her two lovers. One of them, a • ters mix in the world, if they could do so fashionable baronet, who talks French and

without risk to their morals. But the prof- Italian fluently, cannot write a line in his ligacy of the people of quality alarmed her. own language without some sin against The young men were all rakes; the young orthography; the other, who is represented women made love, instead of waiting till it as a most respectable specimen of the young was made to them. She could not bear to aristocracy, and something of a virtuoso, is expose those whom she loved best to the described as spelling pretty well for a lord.


On the whole, the Earl of Bute might fairly William and Mary to the throne. But it be called a man of cultivated mind. He cannot be denied that, under the new syswas also a man of undoubted honor. But tem, the public interests and the public his understanding was narrow, and his morals were seriously endangered by corrupmanners cold and haughty. His qualifi- tion and faction. During the long struggle cations for the part of a statesman were against the Stuarts the chief object of the best described by Frederic, who often in- most enlightened statesmen had been to dulged in the unprincely luxury of sneering strengthen the House of Commons. The at his dependents. “Bute,' said his royal struggle was over, the victory was won, the highness, you are the very man to be House of Commons was supreme in the envoy at some small, proud German court state; and all the vices which had till then where there is nothing to do.'

been latent in the representative system were Scandal represented the Groom of the rapidly developed by prosperity and power. Stole as the favored lover of the Princess. Scarcely had the executive government Dowager. He was undoubtedly her confi- become really responsible to the House of dential friend. The influence which the Commons, when it began to appear that the two united exercised over the mind of the House of Commons was not really responKing was for a time unbounded. The sible to the nation. Many of the constitprincess, a woman and a foreigner, was uent assemblies were under the absolute not likely to be a judicious adviser about control of individuals : many were notoriaffairs of state. The earl could scarcely ously at the command of the highest bidbe said to have served even a noviciate in der. The debates were not published; it politics. His notions of government had was very seldom known out of doors how a been acquired in the society which had gentleman had voted. Thus, while the been in the habit of assembling round ministry was accountable to the Parliament, Frederic at Kew and Leicester llouse. the majority of the Parliament was That society consisted principally of To-countable to nobody. Under such circumries, who had been reconciled to the house stances, nothing could be more natural than of Hanover by the civility with which the that the members should insist on being Prince had treated them, and by the hope of paid for their votes, should form themselves obtaining high preferment when he should into combinations for the purpose of raiscome to the throne. Their political creed was ing the price of their votes, and should at a peculiar modification of Toryism. It was critical conjunctures extort large wages by the creed neither of the Tories of the seven- threatening a strike. Thus the Whig teenth, 'nor of the Tories of the nineteenth ministers of George the First and George century; it was the creed, not of Filmer and the Second, were compelled to reduce corSacheverell, not of Perceval and Eldon, but ruption to a system, and to practise it on a of the sect of which Bolingbroke may be con- gigantic scale. sidered as the chief doctor. This sect de If we are right as to the cause of these serves commendation for having pointed out abuses, we can scarcely be wrong as to the and justly reprobated some great abuses remedy. The remedy was surely not to which sprang up during the long domination deprive the House of Commons of its of the Whigs. But it is far easier to point weight in the state. Such a course would out and reprobate abuses, than to propose undoubtedly have put an end to parliamentreforms; and the reforms which Boling- ary corruption and to parliamentary facbroke proposed would either have been ut- tions; for when votes cease to be of importterly inefficient, or would have produced ance they will cease to be bought ; and much more mischief than they would have when knaves can get nothing by combinremoved.

ing they will cease to combine. But to The revolution had saved the nation destroy corruption and faction by introfrom one class of evils, but had at the same ducing despotism, would have been to cure time—such is the imperfection of all things bad by worse. The proper remedy evihuman-engendered or aggravated another dently was, to make the House of Comclass of evils which required new remedies. mons responsible to the nation; and this Liberty and property were secure from the was to be effected in two ways—first, by attacks of prerogative. Conscience was giving publicity to parliamentary proceedrespected. No government ventured to in- ings, and thus placing every member on fringe any of the rights solemnly recog: his trial before the tribunal of public opinnized by the instrument which had called ion: and secondly, by so reforming the con

stitution of the House, that no man should cession, appeared some signs which indibe able to sit in it who had not been re- cated the approach of a great change. The turned by a respectable and independent speech which he made to his council was body of constituents.

not submitted to the cabinet. It was drawn Bolingbroke and Bolingbroke's disciples up by Bute, and contained some expresrecommended a very different mode of sions which might be construed into reflectreating the diseases of the state. Their tions on the conduct of affairs during the doctrine was, that a vigorous use of the late reign. Pitt remonstrated, and begged prerogative by a patriot King would at that these expressions might be softened once break all factious combinations, and down in the printed copy; but it was not supersede the pretended necessity of brib-till after some hours of altercation that Bute ing members of Parliament. The King yielded ; and, even after Bute had yielded, had only to resolve that he would be mas- the King affected to hold out till the folter, that he would not be held in thraldom lowing afternoon. On the same day on by any set of men, that he would take for which this singular contest took place, ministers any persons in whom he had con- Bute was not only sworn of the privy counfidence, without distinction of party, and cil, but introduced into the cabinet. that he would restrain his servants from Soon after this, Lord Holderness, one of influencing, by immoral means, either the the secretaries of state, in pursuance of a constituent body or the representative body. plan concerted with the court, resigned the This childish scheme proved that those seals. Bute was instantly appointed to the who proposed it knew nothing of the nature vacant place. A general election speedily of the evil with which they pretended to followed, and the new secretary entered deal. The real cause of the prevalence of parliament in the only way in which he corruption and faction was, that a House then could enter it, as one of the sixteen of Commons, not accountable to the peo- representative peers of Scotland.* ple, was more powerful than the King. Had the ministers been firmly united, it Bolingbroke's remedy could be applied only can scarcely be doubted that they would by a King more powerful than the House have been able to withstand the court. The of Commons. How was the patriot Prince parliamentary influence of the Whig aristo govern in defiance of the body without tocracy, combined with the genius, the virwhose consent he could not equip a sloop, tue, and the fame of Pitt, would have been keep a battalion under arms, send an em- irresistible. But there had been in the bassy, or defray even the charges of his cabinet of George the Second latent jealown household ? Was he to dissolve the ousies and enmities, which now began to Parliament? And what was he likely to show themselves. Pitt had been enstranggain by appealing to Sudbury and olded from his old ally Legge, the chancellor Šarum against the venality of their repre- of the exchequer. Some of the ministers sentatives? Was he to send out privy seals ? | were envious of Pitt's popularity; others Was he to levy ship-money? If so, this were, not altogether without cause, disgustboasted reform must commence in all prob-ed by his imperious and haughty demeanability by civil war, and, if consummated, or; others, again, were honestly opposed must be consummated by the establishment to some parts of his policy. They admitted of absolute monarchy. Or was the patriot that he had found the country in the depths King to carry the House of Commons with of humiliation, and had raised it to the him in his upright designs ? By what height of glory; they admitted that he had means? Interdicting himself from the use conducted the war with energy, ability, and of corrupt influence, what motive was he splendid success. But they began to hint to address to the Dodingtons and Winning- that the drain on the resources of the state tons ? Was cupidity, strengthened by was unexampled, and that the public debt habit, to be laid asleep by a few fine sen- was increasing with a speed at which Montences about virtue and union?

tague or Godolphin would have stood aghast. Absurd as this theory was, it had many Some of the acquisitions made by our fleets admirers, particularly among men of letters. and armies were, it was acknowledged, It was now to be reduced to practice; and profitable as well as honorable; but now the result was, as any man of sagacity must * In the reign of Anne, the House of Lords have foreseen, the most piteous and ridic. had resolved that, under the 23d article of Union, ulous of failures.

no Scotch peer could be created a peer of Great

Britain. This resolution was not annulled till On the very day of the young King's ac- the year 1782.

that George the Second was dead, a cour-y on one occasion, complained bitterly, that a tier might venture to ask why England was man who had never read Vattel should preto become a party in a dispute between two sume to undertake the direction of foreign German powers. What was it to her wheth-affairs. But these defects were more than er the house of Hapsburg or the house of redeemed by high and rare gifts; by a Brandenburg ruled in Silesia? Why were strange power of inspiring great masses of the best English regiments fighting on the men with confidence and affection; by an Maine? Why were the Prussian battalions eloquence which not only delighted the ear, paid with English gold? The great minister but stirred the blood and brought tears into seemed to think it beneath him to calculate the eyes; by originality in devising plans; the price of victory. As long as the Tower by vigor in executing them. Grenville, on guns were fired, as the streets were illumin- the other hand, was by nature and habit a ated, as French banners were carried in tri- man of details. He had been bred a lawumph through the streets of London, it was yer; and he had brought the industry and lo him a matter of indifference to what extent acuteness of the Temple into official and the public burdens were augmented. Nay, parliamentary life. He was supposed to be he seemed to glory in the magnitude of these intimately acquainted with the whole fiscal sacrifices, which the people, fascinated by system of the country. He had paid espebis eloquence and success, had too readily cial attention to the law of Parliament, and made, and would long and bitterly regret. was so learned in all things relating to the There was no check on waste or embez- privileges and orders of the House of Comzlement. Our commissaries returned from mons, that those who loved him least prothe camp of Prince Ferdinand to buy bor- nounced him the only person competent to oughs, to rear palaces, to rival the magni- succeed Onslow in the Chair. His speechficence of the old aristocracy of the realm. es were generally instructive, and some Already had we borrowed, in four years of times, from the gravity and earnestness with war, more than the most skilful and econo- which he spoke, even impressive; but nevmical government would pay in forty years er brilliant, and generally tedious. Indeed, of peace, But the prospect of peace was even when he was at the head of affairs, he as remote as ever. It could not be doubted sometimes found it difficult to obtain the that France, smarting and prostrate. would ear of the House. In disposition as well consent to fair terms of accommodation; as in intellect, he differed widely from his but this was not what Pitt wanted. War brother-in-law. Pitt was utterly regardless had made him powerful and popular : with of money. He would scarcely stretch out war, all that was brightest in his life was his hand to take it; and when it came, he associated : for war his talents were pecu- threw it away with childish profusion. liarly fitted. He had at length begun to love Grenville, though strictly upright, was war for its own sake, and was more dispos- grasping and parsimonious. Pilt was a man ed to quarrel with neutrals than to make of excitable nerves, sanguine in hope, easily peace with enemies.

elated by success and popularity, keenly Such were the views of the Duke of Bed- sensible of injury, but prompt to forgive; ford and of the Earl of Hardwicke; but no Grenville's character was stern, melancholy, member of the government held these opin- and pertinacious. Nothing was more reions so strongly as George Grenville, the markable in him than his inclination alTreasurer of the Navy. George Grenville ways to look on the dark side of things. was brother-in-law of Pitt, and had always He was the raven of the House of Combeen reckoned one of Pitt's personal and po- mons, always croaking defeat in the midst litical friends. But it is difficult to conceive of triumphs, and bankruptcy with an overtwo men of talents and integrity more un- flowing exchequer. Burke, with general like each other. Pitt, as his sister often applause, compared Grenville, in a time of said, knew nothing accurately except Spen- quiet and plenty, to the evil spirit whom ser's Fairy Queen. He had never applied Ovid described looking down on the stately himself steadily to any branch of knowledge. temples and wealthy haven of Athens, and He was a wretched financier. He never scarce able to refrain from weeping because became familiar even with the rules of that she could find nothing at which to weep. House of which he was the brightest orna. Such a man was not likely to be popular, ment. He had never studied public law as But to unpopularity Grenville opposed a doga system; and was, indeed, so ignorant of ged determination, which sometimes forced the whole subject, that George the Second, even those who hated him to respect him.

« VorigeDoorgaan »