« PreviousContinue »
slavery as a part, the seeds of dissolution. He foresees the impossibility of maintaining the French West Indies, the advantages of which must be yielded (he presumes) to that force of things which makes the destiny of states. M. de Talleyrand foresees this, and at the same time looking around him, and observing also the social condition of the country he had returned to-in which the passions long agitated wanted some vent to their over-excited energies and ambitions-he proposes as a drain for that superabundant violence and activity which distracted France from all repose, some vast and untried land, which at a distance from the early theatre of the Revolution, might, in the variety of schemes and the transposition of hopes to which it opened,-absorb some portion of that spirit which had become too vast for the kingdom it was confined in. It was Egypt he was looking to as at once a refuge for the agriculture of the West Indies, and for the passions of various kinds which agitated his native country.
"And how many Frenchmen are there," he exclaims, "who ought to embrace this idea with joy! How many are there to whom, if it were only for a moment, another sky has become a want! And those, who now alone have lost all that gave beauty to their native land beneath the knife of the assassin-and those to whom that land is become sterile-and those to whom it is only fruitful in regret or remorse-and those who cannot resolve to found their hopes in that spot which is already occupied with the memories of their misfortunes-and that multitude of political invalids-those inflexible characters which no reverses can bend-those ardent imaginations which no reasoning can control, no event disenchant-and those who find themselves too confined in their native land-and those who thirst after speculation from avarice, and those who love it from adventure-and then, again, those who burn with the desire to give their name to discoveries, to the foundation of cities, to eras in civilization-such as under a settled government will still find France too full of agitation-such as find her (even so she is) too subdued and calm-those, in short, who, on the one hand, cannot support a system of equality-those, on the other, who spurn every idea of dependance."
There are in these essays, to which we thus cursorily allude, many thoughts and reflections which could not have suggested themselves to a man not thoroughly acquainted with the action of life; as, on the other hand, we find in the actions of their writer the frequent proof of those talents which the mere commerce with men could never have developed or produced. It is for what he has written and what he has done, that M. de Talleyrand will be most interesting to posterity. To us, we confess, he appears most interesting as what he is— to us he appears most interesting as a living portrait of all that was, if not the best, at least the most brilliant in the liberal Nobility of the period antecedent to the Revolution-as an emanation, as it were, of the spirit of Voltaire, who threw the mantle of his genius on the age which immediately succeeded him.
We find the wit, the levity, the knowledge, the philosophy, the railing at all principle rather than the firm attachment to any-we find all the vices and virtues, living and extant, that are to be found in the sparkling pages of the recluse of Ferney; with the same passion for looking at great things through little motives, with the same pleasure for playing on the foibles and weaknesses of mankind
rather than of stirring up their nobler and sublimer energies, which distinguished the Encyclopedists-we see the statesman, half cynic, half courtier, consolidating a revolution with a joke, and exclaiming, at the satisfactory consummation of his various achievements, "Le voilà tout fini, il ne faut maintenant que les feux d'artifice, et un bon mot-pour le peuple."
And now, not a long list of M. de Talleyrand's witticisms, but one word as to their character; for it is not so much for the mere language and turn of expression that our diplomatist's sayings are so remarkable as for their accurate and deep thought. "M. de Metternich est un politique de semaine," contains all that history will say of that eminent individual. We ourselves remember a remark which may serve as another illustration of the peculiar style of M. de Talleyrand's expressions. All the world were talking of Lord Anglesea's recall from Ireland, and the reasons for it. The Duke of Wellington's intentions respecting Catholic emancipation were still a mystery-" Quand on rappelle le Lieutenant," said the shrewd politican, "c'est que le général veut livrer bataille."
If we want an example of the effect of Government, here is a relic and image of a Government that is passed, that can never come again -living amongst us. M. de Talleyrand is a liberal, but such a liberal as was likely to spring up in the precincts of an absolute court: a delicate, and in one sense of the word, a beautiful exotic, but wanting all that sturdiness and strength of growth which distinguishes the plant rising from a congenial soil.
His notions of freedom were all, perhaps, that thought and philosophy can give, when they are not developed and confirmed by action. Following liberty from speculation, he was more likely to be disgusted at any evils and calamities that rose up in his way, than if he had been following it by habit. Neither was he cheered on in his career by those ancient recollections, connecting freedom with the history of his country, which armed the hand of Brutus, and breathed a living fire into the great soul of Sydney. Most unjust would it be, if we were to judge M. de Talleyrand separate from the state of society in which he was reared, and the changes and convulsions amidst which he was afterwards thrown. It is then with no anxiety to pronounce him either a monster of infamy, or a miracle of virtue;-but with the simple wish to do justice to his times, and the man they produced-that we venture to close our observations on M. de Talleyrand-by presuming, that when considered by an impartial posterity, he will appear a person of very extraordinary abilities, who (for the age in which he appeared,) possessed all the talents that could justify ambition and just the virtues, which were not incompatible with its success.
Hulton of Hulton-Swing at College-New Musical Instrument-High Price of Beggars-The Barricade of Liberty-A truly Great Man-The true Guardian of the Laws-The Benefit of Clergy-Free and Easy Monarchs-Measure of Colonial Relief-What's in a Name?
HULTON OF HULTON.-The correspondence of Lord Althorp and Hulton of Hulton, the commander at the glorious action of Peterloo, is a curious specimen of a system which the Ministers must soon give up in despair. We mean the grand conciliation plan, according to the rules of which it is safe to despise friends, but enemies must be treated with respectful attention. The letters of Lord Althorp and this pompous magistrate form together such a caricature of this poor-spirited principle of action, that it will be now fairly laughed out of the cabinet.
Mr. Hulton, indignant at some expression which fell from Lord Althorp in speaking of the Manchester massacre on a late occasion, announced his intention of retiring from the Commission of the Peace-an announcement which appears to have filled his brother magistrates with despair. Whereupon one of them, a Mr. Phillips, writes a most angry letter to his Lordship, and tells him to pause in his headlong career. "You know not what you are doing," he cries," with your Reform crotchets; you have offended Hulton of Hulton Park; he is going to retire entirely, owing to something you said; and the Editor of The Times' knew better than to print any thing against Hulton of Hulton; therefore, for God's sake, turn from the error of your ways, and perhaps Hulton of Hulton may, after all, consent to stay on the bench."
What step might be expected from a Minister acquainted with the art of governing? Mr. Phillips is a Deputy Lieutenant; and the first conclusion a mau of ordinary judgment would come to is, that one so intemperate, and so silly, as to address such a letter to a Minister, respecting what fell from him in his place in Parliament, is utterly unfit to retain his situation.
But what does Lord Althorp do? He straightway sits down to appease the wrath of Hulton of Hulton! "I did not say this; I could not say that; only eloquent men say these things, not speakers like me;-I offend the feelings of no one, much less a man of the rank of Hulton of Hulton," &c. &c.
The consequence is just what might be expected from the Peterloo general. "Oh, ho!" cries the magistrate, with the air of the bull-frog in the fable, "here is this fellow of a Minister humbling himself before me. He puts his neck under my foot, and shall not I, Hulton of Hulton, trample upon it with all the weight of a Tory Deputy Lieutenant?" He writes. Oh! poor Lord Althorp, how he must have blushed at his own folly as he read this bombastic epistle!
But patience: the Chancellor of the Exchequer had put himself in the wrong, and must make the best of it. He tries a second step along the slimy path of conciliation. Nothing will do: the magisterial bantam now crows louder and louder the Chancellor of the Exchequer is entangled in his own cobweb of excuses, and the magistrate next informs him that he has called in his friends to read his letters, and that they are all chuckling over his abasement in a grand chorus of
This is too much even for the patient and all-suffering Lord Althorp, and he finishes the correspondence with a short epistle as black as milk can make it.
"Sir—I have had the honour of receiving your letter. I may have been wrong in volunteering a letter to you. My reason for doing it was, that I never wish, if I can avoid it, to give offence to any one. I was informed I had given offence to you. I had not intended to do so, and I wrote to you with the intention of removing any such impression from your mind, if it existed there. In this I have failed, and, therefore, I do not feel myself called upon to say anything more.
"I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
"Downing-street, Nov. 26, 1831."
There is a rejoinder of the Great Unpaid, taunting his Lordship with his resolution not to say any more," and putting him in a dilemma about his correspondence with the Birmingham Union, and the subsequent proclamation against it. The Tories, in the favourite slang of Manchester, will call this putting his Lordship's head into chancery, and keeping it there. There are Reformers who will venture to cry out in the same tongue-serve him right.
How different is Lord Melbourne's treatment of poor Mr. Iles, a Reformer, the founder of a Union, who, when the society was oppressed by a magistrate ignorant enough to quote the King's speech as law, applied to him for advice and
"Whitehall, Dec. 13, 1831. "Sir-I am directed by Viscount Melbourne to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday's date, inclosing a copy of the rules and regulations, and statement of the objects of a Society proposed to be established at Fairford, designated as 'The Political Union for Fairford and its vicinity,' and desiring to be informed whether such Institution be at variance with existing laws, or objectionable in the view of the Ministers of the Crown. And I am to acquaint you that Lord Melbourne declines giving any opinion on the subject.
"I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
"S. M. PHILLIPPS."
"To Mr. Richard Iles, Fairford, Gloucestershire." Poor Iles! Are we to believe that if you had been an over-bearing Tory, and had dated from Iles Park, and been "a man of my rank," you would have had a letter which would have spared your feelings and conciliated your esteem? —or, no! let us hope for a less ungenerous distinction, though not a wiser one. The friend of Reform was already gained-the enemy was to be softened. One would have hoped, after Lord Ebrington's spirited though friendly rebuke on the night that the Reformers of the House of Commons preserved by one vote the Ministry and the country, that this fatal system of overtures to the Implacable would have been abandoned. We firmly believe that had Mr. Hulton been a Reformer, Lord Althorp would not have written to him. Once more respectfully, earnestly, we entreat the Government to beware of that old Whig policy which no Whig Ministry have pursued but to their ruin.
UNIVERSITY INTELLIGENCE-SWING AT COLLEGE.-Two attempts have been lately made to blow up the Cambridge Post-office. At length Mr. Brane, student of Trinity College, has been caught in the fact. He was found inserting in the box a parcel of gunpowder, with a piece of lighted touch-paper attached. We are afraid the state of morals among the students of the Universities is pretty nearly as low as it can be. Mr. Brane's object has doubtless been glory: wearied with cat-killing, lamp-breaking, bargee-mauling, and all the series of gown and town squabbles, he has determined to immortalize himself by a "lark," which should reach the very heavens. Mr. Brane stands a good chance of removing from Trinity to Sydney: at the latter college he will take his degree in arts at present he is passing a Bachelor of Laws. His friends will be disappointed to hear that his attempt at taking "honour" has failed, and that he has been obliged "to gulph."
NEW MUSICAL INSTRUMENT.-Mr. Murray, the chemist, in his book on Pulmonary Consumption, tells us that Dr. David Badham has set to music the palpitation and irregular beating of the diseased heart of a female patient in the Royal Infirmary of Glasgow. It forms a kind of pathological waltz. Dr. Johnson observes, that the bars, crotchets, quavers, and demi-quavers are tunefully arranged, and form one of the greatest curiosities in morbid anatomy that was ever witnessed. This is certainly turning a bad heart to good account. The poor lady little thought what kind of Overture the Doctor was making when she gave him her hand-to feel, and permitted him to lay his head on her bosom-to listen.
HIGH PRICE OF BEGGARS.-Juvenal tells us, that the beggar passes the robber singing, thereby showing, that as he has nothing to lose, he is fearless-the robber cannot make him less a beggar. But invention has been carried to a wonderful pitch in these times of civilization. The beggar no longer sings before the robber; he skulks out of his way. He is rich in a property, to know
the value of which has been reserved for modern times-he may be robbed of himself. His muscles, bones, and nerves are wealth. He has nothing in his purse, but he has flesh on his back. The thief wants the very legs on which the fugitive endeavours to escape. We remember laughing at an expression in some book of natural history, in which, under the head of" man," it is said, "The only human production which is an article of commerce is hair." But there is another; the man himself has become a subject of barter. He stands an object of trade, not for his labour while he lives, but his corpse when dead. He is cut down like corn before he is used, and is not threshed, nor ground into flour, but cut up into shreds, in short, Burked. If he were pursued for his teeth, or his hair, he would have wherewithal to purchase his ransom, as the beaver is said to do; but the insatiable Burker must have all. He seizes his prey: life is a superfluity: he extinguishes it for the convenience of carriage. Organization is all he requires; it is his game; he bags it; the anatomist is the consumer. There is an old rhyme about the curlew; a kind of price is set upon his head :
Be he white, be he black,
So it is now of the beggar :
Be he alive, or be he dead,
Guineas, twelve, upon his head.
He is a walking treasure. He cannot buy a dinner, but he himself is a feast for a whole theatre of philosophers. He has not money in his pocket, his wealth is universally diffused: it is neither here nor there, but spread over his whole frame -it is in every pore, and yet available in none. He is like a mortgaged estate, productive to all but the proprietor.
THE BARRICADE OF LIBERTY.-When the Revolution took place last year in Brussels, La Jeunesse de la France issued an address to the Belgians, proclaiming, among other things, that the les barricades feront le tour du monde. They did not, probably, reflect on the barricades penetrating quite to the extent they have done in England, as in the case of the boy mentioned in the following paragraph, who was detected in raising a formidable barrier between himself and the tyranny of a gaol :
"A lad, named William Crockson, has been committed on suspicion of robbing the shop of Mr. Frankam. On Crockson's committal to the Borough Bridewell, he was locked up in one of the yards, which was paved with bricks. Not liking his lodgings, he meditated an escape, and in the short space of three quarters of an hour had unpaved the yard, and constructed a sort of stairs with them, by which he was ascending the wall. The wife of the gaoler had received strict orders to watch him, and at this juncture entered the yard, when, seeing him half way up the wall, she courageously seized him by the legs, and pulled him down. Crockson had tied his bed-clothes together to let himself down when he had reached the top of the wall. It was found that he had moved the extraordinary number of 216 bricks."-Berkshire Chronicle.
A TRULY GREAT MAN.-Moral phenomena occur every day. They spring up like mushrooms in a state of extreme civilization. A few centuries ago, if a husband had, instead of burying the corpse of his wife, sold her to the surgeons, would have been handed down to posterity as a monster. It is now an event of every-day occurrence, and the circumstance may be considered vulgar if there is no charge of Burking connected with the disposal of a man's more valuable half. But what shall we say of the march of civilization when the sale is the least remarkable part of the transaction, and that the scheme of raising money on the dead is carried far beyond the grave or the anatomical theatre? Aware of the appetite for vulgar honours, a person rich in a dead wife has not only sold her, but taking advantage of the general appetite for such details, has himself reaped the wages of publicity, by writing, printing, and crying in the streets the news of his own delinquency. Great men are said to get the start of their age: surely then this is one-after Jonathan Wild's fashion at least.
"The dissolute and depraved miscreant who, it was last week stated, for the purpose of getting rid of the expense and trouble of a funeral, not only disposed of the body of