Page images
[ocr errors]

forgot for the moment their own sufferings, which were lost in the feelings which would be naturally inspired towards "THE SOVEREIGN", which the baseness of the press had made it fashionable to call him; and baseness such as was exhibited in that press, during the last ten years of this reign, never was equalled before in the world. The word " king" had almost fallen out of use: the country was called an "empire" instead of a "kingdom"; and a law having been made for the new regulation of measures, the new measure was called the "Imperial measure in the act of parliament making the regulation. The nation had fallen into the use of a crouching tone: every thing seemed to spring from a military source. It was no longer "the king has directed me", the "king has ordered me ", but "the sovereign has commanded me, &c." This base phraseology descended down to the under-lings of the most distant branches and sprigs of royalty; and we had from some man or some woman in her service, "The Princess ELIZABETH has commanded me to tell you, &c." Instead of that sober, decent, and sincerely respectful language, unaccompanied with servility, which had always distinguished persons in authority about the throne, we seemed to have imported all the flummery of the French with all the naked slavery of the Austrians. Instead of saying that a certain paper had been laid before the king, or sub.

mitted to the king, it was a paper "laid at his majesty's feet". Laid at the feet of the old queen, too, and of the princesses; and, it is very curious, but perfectly true, that in the exact degree that this servile language crept into use, in that same degree royalty sunk in the estimation of the people, who, if restrained from printing, could not be restrained from talking; and it may be truly said, that the measures and manners of this king's reign did more to shake the long-settled prejudices of the people in favour of kingly government, than had ever been done since the days of Cromwell.

493. At the end of seven years of this sort of life, the king died at WINDSOR-castle, on the 26. of June, 1830, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. He was buried in about ten days after wards, at Windsor, with a pomp and at a national expense quite in accordance with all the manners and expenses that had marked his life. But, the curious thing is, the manner in which the people conducted themselves on this occasion. When, about three years before, the DUKE OF YORK was buried, it was said, that Swirr's observation, that "the merriest faces were seen in mourning coaches," was fully verified. But how was it now, then, on the burial-day of "THE SOVE REIGN"? The people of London shut up their shops, as they had done at the burial of the sovereign's unfortunate wife: but, never was

[ocr errors]

there such a day of holiday-keeping known since
London was first founded. It was early in July,
the day was beautifully fine, the whole of the
immense population seemed, with one accord, as
if by positive compact, to be resolved on a day
of pleasure. The roads in every direction were,
by nine o'clock in the morning, crowded with car-
riages of all sorts, from the glass-coach, carrying
tradesmen and their wives and daughters, down
to the market carts, and even wagons, carrying
the working people, while thousands upon thou-
sands went on foot; and all bent on a day of plea-
sure. The Thames was almost literally covered
with water-vehicles of every description. More
than ten thousand people went by water to Rich-
mond, and, it was said that fourteen thousand
went to Gravesend; while all the villages, short
of those distances, exhibited scenes like those of
a Whit Monday, rows of men on benches, out of
doors, drinking and smoking; dances on the
green-sward; fiddling, singing, and all those
other demonstrations of a resolution to cast away
care for the moment. And, which was the most
curious circumstance of the whole, there appeared
to have been no concert in this case; there had
been no public invitation to this mirthful con-
duct; politics seemed to have been forgotten for
the day; no motive of any kind appeared in the
conduct of any part of the people: and they
seem to have been urged to this unparalleled

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

unanimity by a sort of spontaneous and almost instinctive feeling; as if nature herself had told them that it was time to rub out the furrows, worn in their cheeks by the tears which they had shed for "THE Sovereign's" unfortunate wife, whose heart had been broken by the thrusting of her from the scene of the coronation by the hands of a common boxer for prizes!

494. Historians usually conclude the history of a reign by giving the CHARACTER of the reigner. I shall not do this, because it would not be prudent to say the whole of what I ought to say; and because, to say, a part, is, in fact, to tell lie; a lie being a suppression of the truth, as well as a stating of what is false. In 1810, two brothers of the name of HUNT, one a very


writer, the other a printer, one edited, and the other printed a very excellent and honest newspaper, called "THE EXAMINER," of which these gentlemen were joint-proprietors, were prosecuted by the attorney-general GIBBS, and sentenced to be imprisoned two years, in different jails, and to pay a fine of 5001. each at the end of the time; and their crime was, having, in their paper, called this king SARDANAPALUS, who, as the reader well knows, was at once a tyrannical, cruel, and despicably effeminate, debauched, and senseless wretch, who once ruled over Babylon, and whose oppressions, arising from his squanderings on costly things and costly attire, and on

One a


of whic

vere pres

of the

abandoned men and women, drove his subjects to rebel against him, and compelled him to put an end to his own life to avoid being dethroned by them. This ruinous sentence on the Messrs. HUNT, passed just at the outset of the regency, taught the press good manners: and, during the whole of the 20 years of the regency and reign, it seemed never to forget this terrific example.

495. But, now that "THE SOVEREIGN" is dead, we may surely speak of him as we like? By no means; and one of these same Messrs. HUNT was, during the reign of George IV. punished for printing what was called a libel on George III, who had been dead for some time! To make up for this restraint, we are, however, permitted to write and speak, to our heart's content, in praise of kings, dead or alive, without any liability to punishment; we may, in praise of them, not only say the whole truth, but may add as many and as monstrous lies as we please; and, great God!, how many are the volumes of most atrocious lies that have been uttered, in speech and through the press, in praise of this king; beginning with the speech of Sir ROBERT PEEL, in the House of Commons, who was the secretary of state for the home department, and who, in moving the address to the new king, was reported to have said: "That in the course of a "considerable portion of that time during which "his late Majesty reigned over the country, we

and se


the end

in thei


a tra


over Ba

om his sp

attire, a


« PreviousContinue »