« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Art. I.-On the present and future Character of the Prince
It is customary to preface all remarks, that in any way tend to discompose the self-love of persons in authority, with declarations of good motive and of zealous attachment to the constitution ; nor is it reckoned unnecessary to do so, even when the blame that
may be thrown upon them is mixed with praise, for in such cases · Attorney-Generals are ready at hand to interpret the praise into malignant cunning, and out of the very conscientiousness of the writer to extract depravity. Yet if such are the blindness and deafness of misrepresentation, what use can there be in preface or protestation of any kind ? What use, in fact, has there been ? Evidently none, or worse than none; for it is but a month or two back, that an Attorney-General expressly denounced all praises of the constitution, let them have been never so habitual or borne out by independence of opinion, as nothing but so many artifices laid up against a day of trial; and a Judge on the bench gave it as his opinion, at the same time, that the most ample proofs of an habitual dislike and exposure of Napoleon's offences were still less exculpatory, inasmuch as a libel upon the government of one's own country was not to be extenuated by a libel upon that of the enemy *.
Without stopping to shew what an attempt is thus made to render the vices of all high situation unreachable, and what an insidious excuse is given to the partial admirers of Bonaparte for declining to say any thing against him, it will be our business, as it always has been in another publication, to care neither for the blame nor the praises of such persons, and still less for their suspicions. To write like Englishmen, and to endeavour that others may speak and act like Englishmen, is
VOL. II. NO. III.
* See the Trial of Mr. Drakard, Proprietor of the Stamford News, fos an article against Military Flogging.
our sole political object; and as no affected dislike of hearing England praised and it's enemy rebuked, can hide from us it's real design, which is only to put a more imposing silence upon truth in general, so having nothing to conceal on our own part, we have no language to use but what is both frank and fearless; and are as little inclined to degrade the truth by an apology, as others are to acknowledge it with or without one.
The impatience of hearing the truth, so betrayed of late by men in public situations, is naturally concluded to be in proportion to their soreness of conscience, whether as individuals or members of a body; for nothing can be more futile than the attempt to throw off the imputation of personal corruption by as. serting that it is for the government in general that they feel and not for themselves. The denouncement of such and such a cor. ruption may indeed not particularly apply to them or to their si. tuation, but it annoys them by it's application to the general character of the system which they approve and of the friends with whom they act; and even were it not so, the voice of inde. pendence is of a nature to irritate every one who, from whatever cause, has not spirit enough to use it. Some it mortifies by contradicting their habitual way of thinking, others by shewing the bad choice they have made even with regard to worldly happi. ness, and all, by making them appear little in the eyes of those whose good opinion they cannot but respect. Thus, the worse part of thein grow more obstinate, and of course more weak, in proportion as they are angered; while the better sort, stricken in the first instance with remorse at feeling how they might have talked and acted had they followed their better impulse, are gra. dually worked into the same gall and irritability in proportion as they find their habits too strong to be conquered, or their shame too humiliating to be acknowledged. How strange, that of the two feelings which uphold a slavish way of thinking, the selfish. ness should scarcely be greater than the pride! Yet nothing can be more true; and sq tender is the self-love of the time-serving, that next to the loss of their interest with one whom they serve, they dread the loss of his good opinion, let him be never so disreputable himself :--they cannot bear to suppose, that after having imbibed their opinions and been spoiled by their flattery, he should learn to despise them; and every step therefore which is taken by others towards so desirable a consummation, is opposed by them with double zeal, and resented as an attack on all that is dear to their welfare, and reputable to their understanding.
Such is the secret of that resentment, I do not say of that hose, tility;---but of that absolute and malicious resentment, which the supporters of a bad system of things never fail to exhibit against a free spirit;-and such in particular are the feelings
which intercept the good advice given to Princes, and always pretend to regard it as something unnecessary and impertinent, if not revolutionary. The misfortune of Princes in this respect has been a common ground of lamentation ever since their existence; and our own times, awful as they have been in exemplifying the dangers of courtly folly, still furnish us with instances of an adu. lation, which, if not in so impious a taste as that of Charles the Second's time, is quite as ridiculous, and considering the under. standings to which it is addressed, little less pernicious. The present Heir to the Crown, a good-natured prince, of no great strength of mind, has been fumed with this incense from his cra. dle; and if his dissipated habits formerly led him into situations, both private and public, in which he must have heard many an unpleasant truth,—such for instance as his quarrels on the turf and his repeated appearances before Parliament for money,—yet it is well known that truths, told in this way, have
little ef. fect. The first business, on these occasions, of a mind that is not strong, is to find an excuse for itself, the second, a recrimination for it's accusers. In the example of the Prince's companions, both might have been close at hand; and 'as to his reproachers in Par. liament, shared as it has long been by factions, he had only to say with a shrug “ Ay, they are not of our side.” Of about the same importance were the indecent and scurrilous pamphlets that have been so profuse against him. Nothing was so easy, or so natural, as to attribute them to wrong motives; and whatever truth they might utter in the midst of falshood or exaggeration, was despised for the mouth from which it came. Thus relieved and reassured, a new pursuit would quickly make him forget these little annoyances, which went rather to his nerves than his con science; and the dose of flattery had only to be doubled in order to secure a continued intoxication. Accordingly in proportion as his Royal Highness displayed a carelessness of disposition, graced by an affable manner, and by political partialities certainly on the liberal side of things, he was exalted for every kind of generosity and princely virtue. Blessed by nature with a good person frank, engaging countenance, he could be no less than a perfect beauty-affability of manner secured him the character of a per. fect gentleman :—and neither ladies, nor wits, nor statesmen were . wanting to assure him, that, taken altogether, he was a perfect prince. If the mutability of things has somewhat disturbed the prevalence of these opinions, they are still broached in public by a singular variety of persons, in spite of the numerous occurrences of his Royal Highness's life, which seem to have restricted his more scrupulous wellwishers to the temperate enjoyment of hoping. It was but a few months ago that two public prints, of
a very opposite description, spoke of him in as passionate terms as ever broke forth from love-sick lady in romance, the Morning Post invoking blessings on the “ beauteous Prince,” and his “ sacred head," and the Political Register assuring us that he was renowned for all the amiable and manly virtues *.” Did he appear in public? He struck all beholders with admiration. "Did he bow. to any of them? Never was such a bow witnessed. Did he stop in Bond Street to kiss the Princess his daughter? Never was such a pathetic sight,-never such paternal affection. It might be imagined, that praises so gross would have little effect upon a mind of the least delicacy; but habit had little for. tified their object to resist gratification :-something high season. ed perhaps was absolutely necessary to render it palatable; and though one or two of the persons more immediately in the royal confidence might have taste and understanding enough to despise it, yet their habits had as little qualified them to be monitors as * his to expect admonition. The person, for instance, who is un. derstood to have enjoyed the Prince's confidence longer and closelier than any other, is Mr. Sheridan,-a man, whose name it is almost impossible to write without an exclamation of impatient regret. With what face could Mr. Sheridan have talked to his Prince of morals, of temperance, of self-command, of the dignity of public character! Or supposing that he could have entered upon topics so astounding, what effect could his words have, when the first comment he would make upon them would be to go and practice what they condemned? But nobody ever suspected him even of the doctrine. His first public action, when he reviv. ed comedy among us, was to exhibit his false ideas of fine cha.
racter in the portrait of Charles Surface ; and his whole life since ' has afforded a melancholy comment upon the hollowness and the danger of such sophisticated estimates of generosity, But if the Prince has gone through the ordinary temptations
* This.panegyric on the part of Mr. Cobbett, had, it must be confessed, rather an air of awkwardness with it, not only on account of the strange novelty of it's style in a work that had so professed to set the great at nought, but because, just at that moment, the Prince was expected to assume the reins of government, and to indulge himself in certain gracious deeds towards such of his loving subjects as had no share in the general freedom. Our magnanimous Reformist, who of all Englishmen indeed is known to have the liveliest horror of restraint, seems to have regarded his Royal Highness as an allaccomplished Amadis coming to rescue his faioting virtue from imprisoni ment; and though circumstances disappointed him at that time, yet it is un
derstood that he is not without his hopes from a similar quarter still, and this is the reason assigned for his late profound sileuce on the subject of the Duke of York's reappointment, the gallant Duke appearing to him no doubt as a sort of Don Galaor, who would do nearly as much good on such occasions as his brother Amadis.