Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

feelings with delight, and struck a kind of willing intoxica. tion into the minds of the most desponding. 66 I never can nor will consent" -- these were given as his words..." to bestow any place or appointment meant to be an asylum or reward for the toils and services of our gallant Soldiers and Seamen, on any account of parliamentary connexion, or in return for parliamentary votes. This is my fixed determination; and I trust I skull never again be solicited in the same way.---There, said they, is a speech worthy of an English prince :---at last we hear the voice of patriotism issning from it's noblest sanctuary ;---the measure, which of all others is calculated to save the country, is announced as the object of him who can best promote it; and par. liamentary corruption,.--corrupt interest of every kind,--- is discovered and denounced by our future monarch !---Adieu, added the sanguine, to the hopes of the courtiers and their creatures ;--adieu to the calculations of one imbecility upon another ;---adieu to the vile expectations of those who trusted to work upon

the Prince's good.nature, and to beguile him into measures that should at once gratify their own pride and fix on him the greatest share of the opprobium.

3. Thus were the wellwishers of the Prince enjoying them. selves and paying his Royal Highness all sorts of prophetic compliments, when rumours of a lamentable contrast arrest their at. tention, and lo, the Duke of York is restored to the office of Commander-in-Chief. It is needless to enter into a question that has been argued in every possible way, and that has long been settled in the minds of all such as regard the evidence of things before connexion of any kind. Suffice it to say, that there are a great number of the “ gallant Soldiers ” mentioned in the Prince's speech above-quoted, to whom this situation would have been a very fit and a very well-earned “reward” for their “ toils and services ;” and that, whatever else may be said in favour of the Duke of York, he was the very last person whom the country ex. i pected or wished to be re-honoured with such an appointment. At this portentous occurrence, the ardent sunk back again into despondency, while the doubtful were reassured of their suspicions respecting the influence of certain connexions over his Royal Highness, and the judges of human nature made up their minds to moralize in future upon the force of habit and the non-exemption of princely intellects from weakness. With such indeed as think upon these subjects, the general impression seems to have been, that if the political habits of his Royal Highness were of a nature to choose the liberal and constitutional side of things, the habits of his nerves and his understanding, if the phrase is allowable, would allow him the choice only when those whom he liked recommended it, or those whom he disliked opposed it; in short,

that

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

that private influence would always be dangerous to his public virtue.

4. This perhaps is still the general opiniorr of thinking persons, and has been strengthened rather than otherwise by a number of little circumstances that have since taken place, not conclusive perhaps of the main point, but too indicative, they think, of a mind far from enlarged. Among these it will be sufficient to notice the Reviews at Wimbledon and the Fete at Carlton House. That a Regent, in these times, should inspect the condition and capability of the soldiery, is, of course, a particular as well as necessary part of his duty ; but there is no proceeding whatever which does not acquire a colour, and help to explain a character, from circumstances. The late reviews were put off from time to time to suit the Prince's convenience, and it is notorious that dur. ing the delay our army in Portugal was in distress for horse sol. diers. What then was the reason that induced his Royal High. Ress to wait, in this manner, for particular times and seasons, and to render the necessity subservient to his convenience? Apparently nothing but a love of shew: the day was to be fine, the troops to put on their finest aspect, the chieftains to blaze out before the ladies in their most gallant embroidery. For some days before and after the spectacle, nothing was talked of by trooper or by tailor but the promotions that were to be made in hats and coats, the feathers that were to cover the beavers of generals, and the single or double stripes of embroidery which the several regi. mentals were to acquire by regular advance upon their superiors. But all this was nothing to a piece of magnificence that was to take place at the approaching Fete---that is to say, a coat which his Royal Highness was to wear, and which had been in prepara. tion for some time. Of this I happened to have a particular description from a worthy person, who supplies me with what the poet calls our « troublesome disguises,” and who from studying the external wants of mankind, has acquired no contemptible insight into their internal. I would have given the reader our con. versation on the subject, had not such accounts been somewhat below the dignity of even the present subject. Suffice it to say, that scarce a finger's breadth of the cloth ground was to be seen in the whole circumference, it was so covered with gold embroi. dery. One touch however must not be omitted. My historian, in the course of his description, took up a chair by the back, and after gravely weighing it in his fingers to my no small admira, tion, concluded thus:---“ Sir, I would not take my oath that it is not as heavy as this chair.”---The coat made it's appearance accordingly, and every body agreed that it was in excellent harmony with the other splendours of the Fete. As to the Fete it. self, or Festival rather (for we are continually borrowing French terms without any necessity, and with little suspicion of the dan: gerousness of the custom) there needs no description of what every body has heard or seen, particularly as the thing itself, like many others that begin in merriment, has ended in melancholy. I shall · therefore pass by the flowery walks, the well-chalked saloons, and that far famed stream which, glittering with gold-fish and hedded with “ weeds congenial to the soil,ran down the Prince's table through banks of moss and bridges of pasteboard. Neither shall I stop to examine the Golden Asses, which, with a mysterious meaning more delicate than their brother of Apuleius, stood on cach side of the lord of the feast, and with their Attic pan. niers discharged the office of saltsellers. Still less shall I pre. fend to enter into the merits of those 66 one hundred and fifty particular friendsof the host, for whom seats were provided along the stream above-mentioned ; and in fine, I shall absolutely deny myself the temptation of applying to the banks of that illustrious rivulet the well-known complaint of the shepherd, and of relating how

terms

Despairing beside a clear stream,

The bust of a cod-fish was laid,
And while a false taste was his theme,

A drainer supported his head.
The looks that flew over the table

To his eyes with like gaze did reply;
And the river, as far as 'twas able,
Ran ravurnfully murmuring by. ,

&c. &c. &c.
All that is necessary on this occasion is to recollect what sort of
å taste was exhibited at the entertainment, at what sort of season,
and to what sort of visitors; and every body will judge of it for
himself. The general compliment paid to it by it's admirers was
that it reminded them of the splendours of the old court of the
Bourbons; or as the newspapers called it, with that affectation
of using scraps of French which forms so ridiculous a contrast to
their Antigallican fury, la vielle cour de Versailles.

What a world of reflection is opened in this single panegyric! In an English palace twenty-eight years ago, the Prince entertained at his table the well-known Duke of Orleans, who was then the most profligate personage of that profligate court; and now he entertains in the same way, the melancholy remains of the Duke's family, most of whom have been cut off with himself, their splendour extinguish. ed, their court no more, themselves wanderers and beggars !

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Well,

* See Colin's Complaint by Rowe, which would have furnished the poe'tical wags of the Morning Chronicle a good origival for a parody on the present subject, had the Fete been at Wellesley or Liverpool House, instead of Carlton,

Well, well, --it is repeated ;---wait till the Prince ascend the throne, and then see what he will do for the nation :.--Edward the Third was fond of shew, but he quelled the power of France: ...Henry the Fifth, when Prince of Wales, was fond of pleasure, but he made a vigorous king, and quelled the same power likewise.Well, nothing can be more proper certainly than to wait, and we will remember the characters thus quoted without en. quiring minutely into the spirit of Edward's love of shew, or the age of Henry when Prince of Wales, or the peculiar intellect of either. Nobody, I believe, doubts the good temper or disposi. tion of the Prince Regent; and if ever there was an age that with the help of such a disposition could create artificial wisdom, in spite of a natural and habitual want of it, that age is the pre. sent. Nobody willingly foregoes hope, while there is the small. est prospect of it, even though all the microscopic glasses of fancy, are necessary to catch the glimpse, in default of the ordi. nary powers of vision. It is very possible that a mind, which is fa. cile to light impressions, should yield to right suggestions as well as to wrong ones; but who shall be the right suggester? Who shall tell the Prince, plainly and at once, that he is wrong to give way to frivolous partialities and tastes, unseasonable to the times, and inconsistent with English character ? Who shall tell him, that it is our vital object, and therefore his vital object, not to outshine the French in what is superficial, but to maiutain our superiority over them in what is solid ? Who shall tell him, in short, that the long struggle between this country and it's antagonist, however it

may have once been an affair of politics and of com. mon wars, is at length neither more nor less than a struggle of mo. ral character, a mighty warfare of mind, depending on the election of the combatants between vain glory and true,, between nar. row policy and enlarged, between the love of shew and the love of substance? The French are fast returning to their frivolous cha. racter: let us leave it to them, and they become insignificant : let us imitate it, and they remain formidable. This is what the Prince ought to be told, and what he ought to feel ; but if he shall have neither adviser to tell, nor knowledge to feel it, and if to the corruptions of the government are to be added the corruptions of manners and moral taste, then it is clear that the sound qualities of the English character are finally about to loosen and to rot, and that English independence will ere long be ripe for the gathering.

ART.

Art. II.-- Reflections on the late Attempt to alter the Act of

Toleration.

There is probably at this time no body of clergy in Europe so comfortably situated, or so well secured in their privileges and emoluments, as those of the Church of England. With much of the dignity, and most of the revenues, of their Romish predecessors, liberated from the most burdensome duties and restrictions under which they laboured, and relieved by custom from the austé. rity of manners required from some of the Protestant clergy, they are bound to little more than the morals of decent life, and the not 'very toilsome offices of parochial duty. With respect to income, the rectors have obtained their full share of the advance in landed property, and the benefits arising from improved cultivation; so that numbers of them, without being dignitaries of the church, are well able to maintain a rank among the rural gentry, and the supérior class of inhabitants of towns.

It is always a matter of etiquette, when the English clergy are mentioned as a body, to speak of them as exemplary for learning, morals, and all the virtues appropriate to their order; perhaps, however, one who founds his opinion upon his own observation of individuals, will find reason to abate something of this panegyric. If not many of them offend against the decencies of the clerical character, yet luxurious indulgence, indolence, and carelessness about the professed objects of their function, are characteristic of a considerable proportion, who seem desirous rather of being re. garded as gentlemen wearing black coats, than as persons sustain. ing an office of peculiar sanctity. Nor is this at all to be won. dered at, when the manners and sentiments imbibed at their seminaries of education are considered, together with the selection of persons to occupy the best livings, who are commonly younger sons of good families, habituated to the unrestrained mode of life usual in the superior classes. “ The revenues of the church,” said a sagacious prelate, “ are the actual property of the possessors, but they are the reversionary property of all the great houses in the kingdom.” This disposition of things affords a powerful support to the church, and perpetuates a clergy well adapted to fill a " place in easy and elegant society ; but such as in the same degree are set at a distance from the middling and lower ranks, for whose converse they are unfitted, and whose esteem they are apt to slight. In return, they are liable to lose the respect of the people. For it is not here, as in countries where implicit reverence is paid to a clerical habit, without reference to the qualities of the wearer : the variety of sects and opinions causes every thing connected with re.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »