Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

of that to you, because I know it would be said to press gentlemen to betray conversation. But if you please to converse with Mr. Duckett, a member of your house, or with Colonel Oughton, of the Guards, they will (especially the first) furnish you abundantly on that head; or, at least, they can. Then, Sir, as to his favouring the Revolution : that he has drunk King James's health on his knees; that he has spoken so scandalously of the Government that some strangers have asked him if he had taken the oaths to the Queen, and being answered by him that he had, have expostulated with him how it was possible either that talking in that manner he could take the oaths, or that taking the oaths he could talk in that manner. And, lastly (as to the Revolution also), I shall name you two persons, viz., Samuel Eborall, of Birmingham, and the minister of Birmingham. ... These can make proof even to conviction that in their hearing he said with an oath in the late King William's reign, he (Sacheverell) believed that he (the King) would come to be De Witted, and that he hoped to see it. .. If I had the honour to know you, Sir, I might give you fuller accounts, and if you should think it for your service, I shall do it whenever you please.

It is only just to General Stanhope, adds his Lordship, to observe that he took no heed of these ignominious counsels, and invited no further communication from De Foe. But is it quite certain that the letter is genuine? We fear there is no improbability in its being so; but De Foe was persecuted throughout his long polemical life by imitators and enemies who counterfeited his well-known name. Lord Stanhope has no doubt satisfied himself of the fact.

The strange mystery of De Foe's last years still remains, however, to be unravelled. We find him, when approaching seventy, forced to conceal himself, from apprehension of legal proceedings; but whether this apprehension arose from his connexion with Mist's reputed treasonable journal, or was simply a consequence of his Bohemian condition of habitual indebtedness, is not in any way made out. Mr. Lee, who cannot leave him undefended or uneulogised in any stage of his fortunes, tries hard to justify him against the last imputation; even to the extent of giving us a print of his house at Stoke Newington in 1731, with coach-house, stables, and garden, where he dwelt with two ó lovely daughters,' the third having been happily married to a man of substance, one Mr. Baker; and his enemies certainly averred that the poor old gentleman kept a coach.' Nevertheless, we have his own letters representing himself as utterly broken down in circumstances and position. He was in constant hiding from his pursuers. An obscure anecdote describes him as having been murderously attacked by some emissary of Mist's journal, and

man,

[ocr errors]

having repulsed and wounded his antagonist. He made over whatever he possessed to his son during life, and he complains bitterly of the 'inhuman conduct' of that son in refusing to provide for his mother and sisters, “ though bound under hand . and seal,' besides the most sacred promises’ to do so; and administration to his effects was sued out by a creditor. Under such a cloud took place the exit of the most remarkable except Swift alone, who figured on the literary stage in the so-called Augustan age.

Let us conclude, in justice to the undignified and yet not altogether unworthy 'personality of the Sovereign who gave her name to the age, with two sketches of the character of her Court. The first shall be from Bishop Burnet :

Queen Anne is easy of access, and hears everything very gently ; but opens herself to so few, and is so cold and general in her answers, that people soon find that the chief application is to be made to her Ministers and favourites, who in their turns have an entire credit and full power with her. She has laid down the splendour of a Court tvo much, and eats privately; so that except on Sundays, and a few hours twice or thrice a week at night in the drawing-room, she appears so little, that her Court is as it were abandoned.'

The other is printed by Lord Stanhope, in the present volume, from a MS. •Memoir on the Mistresses of King • George I. and II.' by Lord Chesterfield, in his possession :

Queen Anne had always been devout, chaste, and formal; in short, a prude. She discouraged, as much as she could, the usual and even the most pardonable vices of Courts. Her drawing-rooms were more respectable than agreeable, and had more the air of sclemn places of worship than the gaiety of a Court. ... Public anal crowded assemblies, where every man was sure of meeting every woman, were not known in those days. But every woman of fashion kept what was called a “ Day," which was a formal circle of her acquaintances of both sexes, unbroken by any card-tables, tea-tables, or other amusements. Here the fine women and fine men met, perhaps for an hour; and if they had anything particular to say to one another, it could be only conveyed by the language of the eyes. The other public diversion was only for the eyes, for it was going round and round the Ring in Hyde Park and bowing to one another slightly, respectfully, or

6

* It is perhaps not always remembered that the well-known maxim or epigram that the reigns of Queens are more prosperous than those of Kings, because under Queens men govern, and under Kings women, was first applied to that of Queen Anne, and—if Saint-Simon is to be believed—by the young and ill-fated Duchess of Burgundy. She had a privileged tongue, and was bold enough to utter this saying to Madame de Maintenon in the presence of Louis XIV., "et toujours

courant et gambadant.' Both her hearers laughed, and agreed that she was in the right.

.

tenderly, as occasion required. No woman of fashion could receive any man at her morning toilet without alarming the husband and his friends. If a fine man and fine woman were well enough disposed to wish for private meeting, the execution of their good intentions was difficult and dangerous. The preliminaries could only be settled by the hazardous expedient of letters; and the only places almost for the conclusion and satisfaction of the definitive treaty were the Indian houses in the city, where the good woman of the house from good nature, and perhaps some motive of interest, let out her back rooms for momentary lodgings to distressed lovers. But all these difficulties and dangers were to a great extent remedied by the arrival of the present Royal Family. King George I. loved pleasures, and was not delicate in the choice of them.' (P. 566.)

Most readers of a sober turn will probably agree with us and with Lord Stanhope, that the portraits drawn both by the malcontent Churchman and the profligate Peer, though intended as satires, may be taken as eulogies, and that whatever the weaknesses of Anne's intellectual character, she, like her third successor, had the merit of using Royal example to render fashionable the uncourtly habits of temperance, decency, and frugality in a luxurious age and country. In this sense, and certainly in no other, has she some claim to the affec. tionate epithet by which her subjects long remembered her.

Art. IX.-1. La Prusse et l'Autriche depuis Sadowa. Par ÉMILE DE LAVELEYE. Deux Tomes. Paris : 1870.

. 2. Correspondence respecting the Negotiations preliminary to

the War. Presented to Parliament by Command, 1870. TH THE unclouded skies of a glorious July seemed, at the com

mencement of that month, only to reflect an equally cloudless tranquillity on the face of Europe. Danger indeed there was, from long-continued military preparations — not made without the intent of turning them to account. But we lived on in fearlessness, as men live, by custom, under some impending cliff, or the huge toppling mass of a ruined castle; that which has quietly hung over them so long, may leave them in peace yet longer. The strain of high expectation cannot be indefinitely maintained; man must have repose. So the resolute attitude of Prussia did not alarm us, and we were lulled into confidence by the fair assurances of France. But before one week of the month had passed the storm burst upon the world. First came diplomatic mutterings, for which a few days only were allowed. Then followed the ring of weapons making ready for the encounter, and the tramp of armed men. On th

a

2nd of August, in the insignificant affair of Saarbrück, the Emperor of the French assumed a feeble offensive. On the 5th, the Prussians replied energetically at Wissemburg. And then, what a torrent, what a deluge of events! In twentyeight days, ten battles were fought. Three hundred thousand men were sent to the hospitals, to captivity, or to the grave. The German enemy had penetrated into the interior of France over a distance of 150 miles of territory, and stretched forth everywhere as he went the strong hand of possession. The Emperor was a prisoner and deposed; his family wanderers none knew where; the embryo at least of a Republic born of the hour had risen on the ruins of the Empire ; while proud and gorgeous Paris was awaiting, with divided mind, the approach of the conquering monarch and his countless host.

This might seem to be enough, for rarely indeed has the womb of Time added so much within so brief a space to the roll of history. But all which has been mentioned was upon the surface. That which lay, and yet lies, beneath, only the future can adequately explore. Some part of it, however, is visible even to us. These events have unset, as it were, every joint of the compacted fabric of Continental Europe. There is not one considerable State, whose position and prospects were not fundamentally modified between the 5th of August and the 5th of September. Of some States, indeed, they were more than modified. France had lost, at the latter date, the military primacy which she had borne at the former, and which she had loftily carried for two hundred and fifty years. She had registered a vehement, and may we hope a final, protest, not so much against Napoleon, as against what we may term Napoleonism; and she had once more set out from the shore, weary and desponding, to traverse the boundless main in search of a Constitution. Belgium, by her own manly and sagacious conduct, and by what Mr. Disraeli, honourably to himself, called the wise and vigorous' support of England, had, amid the shocks of the political earthquake, acquired a deeper and more solid standing-ground than she had enjoyed at any former period since the kingdom was called into existence. Another yet smaller State, but of greater, indeed of world-wide, interest, has been affected in a very different manner. France, as was natural, found it needful, on the outbreak of the war, to withdraw her troops from Rome; the decrepit structure of the Pope's civil Government, on the removal of its prop, immediately began to totter. We may now pronounce it level with the ground; there seems to be scarcely a hope or a fear of its restoration, and possibly the day may come when it may

be generally believed that the downfall of the temporal power of

[ocr errors]

the Popedom has, in its ulterior results, been the greatest and most fruitful, among all the great and fruitful consequences of the war.

If we turn to the greater Powers, we find that they have all instinctively perceived the importance of the crisis to themselves. Russia, the Colossus of the East, asks herself with anxiety what will be the policy of a powerful Germany with respect to the Turkish Empire, to the designs for the union of the great Sclavonic family, to her own German Provinces, and, above all, to the administration of Poland. Austria, if less directly interested in the first question, is also vitally concerned in the second, the third, and the fourth. Even Italy is sensitive and alarmed, lest at the head of the great German race her ally of 1866 should revive the schemes which had shortly before been promoted by Austria, under her latest access of vigorous ambition, when Prince Schwarzenberg was the official head of her government, and the moving spirit of her affairs. But besides the alterations thus brought into view in the direct bearings of North Germany on her neighbours, all feel that they have passed, as if by magic, under the action of a subtler and deeper change. Their relations to each of the two States engaged in the war are modified, and, with these, their relations to one another. The dominant force of the European system has travelled from one point to another; the centre of gravity has shifted. We alone, from our island home, are comparatively beyond the range of attractive and repulsive power in their new directions; and are, or ought to be, capable of calmly estimating, as well as circumstances so stirring will allow, the present and the prospective interests involved in the gigantic fray.

Now, it unfortunately happens that the means of passing judgment on these great events are not in proportion to their magnitude. Not only are they so near the eye as to render accurate vision almost impossible, but they make such powerful appeals to passion and emotion, as greatly to compromise the action of the judicial faculty. Most welcome therefore should be the aid of thoughtful writers, who divert us from an exclusive attention to phenomena, by bringing into view their causes and consequences.

Nothing can be more timely, when regarded in such a light, than the work of M. Émile de Laveleye on the positions held by Prussia and Austria respectively since the short but pregnant war of which the issue was determined by the battle of Sadowa. The name of this diligent and able writer has hitherto been chiefly known among us in connexion with the comparatively narrow, though most important, subject of the effects produced by the minute subdivision of land. But, in the volumes

« FöregåendeFortsätt »