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A PRIZE ESSAY, BY ALBANY POYNTZ.
Unasy is the head that's got a crown!'-SHAKSPEARE, O'Neil loquitur.
THOSE who have ears to hear must be aware that, every now and then, the concatenation of public events brings into fashion some noun substantive, more guarded than its fellows,' which is bruited from club to coterie, kept in pica by correctors of the press for the use of leading articles, and stereotyped for the pamphlets of budding politicians. Enter the gallery of the House of Commons, and within five minutes you will be struck by the pellet of the word in authority. One session it is 'NON-INTERVENTION; the next, the 'INTEGRITY' of the Ottoman Empire. Of late, the crack word has been 'ABDICATION.'
During the present year, all the thrones in Europe appear to have been thrown over, just as in Napoleon's time they were overthrown. Royalty has been at a discount; crowns have been going a begging; scarcely a sovereign but has been in want of change!
There is something strangely ad captandum in the magnanimity of such an act. Ever since, in our days of birchhood, we inclined our little schoolboy eyes over the frontispiece of Robertson's History of Charles V., instead of 'minding our book,' we have retained a fond impression of the very great superiority of that Emperor, standing awful and imperious in his cuirass and tin pantaloons, over the pale pitiful Philip, in his ermine tippet, kneeling before his father, and about to be translated to a higher see; the abdicator looking exceed. ingly like "possum up a gum-tree;' and the abdicatee like 'racoon in a hollow,' watching below. Ábdication, for the use of schools, could not have been more edifyingly set forth.
But we own we fancied this regal sacrifice in five syllables one of the heroics of the middle ages. We had the weakness to imagine, that, unless like Napoleon at Fontainbleau, with a hundred thousand bayonets at his throat, and fifty pieces of cannon at his gates-modern princes were fonder of laying down the law than laying down the sceptre-that is, laying down the law instead of the profits. It never occurred to us, that in this matter-of-fact century-this age of calculating machines--this era, of which Josephus is the historian, (meaning Hume, not Adam but Joseph,)-this epoch of utilitarianism and go-a-headism-potentates could be found sufficiently soft to quarrel with their bread and butter, and indulge in the amiable weakness of ABDICATION.
Nothing else, however, is heard of among the capitals of civilized Europe. Scarcely have we opened a paper since January last, but the word ABDICATION has occupied an honourable station in the Fo. reign Intelligence, or own correspondent' department. Week after week, Kings have been accepting unattached majorities on half pay; and Queens going out, receiving the difference!
In more than one instance, it appears that 'All for love, or the throne well lost,' should have been the title of these singular performances. All for love,' in the nineteenth century-A very great writer has observed, that were honour driven from the earth
its refuge should be the breast of Kings;' and romance appears to have taken shelter in the same retreat :-Romance is marked with the broad arrow-romance is regalized! Cupid, on finding his torch broken by the rollicking spirit of the times, as though it were a watchman's lantern, has thought fit to lighten his darkness with a royal spark; for his Majesty King William is said to have flung aside the flats of Holland in favour of a maid of honour, 'fat, fair, and forty,' unquestionably deserving to be made titular King of Cyprus, by way of compensation.
The universal acclamations lavished upon this truly royal action began at length to fill our minds with alarm, lest the example should become contagious. The epidemic of ABDICATION was raging, and by the simplicity of Venus' doves!' we trembled lest our own little throne of England should be weighed in the balance and found wanting by those who honour it with all the graces and virtues of royalty. We looked out with anxiety in every Saturday's Gazette, and our breath came short whenever her most gracious Majesty's First Lord of the Treasury opened his lips as if he had something to say. A mere hint of the word ABDICATION from such a quarter, would have put three kingdoms into crape and bombazine, and the colonies into weepers!
Judge, therefore, oh! sympathizing public! what was our consternation, when one day last summer, as we panted our way up the steep ascent of St. James's-strect, while the clubs sneered at our peripatetic philosophy from under their cool awnings, a general buzz and murmur issuing from the portals of those temples of gossipry, concentrated in appalling accents the fatal word ABDICATION! It was not of William those idlers were talking. It was not of Christina. Neither King nor Kaiser occupied their minds; or if Kings and Queens mingled in any degree in their calculations, it was as regarded the odd tricks of a pack which hath no record in the Almanack of Saxe Gotha. There was a sound of lamentation; but its ohs! and ahs! were under no sort of control from the pursuivants of the Herald's Office.
"What will become of us?' cried one.
'Where shall we hide our diminished heads?' exclaimed another. 'Where shall we breakfast?' sighed a third.
Where shall we dine?' a fourth.
"Where sup?' a fifth.
What shall I do with my mornings?' said A.
What shall I do with my evenings?' said B.
'What shall I do with my nights?' yawned C.
'I shall have twelve hours of the twenty-four thrown on my hands!' swore his Grace.
'I, fifteen!' simpered his Lordship.
I, twenty lisped Sir Henry.
Decidedly, if he persist in his project of abdication I will break up my establishment, and fly the country!' faltered one, who shall be nameless.
In horror-struck suspense, we gazed upon this new Caius Marcius, listening anxiously to the murmurs of the ingenuous youth and middle age of Britain, till our souls grew still more and more disquieted!
'What can he mean, pray?' resumed the first speaker. 'What
can be his projects?-Is he going into parliament, or into La Trappe-or what?-'
'It will be the greatest loss.this nation ever sustained!' added the second, with oracular solemnity.—'What a patron has he been to the arts!-the marmite perpetuelle has bubbled ever since his accession!-Truffles have been imported by him, under a treasury warrant; and his Sillery came direct from Epernay, under an escort of the municipal guard!'
'I once encountered a caravan in crossing Mount Cenis,' faltered a third, in querimonious accents, and, from the importance of the convoy, conceived that it must contain some royal corpse, or a copy of the Transfiguration for the National Gallery.-My lords and gen. tlemen, it was a Parmesan cheese-a cheese FOR HIM!'
'An argosy is annually freighted for him from Bourdeaux,' cried another.
He keeps a frigate to cruise in the Yellow Sea with his Madeira,' rejoined the first.
'Jamaica forwards him her first turtle,' cried his Grace.
'A*** Park its last buck,' rejoined his Lordship.
Petersburg presents its compliments to him with a pot of caviar-'
Marseilles, with a jar of tunny-'
'Java sends him soy and birds' nests-' 'India, her buffalos' humps-'
'Iceland, her reindeer's tongues-'
'Archangel, her Sterlet soup-'
'All the kingdoms of the earth bring tribute to him!' moaned a chorus of voices ;-and by this time, not only were tears in my eyes, but water was in my mouth.
'And then such a financier!' resumed one of the mourners ;—' in his own person a consolidated fund!—-I have been drawing upon him at sight these six months.'
'I have not paid him a guinea for these two years!' whispered his Grace.
'Nor I for three !'
'Nor I for five!'
'What other Chancellor of the Exchequer would accept our I.O.U.s, instead of L. S. D.s?'
What other find our names in his books, without putting them in his bad books?'
'He has no bad books!' exclaimed the most energetic of the group. I swear I never knew him give us a bad thing-except his grammar!'
By Jupiter! he shall not abdicate !'-cried the Duke, stamping his cane on the pavement.
And the rejoinder was so much in the tone of the oath sworn by my Uncle Toby that the lieutenant should not die, that, like the recording angel, we dropped a tear upon the word, and blotted it out
'What can be the meaning of all this!' we exclaimed, staggering towards the palisades before White's window, with the consciousness that some terrible consummation was impending, to endanger the happiness and tranquillity of the country at large. But at that moment, gasping for breath with excess of emotion, we chanced to raise
our eyes, and lo! the first object they encountered explained the mys-
a hundred Monthyon prizes for enormous virtue ought to be daily distributed-There stood, in short, the great safety-valve of the effervescence of aristocratic leisure!
'CROCKFORD abdicate?' was our immediate ejaculation. Crockford abdicate?' And it was all we could do, though the dog-star was raging-and the street crowded, to refrain from smiting our pensive bosom like the jeune premier at Astley's, exclaiming, in tones of cracked thunder, 'It may not be !'-Great powers of darkness! -ABDICATE! In whose disfavour? Who would, could, should, or might succeed to such a throne ? Belgium and Greece had a hard matter to find sovereigns; but who will presume to point out a successor for Crockford? Were Talleyrand resuscitated for the purpose, or even old Warwick, of king-making memory, he would be at a nonplus! Popes, Chancellors, Primates may be replaced. No sooner does an Indian director drop, than fifty polite addresses from good and sufficient men curry favour with the proprietors of East India stock, in the columns of the Times; but who-who will ever consult the Polite Letter Writer with a view to addressing circulars to the members of Crockford's-members who avowedly digest, but neither read, mark, nor learn!—
Were even Crockey himself, like his great prototypes, Alexander of Macedon and Elizabeth of England, to name his successor, the nomination would be all-Bayonne !-(we were about to say gammon!) Crockey will be the Sardanapalus of the empire of Clubs. No one shall come after him. As the Huns pricked their eyes with their swords, to weep tears of blood for Attila, so shall the marmitons of St. James's Street prick theirs with their larding-needles to weep for Crockey! Cos vy?' (as he himself would say)-' Cos there von't be never such another!'
WILLIAM-CHRISTINA -CROCKEY!-oh! mystic Cerberus ! oh! thrice-honoured triad!-triumvirate to be drunk hereafter with three times three, in solemn silence!-royal Graces, departed Destinies ! -can it be that you have conspired together to withdraw yourselves from the allegiance of your faithful subjects!
We're fallen upon gloomy days--
But this flight-this last abdication would be the unkindest cut of all.-No, no! Sautez la coupe, great Crockey, in pity to our sons and nephews!-Holland had a son,-Spain a daughter,-YOUR sceptre, great King of Clubs, would be
Wrenched from an unlineal hand
It is not for such as you to descend into the pale monotony of pri-
and the rubber!-No more talk of ABDICATION !-stand to your post. After a reign of fifty years, we promise you a jubilee; and in the year 1880, a grave in the last new cemetery,-probably on Epsom Downs,-having over it your effigy in bronze, from the foundry of the last new Westmacott, in the robes of estate of Pam, under the title of Earl of Deal.
An thou lovest us, not a word more of ABDICATION!