« PreviousContinue »
Whigs perfectly well knew ; but they saw in the Number which contained the "Chaldee MS.” a mustering of strength against them, which in the fumes and intoxication of their own success, they never once apprehended had any existence. They felt that there was a spirit abroad, greater than the demon which they themselves served, and they were smitten with dismay, and trembled for the overthrow of his superiority. They trembled justly, for it has been accomplished.
Having succeeded in poisoning the minds of the pious with an idea of the profane character of a work, expressly set on foot to counteract their own infidel practices, and having also induced several meek gentlemanly minds to disapprove of those allusions to personal infirmities, which were in a great measure almost unavoidable, it was not difficult to increase the outcry against your personalities, and this was done as often as you ventured to question the learning or the abilities of the different public writers whom you were professionally required to notice. It was the privilege, forsooth, of the Edinburgh Review, the Morning Chronicle, and certain other publications after their kind, to treat with contumely the sentiments and the writings of the political opponents of their faction, but it was libel and slander when the same thing was done by others, and particularly so when it was done by you.
Not content with retaliating on the Whigs for their scandalous violation of the limits of fair literary criticism, you provoked another class of enemies. I do not mean the Radicals, who to a man are necessarily and naturally against you, but the obscene brood of Cockaigne; and yet what writers have ever been so personal as the Cockneys? How many of them are judicially convicted libellers? Look at all the varieties of their publications, from that paradise of dainty devices, the Examiner, down to Wooler's Gazette. When or where were ever such liberties taken with character?-and yet they too complain of your personalities. -Why do you permit this? Why do you not at once shew that your animadversions have been ever confined to those points in which individuals present themselves towards the public?
The rage, however, of the Whigs,
the delusion into which they have betrayed better men, and the chattering spite of the Cockneys, have not been so detrimental to the fair and just character of your strictures, as the conduct of the timid Tories, who imagine that party controversies can be maintained without giving offence. They might as well expect the battles of war to be fought without wounds—A party controversy, such as you have embarked in, and in which they have always professed themselves to be auxiliaries, is a hostile conflict.-You are contending for an ascendancy over public opinion. The Whig writers have for a time pretended that they possessed it, and perhaps in some degree it may be said they did. Your object is to destroy their dominion, and to vindicate those venerable and constitutional principles, in politics, religion, and literature, which they have so strenuously endeavoured to subvert. But are you to be denied the use of ridicule and satire?-weapons which your adversaries have ever employed with great effect? The very idea is absurd, and in your situation impossible, for an important part of your duty consists in exposing pretensions; and can the mask be torn from the face of any species of hypocrisy without producing disagreeable feelings?— It is no less your duty to repress party arrogance, and mortify factious pride. Can this be done without disturbing the self-complacency of certain individuals remarkable for both, and who are your declared and most virulent enemies? Why, then, do you permit the cowardly malcontents of your own side still to rank themselves with you, although they are constantly in the habit of wondering that you should employ the means with which you have been invested by God and nature, for the overthrow of your own and of their adversaries? Perhaps, however, you think these fastidious friends too numerous to be posted individually, or that it would be bad taste to post any of them.-I shall not question the correctness of the opinion; but, describe the class,-let us know what they are,-give them a name,-paint their lineaments,-point them out to the scorn of all parties, till the very children in the streets are able to say, "There goes one of the pluckless Tories!-Look at the poor sneaking sordid creature, how it crawls
in silk stockings, with its meagre tottering limbs, to solicit some place or pension from the very masters that it hesitates to support in the most necessary of all their great undertakings -the chastisement of invidious and personal foes." Till you do this, you have done but half your duty,-till you have convinced those who affect to be the friends of British principles, that it is an essential part of their own obligations, to deride the subverters of these principles, you have failed in some degree to fulfil one of the noblest objects of your original design. Before concluding, I would also remind you of another heavy charge under which you allow your fame to suffer. You are accused of maliciously exposing names to the public, that were almost never heard of beyond the narrow bounds of their domestic circles, and of making free with private characters in the most offensive and impertinent manner. The accusation is undoubtedly entirely false; but it is made, and you ought to vindicate yourself. I am well aware, that you have touched with your crutch the elbows of a few borough demagogues, and that you have made some of the Radicals and Whiglets, both of Glasgow and Edinburgh, feel, that if they pursue the same course as their masters in the metropolis, they must expect to participate in their punishment. But are you to endure, that this is to be called dragging private persons before the public, to the great injury of their comfort in life? I should be glad, indeed, that you would tell me, if the fellow who gets up after dinner in a tavern, and shews the confusion of his head, and the badness of his grammar, to a numerous assemblage of equal worthies, is not quite as much a public man, as the solitary student, who meekly and diffidently publishes his little lucubrations; and is such a fellow to be allowed, with impunity, to vent his spleen and personalities unrebuked, merely because he has not actually, in his own handwriting, sent his crude and immethodical nonsense to the newspapers, which report the proceedings? It is very well for demagogues of this description to cry out at the switching you have occasionally given them, and it is natural that their associates, who have not
yet spoken at these periodical orgies, should also endeavour to raise the town against you, in order to secure impunity for their own meditated exploits of the tongue. But is it for you to endure their scurrility, and give no explanation to the world of the motives and characters of those sort of private persons who affect to be so mightily aggrieved?
You are also charged with making free with persons truly, in the emphatical sense of the term, private; men who never trouble themselves either with literature, politics, or Whig dinners, but perform the duties of their profession and station with prudence, integrity, and care. Is not this a lie ? and yet you allow it to circulate uncontradicted-Why do you not compel the slanderers to shew one single instance in which you have ever done so? You have certainly mentioned private individuals of the description alluded to, and spoken of their peculiarities; but, in every instance, with good humour, or in a style which implied praise, though expressed as banter; and this is a freedom that authors in every age have taken with their personal friends. Some of the happiest effusions of the greatest wits have been harmless familiarities with the characters of those whom they most esteemed; and are you, Kit, to be denied the privilege of cracking a joke with your cousins and cronies? I have heard, indeed, that all have not endured your humour so happily as
our fat friend," the Doctor; but I do believe, that in every case where offence has been taken, it will be found that the party who supposed himself offended, was in the first instance amused with your jibes ; and that he never imagined any malice in your jocularity till he had been wrought upon by some disturbed spirit, infected with the Whig or Radical distemper. But I must make an end; and with the best wishes for the continuation of all that vigour, and that particular kind of "ill nature," which has given so much offence to the arrogant, the vain, and the petulant, I remain truly your
OLD FRIEND WITH A NEW FACE. Gordon's Hotel, Albemarle Street, 12th September, 1821.
THE LATE QUEEN.
THE proceedings, since the death of her late Majesty, give the clue to the proceedings before. They are of the same spirit and pedigree-the riots, at her funeral, are feature for feature the counterparts of the parades and processions to Brandenburgh House. The simple difference is, that in the one instance the mob were in coaches, and in the other on foot. The whole was an affair of gambling faction, and the Queen was the best card in the pack. But the Firm must be sustained at all events, and when the capital trick was found out,minor expedients were adopted with true swindling effrontery. By those who find riot the one thing needful, the burial even of a tinker will not be thrown away. The "funeral baked meats that coldly furnished forth" the ceremonial of dead royalty-the same flourish of faction-the same blowing of discontent into the popular ear-the same banners and weepers of patriotic thievery and virtuous prostitution, of convicted smugglers, and expectant bankrupts, that dignified the obsequies of Queen Caroline, were mustered for the last honours to Honey and Francis. Names, henceforth enrolled for ever in the list of the patriotic, and destined, according to the authority of the Woods and Waithmans, to surprise posterity, in company with their own. The statements relative to the Queen's funeral, have gone through all the public prints, till curiosity has been wearied. The spirit of that atrocious transaction has been fully disclosed by the prepared tumults, and the audacious triumph over the civil and military authorities; but its secrets may linger for developement till the trial of the rioters, and the arrival of Alderman Wood.
That the persons who organized the attack on the King's Guards will be brought to trial, as well as the actual ruffians whom they employed for riot and murder, is not to be doubted, without shaking our confidence in the manliness of Government. Law is a dream, if there is no punishment for the infamous and insolent outrages committed on that day, under the meek and unlifted eyes of Mr Sheriff Waithman.-A direct command of Government, declared null and void by a direct command of a secret committee; -a route marked out by competent authority, for the obvious purpose of
public qufet, broken up and barrica doed in the face of day by a gang of rioters;-the Magistrate's order to move on this route retorted by a revolutionary cry of "The City or Death ;" and this atrocious menace sustained;-the corpse dragged through the city in a savage triumph, more like the exultation of drunken cannibals, than the decorous conveyance of an honoured body to the grave;-the troops attacked and maimed almost to a man-if this goes for nothing, if the AttoneyGeneral is suffered to slumber over this bill of indictment, preferred by the common voice of every honourable man in the nation, he will soon have no more bills to disturb his rest; or, if he has, it will be one grand and sweeping accusation against the whole frame of government, where he will have the populace on the Bench, and the Constitution in the Dock. It is notorious, that an assemblage was convened for the purpose of marshalling the Queen's funeral, in disregard of the orders issued by Government. It is notorious, that the measures adopted on the day of the funeral argued a guilty premeditation, -that by their nature they contemplated blood; that the cry of the rioters corresponded to this intent of blood, and that the design was urged to its atrocious completion by an attack on the King's troops. It is possible that the conspirators may keep their secret, and that the Attorney-General may not be enabled to lay his grasp on the felon who projected the barricadoes of the roads; that his finger may not be able to search out the pulse that warmed into the proposal of assassination; that he may be unequal to follow the prediction of Lady Hood's letters to the source of so much unexpected foresight in her Sybilline ladyship; or that he may be compelled to mere amazement at the sudden paralysis of Mr Sheriff Waithman, the tranquil spectator of the whole proceeding. But all this exceeds probability. The secrets of villainy are seldom secure; and we are inclined to think that a little ordinary vigilance will make the authors as palpable as the actors, and that the fate of Thistlewood is as little obsolete as his memory.
Alderman Wood is still to return.
The tears he has shed, and the feasts he has eaten at Brunswick, will rise up in sacred remembrance, eclipsing all the horrors of Waithman's physiognomy; and he will blurt out the whole burthen of his knowledge in the very frown of the Sheriff. His ignominious repulsion by Dr Lushington has sunk in "intima precordia,' and the resentments of folly are not the less bitter for being mingled with the gall of faction. In the arrangements for the funeral, the Alderman was undoubtedly treated with the utmost contempt. His plaintive protestations of the acts of endearment that had made him invaluable to the Queen, his opening of her letters, formidable as a French and German correspondence must have been to his humble literature,-his vigour with the mob,-and his servility with his mistress, were all neglected by the stern Civilian. Like the old inspector of culprits below, his Rhadamanthus postponed the hearing to the punishment, and refused the Alderman's prayer, of travelling at the public expence, with the most careless and provoking indignity. But the hour of revenge may come,-the Alderman may have fearful means in his hands, for he has been the Queen's Almoner! It may yet be seen through what channels this concealed benevolence fertilized the land-whether its kindliest flow was not for political pauperism,-whether the pomps to BrandenburghHouse were not fed from its largess, -whether the bounty of the nation was not flung away on the gross purposes of popular delusion.
It is disgusting to be compelled to talk of such persons and things. Politics, mingled with the mention of obscure and worthless instruments, fatigue the pen. It is almost a dishonour to look in upon the miserable artifices of needy ambition. But the meanness of the agents is the last of reasons for their impunity in times like ours. It is the characteristic of our disturbed and unnatural day, to give virulence and power to a race of beings, which at another period, must have lived and perished in their holes. France lies before us for our instruction. Of what condition were her Petions, and Santerres; what was Marat, superior to the publisher of a twopenny gazette? or Dunton to one of his miserable
scribes ? Yet those men broke down the stately monarchy of France. Personally they were powerless, and in other days would have lingered out their lives in obscure beggary, or expiated them on the scaffold. But the times were adverse to the well-being of the world. The honourable distinctions of men had passed away for the precedence in atrocity. It was not genius, or high-birth, or opulent fortune, that was wanted, but desperate means for desperate ends. In the sudden eclipse that darkened the land at noon-day, the form of the ruffian was disregarded, nothing was seen but his torch. Like the assault on the Temple of Jerusalem, when the walls were once broken down, the fiercest homi cide threw his general behind him; and the madman who fired the sanctuary was the hero of the day.
The Magistrate to whom the conduct of the funeral was committed, has yet to answer for his compliance with the mob. His duty was plain and simple,-to follow the route prescribed by his superiors. He ought to have ordered the arrest of the first man who presumed to impede him. The insolence of office is familiar to a Bow-Street Magistrate; here nothing would have been required but its firmness. His conduct during the day, seems to have been a series of impotent attempts to resist the will, which he found himself capable of obeying in every instance. Common sense might have told him, that to make pitiful successive efforts at resistance, when he was not determined to go through with them, was only to expose the King's authority to the insults of repeated triumphs of the rabble. This Magistrate has yet to answer for his conduct, and no investigation that is not strict will be satisfactory.
The Inquest on Honey and Francis has been only a second act of the Queen's funeral. The public indignation at this inquest is of the strongest order; its tedious prolongation,-the singular spectacle of such a Jury determining on points of law, and delivering authoritative opinions from the profundity of their ignorance, and all this in the presence of an officer whose duty it is to conduct inquests in an orderly and decent manner. The details of the inquest are degrading in the extreme; the public accounts are full
of vulgar insolence to counsel, and the officers of the Guards, who found themselves questioned and taunted by a conclave of personages, who would have bowed to the earth before them in any other place. Those transac tions have their moral. When the reign of the rabble menaces us, it is well to see of what materials our future masters are made. The Revolutionary tribunal of Paris was made up of the refuse of society, and we know its wisdom and mercy. The crimes and the miseries, the tyranny of blood and the tyranny of power, that signalized a country within 24 miles of our own, and which wound up the catastrophe by throwing it twice under
the feet of conquering armies, must not be lost upon us. If there are those who think that the danger is remote, because it does not start up before us in the magnitude and armour of rebellion, let them remember the apparition that suddenly stalked through the palaces of France, the unexpected might and gigantic desolation with which it smote the small and the great in the hour of national slumber and security. Have we no elements of ruin among us? is not popular violence louder, and loyalty more humiliated than in France? and if the thunder did burst upon her from a serene sky, shall we doubt and defy, when the air is heavy with the cloud?
THE KING'S VISIT TO IRELAND.
THERE are few subjects more gratifying at present to those who are attached to the King and constitution that is, God be thanked, to the great body of the people of all ranks in the kingdom-than the result of the regal visit to the Sister Island. The manner in which the King came among the Irish, and the manner in which they received him, are alike gratifying. He landed among them unadorned by the splendour of royal parade-unat tended by courtier, by magistrate, or soldier-unguarded, save by the loyal feelings of an ardent people; and from these feelings he obtained the homage which at other times is yielded to pageantry, or extorted from awe. Landing at a part of the harbour of Dub lin where he was unexpected, none were prepared to meet him,were before him but the casual crowd which the dense population of Ireland exhibits in all its sea-ports; people of all ranks and conditions mingling in the idleness of a fine Sunday. His person had been recognized a short time before he landed, and that short time was sufficient to pour in the neighbouring population of that shore, of the harbour, and of the adjoining hills, in thousands, to be present at the reception of the King. The men in authority were on the other side, and none were to be seen in the crowd at Howth. The King came to the Irish people,-and by the people, untaught in the formalities of official ceremony, and unrestrained by the presence of
official persons, he was received with an enthusiastic burst of joy, coming not from the lip only, but swelling from the inmost recesses of the heart.
The personal reception of the King on the pier was uncourtly indeed, and such as Kings are seldom accustomed to meet; but, on that account, the more grateful to right feelings.-He was received as a friend by his friends, without servility, but with boundless affection. He was pressed without ceremony, but by men who would have made their bodies a rampart for his protection ;-thousands of hands were thrust forward to embrace his in a rude grasp;-but these hands were all ready to have wielded the sword, or pointed the bayonet, in his cause. The procession to the Phoenix-Park was more like the march of a popular demagogue, at the zenith of mob-favour, than of a King on a visit to an ancient kingdom. Vast, however, was the difference between the feelings of a feverish populace, filled with the selfish and polluted sentiments of faction-breathing hatred and defiance to all that is honourable, all that is gentlemanly, and of that multitude, which, under the impulse of the kindliest influences,-joyous and unitedangry with no one-inspired with that buoyant enthusiasm which is one of the chief characteristics of the country,-escorted George the Fourth to the capital of Ireland. Their joy was expressed in a thousand actions *of them marked by that warm, but co
* One poor fellow, for instance, on seeing the King's carriage pass through the turnpike, on the road to Dublin, hastened to inquire whether the toll had been paid. On