Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

rather churlish than reasonable. The measure deserves unqualified commendation, with the sole exception of its being too jealously exclusive, unlike that most powerful moral lever, the French Legion of Honour.

Parliament was deprived of one of its most distinguished members, and the country of one of its best and ablest patriots, under melancholy circumstances, which rendered the loss, public and private, more poignantly and deeply felt. Mr. Whitbread, after suffering for some time, under occasional despondency and delusions of imagination, died on the morning of the 6th of July by his own hand. As a public and private man he was one of the finest specimens which the country has produced of the democracy of England individualised. His eloquence, without ambition or studied grace, was prompt and vigorous ; his views right-minded in every sense ; his life and demeanour frank, simple, humane, disinterested, and, above all, independent. Lord Tavistock, in moving a new writ for Bedford on the occasion of his death, pronounced upon him a short, affecting, and truly eloquent eulogy. “ Accustomed," said his friend, “ to defend his opinions with earnestness and warmth, the energies of his powerful and comprehensive mind would not suffer in him the least approach to tameness and indifference; but no particle of animosity ever found a place in his breast; and, to adopt his own words on another mournful occasion, he never carried his political enmity beyond the threshold of this house.””

The duke of Cumberland was married at Berlin,

in the early part of the year, to a daughter of the reigning duke of Mecklenburgh-Strelitz, niece of the queen of England, and widow of the prince of Salms. Twice married, she was divorced from one husband by law, from the other by death. The queen wrote a letter to her brother, the duke of Mecklenburgh, with assurances of a kind reception of the bride, his daughter, on her arrival in England. It proved, however, on the arrival of the duke and duchess of Cumberland, that the queen would not receive the lady either in private or at court. The queen's letter was published in the newspapers. Her partisans were, for a moment, confounded, but soon recovered sufficient effrontery to reply, that it was written by her as a sort of collusive compromise, to be shown in the German courts, upon an understanding that the duchess should not come to England. Pending this dispute, parliament was requested, by a message from the regent, to make an accession of 60001. a year to the duke's income on his marriage. The proposed grant, after passing through several stages by small majorities, was ultimately thrown out by a majority of one, after some speeches by no means flattering to the duke of Cumberland.

The domestic vulgarities and family feuds of courts are among the most worthless matters of information or enquiry. Whether, therefore, the queen's motives for her animosity originated in certain gossiping tales of German court gallantry or scandal, or in the lady's having sacrificed the duke of Cambridge to the duke of Cumberland

a violent supposition, by the way, of the ca

prices of the sex - may be left undecided. The demeanour of the duchess of Cumberland in this country has been, to say the least, unobtrusive and unimpeached; but it must be confessed that a disastrous fatality,- something inauspicious and indescribable, - attaches to the prince her husband,

CHAPTER XXV.

1816, 1817.

Ar the commencement of 1816 large military establishments still pressed heavily on the resources of England and other great European communities. But these armed masses were sedentary and idle. The spirit of conquest which gave them activity and employment was bound captive beyond the confines of Europe upon an island rock. Parliament was opened on the 1st of February by commission. The prince regent had shortly before been so seriously indisposed, that there were, for a moment, rumours of his death, and he was not yet sufficiently recovered to open the session in person. The speech consisted of triumphant congratulations on the brilliant success of his majesty's armies, the happy restoration of the Bourbons, the good understanding with his majesty's allies, the prospects of peace, and the assurance especially addressed to the house of commons “ that the manufactures, commerce, and revenue of the United Kingdom were in a flourishing condition." In the house of lords, after some objections suggested, rather than urged, by lords Lansdowne, Holland, and Grosvenor, the address was unanimously agreed to.

In the house of commons Mr. Brand (lord Dacre) moved,

by way of amendment, an addition to the address, pledging the government to an efficient reduction of the public burdens, and the house to an immediate enquiry into the state of the nation. Lord John Russell, who seconded the amendment, said that distress existed to such an extent as could neither be covered nor compensated by victories and trophies, and warned the country of an intention to continue the income tax in time of peace. The chancellor of the exchequer (Mr. Vansittart) excited some merriment, when, by way of proving the anxious attention of ministers to the state of the nation, he solemnly declared that the last was the busiest summer he had passed in his life. The amendment, after further discussion, was negatived, and the address adopted by a majority of 90 to 23.

On the bringing up of the report next day, the chancellor of the exchequer avowed his intention to continue the property tax in what he called a modified form.

Several treaties and conventions with foreign powers were immediately communicated to parliament. The most important was the treaty which provided that sixteen French fortresses on the northern and eastern frontier should be occupied by the allies with 150,000 men, for five years, at the cost of France, under the command of the duke of Wellington.

The memorable league called the Holy Alliance had been signed at Paris by the three sovereigns of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, in person, on the 26th of September, 1815, and promulgated by the chief

« ForrigeFortsæt »