Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXXIX. January, 1844. Vol. LV. by Various

Part 4 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

fire had slackened during the day, answered them with an equal
thunder; the space between was soon covered with smoke, and when the
battalions of grenadiers moved down the hillside, and plunged into the
valley, they looked like masses of men disappearing into the depths of
ocean. The anxiety now grew intense. I hardly breathed; and yet I had
a mingled sensation of delight, eagerness, and yet of uncertainty, to
which nothing that I had ever felt before was comparable. I longed to
follow those brave men to the assault, and probably would have made
some such extravagant blunder, but for seeing Varnhorst's broad
visage turned on me with a look of that quiet humour which, of all
things on earth, soonest brings a man to his senses. "My good friend,"
said he, "however fine this affair may be, live in hope of seeing
something finer. Never be shot at Longwy, when you may have a chance
of scaling the walls of Paris. I have made a vow never to be hanged in
the beginning of a revolution, nor to be shot in the beginning of a
war. But come, the duke is beckoning to us. Let us follow him."

We saw the general and his staff galloping from the ground where he
had remained from the beginning of the assault, to a height still more
exposed, and where the guns from the fortress were tearing up the
soil. From this spot a large body of troops were seen rushing from the
gate of the fortress, and plunging into the valley. The result of this
powerful sortie was soon heard, for every thing was invisible under
the thick cloud, which grew thicker every moment, in the volleys of
musketry, and the shouts of the troops on both sides. Varnhorst now
received an order from the chief of the staff, which produced its
effect, in the rush of a squadron of Prussian cavalry on the flank of
the enemy's column. In a few minutes it was broken, and we saw its
wrecks swept along the side of the hill. An universal shout was sent
up from the army, and our next sight was the ascent of the Austrian
and Prussian standards, gradually rising through the smoke, and making
their way towards the glacis. They had reached the foot of the breach,
when the fire of the town suddenly ceased. A white flag waved on the
rampart, and the drums of the garrison beat the _chamade_. Longwy had
surrendered! All now was triumph and congratulation. We flocked round
the duke, and hailed his first conquest as a promise of perpetual
success. He was in high spirits at an achievement which was so
important to the national impression of his talents and resources. The
sortie of the garrison had given the capture an _eclat_ which could
not have been obtained by the mere surrender of a strong place. But
the most important point of all was, the surrender before the assault.
"The sight of our troops is enough," was the universal conclusion. If
the fortified barrier of France cannot resist, what will be done by
troops as raw as peasants, and officers as raw as their troops? The
capitulation was a matter of half an hour, and by nightfall I followed
the duke and his escort into the town. It was illuminated by order of
the conquerors, and, whether _bongre_ or _malgre_, it looked showy; we
had gazers in abundance, as the dashing staff caracoled their way
through the streets. I observed, however, that we had no acclamations.
To have hissed us, might be a hazardous experiment, while so many
Hulans were galloping through the Grande Rue; but we got no smiles. In
the midst of the crowd, I met Varnhorst steering his charger with no
small difficulty, and carrying a packet of notes in his hand. "Go to
your quarters, and dress," said my good-humoured friend. "You will
have a busy night of it. The duke has invited the French commandant
and his officers to dine with him, and we are to have a ball and
supper afterwards for the ladies. Lose no time." He left me wondering
at the new world into which I had fallen, and strongly doubting, that
he would be able to fill up his ball-room. But I was mistaken. The
dinner was handsomely attended, and the ball more handsomely still.
"Fortune de la guerre," reconciled the gallant captains of the
garrison to the change; and they fully enjoyed the contrast between a
night on the ramparts, and the hours spent at the Prussian
generalissimo's splendidly furnished table. The ball which followed
exhibited a crowd of the _belles_ of Longwy, all as happy as dress and
dancing could make them. It was a charming episode in the sullen
history of campaigning, and before I flung myself on the embroidered
sofa of the mayor's drawing-room, where my billet had been given for
the night, I was on terms of eternal "friendship" with a whole group
of classic beauties--Aspasias, Psyches and Cleopatras.

But neither love nor luxury, neither the smiles of that fair
_Champagnaises_, nor the delight of treading on the tesselated floors,
and feasting on the richness of municipal tables, could now detain us.
We were in our saddles by daybreak, and with horses that outstripped
the wind, with hearts light as air, and with prospects of endless
victory and orders and honours innumerable before us, we galloped
along, preceded, surrounded, and followed by the most showy squadrons
that ever wore lace and feathers. The delight of this period was
indescribable. It was to me a new birth of faculties that resembled a
new sense of being, a buoyant and elastic lightness of feelings and
frame. The pure air; the perpetual change of scene; the novelty of the
landscape; the restless and vivid variety of events, and those too of
the most powerful and comprehensive nature; the superb display of the
finest army that the Continent had sent to war for the last hundred
years; and all this excitement and enjoyment, with an unrivaled vista
of matchless conquest in the horizon, a triumphal march through the
provinces, to be consummated by the peace of Europe in Paris, filled
even my vexed and wearied spirit with new life. If I am right in my
theory, that the mind reaches stages of its growth with as much
distinctness as the frame, this was one of them. I was conscious from
this time of a more matured view of human being, of a clearer
knowledge of its impulses, of a more vigorous, firm, and enlarged
capacity for dealing with the real concerns of life. I still loved;
and, strange, hopeless, and bewildering as that passion was in the
breast of one who seemed destined to all the diversities of
fortune--it remained without relief, or relaxation through all. It was
the vein of gold, or perhaps the stream of fire, beneath the soil,
inaccessible to the power of change on the surface, but that surface
undergoing every impulse and influence of art and nature.

The army now advanced unopposed. Still we received neither cheers nor
reinforcements from the population. Yet we had now begun to be
careless on the topic. The intelligence from Paris was favourable in
all the leading points. The king was resuming his popularity, though
still a prisoner. The Jacobins were exhibiting signs of terror, though
still masters of every thing. The recruits were running away, though
the decree for the general rising of the country was arming the
people. In short, the news was exactly of that checkered order which
was calculated to put us all in the highest spirits. The submission of
Paris, at least until we were its conquerors, would have deprived us
of a triumph on the spot, and the proclamation of a general peace
would have been received as the command for a general mourning.

The duke was in the highest animation, and he talked to every one
round him, as we marched along, with more than condescension. He was
easy, familiar, and flushed with approaching victory. "We have now,"
said he, "broken through the 'iron barrier,' the pride of Vauban, and
the boast of France for these hundred years. To-morrow Verdun will
fall. The commandant of Thionville, in desperation at the certainty of
our taking the town by assault, has shot himself, and the keys are on
their way to me. Nothing but villages now lie in our road, and once
past those heights," and he pointed to a range of woody hills on the
far horizon, "and we shall send our light troops _en promenade_ to
Paris." We all responded in our various ways of congratulation.

"Apropos," said the duke, applying to me, "M. Marston, you have been
later on the spot than any of us. What can you tell of this M.
Dumourier, who, I see from my letters, is appointed to the forlorn
hope of France--the command of the broken armies of Lafayette and

My answer was briefly a hope that the new general would be as much
overmatched by the duke's fortunes in the field, as he had been by
party in the capital. "Still, he seemed to me a clever, and even a
remarkable man, however inexperienced as a soldier."

"If he is the officer of that name who served in the last French war,
he is an old acquaintance of mine," observed the duke. "I remember him
perfectly. He was a mere boy, who, in a rash skirmish with some of our
hussars, was wounded severely and taken prisoner. But as I learned
that he was the son of a French _literateur_ of some eminence whom I
had met in Paris, and as I had conceived a favourable opinion of the
young soldier's gallantry, I gave him his parole and sent him back to
his family, who, I think, were Provencals. He was unquestionably
spirited and intelligent, and with experience might make either
minister or general; but as he has begun by failure in the one
capacity, it will be our business to show him that he may find success
equally difficult in another. At all events, we have nothing but this
minister-general between us and Notre-Dame. He has taken up a position
on the Argonne ridge in our front. To force it will be but an affair
of three hours. Adieu, gentlemen." He put spurs to his horse, and
galloped to one of the columns which approached with trumpets
sounding, bearing the captured banner of the church tower of Longwy.

The world was now before us, and we enjoyed it to the full. Varnhorst
and I were inseparable, and feasted on the scene, the gaiety, the
oddity of the various characters, which campaigning developes more
than any mode of existence. The simple meal, the noon-rest under a
tree, the songs of our troopers, the dance in the villages, as soon as
the peasantry had discovered that we did not eat women and
children--even the consciousness of a life wholly without care, formed
a delicious state of being. "If this is the life of the Arab," I often
was ready to exclaim, "what folly would it be in him to leave the
wilderness! If the Esquimaux can sleep through one half of the year
and revel through the other, is he not the true philosopher in the
midst of his frost and snow?" Guiscard, who sometimes joined our
party, was now and then moved to smile at our unripe conceptions of
the nature of things. But we laughed at his gravity, and he returned
to pore over the mysteries of that diplomacy which evidently thickened
on him hour by hour. I recollect, however, one of his expressions--"My
friend, you think that all the battle is to be fought in front: I can
assure you that a much more severe battle is to be fought in the rear.
Argonne will be much more easily mastered than the King's closet and
the Aulic Council." We had good reason to remember the oracle.

One morning as, with half a dozen hussars, I was ranging the thickets
on the flank of the advance, with the spirit of an English fox-hunter,
on reaching the summit of a rising ground, I saw, some miles off, a
party of horsemen making their way at full speed across the country.
The perfect level of the plains, particularly in Champagne, makes the
ground as open as a race-course. I called my hussars, and we galloped
forward to intercept. On seeing us, they slackened their speed, and
were evidently in consultation. At length the sight of our uniforms
reassured then, and one of their number came forward to meet us. To
our enquiry, the answer was, that "General Lafayette desired to be led
to the headquarters." I now saw this memorable man for the first time,
and was busy, in my usual style, in looking for the hero or the
revolutionist in his physiognomy. I was disappointed in both. I saw a
quiet visage, and a figure of moderate size, rather _embonpoint_, and
altogether the reverse of that fire-eyed and lean-countenanced
"Cassius" which I had pictured in my imagination. But his manners
perplexed me as much as his features. They were calm, easy, and almost
frank. It was impossible to recognize in him the Frenchman, except by
his language; and he was the last man in whom I could ever have
detected that pride of the theatre, the "French _marquis_." His
manners were English, and I had a fellow-feeling for him even in our
short ride to the camp, and congratulated myself on being thrown into
the intercourse of one who had played so conspicuous a part in the
most conspicuous scene of our day.

But on his introduction to the duke, my ardour received a sudden
chill. I saw instantly, by the utter absence of all cordiality in his
reception, that the French fugitive had taken a dangerous step, and
that his Parisian ill fortune had deprived his retreat of all merit in
the sight of the commander-in-chief. My doubts were soon confirmed by
a message from his tent. I obeyed; and as I passed the lines, saw
Lafayette surrounded by a troop of Hulans of the Guard. I found the
duke pacing uneasily in front of the tent.

"M. Marston," said he, with a vexed manner, "your capture of this
morning has added to our perplexities. You acted zealously, and with
the spirit that distinguishes your nation; but I heartily wish that
M. La Fayette had taken any other direction than towards us. His fall
has been contemplated for some time, and even the possibility of his
being arrested by some of our parties. I have received a communication
from the Allied cabinets on the contingency; and the question now is,
how to execute my order without public weakness or personal severity."

I proposed to accompany him, while we were on the march, and to pledge
myself for his honour when we arrived at quarters.

"Generously offered," was the reply. "But my duty, in the first
instance, prohibits his remaining in the camp; and in the next, my
feelings for himself would spare a man who has commanded the enemy's
troops, the sight of that actual collision which must immediately take
place. We attack the defiles of the Argonne to-morrow."

He entered the tent, wrote a few lines, and returned to me.

"M. Lafayette must consider himself as a prisoner; but as my wish is
to treat him with honour, I must beg of you, M. Marston, to take
charge of him for the time. Your offer has relieved me from an
embarrassment; and I shall take care to make honourable mention of
your conduct in this instance, as in all others, to both the courts of
Berlin and St James's. The marquis must be sent to Berlin, and I must
request that you will be ready to set out with him this evening."

The sound was a thunder-stoke. "This evening!" when the decisive
action of the war was to be fought next morning. "To Berlin!" when all
my gallant friends were to be on the march to Paris. Impossible! I
retracted my offer at once. But the prince, not accustomed to be
resisted, held his purpose firmly; representing that, as the French
general was actually _my_ prisoner, and as _my_ court was equally
interested with those of the Allied powers, in preventing his return
to embroil France, "it was my duty, as her commissioner, to see that
the measure was effectively performed." But the appearance of leaving
the army, on the very eve of important service, was not to be argued,
or even commanded, away. The duke was equally inflexible, though his
sentences were perhaps shorter than mine; and I finally left his
presence, declaring, that if the request were persisted in, I should
throw up my commission at once, volunteer as a common trooper into the
first squadron which would admit me, and then, his highness, might, of
course, order me wherever he pleased."

A stately smile was the answer to this tirade. I bowed, and retired.

Within a hundred yards I met my two friends, Varnhorst and Guiscard,
and poured out my whole catalogue of wrongs at once. Varnhorst shared
my indignation, fiercely pulled his thick mustaches, and muttered some
phrases about oppression, martinetism, and other dangerous topics,
which fortunately were scattered on the air. Guiscard neither raged
nor smiled, but walked into the ducal tent. After a few minutes he
returned, and then his sallow countenance wore a smile. "You have
offended the duke desperately," said he. "And as a sovereign prince, I
dare say that banishment from his territories for life would be the
least reparation; but as a general, we think that we cannot have too
many good troops, and your proposal to take a Hulan's lance and pistol
in your hand, is irresistible. In short, he receives you as a
volunteer into his own hussars, and as you are henceforth at his
disposal, he orders."--My tormentor here made a malicious pause, which
threw me into a fever. I gazed on his countenance, to anticipate his
mission. It wore the same deep and moveless expression. "His highness
orders, that you shall escort, with a squadron, General Lafayette, to
the Chateau, our former headquarters, and where we first met; there
deliver over the Frenchman to an officer of the staff, who will be in
readiness to escort him further; and, in the mean time, if the very
fiery and independent M. Marston should have no objection to travel at
night, he may return, and be in time for whatever is to be done here

"Bravo, bravo!" exclaimed good-natured Varnhorst. "Guiscard, you are
the first of negotiators!"

"No," was the quiet reply. "I pretend to nothing more than the art of
being a good listener. I merely waited until the duke had spoken his
will, and then interposed my suggestion. It was adopted at once; and
now our young friend has only to ride hard to-night, and come to shade
his brow with a share of any laurels which we may pluck in the forest
of Argonne, in the next twenty-four hours."

I was enraptured--the communication was made in the most courteous
manner to the marquis. He had at once perceived the difficulties of
his position, and was glad to leave them behind as far as possible.
Our escort was mounted within a few minutes, and we were in full
gallop over the fruitful levels of Champagne.

To speed of this order, time and space were of little importance; and
with the rapidity of a flock of falcons, we reached the foot of the
noble hill, on which, embosomed in the most famous vineyards of the
vine country, stood the Chateau. It was blazing with lights, and had
evidently lost nothing of its population by the change of
headquarters. We were soon brought to a stand by a challenge in
French, and found that we were no longer among the jovial Jaegers of
Deutchland. We had fallen in with the advanced corps of the Emigrant
army under the command of the Prince of Conde.

Here was a new dilemma. Our prisoner's was perhaps the most startling
name which could have been pronounced among those high-blooded and
headlong men. The army was composed almost wholly of the _noblesse_;
and Lafayette, under all his circumstances of birth, sentiments, and
services, had been the constant theme of noble indignation. The
champion of the American Republic, the leader of the Parisian
movement, the commandant of the National Guard, the chief of the rebel
army in the field--all was terribly against him. Even the knowledge of
his fall could not have appeased their resentment; and the additional
knowledge that he was within their hands, might have only produced
some unfortunate display of what the philosopher calls "wild justice."
In this difficulty, while the officer of the patrol was on his way to
the Chateau to announce our coming, I consulted the captain of my
escort. But, though a capital _sabreur_, he was evidently not made to
solve questions in diplomacy. After various grimaces of thinking, and
even taking the meersham from his mouth, I was thrown on my own
resources. My application to the captive general was equally
fruitless: it was answered with the composure of one prepared for all
consequences, but it amounted simply to--"Do just as you please."

But no time was to be lost, and leaving the escort to wait till my
return, I rode up the hill alone, and desired an interview with the
officer in command of the division. Fortunately I found him to be one
of my gayest Parisian companions, now transformed into a fierce
chevalier, colonel des chasseurs, bronzed like an Arab, and mustached
like a tiger. But his inner man was the same as ever. I communicated
my purpose to him as briefly as possible. His open brow lowered, and
his fingers instinctively began playing with the hilt of his sabre.
And if the rencontre could have been arranged on the old terms of man
to man, my gallant friend would have undoubtedly made me the bearer of
a message on the spot. But I had come for other objects, and gradually
brought him round; he allowed that "a prisoner was something entitled
to respect." The "request of his distinguished and valued friend, M.
Marston, dear to him by so many charming recollections of Paris, &c.,
was much more;" and we finally arranged that the general should be
conveyed unseen to an apartment in the Chateau, while I did him and
his "_braves camarades_" the honour of sharing their supper. I gave
the most willing consent; a ride of thirty miles had given me the
appetite of a hunter.

I was now introduced to a new scene. The room was filled with muskets
and knapsacks piled against the walls, and three-fourths of those who
sat down were private soldiers; yet there was scarcely a man who did
not wear some knightly decoration, and I heard the noblest names of
France everywhere round me. Thus extremes meet: the Faubourg St
Germains had taken the equality of the new order of things, and the
very first attempt to retain an exclusive rank had brought all to the
same level. But it was a generous, a graceful, and a gallant level.
All was good-humour under their privations, and the fearful chances
which awaited them were evidently regarded with a feeling which had
all the force of physical courage without its roughness. I was much
struck, too, with the remarkable appearance of the military figures
round me. Contrary to our general notions of the foreign noblesse
those exhibited some of the finest-looking men whom I had ever seen.
This was perhaps, in a considerable degree, owing to the military
life. In countries where the nobility are destitute of public
employment, they naturally degenerate--become the victims of the
diseases of indolence and profligacy, transmit their decrepitude to
their descendants, and bequeath dwarfishness and deformity to their
name. But in France, the young noble was destined for soldiership from
his cradle. His education partook of the manly preparations for the
soldier's career. The discipline of the service, even in peace, taught
him some superiority to the effeminate habits of opulence; and a sense
of the actual claims of talents, integrity, and determination, gave
them all an importance which, whatever might be the follies of an
individual, from time to time, powerfully shaped the general character
of the nobles. In England, the efforts for political power, and the
distinctions of political fame, preserve our nobility from relaxing
into the slavery of indulgence. The continual ascent of accomplished
minds from the humbler ranks, at once reinforces their ability and
excites their emulation; and if England may proudly boast of men of
intellectual vigour, worthy of rising to the highest rank from the
humblest condition, she may, with not less justice, boast of her
favourites of fortune fitted to cope with her favourites of nature.

Among these showy and high-bred soldiers, the hours passed
delightfully. Anecdotes of every court of Europe, where most of them
had been, either as tourists or envoys; the piquant tales of the court
of their unfortunate sovereign; narratives--sufficiently contemptuous
of the present possessors of power; and _chansons_--some gay, and some
touching--made us all forget the flight of time. Among their military
choruses was one which drew tears from many a bold eye. It was a
species of brief elegy to the memory of Turenne, whom the French
soldier still regarded as his tutelar genius. It was said to have been
written on the spot where that great leader fell:--

"Recois, O Turenne, ou tu perdis lavie,
Les transports d'un soldat, qui te plaint et t'envie.
Dans l'Elysee assis, pres du cef des Cesars,
Ou dans le ciel, peutetre entre Bellone et Mars.
Fais-moi te suivre en tout, exauce ma priere;
Puis se-je ainsi remplir, et finir ma carriere."

The application to the immediate circumstances of those brave
gentlemen was painfully direct. What to-morrow might bring was
unknown, further than that they would probably soon be engaged with
their countrymen; and whether successful or not, they must be embarked
in war against France. But my intelligence that an action was expected
on the next day awoke the soldier within them again; the wrongs of
their order, the plunders of the ruling faction, their hopeless
expatriation, if some daring effort was not made, and the triumphant
change from exiles to possessors and conquerors, stirred them all into
enthusiasm. The army of the Allies, the enemy's position, the public
feeling of Paris, and the hope of sharing in the honours of an
engagement which was to sweep the revolutionary "canaille" before the
"gentlemen of France," were the rapid and animating topics. All were
ardent, all eloquent; fortune was at their feet, the only crime was to
doubt--the only difficulty was to choose in what shape of splendid
vengeance, of matchless retribution, and of permanent glory, they
should restore the tarnished lustre of the diadem, and raise the
insulted name of France to its ancient rank among the monarchies of
the world. I never heard among men so many brilliancies of speech--so
many expressions of feeling full of the heart--so glowing a display of
what the heart of man may unconsciously retain for the time when some
great emotion rouses all its depths, and opens them to the light of
day. It was to me a new chapter in the history of man.

The news which I had brought of the positions of the armies rendered
me an object of marked interest. I was questioned on every point;
first, and especially, of the intention of the commander-in-chief,
with the most anxious yet most polished minuteness. But, as on this
subject my lips were comparatively sealed, the state of the troops
with whom they were so soon to be brought into contact became the more
manageable topic. On mentioning that Dumourier was placed in command,
I received free and full communications on the subject of his
qualities for being the last hope of revolutionary France. One had
known him in his early career in the engineers, another had served
along with him in Corsica, a third had met him at the court of
Portugal; the concurring report being, that he was a coxcomb of the
first water, showy but superficial, and though personally brave, sure
to be bewildered when he found himself for the first time working the
wheels and springs of that puzzling machine, an army in the field. A
caustic old Provencal marquis, with his breast glittering with the
stars of a whole constellation of knighthood, yet who sat with the
cross-belts and cartouche-box of the rank and file upon him, agreeing
with all the premises, stoutly denied the conclusions. "He is a
coxcomb," said the old Marquis. "Well, he is only the fitter to
command an army of upstarts. He has seen nothing but Corsican service;
well, he is the fitter to command an army of banditti. And he has been
an _espion_ of the Government in Portugal; what better training could
he have for heading an army of traitors? Rely upon it, gentlemen, that
you have mistaken his character; if you think that he is not the very
man whom the mob of Paris ought to have chosen for their general, I
merely recommend, that when you go into action you should leave your
watches in camp, and, if you charge any of their battalions, look well
to your purses."

The old soldier's sally restored our gaiety; but the man best
acquainted with the French commander-in-chief was my friend the
chevalier, at the head of the table. "It has singularly enough
happened to me to have met M. Dumourier in almost every scene of his
life, since his return from his first service in Germany. Our first
meeting was in the military hospital in Toulouse, where he had been
sent, like myself, to recover, in his native air, from the wounds of
our last German campaign. He was then a coxcomb, but a clever one,
full of animal spirits, and intoxicated with the honour of having
survived the German bullets, of being appointed to a company, and
wearing a _croix_. Our next meeting was in Portugal. Our Minister had
adopted some romantic idea of shaking the English influence, and
Dumourier had been sent as an engineer to reconnoitre the defences of
the country. The word _espion_ was not wholly applicable to his
mission, yet there can be no doubt that the memoir published on his
return, was _not_ a volume of travels. His services had now
recommended him to the Government, and he was sent to Corsica. There
again I met him, as my regiment formed part of the force in the
island. He was high on the staff, our intercourse was renewed, and he
was regarded as a very expert diplomatist. A few years after, I found
him in a still higher situation, a favourite of De Choiseul, and
managing the affairs of the Polish confederation. On his return to
Paris, such was the credit in which he stood, that he was placed by
the minister of war at the head of a commission to reform the military
code; thus he has been always distinguished; and has at least had

Even this slight approach to praise was evidently not popular among
the circle, and I could hear murmurs.

"Distinguished!--yes, more with the pen than the sword."

"Diplomacy!--the business of a clerk. Command is another affair."

"Mon cher Chevalier," said the old Marquis, with a laugh, "pray, after
being in so many places with him, were you with him in the Bastile?"
This was followed with a roar.

I saw my friend's swarthy cheek burn. He started up, and was about to
make some fierce retort, when a fine old man, a general, with as many
orders as the marquis, and a still whiter head, averted the storm, by
saying, "Whether the chevalier was with M. Dumourier in that
predicament, I know not; but I can say that I was. I was sent there
for the high offence of kicking a page of the court down the grande
escalier at Versailles for impertinence, at the time when M. Dumourier
was sent there by the Duc d'Acquillon, for knowing more than the
minister. I assure you that I found him a most agreeable
personage--very gay, very witty, and very much determined to pass his
time in the pleasantest manner imaginable. But our companionship was
too brief for a perfect union of souls," said he laughing; "for I was
liberated within a week, while he was left behind for, I think, the
better part of a year."

"But his talents?" was the question down the table.

"Gentlemen," said the old man, "my experience in life has always made
me judge of talents by circumstances. If, for example, I find that a
man has the talent exactly fitted for his position, I give him credit
for all--he had the talent for making the Bastile endurable, and I
required no other. But there were times when graver topics varied our
pleasantry, and he exhibited very various intelligence, a practical
experience of the chief European courts, and, I am sorry to say, a
very striking contempt for their politics and their politicians alike.
He was especially indignant at the selfish perfidy with which the late
king had given him up to the ignorant jealousy of the minister, and
looked forward to the new reign with a resolute, and sometimes a
gloomy determination to be revenged. If that man is a republican, it
is the Bastile that has made him one; and if he ever shall have a fair
opportunity of displaying his genius, unless a cannonball stops his
career I should conceive him capable of producing a powerful
impression on Europe."

The conversation might again have become stormy but for the entrance
of a patrol, for whom a vacant space at the table had been left. Forty
or fifty fine tall fellows now came rushing into the room, flinging
down shakos, knapsacks, and sabres, and fully prepared to enjoy the
good cheer provided for them. I heard the names of the first families
of France among those privates--the Montmorencies, the Lamaignons, the
Nivernois, the Rochefoucaults, the De Noailles, "familiar as household
words." All was good-humour again. They had a little adventure in
scaring away a corps of the rustic national guards who, to expedite
their escape, had flung away their arms, which were brought in as good
prize. The festivity and frolic of youth, engaged in a cause which
conferred a certain dignity even on their _tours de page_, renewed the
pleasantry of the night. We again had the _chansons_; and I recollect
one, sung with delicious taste by a handsome Italian-faced youth, a
nephew of the writer, the Duc de Nivernois.

The duke had requested a ringlet from a beautiful woman. She answered,
that she had just found a grey hair among her locks, and could now
give then away no more. The gallant reply was--

"Quoi! vous parlez de cheveux blancs!
Laissez, laissez courir le temps;
Que vous importe son ravage?
Les tendres coeurs en sont exempts;
_Les Amours sont toujours enfants,
Et les Graces sont de tout age._
Pour moi, Themire, je le sens.
Je suis toujours dans mon printemps,
Quand je vous offre mon hommage.
Si je n'avais que dixhuit ans,
Je pourrais aimer plus longtemps,
Mais, non pas aimer davantage."[10]


Lovely and loved! shall one slight hair
Touch thy delicious lip with care?
A heart like thine may laugh at Time--
The Soul is ever in its prime.
All Loves, you know, have infant faces,
A thousand years can't chill the Graces!
While thou art in my soul enshrined,
I give all sorrows to the wind.
Were I this hour but gay eighteen,
Thou couldst be but my bosom's queen;
I might for longer years adore,
But could not, could not love thee more.

On returning to look for my distinguished prisoner, I found a packet
lying on the table of my apartment; it had arrived in my absence with
the troops in advance; and I must acknowledge that I opened it with a
trembling hand, when I saw that it came from London and Mordecai.

It was written in evident anxiety, and the chief subject was the
illness of his daughter. She had some secret on her mind, which
utterly baffled even the Jew's paternal sagacity. No letters had
reached either of them from France, and he almost implored me to
return, or, if that were impossible, to write without delay. Mariamne
had grown more fantastic, and capricious, and wayward than ever. Her
eyes had lost their brightness, and her cheek its colour. Yet she
complained of nothing, beyond a general distaste to existence. She had
seen the Comtesse de Tourville, and they had many a long conference
together, from which, however, Mariamne always returned more
melancholy than ever. She had refused the match which he had provided
for her, and declared her determination to live, like the daughter of
Jephthah, single to her grave.

The letter then turned to my own circumstances, and entered into them
with the singular mixture of ardour and sneering which formed this
extraordinary character.

"I am doing your business here as indefatigably as if I were
robbing nabobs in India, or setting up republics at home. The
tardiness of the Horse-Guards is to be moved by nothing but an
invasion; and it would be almost as rational to wait the
growth of an oak, as to wait the signing of your commission;
but it shall be done in my own way. I have means which can
make the tardy quick, and open the eyes of the blind. You
_shall_ be a subaltern in the Guards, unless you are in too
much haste to be a general, and get yourself shot by some
Parisian cobbler in the purloined uniform of a rifleman. But,
let me tell you one fact, and I might indorse this piece of
intelligence, 'Secret and Confidential,' to the English
cabinet, for even our great minister has yet to learn it--_the
Allies will never reach Paris_. Rely, and _act_ upon this.
They might now enter the capital, if, instead of bayonets,
they carried only trusses of straw. The road is open before
them, but they will look only behind. The war was almost a
feint from the beginning. The invasion was the second act of
the farce--the retreat will be the third. Poland has been the
_true object_; and, to cover the substantial seizures there,
has been the trick of the French invasion. I predict that, in
one month from the date of this letter, there will not be an
Austrian or Prussian cartridge found in France. Potsdam and
Schoenbrunn know more on the subject at this moment than the
duke. I write to you as a friend, and by Mariamne's especial
order, to take care of yourself. I have seen the retreats of
continental armies in my time; they are always a scene of
horrors. Follow the army so long as it advances; then all is
well, and even the experience of service may be of use to you.
But, in this instance, the moment that you find it come to a
stop, turn your horse's head to any point of the compass but
the front, and ride to the nearest seaport. The duke is a
brave man, and his army is a brave army; but both will be
instantly covered with all the obloquy of all the libelers on
earth. If you have met him as man with man, you have doubtless
been captivated with his manners, his wit, his animation, and
his accomplishments. I have known him long and well. But
Europe, within a month, will decry him, as a fugitive, a fool,
and a dastard. Such is popular wisdom, justice, and knowledge.
A pupil of the first warrior of Prussia and of modern ages,
and wanting only experience to do honour to the lessons of
Frederick, he will be laughed at by the loose loungers of the
Palais Royal, as ignorant of the art of war, and branded by
the graver loungers of courts and councils, as ignorant of the
art of government. Once more, I say, take care of yourself.
The first step in retreat will raise all France against the
Allies. Ten victories would not cost as much as the first
week's march towards the frontier. Every thicket will have its
troop; every finger, for a hundred leagues round, will be on
the trigger. Robbery and murder, famine and fatigue; disease
and death, will be upon the troops; the retreat will become a
flight, and happy is the man who will ever see the Rhine
again. Be wise in time."

Enclosed within this long epistle was a brief note from Mariamne.

"You must not think me dying, because I importune you no
longer. But, _can_ you give me any tidings of Lafontaine? I
know that he is rash, and even enthusiastic; but I equally
know that he is faithful and true. _Yet_, if he _has_
forgotten me, or is married, or is any thing that, as a preux
chevalier, he ought not to be, tell me at once, and you shall
see how grateful I can be, before I cease to be any thing. But
if he has fallen--if, in the dreadful scenes now acting in
Paris, Lafontaine is no more--_tell me not_. Write some
deluding thing to me--conceal your terrible knowledge. I
should not wish to drop down dead before my father's face. He
is looking at me while I write this, and I am trying to laugh,
with a heart as heavy as lead, and eyes that can scarcely see
the paper. No--for mercy's sake, do not tell me _that he is
dead_. Give me gentle words, give me hope, deceive me--as they
give laudanum, not to prolong life, but to lull agony. Do
this, and with my last pulse I shall be grateful--with my last
breath I shall bless you."

Poor Mariamne! I had, at least, better hopes than those for her. But
within this billet was a third. It was but a few lines; yet at the
foot of those lines was the signature--"Clotilde de Tourville." The
light almost forsook my eyes; my head swam; if the paper had been a
talisman, and every letter written with the pen of magic, it could not
have produced a more powerful effect upon me. My hands trembled, and
my ears thrilled; and yet it contained but a few unimportant words--an
enquiry addressed to Mariamne, whether she could forward a letter to
the Chateau Montauban in Champagne, or whether her father had any
correspondent in the vicinity who could send her the picture of a
beloved relative, which, in the haste of their flight to England, they
had most reluctantly left behind.

The note at once threw every thing else into the background. What were
invasions and armies--what were kings and kingdoms--to the slightest
wish of the being who had written this billet? All this I admit to be
the fever of the mind--a waking dream--an illusion to which mesmerism
or magic is but a frivolity. Like all fevers, it is destined to pass
away, or to kill the patient; yet for the time, what on earth is so
strange, or so powerful--so dangerous to the reason--so delicious to
the soul!

But, after the long reverie into which I sank, with the writing of
Clotilde in my hand, I recollected that fortune had for once given me
the power of meeting the wishes of this noble and beautiful creature.
The resemblance of the picture that had so much perplexed and
attracted me, was now explained. I _was_ in the Chateau de Montauban,
and I now blessed the chance which had sent me to its honoured walls.

To hasten to the chamber where I was again to look upon the exquisite
resemblance of features which, till then, I had thought without a
similar in the world, was a matter of instinct; and, winding my way
through the intricacies of galleries and corridors, loaded with the
baggage of the emigrant army, and strewed with many a gallant noble
who had exchanged the down bed of his ancestral mansion for the bare
floor, or the open bivouac, I at length reached the apartment to which
the captive general had been consigned. To my utter astonishment,
instead of the silence which I expected under the circumstances, I
heard the jingling of glasses and roars of laughter. Was this the
abode of solitude and misfortune? I entered, and found M. Lafayette,
indeed, conducting himself with the composure of a personage of his
rank; but the other performers exhibiting a totally different
temperament. A group of Polish officers, who had formerly borne
commissions in the royal service, and now followed the Emigrant
troops, had recognized Lafayette, and insisted on paying due honours
to the "noble comrade" with whom they had served beyond the Atlantic.
Hamlet's menace to his friend, that he would "teach him to drink deep
ere he depart," had been adopted in the amplest sense by those jovial
sons of the north, and "healths bottle-deep" were sent round the board
with rapid circulation.

My entrance but slightly deranged the symposium, and I was soon
furnished with all the freemasonry of the feast, by being called on to
do honour to the toast of "His Majesty the King of Great Britain." My
duty was now done, my initiation was complete, and while my eyes were
fixed on the portrait which, still in its unharmed beauty, looked
beaming on the wild revel below, I heard, in the broken queries, and
interjectional panegyrics of these hyperborean heroes, more of the
history of Lafayette than I had ever expected to reach my ears.

His life had been the strangest contrast to the calm countenance which
I saw so tranquilly listen to its own tale. It was Quixotic, and two
hundred years ago could scarcely have escaped the pen of some French
Cervantes. He had begun life as an officer in the French household
troops in absolute boyhood. At sixteen he had married! at eighteen he
had formed his political principles, and begun his military career by
crossing the Atlantic, and offering his sword to the Republic. To meet
the thousand wonderings at his conduct, he exchanged the ancient motto
of the Lafayettes for a new one of his own. The words, "Why not?" were
his answer to all, and they were sufficient. On reaching America, he
asked but two favours, to be suffered to serve, and to serve without

In America he was more republican than the Republicans. He toiled,
traveled, and bled, with an indefatigable zeal for the independence of
the colonists; his zeal was a passion, his love of liberty a romance,
his hostility to the dominion of England an universal scorn of
established power. But if fantastic, he was bold; and if too hot for
the frigidity of America, he was but preparing to touch France with
kindred fire. He refused rank in the French army coupled with the
condition of leaving the service of the Republic; and it was only on
the French alliance in 1788 that he returned to Paris, to be received
with feigned displeasure by the King, and even put under arrest by the
minister, but to be welcomed by the praises of the true sovereign, the
Queen, feted by the court, the sovereign of that sovereign, and
huzzaed by the mob of Paris, already the sovereign of them all; from
his military prison he emerged, colonel of the King's regiment of

While this narrative was going on, mingled with bumpers, and bursts of
Slavonic good-fellowship, I could not help asking myself whether
Lavater was not quack and physiognomy a folly? Could this be the
dashing Revolutionist? No plodder over the desk ever wore a more
broadcloth countenance; an occasional smile was the only indication of
his interest in what was passing around him. He evidently avoided
taking a share in the discussion of his Transatlantic career, probably
from delicacy to his English auditor. But when the conversation turned
upon France, the man came forth, and he vindicated his conduct with a
spirit and fulness that told me what he might have been when the blood
of youth was added to the glow of the imagination. He was now
evidently exhausted by toil, and dispirited by disappointment. No man
could be more thoroughly ruined; baffled in theory, undone in
practice--an exile from his country, a fugitive from his
troops--overwhelmed by the hopelessness of giving a constitution to
France, and with nothing but the dungeon before him, and the crash of
the guillotine behind.

"What was to be done?" said Lafayette. "France was bankrupt--the
treasury was empty--the profligate reign of Louis XV. had at once
wasted the wealth, dried up the revenues, and corrupted the energies
of France. Ministers wrung their hands, the king sent for his
confessor, the queen wept--but the nation groaned. There was but one
expedient, to call on the people. In 1787 the Assembly of the Notables
was summoned. It was the first time since the reign of Henry IV.
France had been a direct and formal despotism for almost two hundred
years. She had seen England spread from an island into an empire; she
had seen America spread from a colony into an empire. What had been
the worker of the miracle?--Liberty. While all the despotisms remained
within the boundaries fixed centuries ago, like vast dungeons, never
extending, and never opening to the light and air, except through the
dilapidations of time, I saw England and America expanding like
fertile fields, open to every breath of heaven and every beam of day,
expanding from year to year by the cheerful labour of man, and every
year covered with new productiveness for the use of universal mankind.
I own that there may have been rashness in urging the great
experiment--there may have been a dangerous disregard of the actual
circumstances of the people, the time, and the world--the daring hand
of the philosopher may have drawn down the lightning too suddenly to
be safe; the patriot may have flashed the blaze of his torch too
strongly on eyes so long trained to the twilight of the dungeon. The
leader of this enterprise himself, like the first discoverer of fire,
may have brought wrath upon his own head, and be condemned to have his
vitals gnawed in loneliness and chains; but nothing shall convince
Lafayette that a great work has not been begun for the living race,
for all nations, and for all posterity."

I could not suppress the question--"But when will the experiment be
complete? When will the tree, planted thus in storms, take hold of the
soil? When will the tremendous tillage which begins by clearing with
the conflagration, and ploughing with the earthquake, bring forth the
harvest of peace to the people?"

"These must be the legacy to our children," was the reply, in a grave
and almost contrite tone. "The works of man are rapid only when they
are meant for decay. The American savage builds his wigwam in a week,
to last for a year. The Parthenon took half an age and the treasures
of a people, to last for ever."

We parted for the night--and for thirty years. My impression of this
remarkable man was, that he had more heart than head; that a single
idea had engrossed his faculties, to the exclusion of all others; that
he was following a phantom, with the belief that it was a substantial
form, and that, like the idolaters of old, who offered their children
to their frowning deity, he imagined that the costlier the sacrifice,
the surer it was of propitiation. Few men have been more misunderstood
in his own day or in ours. Lifted to the skies for an hour by popular
adulation, he has been sunk into obscurity ever since by historic
contempt. Both were mistaken. He was the man made for the
time--precisely the middle term between the reign of the nobility and
the reign of the populace. Certainly not the man to "ride on the
whirlwind and direct the storm;" but as certainly altogether superior
to the indolent luxury of the class among whom he was born. Glory and
liberty, the two highest impulses of our common nature, sent him at
two and twenty from the most splendid court of Europe, to the swamps
and snows, the desperate service and dubious battles of America. Eight
years of voyages, negotiations, travels, and exposure to the chances
of the field, proved his energy, and at the age of thirty he had drawn
upon himself the eyes of the world. Here he ought to have rested, or
have died. But the Revolution swept him off his feet. It was an
untried region--a conflict of elements unknown to the calculation of
man; he was whirled along by a force which whirled the monarchy, the
church, and the nation with him, and sank only when France plunged
after him.

I have no honour for a similar career, and no homage for a similar
memory; but it is from those mingled characters that history derives
her deepest lesson, her warnings for the weak, her cautions for the
ambitious, and her wisdom for the wise.

On the retiring of the party for the night, my first act was to summon
the old Swiss and his wife who had been left in charge of the mansion,
and collect from them all their feeble memories could tell Clotilde.
But Madame la Marechale was a much more important personage in their
old eyes, than the "charmante enfant" whom they had dandled on their
knees, and who was likely to remain a "charmante enfant" to them
during their lives. The chateau had been the retreat of the Marechale
after the death of her husband; and it was in its stately solitudes,
and in the woods and wilds which surrounded it for many a league, that
Clotilde had acquired those accomplished tastes, and that
characteristic dignity and force of mind, which distinguished her from
the frivolity of her country-women, however elegant and attractive,
who had been trained in the _salons_ of the court. The green glades
and fresh air of the forest had given beauty to her cheek and grace
to her form; and scarcely conceiving how the rouged and jewelled
Marechale could have endured such an absence from the circles of the
young queen, and the "_beaux restes_" of the wits and beauties of the
court of Louis the 15th, I thanked in soul the fortunate necessity
which had driven her from the atmosphere of the Du Barris to the
shades thus sacred to innocence and knowledge.

But the grand business of the thing was still to be done. The picture
was taken down at last, to the great sorrow of the old servants, who
seemed to regard it as a patron saint, and who declared that its
presence, and its presence alone, could have saved the mansion, in the
first instance, from being burned by the "patriots," who generally
began their reforms of the nobility by laying their chateaux in ashes,
and in the next, from being plundered by the multitudes of whiskered
savages speaking unknown tongues, and came to leave France without
"_ni pain ni vin_" for her legitimate sons. But the will of Madame la
Marechale was to them as the laws of the Medes and Persians,
irresistible and unchangeable; and with heavy hearts they dismounted
the portrait, and assisted in enfolding and encasing it, with much the
same feeling that might have been shown in paying the last honours to
a rightful branch of the beloved line.

But, in the wall which the picture had covered, I found a small
recess, closed by an iron door, and evidently unknown to the Swiss and
his old wife. I might have hesitated about extending my enquiry
further, but Time, the great discoverer of all things, saved my
conscience: with a slight pressure against the lock it gave way; the
door flew open, and dropped off the hinges, a mass of rust and decay.
Within was a casket of a larger size than that generally used for
jewels; but my curiosity durst not go beyond the superscription, which
was a consignment of the casket, in the name of the Marechale, to her
banker in London. Whatever might be the contents, it was clear that,
like the picture, it had been left behind in the hurry of flight, and
that to transmit it to England was fairly within my commission. Before
our busy work was done, day was glancing in through the coloured panes
of the fine old chamber. I hurried off the Swiss, with my precious
possessions, to the next town, in one of the baggage carts, with a
trooper in front to prevent his search by hands still more hazardous
than those of a custom-house officer; and then, mounting my horse, and
bidding a brief farewell to the brave and noble fellows who were
already mustering for the march, and envying me with all their souls,
I set off at full speed to rejoin the army.

With all my speed, the action had begun for some hours before I came
in sight of the field. With what pangs of heart I heard the roar of
the cannon, for league on league, while I was threading my bewildered
way, and spurring my tired horse through the miry paths of a country
alternately marsh and forest; with what pantings I looked from every
successive height, to see even to what quarter the smoke of the firing
might direct me; with what eager vexation I questioned every hurrying
peasant, who either shook his moody head and refused to answer, or who
answered with the fright of one who expected to have his head swept
off his shoulders by some of my fierce-looking troop, I shall not now
venture to tell; but it was as genuine a torture as could be felt by
man. At length, exhausted by mortal fatigue, and ready to lie down and
die, I made a last effort, would listen no more to the remonstrances
of the troop, whose horses were sinking under them. I ordered them to
halt where they were, pushed on alone, and, winding my way through a
forest covering the side of a low but abrupt hill, or rather
succession of hills, I suddenly burst out into the light, and saw the
whole battle beneath, around, and before me. It was magnificent.

* * * * *



Sir--At the request of my four-footed friends, I forward to you a free
translation of the proceedings of a meeting of Houynhyms, recently
held for the protection of their interests in corn. As the language
appears more temperate, and the propositions quite as rational, as
those which are ordinarily brought forward in the other Corn-law
meetings which still continue to agitate the county, I have no
difficulty in complying with their wishes; and if you can afford space
for the insertion of the report in your valuable Magazine, you will
greatly oblige the Houynhym race, and confer a favour upon, sir, your
obedient servant,


_Stable-Yard, Nov. 10th, 1843._

* * * * *


A meeting of delegates from the different classes of consumers of oats
was held on Friday last, at the Nag's Head in the Borough, pursuant to
public advertisement in the _Hors-Lham Gazette_. The object of the
meeting was to take into consideration the present consumption of the
article, and to devise means for its increase. The celebrated horse
Comrade, of Drury-Lane Theatre, presided on the occasion.

The business of the meeting was opened by a young Racer of great
promise, who said it was his anxious desire to protect the interests
of the horse community, and to promote any measure which might
contribute to the increase of the consumption of oats, and improve the
condition of his fellow-quadrupeds. He was not versed in political
economy, nor, indeed, economy of any kind. He had heard much of demand
and supply, and the difficulty of regulating them properly; but, for
his own part, he found the latter always equalled the former, though
he understood such was not the case with his less fortunate brethren.
He warmly advocated the practice of sowing wild oats, and considered
that much of the decrease of consumption complained of arose from the
undue encouragement given to the growth of other grain; and that the
horse interest would be best promoted by imposing a maximum as to the
growth of wheat and barley, according to the acreage of each
particular farm.

A HACKNEY-COACH HORSE declared himself in favour of the sliding-scale,
which he understood from Sir Peter Lawrie to mean the wooden pavement.
He admitted it was not well adapted for rainy seasons, but it was
impossible to doubt that things went much more smoothly wherever it
was established; and that he, and the working classes whom he
represented, found in it a considerable relief from the heavy duties
daily imposed upon them. He wished that some measure could be devised
for superseding the use of nosebags, which he designated as an
intolerable nuisance, especially during the summer months; but he
principally relied for an improvement in condition on the prohibition
of the mixture of chaff with oats; which latter article, he contended,
was unfit for the use of able-bodied horses, who earned their daily
food, and ought to be limited to those cattle who spent an idle
existence in straw-yards.

A BRIGHT CHESTNUT HORSE, of great power, and well-known in the parks,
warmly replied to the last neigher. He denounced the sliding-scale as
a slippery measure, unworthy of a horse of spirit, and adding greatly
to the burdens with which horses like himself were saddled. He daily
saw steeds of the noblest blood and most undaunted action humbled to
the dust by its operation; and if Sir Peter Lawrie was to be believed,
it was more dreaded by the household troops than Napoleon's army on
the field of Waterloo. He yielded to no horse in an anxious desire to
promote the true interests of the horse community; but he could not
give his support to measures so unsafe, merely because they enabled a
small and inferior section of their community to move more smoothly.
He reprobated, in strong terms, the unfeeling allusion of the last
neigher to the unfortunate inmates of union straw-yards, whom, for his
own part, he looked upon as nowise inferior to the hackney-coach
horse himself, of whose right to be present at a meeting of consumers
of oats he entertained serious doubts. (Loud neighs of "Order!

A SCOTCH HORSE feared that, strictly speaking, he was included in the
same category with the hackney-coach horse, and had no right to be
heard, having no personal interest in the question; but he trusted he
might be permitted to speak as the delegate of the horses of Scotland,
who were ignorant of the Houynhym language, and not entitled to
attend. Permission being granted, to the surprise of the assembly he
descanted with much asperity upon the gross oppression to which horses
in Scotland were subject, as their rough coats and ragged appearance
plainly manifested; and stated, in conclusion, that no hope or
expectation of bettering the condition of the Scotch horse could be
entertained until their lawful food was restored to them, and
Scotchmen were compelled, by act of Parliament, to abstain from the
use of oatmeal, and live like the rest of the civilized world.

Several worn-out horses belonging to members of the Whig
administration then endeavoured to address the meeting, with an
evident intention of converting the proceedings into a party question;
but they were informed by the president, in the midst of loud snorting
and neighing, that they had not the slightest right to be present, as
they were all undoubtedly turned out for life. This decision appeared
to give universal satisfaction.

AN IRISH HORSE was of opinion that the great cause of the present
difficulties arose from deficiency in the quality and not the quantity
of the article, and strongly recommended the growth of Irish oats in
England. To the surprise of the English delegates, he warmly eulogized
the superiority of the Irish oat; but it afterwards appeared, upon the
production of a sample, that he had mistaken the potatoe oat for the
Irish oat.

AN OLD ENGLISH HUNTER next addressed the meeting, and was listened to
with deep attention. He impressed upon the young delegates the good
old adage of "Look before you leap," and cautioned them against the
delusive hope that their condition would be improved by change of
measures. In the course of his long life he had experienced measures
of every description, and had invariably found that his supplies
depended, not on the measure itself; but on the hand that filled it.
He had ever given his willing support to his employers, and served
them faithfully; and if they were as well acquainted as quadrupeds
with the secrets of the stable, they would learn the fallacy of their
favourite maxim of "Measures, not men," and trust the administration
of their affairs to upright and steady grooms, rather than those
fanciful half-educated gentlemen who were perpetually changing the
rules of the stables, and altering the form of the measures, whereby
they embarrassed the regular feeding and training of the inmates,
without producing any practical good.

A STAGE-COACH HORSE imputed their want of condition to the misconduct
of their leaders, who, he said, could never be kept in the right path,
or made to do one-half of the work which properly belonged to them. By
a strange fatality, they were generally purblind, and always shyed
most fearfully when an Opposition coach approached them. Indeed, it
was well known that the horses selected for these duties were,
generally speaking, vicious and unsound, and not taken from the most
able and powerful, but from the most showy classes. He then proceeded
to descant upon the general wrongs of horses. He congratulated the
community upon the abolition of bearing reins, those grievous burdens
upon the necks of all free-going horses; and he trusted the time would
soon arrive when the blinkers would also be taken off, every corn-binn
thrown open, and every horse his own leader.

Several other delegates addressed the meeting, and various plans were
discussed; but it invariably turned out, upon investigation, that the
change would only benefit the class of animals by whom it was
proposed. A post-horse was of opinion, that the true remedy lay in
decreasing the amount of speed, and shortening the spaces between
milestones. A Welsh pony was for the abolition of tolls, which, he
said, exhausted the money intended for repairs; whilst some
plough-horses from Lincolnshire proposed the encouragement of pasture
land, the abolition of tillage, and the disuse of oats altogether. The
harmony of the meeting was, at one period, interrupted, by the
unfortunate use of the word "_blackguard_" by a delegate from the
collieries, which caused a magnificent charger from the Royal Horse
Guards, Blue, to rear up, and, with great indignation, demand if the
allusion was personal; but who was satisfied with the explanation of
the president, that it was applicable only in a warlike sense. A long,
lean, bay horse, with a sour head, demanded a similar explanation of
the word "_job_," and was told it was used in a _working_ sense.
Several resolutions, drawn by two dray-horses, embodying the supposed
grievances of the community, were finally agreed upon, and a petition,
under the hoof of the president, founded upon them, having been
prepared, and ordered to be presented to the House of Commons by the
members for Horsham, the meeting separated, and the delegates returned
to their respective stables.

* * * * *


Bold warriors of Erin, I hereby _proclaim_,
That the world never witness'd your rivals in fame;
Bold sons of Macmurraugh, Macarthy, O'Neill,
The armies of earth at your sight would turn pale.
A flash from your eyes would light England's last pile,
And a touch give her sceptre to Erin's green isle.

Hurrah for the vengeance of old Mullaghmast,
On the blood-bolter'd ground where your gauntlet was cast;
Hurrah for the vengeance of Tara's proud hill,
Where the bones of our monarchs are blood-sprinkled still.
Hurrah for Clontarf, though the Saxon may smile,
The last, greatest triumph of Erin's green isle!

Let the scoffer scoff on, while I hereby _proclaim_,
That flight may be courage, and fear but a name;
That boasting is good, when 'tis good for the cause,
But, in sight of cold steel, _we should honour the laws_;
That powder and shot make men swallow their bile--
So, hurrah for the glory of Erin's green isle!

If they ask for your leader, the land's sword and shield,
At least none can say that _he fled from the field_.
_He_ kept a whole skin--for the service of Rome;
So he fix'd his headquarters in quiet at home.
They might just as well hunt for the head of the Nile,
While he reckon'd his beads for St Patrick's green isle.

If beggars on horseback will ride--to Clontarf;
If tailors will caper with truncheon and scarf,
At Sunday carousels, all know, I'm in flower,
My taste for the grape don't extend to the shower.
Besides, those blue pills disagree with my chyle,
So, hurrah!--pence and peace for the grand Emerald Isle!

If the scoffer should ask, what the deuce brought you there?
Of course, it was only to taste the fresh air;
To pick cowslips and daisies; and brush off the dew,
Or drink gin o'er the tombstone of Brian Boru.
As to flags, and all that; 'twas but doing in style,
The honours of Freedom to Erin's green isle.

Then, as to your "Squadrons," your "Mount for Repeal,"
'Twas merely to teach them the "Right about wheel,"
By the word of command from the Saxon to run,
As your leader would fly from a bailiff or dun;
In short, since a miss is as good as a mile,
Swear the whole was a humbug for Erin's green isle.

Besides, these are delicate moments to croak,
Since the Saxon's new plan of a word and a stroke.
My mind is made up, like a poodle or pug,
No longer to stir from my berth on the rug;
Though the bold may revile me, so let them revile--
I'm determined to _live_ for old Erin's green isle.

I _proclaim_--that the Saxon will tremble to meet
The heroes of Erin; but, boys, life is sweet.
I _proclaim_--that your shout frightens Europe's base thrones;
But remember, my boys, there is luck in whole bones;
So, take the advice of a friend--wait a while,
In a century or two you'll revenge the Green Isle.

I know in my soul, at the very first shot

That your whole monster meeting would fly at full trot;
What horrid melee, then, of popping and flashing!
At least I'LL not share in your holiday thrashing;
Brawl at Sugden and Smith, but beware "rank and file"--
They're too rough for the lambkins of Erin's green isle.

Observe, my dear boys, if you once get me hang'd,
'Tis fifty to one if you'll e'er be harangued.
Farewell to the pleasure of paying the "Rint"--
Farewell to all earth's vilest nonsense in print--
Farewell to the feast of your gall and your guile--
All's over at once with the grand Emerald Isle.

* * * * *


"Ho, comrade, up! awake, arise! look forth into the night:
Say, is yon gleam the morning-beam, yon broad and bloody light?
Say, does it tell--yon clanging bell--of mass or matin song?
Yon drum-roll--calls it to parade the soldier's armed throng?"

"No, brother, no! no morning-beam is yonder crimson glare!
Yon deep bell tolls no matin--'tis the tocsin's hurried blare!
Yon sullen drum-roll mutters out no summons to parade:
To fight the flame it summons us--the valiant Fire-Brigade!"

Then fast the Fireman rose, and waked his mate that lay beside;
And each man gripp'd his trusty axe, and donn'd his coat of hide--
There bounds beneath that leather coat a heart as strange to fear
As ever swell'd beneath the steel of gilded cuirassier.

And from beneath the leather casque that guards the Fireman's brow,
A bolder, sterner glance shines out than plumy crest can show;
And oft shall ply the Fireman's axe, though rude and rough it be,
Where sabre, lance, and bayonet, right soon would turn and flee!

Off dash the thundering engines, like goblin jaeger-chase--
The sleeper shudders as they pass, and pallid grows his face:
Away, away! though close and bright yon ruddy glow appear,
Far, far we have to gallop yet, or e'er our work we near!

A plain of upturn'd faces--pale brows and quivering lips,
All flickering like the tropic sea in the green light of eclipse;
And the multitude waves to and fro, as in the tropic sea,
After a tempest, heaves and falls the ground-swell sleeplessly.

Now, by my faith! goodly sight you mansion fast asleep--
Those winking lamps beside the gate a dull watch seem to keep--
But a gay awaking waits them, when the crash of blazing beam,
And the Fireman's stern reveille, shall mingle with their dream!

And sound as sleeps that mansion, ye may mark in every chink
A gleam, as in the lava-cracks by the volcano's brink;
Through key-hole and through window-slit, a white and sullen glow--
And all above is rolling smoke, and all is dark below.

Hark! hear ye not that murmur, that hush and hollow roar,
As when to the south-wester bow the pines upon the shore;
And that low crackling intermix'd, like wither'd twig that breaks,
When in the midnight greenwood the startled squirrel wakes!

Lo, how the fire comes roaring on, like a host in war array!
Nor lacks it gallant music to cheer it on its way,
Nor flap of flame-tongued banner, like the Oriflamme of old,
Its vanward cohorts heralding, in crimson, green, and gold.

The engines now are ranged a-row--hark, how they sob and pant!
How gallantly the water-jets curve soaringly aslant!
Up spins the stream--it meets the flame--it bursts in fleecy rain,
Like the last spout of the dying whale, when the lance is in
his brain.

Ha, ha! from yon high window thrill'd the wild shriek of despair,
And gibbering phantoms seem to dance within the ruddy glare;
And as a valiant captain leads his boarders to the fray,
"Up, up, my sons!" our foreman shouts--"up firemen, and away!"

Their arms are strong and sinewy--see how the splinters fly--
Their axes they are sharp and good--"Back, comrades! or ye die--
Look to the walls!"--a rending crash--they topple--down they come--
A cloud of sparks--a feeble cheer--again!--and all is dumb.

A pause--as on that battle-day, 'twixt France and England's might,
When huge L'Orient blew up at once, in the hottest of the fight:
There was not one, they say, but wink'd, and held his breath
the while,
Though brave were they that fought that day with Nelson at the Nile.

And by to-morrow's sunrise, amid the steaming stones,
A chain of gold half-melted, and a few small white bones,
And a few rags of roasted flesh, alone shall show where died--
The noble and the beautiful, the baby and the bride!

O fire, he is a noble thing!--the sot's pipe gives him birth;
Or from the livid thunder-cloud he leaps alive on earth;
Or in the western wilderness devouring silently;
Or on the lava rocking in the womb of Stromboli.

Right well in Hamburg revell'd he--though Elbe ran rolling by--
He could have drain'd--so fierce his thirst--the mighty river dry!
With silk, and gold, and diamond, he cramm'd his hungry maw;
And he tamed the wild republicans, who knew nor lord nor law!

He feasted well in Moscow--in the city of the Tsar--
When 'fore the northern streamers paled Napoleon's lurid star:
Around the hoary Kremlin, where Moscow once had stood,
He pass'd, and left a heap behind, of ashes slaked in blood!

He feasted once in London--he feasted best of all--
When through the close-packed city, he swept from wall to wall:
Even as of old the wrath of God came down in fiery rain,
On Sodom and Gomorrha, on the Cities of the Plain!

* * * * *


A recruited revenue; reviving trade and commerce; reduction in the
price of provisions; the triumphant termination of hostilities in all
parts of the world, with its great immediate prospective advantages: a
general feeling of confidence, arising from the steady administration
of public affairs, in spite of persevering and atrocious efforts to
excite dissatisfaction and alarm; nay, even the stern repose
prevailing in Ireland, preserved though it be, for a while, under
cover of artillery, and at the bayonet's point, but affording a
precious respite from agitation, and a foretaste of the blessings that
may be expected from its permanent suppression: all these
circumstances unequivocally attest the existence of a powerful
Government acting upon a comprehensive and enduring policy, which is
becoming daily better appreciated by the strong good sense which ever
distinguishes the British character, when a fair opportunity is
afforded for its exercise.

Upwards of two years have now elapsed since the accession of the
present Government to power, at a period of universally admitted
difficulty and danger. We have been, during this critical interval,
dispassionate and independent observers of Ministers, and their
conduct of public affairs, anxious to see whether they were really
equal to the occasion, and worthy of the confidence of the Sovereign
and the country. We are ourselves satisfied, and undertake to
demonstrate to our readers, that this question must be answered in the
affirmative. We say all this advisedly, and with no disposition to
deny the existence of difficulties, which, if serious to the present,
would be absolutely insuperable to any other Government. During the
interval in question, Ministers have triumphed over more formidable
difficulties than any which they have at present to encounter. _That_,
also, we say advisedly--cheerfully, confidently--with Ireland before
our eyes, and the din of the audacious and virulent Anti-corn-law
League in our ears.

Passing these topics for the present, let us proceed to examine
carefully the real position of Sir Robert Peel and his Government,
with a view to ascertaining its prospects of a continuance in power.
This enquiry cannot be successfully conducted, without referring for a
moment to the immense changes in principles and parties effected by
the Reform Bill in 1832--a period of quite as great a revolution as
that of 1688. The Tory party it nearly annihilated!--The first Reform
Parliament consisting of only 187 Tories to 471 Whigs and
Radicals--the former being thus in the fearful minority of 284. We
recollect sharing in the despondency, and even despair, which
paralysed our party. There was, however, one signal exception in the
person of Sir Robert Peel, whose conduct on that occasion entitles him
to the eternal gratitude of every man pretending to the character of a
Conservative, nay, of every true lover of his country and its
institutions. With surprising energy, calmness, and foresight, he
instantly addressed himself to the formation, even under those
inauspicious and disheartening circumstances, of that _great_
CONSERVATIVE _party_ of which he is now the acknowledged head. In
1841, just _before_ the general election, he thus _reminded that
party_, and apprized the country at large of the principle on which he
had acted in 1832. We beg our readers to ponder his words, and the
period when he uttered them.

"I then foresaw the good that might result from laying the
foundation of a great Conservative party in the state,
attached to the fundamental institutions of the country--not
opposed to any rational change in it which the lapse of years,
or the altered circumstances of society might require, but
determined to maintain, on their ancient footing and
foundation, our great institutions in church and state. In
order to form that party, however, it was necessary, in the
first instance, to widen the foundation on which it should
stand: to call into our connexion men from whom we had been
separated in consequence of differences which no longer
existed. My grand object was to build up that great party
which has been gradually acquiring strength in this
country--which has been gradually widening the foundation on
which it stands, and which has drawn, from time to time, its
support from its opponents."[11]

[11] Speech to the Tamworth Electors on 28th June 1841,
(Painter, Strand.)

The shortest and best evidence of the success which has attended the
unwearied exertions of Sir Robert Peel during the ensuing then years,
is afforded by the following summary of the results of the four
general elections since the passing of the Reform Bill; three of them
under the auspices and with the unscrupulously exercised patronage of
the Reform Government. Observe the ascending and descending scales:--

C. L.
187 471 (1832)
275 383 (1835)
314 344 (1837)
373 283 (1841)

Who was it but its founder, that led the Conservative party through
these successive stages of triumph? Who did so much as he to effect
that gradual but decisive change in public opinion which, in 1841,
routed the Liberal Ministry in spite of their extraordinary exertions
and advantages, and placed a Conservative Government at the head of
affairs? To enable us to appreciate the importance of that great
victory, and also the decision of character evinced on that occasion
by Sir Robert Peel, let us for a moment advert to the calm
self-reliance with which, amidst the breathless apprehensions and
misgivings of his whole party, he gave battle to the enemy--proposed
the memorable vote of want of confidence, and carried it by a majority
of one.[12] A more critical move never was followed by more signal
success; every ensuing event serving to show, that so far from his
movements having been impelled by rash and desperate party
speculations, they had been based upon a profound and accurate
knowledge of his resources, and of the state of feeling and opinion in
the country. "I gave the Government every advantage," said he, "to
make their appeal to the country. They boast of the confidence of the
crown--they have every means at their disposal which official
influence can command to exert in their own behalf. An appeal has been
made by them from the House of Commons to you, and it is for the
country to decide the question at issue. They have made an appeal to
public feeling on account of cheap sugar and cheap bread. My firm
belief is, that the people of this country have not at all responded
to that cry." How well-founded was that "firm belief," was proved by
the glorious result:--the "people of this country did" _not_ "respond
to that cry"--they rejected--they repudiated it, and they would do so
again if another such appeal were made to them to-morrow.

[12] Ayes, 312; Noes, 311--4th June 1841.

Let us now proceed to show what pretence there is for the injurious
insinuations and assertions of Sir Robert Peel's traducers--whether
treacherous friends or open enemies--that, in order to obtain power,
he hung out false colours to the nation; that his declarations before
the general election have been disregarded and falsified by his acts
on attaining office. We will for ever demolish all such calumnies and
false pretences by going, step by step, through a document which we
made a point of procuring at the time, and preserving hitherto, and to
which we have since frequently referred, on hearing uttered the
slanderous charges to which we allude. That document is a copy of the
speech which Sir Robert Peel, on the 28th June 1841, addressed
formally to his constituents, but virtually, of course, to the whole

One of his earliest declarations was the following:--"Gentlemen, _I
have ever professed moderate opinions on politics_. The principles I
professed, and adhered to, I shall adhere to during my public life,
whether in opposition or in power, are, I believe, in perfect
conformity with the prevailing good sense, the moderation, and the
intelligence of the great body of the people of England." This was a
sufficiently distinct notice to all men, especially to those of
extreme opinions, whether Tory, Liberal, or Radical, of the course of
action which was to be looked for from the expectant Prime Minister.

Then, first, he proceeded to admit the existence of manufacturing

"I admit and deplore it, but I do not despair. I have seen distress in
manufactures and in commerce before now. I think the causes of the
present distress are but temporary--that the cloud will soon blow
over--and that the great foundations of manufacturing prosperity are
not affected; and I hope I shall very shortly see the day when our
manufactures will once more revive, and when we shall again fill the
place we have always occupied--that of producers for the markets of
the world."

Now for its _cause_.

"Now let us consider the important question, as to how far the
distress in the manufactures and commerce of the country is fairly
attributable to the corn-laws." He proceeded to show, from Lord
Palmerston's official statement in Parliament on the 22d July 1840,
that, between the years 1830 and 1839, the _exports_ had risen from
the value of L.38,000,000 to L.53,000,000, and the _imports_ from
L.46,000,000 to L.62,000,000, "a clear proof that, notwithstanding the
local and temporary checks which our commerce had experienced, on the
whole it had gone on steadily improving, and that between the two
periods it had increased not much less than from two to three."

He then took the _shipping_ and _navigation_ of the country for the
preceding three years; and in looking at them, I cannot help thinking
that, if there was any thing like an absolute decrease in trade and
commerce, there would also be a decrease in the shipping of the
country. "Well," said Sir Robert Peel, "What do I find?" The returns
"showed an increase, presented within the last three years, from
4,000,000 tons to 4,780,000 tons." Now mark--"during the whole of this
period the corn-laws were in operation; how then can they be fairly or
honestly assigned as the cause of the present manufacturing and
commercial distress?"

But if the corn-laws were _not_, what _was_ the cause?

"I see causes enough in the world, as well as in this country, why
there should be manufacturing and commercial distress at the present
moment, irrespective and totally independent of the corn-laws."

These were--

1st, "_I do fear that, in the north of England, an undue stimulus has
been given to manufacturing industry by the accommodation system
pursued by the joint-stock banks. I think the connexion of the
manufacturer with the joint-stock banks gave an undue and an improper
impulse to trade in that quarter of the county; and I think that, in
consequence of this, there have been more manufactures produced within
the last two years than were necessary to supply the demand for

2ndly, "Look to the state of some of the foreign countries, which
took, at one time, the greatest quantity of our manufactures;" South
America, its ports strictly blockaded by France; the United States of
North America, "in a state of nascent hostility," and also labouring
under "a distress similar to our own, and arising from similar causes.
The facility of accommodation afforded by certain banks there gave an
undue stimulus to industry; this produced extravagant speculations;
many persons failed in consequence, and trade necessarily then came to
a stand-still." Canada--the peninsula, France, the great Kingdoms of
the middle and north of Europe--Syria, Egypt, China, had been, and
were, in such a state, as occasioned all interruption of our trade
thither; "a stoppage in the demand for manufactured goods, and a
correspondent depression in commerce." "When you put all these things
together, all causes, mind you, affecting the market for your goods,
and then combine them with the two or three defective harvests we have
had of late, I ask you to answer me the question, Whether or not they
have been sufficient to account for the depression of manufacturing

Then came Sir Robert Peel to the two grand and suddenly discovered
panaceas of the late Government, for recruiting the exhausted revenue,
and relieving the general distress--viz. "cheap sugar," and "cheap

1st, As to foreign sugar:--

"I clearly and freely admit that those restrictions which cannot be
justified should be removed, and that the commerce of the country
should be perfectly free, whenever it can possibly be so; but I
consider the article of sugar to be wholly exempt from the principle
of free trade." * * * "The question now is this--whether, after the
sacrifices which this country has made for the suppression of the
slave trade and the abolition of slavery, and the glorious
results that have ensued, and are likely to ensue, from these
sacrifices--whether we shall run the risk of losing the benefit of
those sacrifices, and tarnishing for ever that glory, by admitting to
the British market sugar the produce of foreign slavery." * * * "If
you admit it, it will come from Brazil and Cuba. In Brazil, the
slave-trade exists in full force; in Cuba, it is unmitigated in its
extent and horrors. The sugar of Cuba is the finest in the world; but
in Cuba, slavery is unparalleled in its horrors. I do not at all
overstate the fact, when I say, that 50,000 slaves are annually landed
in Cuba. That is the yearly importation into the island; but, when you
take into consideration the vast numbers that perish before they leave
their own coasts, the still greater number that die amidst the horrors
of the middle passage, and the number that are lost at sea, you will
come to the inevitable conclusion, that the number landed in
Cuba--50,000 annually--is but a slight indication of the number
shipped in Africa, or of the miseries and destruction that have taken
place among them during their transport thither. If you open the
markets of England to the sugar of Cuba, you may depend on it that you
give a great stimulus to slavery, and the slave-trade." Sir Robert
Peel then pointed out peculiar and decisive distinctions between the
case of sugar, and that of cotton, tobacco, and coffee; that, though
all of them were the produce of slave labour--First, we cannot now
reject the _cotton_ of the United States, without endangering to the
last degree the manufacturing prosperity of the kingdom. Secondly, of
all the descriptions of slave produce, sugar is the most cruelly
destructive of human life--the proportion of deaths in a sugar
plantation being infinitely greater than on those of cotton or coffee.
Thirdly, slave grown sugar has _never_ been admitted to consumption in
this country.[13] He also assigned two great co-operating reasons for
rejecting slave-grown sugar:--"That the people of England required the
great experiment of emancipation to be fairly tried; and they would
_not_ think it fairly tried, if, at this moment, when the colonies
were struggling with such difficulties, we were to open the floodgates
of a foreign supply, and inundate the British market with sugar, the
produce of slave-labour;" adopting the very words of the Whig
Vice-President of the Board of Trade, Mr Labouchere, on the 25th June
1840. The other reason was, "that our immense possessions in the East
Indies give us the means, and afford us every facility, for acquiring
sugar, the produce of free labour, to an illimitable extent."

[13] The following striking passage from the writings of the
celebrated Dr Channing of America, was quoted by Sir Robert
Peel in the speech under consideration. "Great Britain, loaded
with an unprecedented debt, and with a grinding taxation,
contracted a new debt of a hundred millions of dollars, to
give freedom, not to Englishmen, but to the degraded African.
I know not that history records an act so disinterested, so
sublime. In the progress of ages, England's naval triumphs
will shrink into a more and more narrow space in the records
of our race--this moral triumph will fill a broader--brighter
page." "Take care!" emphatically added Sir Robert Peel, "that
this brighter page be not sullied by the admission of slave
sugar into the consumption of this country--by our
encouragement--and, too, our unnecessary encouragement of
slavery and the slave-trade!"--Noble sentiments!

So much for foreign sugar. Now for--

II. FOREIGN CORN; and we beg the special attention of all parties to
this portion of the manifesto of Sir Robert Peel:--

"Look at the capital invested in land and agriculture in this
country--look at the interests involved in it--look at the arrangement
that has been come to for the commutation of tithes--look at your
importation of corn diminishing for the last ten years--consider the
burdens on the land peculiar to this country[14]--take all these
circumstances into consideration, and then you will agree with Mr
McCulloch, the great advocate of a change in the Corn-law, that
'considering the vast importance of agriculture, _nearly half the
population of the empire are directly or indirectly dependent on it
for employment and the means of subsistence_; a prudent statesman
would pause before he gave his sanction to any measure however sound
in principle, or beneficial to the mercantile and manufacturing
classes, that might endanger the prosperity of agriculture, or check
the rapid spread of improvement.'"[15]

[14] "We believe," says _Mr McCulloch_ himself in another part
of the pamphlet, (Longman & Co., 1841, p. 23--6th Edit.) from
which Sir Robert Peel is quoting, "that land is more heavily
taxed than any other species of property in the country--and
that its owners are clearly entitled to insist that a duty
should be laid on foreign corn when imported, sufficient fully
to countervail the excess of burdens laid upon the land."

[15] Speech, pp. 9, 10.

Now for the "_Sliding Scale_."

"I just here repeat the opinion which I have declared here before, and
also in the House of Commons, that I cannot consent to substitute a
fixed duty of 8s. a-quarter on foreign corn, for the present ascending
and descending scale of duties. I prefer the principle of the
ascending and descending scale, to such an amount of fixed duty. And
when I look at the burdens to which the land of this country is
subject, I do not consider the fixed duty of 8s. a-quarter on corn
from Poland, and Prussia, and Russia, where no such burdens exist, a
sufficient protection for it."[16]

[16] Do. p. 8.


"If you disturb agriculture, and divert the employment of capital from
the land, you may not increase your foreign trade--for that is a thing
to dwell under existing circumstances--_but will assuredly reduce the
home trade, by reducing the means to meet the demand_, and thus
permanently injure yourselves also."[17]

[17] Do. p. 13.


"I have come to the conclusion, that the existing system of an
ascending and descending scale of duties, should not be altered: and
that, moreover, we should as much as possible make ourselves
independent of a foreign supply--and not disturb the principle of the
existing corn-laws--of these corn-laws, which, when you have an
abundance of your own, exclude altogether the foreign supply--and when
the price rises in this country, freely admits it."[18]

[18] Speech, p. 15.

Again--he quoted the following remarkable language of Lord Melbourne
on the 11th June 1840--

"_Whether the object be to have a fixed duty, or an alteration as to
the ascending and descending scale, I see clearly and distinctly,
that that object will not be carried without a most violent
struggle--without causing much ill-blood, and a deep sense of
grievance--without stirring society to its foundations, and leaving
behind every sort of bitterness and animosity. I do not think the
advantages to be gained by the change are worth the evils of the

[19] Do. p. 18.

And Sir Robert Peel concluded the foregoing summary of his views, on
the great questions then proposed to the country for its decision, in
the following words:--

"I ask your free suffrages, with this frank and explicit declaration
of my opinions."[20]

[20] Do. p. 18.

On this, there occur to us three questions--

(1st.) Was this, or was it not, a frank and explicit declaration of
his opinions? And, (2d.) Did it, or did it not, as tested by the
result of the general election, completely satisfy the country? (3d.)
In what respect has the subsequent conduct of Sir Robert Peel been
inconsistent with these declarations? And we echo the stern enquiry
of the Duke of Wellington, for "the _when_, the _where_, and the
_how_," "of Sir Robert Peel's deceiving his supporters or the
country"--and "pause for a reply." Failing to receive any--for none
can be given, except in the negative--we shall proceed to condense the
substance of this memorable manifesto into a few words; offer some
general observations designed to assist in forming a correct judgment
upon the topics discussed in the ensuing pages; and then give as fair
an outline as we know how to present, of the "DOINGS" of Sir Robert
Peel and his Government, by way of comment upon, and illustration of
his previous and preparatory "SAYINGS."

What, then, was the substance of Sir Robert Peel's declaration, on
presenting himself before the country as a candidate for the office
which he fills? He avowed himself a man of moderate political
opinions; recognized the existence of manufacturing and commercial
distress, but referred it to causes of only a temporary nature,
unconnected with the corn-laws; repudiated the empirical expedients
proposed by the late ministry; and pledged himself to maintain the
principle of protection to our agricultural interests; declaring his
deliberate preference of a sliding scale of duties, to a fixed duty,
upon foreign corn.

The first of the observations to which we beg the reader's earnest
attention, is--that Sir Robert Peel has _to govern by means of a
Reformed House of Commons_. It is for want of well considering this
circumstance, that one or two respectable sections of the Conservative
party have conceived some dissatisfaction at the line of policy
adopted by Sir Robert Peel. They forget that, as we have already
stated, the _Tory_ party was nearly destroyed by the passing of the
Reform Bill; that from its ashes rose the CONSERVATIVE party, adapted
to the totally new political exigencies of the times; its grand object
being, as it were, out of the elements of democracy to arrest the
progress of democracy. The bond of its union was correctly described
by its founder, as consisting in attachment to the fundamental
institutions of the country--non-opposition to rational changes
rendered requisite by the altered circumstances of the times--but
determination to maintain, on their ancient footing and foundation,
our great institutions in Church and State. Keeping these grand
objects ever in view, the true policy to be adopted was to widen the
foundations on which should stand "that new party _which was to draw,
from time to time, its strength from its opponents_." None saw this
more clearly than Sir Robert Peel--and hence the "_moderation_,"
indispensable and all-powerful, which he prescribed to himself, and
recommended to all those who chose to act with him, and the steady
acting upon which has at length conducted them to their present
splendid position of power and responsibility. Could the government of
the country be now carried on upon principles that were all-powerful
twenty--or even fewer--years ago? No more than Queen Victoria could
govern on the principles of Queen Elizabeth! We must look at things,
not as they were, or as we would wish them to be--but as they are and
are likely to be. He is unable to take a just and comprehensive view
of political affairs in this country--of the position of parties, and
the tendency of the principles respectively advocated by them, who
does not see that the great and only contest now going on, is between
_conservative_ and _destructive_. We say boldly--and we are satisfied
that we say it in conformity with the opinions of the immense majority
of persons of intelligence and property--that the forces which would
drive Sir Robert Peel's Government from office would immediately and
inevitably supply their places by a Government which must act upon
destructive principles. This will not be believed by many of those
who, moving in the circumscribed sphere of intense party feeling, can
contemplate only one object, namely--a return to power, and disregard
the intentions of the fierce auxiliaries of whose services they would
avail themselves. To the country at large, however, who breathe a
freer air, the true nature of the struggle is plain as the sun at
noonday. The number of those who only nominally belong to parties,
but have a very deep stake in the preservation of our national
institutions, and see distinctly the advantages of a Minister acting
_firmly_ on moderate principles, and who will consequently give him a
_silent_ but steady support in moments of danger, is infinitely larger
than is supposed by the opponents of the Conservative party. Such a
Minister, however, must make up his account with receiving often only
a cold and jealous support from those of his adherents who incline to
extreme opinions; while his opponents will increase their zeal and
animosity in proportion to their perception of the unobjectionableness
of his measures, the practical _working_ of his moderation, viz.--his
continuance in power, and their own exclusion from it. Such a Minister
must possess a large share of fortitude, careless of its exhibition,
and often exposing him to the charge of insensibility, as he moves
steadily on amongst disaffected supporters and desperate
opponents, mindless equally of taunts, threats, reproaches, and
misrepresentations. He must resolve to _bide his time_, while his
well-matured measures are slowly developing themselves, relying on the
conscious purity of his motives. Such a man as this the country will
prize and support, and such a man we sincerely believe that the
country possesses in the present Prime Minister. He may view,
therefore, with perfect equanimity, a degree of methodized clamour and
violence, which would overthrow a Minister of a different
stamp. Such are the inconveniences--such the consolations and
advantages--attending that course of _moderation_ which alone can be
adopted with permanent success, by a Conservative Minister governing
with a reformed House of Commons.

Another observation we would offer, has for its object to abate the
pique and vexation under which the ablest volunteer advisers of the
Minister are apt to suffer, on his disregard of their counsels, and
sometimes to revenge themselves by bitter and indiscriminate censure
of his general policy. They should remember, that while they are
irresponsible volunteers, he acts under a tremendous responsibility;
to sustain which, however, he has advantages which none but those in
his situation can possibly possess--the co-operation of able brother
Ministers, with all those sources and means of universal information
which the constitution has placed at his disposal. The superior
knowledge of the circumstances of the country thus acquired, enable
him to see insuperable objections to schemes and suggestions, which
their proposers reasonably deem to be palpably just and feasible. We
have often thought that if Sir Robert Peel, or any other Prime
Minister, were to take one of these eager and confident advisers into
his cabinet, and calmly exhibit to him the actual impossibility--the
imminent danger--of adopting the course of procedure which that
adviser has been strenuously recommending, he would go away with
slightly increased distrust of himself, and consideration for the
Minister. Neither Sir Robert Peel, nor any other Minister, would be so
arrogantly stupid as to disregard free information and advice,
_merely_ because it came from such persons, who, if they have no right
to expect their advice to be followed, have yet a clear right to offer
it, and urge it with all their force.

Again--The present Ministers had the disadvantage (in some respects)
of succeeding to those, who, if they could _do_ nothing, made up for
it by _promising_ every thing. Sir Robert Peel and his friends, on the
contrary, made no promises whatever, beyond what would indeed be
implied by acceptance of office--namely, honestly to endeavour to
govern the country, for the permanent good of the country. While
admitting the existence of great distress, they expressly admitted
also, that they saw no mode of sudden relief for that distress, but
would trust to the energies of the country gradually recovering
themselves, under steady and cautious management. Sir Robert Peel
frankly stated in the House of Commons, just previously to the
dissolution in 1841, that he had no hope of an immediate return of
prosperity; and that such had become the state of our domestic and
foreign embarrassments, that "we must for years expect to struggle
with difficulty." This was their language on the eve of the general
election, yet the country placed confidence in their honour and
capacity, heartily sickened of the prodigal _promises_ of their
opponents. The extravagant visionary hopes which they held forth at
the eleventh hour, in their frenzied eagerness to obtain a majority at
the last election, are still gleaming brightly before the eyes of
numbers of their deluded supporters; imposing on the present
Government the painful and ungracious duty of proving to them that
such hopes and expectations cannot be realized, even for a brief
space, without breaking up the foundations of our national existence
and greatness.

Lastly. Can the Conservatives be expected in TWO years' time to repair
all the evils resulting from a TEN years' gross mismanagement of the
national affairs by their predecessors? "The evil that they did,
_lives after them_." But for the fortunate strength of the
Conservative party, moreover, in opposition, and the patriotism and
wisdom of the house of Lords, the late Ministers would, by the time of
their expulsion from office, have rendered the condition of the
country _utterly_ desperate--for very nearly desperate it assuredly
was. Their vacillating, inconsistent, wild, and extravagant conduct
during these ten years, had generated an universal sense of insecurity
and want of confidence among all the great interests of the country,
which locked up capital--palsied enterprise. Trade and commerce
drooped daily, and the revenue melted away rapidly every year. Great
things were justly expected from the practical skill and experience
possessed by the new Government; but _time_ is requisite for the
development of a policy which had, and still has, to contend against
such numerous and formidable obstacles. Confidence, especially
mercantile confidence, is a delicate flower, of slow growth, and very
difficult to rear. A breath may blight it. It will bloom only in a
tranquil and temperate air. If ever there was a man entitled to speak,
however, with authority upon this subject, it was Mr Baring, the late
candidate, and unquestionably the future member, for the city of
London--a man constantly engaged in vast mercantile transactions in
all parts of the globe, and whose ability equals his experience. In
the presence of a great number of gentlemen, representing two-thirds
of the wealth and intelligence of the city of London, thus spoke Mr
Baring, on the 6th October 1843:--"I rejoice that Sir Robert Peel did
not hold out to the country the fallacious hope, that, by any
particular measure, he could restore prosperity, or cure sufferings
which were beyond the reach of legislation, and that he patiently
relied upon the resources and energies of the country to set trade and
commerce right. That expectation is already beginning to be realized.
That calm reliance is already justified. I am speaking in the presence
of those who are as much as, if not more conversant with business
than, myself, and they will contradict me if I am not right when I
say, that great symptoms of improvement in the trade and industry of
the country have manifested themselves; which symptoms are of such a
nature, that they do not appear to be the result of momentary
excitement produced by some fallacious experiment, but of the
paramount re-establishment of commerce, and of a fresh era in the
prosperity of the empire. I am asked what have the Government done?
Why, they have _restored_ CONFIDENCE to the country! They have
terminated wars, they have restored confidence at home, and commanded
respect abroad."

Now, however, for the DOINGS of the Government; and of those we shall
take no more detailed or extended notice than is requisite, in our
opinion, to exhibit the general system and _plan_ of their procedure,
and show its complete consistency with the declaration of opinions
made by Sir Robert Peel previous to the general election of 1841.

It will be borne in mind, that the then existing distress in our
commercial and manufacturing interests he referred to three
_temporary_ causes:--the undue stimulus which had been given to
industry in the manufacturing districts--by the accommodation system
pursued in the joint-stock banks, the troubled and hostile condition
of almost all those foreign countries which used to be the best
customers for our manufactures, and the two or three preceding
defective harvests. The first of these was not of a nature to call
for, or perhaps admit of, direct and specific legislative
interference. It originated in a vicious system of contagious private
speculation, which has involved many thousands of those engaged in it
in irredeemable, shall we add _deserved_, disgrace and ruin--and which
had better, perhaps, be left to work its own cure. The last of the
three causes was one to which all mankind is every where subject, and
which is in a great measure beyond the reach of effective human
interference. Before proceeding to explain the steps taken to remedy
the second, viz., our distracted foreign relations, let us premise
briefly for the present, that the very earliest acts of Ministers
showed how profoundly sensible they were of the necessity of doing
_something_, and that promptly, to relieve the grievous distress under
which the lower orders were suffering, and at the same time afford a
safe, effective, and permanent stimulus to trade and commerce. A
comprehensive survey of the state, not only of our own but foreign
commercial countries, satisfied them, as practical men, of the serious
difficulties to be here contended with. The steps they took, after due
deliberation--viz., the proposing the new tariff and the new
corn-law--we shall presently refer to. Let us now point out _the
income-tax_ as a measure reflecting infinite credit upon those who had
the sagacity and resolution to propose it. We shall not dwell upon
this great _temporary_ measure, which in one year has poured upwards
of _five millions_ into the exhausted exchequer, further than to say,
that as soon as ever it was known among the monied classes, that the
Minister, environed as he was with financial difficulties, would risk
any amount of popular odium rather than add to the permanent burdens
of the country, or permit the ruinous continuance of an excess of
expenditure over revenue. As soon as this was evident, we say, the
great monied interests of the kingdom recognized in Sir Robert Peel an
honest minister, and gave him forthwith its complete confidence, which
has never since been for an instant withdrawn from him. And how great
are the obligations of that vast portion of the most suffering classes
of the community, whom he exempted from this extraordinary
contribution to the burdens of the state!

But now for _foreign affairs_. May not the present Ministers look with
just pride towards every quarter of the globe, and exclaim, _Quae regio
in terris nostri non plena laboris?_ In truth their success here has
been sufficient to set up half a dozen Ministers--as is known to no
man better than Lord Palmerston. The Duke of Wellington and Lord
Aberdeen have restored peace to the whole world, re-establishing it on
a footing of dignified security and equality. By the persevering
energy, the calm determination, and inexhaustible resources of Lord
Aberdeen, "the winter of our discontent," has been "made glorious
summer," with all the great powers of the world. Look at our glorious
but irritable neighbour--France: is there any language too strong to
express the delight which we feel at the renovated sympathy and
affection which exist between us?

We cannot answer for France to the extent which we can for England;
but we know, that through the length and breadth of _this_ land--our
beloved Queen's familiar visit to the King of the French, their
affectionate greeting, and her Majesty's enthusiastic reception by the
people, diffused a feeling of joy and affection towards France, which
will not soon--nay, should it ever?--subside. But would that visit
have taken place, if Lord Palmerston, and not Lord Aberdeen, had
presided over the foreign councils of this country? 'Tis a
disagreeable question, and we pass on. Then as to America, thanks to
the mission of Lord Ashburton, peace has been secured between us, on
terms equally honourable to both. We are now at peace with the United
States--a peace not to be disturbed by the (to Whiggish eyes)
_promising_ (!!) aspect of the Oregon difficulties--which we tell our
aforesaid friends will end in--_nothing at all_--[It is not, by the
way, _the fault of our Government_, that this disputed matter was not
embraced by the Washington Treaty.]--While Lord Palmerston and his
doleful ally, the _Morning Chronicle_, were daily stigmatizing the
treaty of Washington, as highly dishonourable and disadvantageous to
this country, it may interest our readers to see what one of the
disaffected _American_ senators had to say on the subject. Thus spoke,
in the senate, Mr Benton, a well-known member of congress:--

"The concessions of Great Britain to the United States are
small. The territory granted to the United States, is of such
a nature, that it will never be of importance to hold it,
while the possessions given up by the United States are
important and valuable to them, and have the effect of
admitting a foreign power within a territory which was granted
to the United States, by the treaty of 1783. * * When I see
the Government giving up more than Great Britain demanded, I
cannot conceal my amazement and mortification!"

Glancing, however, from the West to the East--what do we see?
Wars in India and China, brought gloriously to an advantageous
termination.--"Wars," to adopt the language of one of the greatest
mercantile authorities living, "which have been deranging our money
transactions, and making our trade a trade of hazard and speculation,
most injurious to the commerce of the empire at large."

While, on the one hand, we are relieved from the ruinous drain upon
our resources, occasioned by our protracted warlike operations in
India and China, on the other, a prospect is opened to us, by the
immensely important treaty into which the Emperor of China has entered
with this country, of very great and permanent commercial advantages,
which are already being realized. Let our manufacturers, however,
beware of the danger of forfeiting these advantages, by excessive
eagerness to avail themselves of these newly acquired markets.
Twelve-months ago, we earnestly warned them on this score,[21] and we
now as earnestly repeat that warning; "Notwithstanding," observed an
able French journalist, a few weeks ago, upon this subject, "the
opening of five ports to European commerce, China will for many years
preserve her internal laws, her eccentric tastes, her inveterate
habits. China is the country of routine and immovability. The treaty
with Great Britain cannot modify the nature of China in a few months.
_If the English are not prudent in their exports, if they overload the
newly opened ports with foreign produce, they will injure themselves
more than they were injured by the war just concluded._" In every word
of this we concur: but alas! what weight will such considerations have
with the agitating manufacturers in the north of England? Their fierce
but short-sighted anxiety to make rapid fortunes, will make most of
them, in a very few years, melancholy evidences of the justness of our
observations! We cannot pass from the East without noticing the sound
statesmanship which is regulating all Lord Ellenborough's leading
movements in India--a matter now universally admitted. How unspeakably
contemptible and ridiculous has the lapse of a few months rendered the
petty clamours against him, with which the ex-ministerial party
commenced their last year's campaign! Without, however, travelling

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest