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generally popular, from the devotion which the multitude always pay to brilliant valour, and the affection which a gentle, kind, and innocent nature is calculated to win; while the other, with courage as undaunted, though eclipsed by greater and rarer qualities, stood too far removed from the weaknesses of ordinary men to appear in such an amiable light; and by the extent of his capacity and his habits of command, secured the respectful submission of others more than he won their love. Yet, while of Nelson it was justly said that no serious breach of discipline was ever overlooked by him; of Jervis it was as truly observed, that all good officers—all men employed under him, whether in civil or military service-spoke of him as they felt, with admiration of his genius approaching to enthusiasm ; although the followers of his illustrious friend adored their idol with yet more fervent devotion. In his political opinions, this great commander was liberal and free, ever preferring the humane and enlightened side; and though loyally attached to the constitution of his country, yet careless what offence he might give to existing rulers by the unrestrained openness of his sentiments upon public affairs. Accordingly, he was even less a favourite with George III. and his court, than his great master, whose party was always opposed to that narrowminded and bigoted prince.
It is truly painful to fling in that shade, without which this comparative sketch would lose all likeness to its original. The conduct of Lord St. Vincent was always high and decorous; and although he had a singular aversion to cant of any kind, nor to any more than that of an overdone and pharisaical morality, he never lowered, in his own person, the standard of private any more than of public virtue; wisely holding all conspicuous men as trustees for the character of the people, and in some sort representatives of the people's virtues. Lord Nelson, in an unhappy moment, suffered himself to fall into the snares laid for his honour by
regal craft, and baited with fascinating female charms. But for this, he might have defied all the malice of his enemies, whether at sea or on shore, in the navy or at the court; because nothing is more true than that great merit is safe from all enemies save one-safe and secure, so its possessor will only not join its foes. Unhappily, he formed this inauspicious junction, and the alliance was fatal to his fame. Seduced by the profligate arts of one woman, and the perilous fascinations of another, he lent himself to a proceeding deformed by the blackest colours of treachery and of murder. A temporary aberration of mind can explain though not excuse this dismal period of his history.
The sacred interests of truth and of virtue forbid us to leave the veil over these afflicting scenes undrawn. But having once lifted it up, on seeing that it lays bare the failings of Nelson, we may be suffered to let it drop over a picture far too sad to dwell upon, even for a moment!
* The publication by Sir Harris Nicolas of the Nelson Correspondence' is most valuable. It gives, however, no contradiction to the received opinion of his misconduct in Sicily: on the contrary, it proves him to have been guilty of a great and wilful disobedience to orders through the Queen's intercession.
LORD KING-MR. HORNER
THE history of George III.'s long and eventful reign presents to us no one domestic event so important in its consequences, both immediate and remote, as the rash and hazardous tampering with the currency, first by Mr. Pitt, under the pressure of the pecuniary embarrassments which the war had occasioned, and next by the Liverpool ministry and the Whigs in their joint determination to restore the standard suddenly and without compromise.
In 1797, the Bank of England was found to labour under extreme difficulties, from the export of bullion, the state of trade generally, and the financial demands of a Government which was borrowing millions yearly to fill the devouring gulf of war expenditure, and to subsidize half the continental powers. It was perceived that either the war or the bank must stop, and the latter alternative was chosen, when Mr. Pitt's anxious hopes of peace were frustrated by France. An Order in Council was issued to prohibit it from paying in specie; an Act was passed to sanction this order, and enable country banks to pay in Bank of England paper; and the slaves of the Government, through the press and in Parliament, contended for five long years that this stoppage had no tendency to depreciate bank notes, and had no tendency to increase their issue! That the over issue, and consequently the depreciation, was for some years extremely inconsiderable is certain; but these talkers, reasoners they cannot be termed, denied even the tendency of the
suspension to cause either over-issue or depreciation, and affirmed that both were wholly impossible.
In 1803, Lord King, caring little now for the argument of tendency, demonstrated by the plainest evidence of facts, that the depreciation had actually taken place; indeed the market price of gold having risen above its mint price, distinctly proved it; and the only wonder is, that Mr. Thornton and Mr. Horner should not, in discussing the subject the year before, have come to the same conclusion.
It was not in the nature of this depreciation to stop, while its cause continued to operate. Mr. Pitt and his supporters, of course, denied it. He who, from his sanguine nature, had refused to believe in the existence of the army assembled at Dijon in 1800, and charged with disaffection a respectable mercantile man for writing to his London correspondent that this force was about to cross the Alps, and who never would listen to any account of it until it had destroyed the power of Austria at Marengo, might well be expected to shut his eyes against all the facts from Change-alley, and all the arguments of Lord King, to show that he had intruded into the country a debased currency, when he banished all gold from its circulation. But the transactors of traffic all over the world were as deaf to the charmer of the senate, as he was blind to the facts before his eyes; and the bank-note soon fell to the price of 17s. and 18s. for a pound. Lord Grenville, to his great honour, was the first among the authors of the mischievous policy of 1797 to perceive its consequences, and through the rest of his life he was the man who most deeply regretted it.
In 1811, this evil had gone on to such a length, that the market price of gold rose from the mint price of 3l. 17s. 10 d. to as high as 5l. 8s., and at one moment it even reached 5l. 11s., amounting to 42 per cent. of rise, and corresponding to an equal depreciation; so that the pound-note was at this time sunk to
about 148. value in specie. Accordingly, a regular traffic was carried on in this article; guineas and silver were bought and sold at this premium, and bank-notes were take at this discount.
This was the time chosen by the House of Commons for voting, by a great majority, a resolution that the bank-note was worth twenty shillings, or that a guinea in gold was worth a pound-note and a shilling, and, with admirable consistency, to pass a law making it a misdemeanor to give more or less! There was but one farther step for such a body to take, and that was to declare, that two and two are equal to six, and to imprison any one who reckoned differently.
In spite of this gross and revolting absurdity, without any parallel in the history of deliberative bodies, and only to be matched in the annals of pampered despots mad with the enjoyment of power, the depreciation continued; the gold was wholly excluded from circulation; all that the mint coined was instantly exported; neither debtors nor creditors knew how to reckon, and no man could tell the value of his property. In truth, the havoc which the depreciation had made with all the dealings of men was incalculable. Those who had lent their money when the currency was at par, were compelled to receive the depreciated money in payment, and thus to lose 30 or 40 per cent. of their capital. Those who had let land or houses on lease, must take so much less rent than they had stipulated to receive. Above all, those who had lent their money to the country were obliged to take two-thirds only of the interest for which they had bargained, and were liable to be paid off with two-thirds of the principal. Any considerable fluctuation in the money circulation ever produces habits of gambling and extravagance; and all the mercantile transactions of the community, as well as all its private concerns, assumed this complexion, to which the wicked and absurd policy of the Orders in