« AnteriorContinuar »
arching to the relief of Stanhope. Preparations were instantly made for a general action. On the day following that on which the English had delivered their arms, was fought the obstinate and bloody hattle of Villa Viciosa. Staremberg remained master of the field. Vendome reaped all the fruits of the engagement. The allies spiked their cannon, and retired towards Arragon. But even in Arragon they found to place of rest. Vendome was behind them. The guerilla parties were around them. They fled to Catalonia; but Catalonia was invaded by a French army from Roussillon. At length the Austrian general with six thousand harassed and dispirited men, the remains of a great and victorious army, took refuge in Barcelona; almost the only place in Spain which recognised the authority of Charles.
Philip was now much safer at Madrid than his grandfather at Paris. All hope of conquering Spain in Spain was at an end. But in other quarters the house of Bourbon was reduced to the last extremity. The French armies had undergone a series of defeats in Germany, in Italy, and in the Netherlands. An immense force, flushed with victory, and commanded by the greatest generals of the age, was on the borders of France. Louis had been forced to humble himself before the conquerors. He had even offered to abandon the cause of his grandson; and his offer had been rejected. But a great turn in affairs was approaching.
The English administration, which had commenced the war against the house of Bourbon, was an administration composed of Tories. But the war was a Whig war. It was the favourite scheme of William, the Whig king. Louis had provoked it, by recognising, as Sovereign of England, a prince peculiarly hateful to the Whigs. It had placed England in a position of marked hostility to that power, from which alone the Pretender could expect sufficient succour. It had joined England in the closest union to a Protestant and republican state; a state which had assisted in bringing about the Revolution, and which was willing to guaranty the execution of the Act of Settlement. Marlborough and Godolphin found that they were more zealously supported by their old opponents than by their old associates. Those ministers who were zealous for the war were gradually converted to Whigism. The rest dropped off, and were succeeded by Whigs. Cowper became Chancellor. Sunderland, in spite of the very just antipathy of Anne, was made Secretary of State. On the death of the Prince of Denmark, a more extensive change took place. Wharton became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Somers President of the Council. At length the administration was wholly in the hands of the Low Church party.
the greatest security of the Whigs. That affection had at length turned to deadly aver sion. While the great party which had long swayed the destinies of Europe was undermined by bedchamber-women at St. James's, a violent storm gathered in the country. A foolish parson had preached a foolish sermon against the principles of the Revolution. The wisest members of the government were for letting the man alone. But Godolphin, inflamed with all the zeal of a new-made Whig, and exasperated by a nickname which was applied to him in this unfortunate discourse, insisted that the preacher should be impeached. The exhortations of the mild and sagacious Somers were disregarded. The impeachment was brought; the doctor was convicted; and the accusers were ruined. The clergy came to the rescue of the persecuted clergyman. The country gentlemen came to the rescue of the clergy. A display of Tory feelings, such as England had not witnessed since the closing days of Charles the Second's reign, appalled the ministers, and gave boldness to the queen. She turned out the Whigs, called Harley and St. John to power, and dissolved the Parlia ment. The elections went strongly against the late government. Stanhope, who had in his absence been put in nomination for Westminster, was defeated by a Tory candidate. The new ministers, finding themselves masters of the new Parliament, were induced by the strongest motives to conclude a peace with France. The whole system of alliance in which the country was engaged was a Whig system. The general by whom the English armies had constantly been led to victory, and for whom it was impossible to find a substi tute, was now, whatever he might formerly have been, a Whig general. If Marlborough were discarded, it was probable that some great disaster would follow. Yet, if he were to retain his command, every great action which he might perform would raise the credit of the party in opposition.
A peace was therefore concluded between England and the princes of the house of Bour bon. Of that peace Lord Mahon speaks in terms of the severest reprehension. He is indeed, an excellent Whig of the time of the first Lord Stanhope. "I cannot but pause for a moment," says he, "to observe how much the course of a century has inverted the mean ing of our party nicknames; how much a modern Tory resembles a Whig of Queen Anne's reign, and a Tory of Queen Anne's reign a modern Whig.".
We grant one-half of Lord Mahon's propost tion; from the other half we altogether dissent. We allow that a modern Tory resembles, in many things, a Whig of Queen Anne's reign. It is natural that such should be the case. The worst things of one age or nation often resemble the best things of another. The livery of an English footinan outshines the royal robes of King Pomarre. A modern shopkeeper's house is as well furnished as the house of a considerable merchant in Anne's reign. Very plain people now wear finer cloth than Beau Fielding or Beau Edgworth could have pro cured in Queen Anne's reign. We wou.d
In the year 1710, a violent change took place. The queen had always been a Tory at heart. Her religious feelings were all on the side of the Established Church. Her family feelings pleaded in favour of her exiled brother. Her interest disposed her to favour the zealots of prerogative. The affection which she felt for the Duchess of Marlborough was
rather trust to the apothecary of a modern village than to the physician of a large town in Anne's reign. A modern boarding-school miss could tell the most learned professor of Anne's reign some things in geography, astronomy, and chemistry, which would surprise him.
The science of government is an experimental science; and therefore it is, like all other experimental sciences, a progressive science. Lord Mahon would have been a very good Whig in the days of Harley. But Harley, whom Lord Mahon censures so severely, was very Whigish when compared even with Clarendon; and Clarendon was quite a democrat, when compared with Lord Burleigh. If Lord Mahon lives, as we hope he will, fifty years longer, we have no doubt that, as he now boasts of the resemblance which the Tories of our time bear to the Whigs of the Revolution, he will then boast of the resemblance borne by the Tories of 1882, to those immortal patriots, the Whigs of the Reform Bill.
fully qualified to sit with Halifax and Somers at the Kit-Cat.
Though, therefore, we admit that a modern Tory bears some resemblance to a Whig of Queen Anne's reign, we can by no means admit that a Tory of Anne's reign resembled a modern Whig. Have the modern Whigs passed laws for the purpose of closing the entrance of the House of Commons against the new interests created by trade? Do the mo dern Whigs hold the doctrine of divine right! Have the modern Whigs laboured to excluda all dissenters from office and power? The modern Whigs are, indeed, like the Tories of 1712, desirous of peace and of close union with France. But is there no difference be tween the France of 1712 and the France of 1832? Is France now the stronghold of the "Popish tyranny" and the "arbitrary power" against which our ancestors fought and pray. ed? Lord Mahon will find, we think, that his parallel is, in all essential circumstances, as incorrect as that which Fluellen drew between Macedon and Monmouth; or as that which an ingenious Tory lately discovered between Archbishop Williams and Archbishop Ver non.
Society, we believe, is constantly advancing in knowledge. The tail is now where the head was some generations ago. But the head and the tail still keep their distance. A nurse of this century is as wise as a justice of the We agree with Lord Mahon in thinking quorum and cust-alorum in Shallow's time. highly of the Whigs of Queen Anne's reign. The wooden spoon of this year would puzzle But that part of their conduct which he selects a senior wrangler of the reign of George the for especial praise, is precisely the part which Second. A boy from the National School we think most objectionable. We revere them reads and spells better than half the knights as the great champions of political and intelof the shire in the October Club. But there is lectual liberty. It is true, that, when raised to still as wide a difference as ever between jus-power, they were not exempt from the faults tices and nurses, senior wranglers and wooden which power naturally engenders. It is true, spoons, members of Parliament and children that they were men born in the seventeenth at charity schools. In the same way, though century, and that they were therefore ignorant a Tory may now be very like what a Whig of many truths which are familiar to the men was one hundred and twenty years, the Whig of the nineteenth century. But they were, is as much in advance of the Tory as ever. what the reformers of the Church were before The stag, in the Treatise on the Bathos, who them, and what the reformers of the House of "feared his hind feet would overtake the fore," Commons have been since the leaders of was not more mistaken than Lord Mahon, if their species in a right direction. It is true, he thinks that he has really come up with the that they did not allow to political discussion Whigs. The absolute position of the parties that latitude which to us appears reasonable has been altered; the relative position remains and safe; but to them we owe the removal of unchanged. Through the whole of that great the Censorship. It is true that they did not movement, which began before these party carry the principle of religious liberty to its names existed, and which will continue after full extent; but to them we owe the Tolerathey have become obsolete; through the whole tion Act. of that great movement, of which the charThough, however, we think that the Whigs ter of John, the institution of the House of of Anne's reign were, as a body, far superior Commons, the extinction of villanage, the in wisdom and public virtue to their contemposeparation from the See of Rome, the expul-raries the Tories, we by no means hold oursion of the Stuarts, the reform of the repre- selves bound to defend all the measures of our sentative system, are successive stages, there favourite party. A life of action, if it is to be have been, under some nanie or other, two sets useful, must be a life of compromise. But of men; those who were before their age, and speculation admits of no compromise. A pubthose who were behind it; those who were the lic man is often under the necessity of conwisest among their contemporaries, and those senting to measures which he dislikes, lest he who gloried in being no wiser than their great- should endanger the success of measures which grandfathers. It is delightful to think, that in he thinks of vital importance. But the histodue time the last of those who struggle in the rian lies under no such necessity. On the conrear of the great march, will occupy the place trary, it is one of his most sacred duties to now occupied by the advanced guard. The point out clearly the errors of those whose Tory Parliament of 1710 would have passed general conduct he admires. for a most liberal Parliament in the days of Elizabeth; and there are few members of the Conservative Club, who would not have been
It seems to us, then, that on the great question which divided England during the last four years of Anne's reign, the Tories were in the
might become heir by blood to the French crown, and that thus two great monarchies might be united under one sovereign.
The first danger appears to us altogether chimerical. Family affection has seldom produced much effect on the policy of princes. The state of Europe at the time of the peace of Utrecht proved that in politics the ties of interest are much stronger than those of consanguinity. The Elector of Bavaria had been driven from his dominions by his father-inlaw; Victor Amadeus was in arms against his sons-in-law; Anne was seated on a throne from which she had assisted to push a most indulgent father. It is true that Philip had been accustomed from childhood to regard his grandfather with profound veneration. It was probable, therefore, that the influence of Louis at Madrid would be very great; but Louis was more than seventy years old; he could not live long; his heir was an infant in the cradle. There was surely no reason to think that the policy of the King of Spain would be swayed by his regard for a nephew whom he had never seen.
In fact, soon after the peace the two branches of the house of Bourbon began to quarrel. A close alliance was formed between Philip and Charles, lately competitors for the Castilian crown. A Spanish princess, betrothed to the King of France, was sent back in the most insulting manner to her native country, and a decree was put forth by the court of Madrid commanding every Frenchman to leave Spain. It is true that, fifty years after the peace of Utrecht, an alliance of peculiar strictness was formed between the French and Spanish governments. But it is certain that both governments were actuated on that occasion, not by Har-domestic affection, but by common interests and common enmities. Their compact, though called the Family Compact, was as purely a political compact as the league of Cambrai or the league of Pilnitz.
right and the Whigs in the wrong. That question was, whether England ought to conclude peace without exacting from Philip a resignation of the Spanish crown.
No parliamentary struggle from the time of the Exclusion Bill to the time of the Reform Bill, has been so violent as that which took place between the authors of the Taty of Utrecht and the War Party. The Commons were for peace; the Lords were for vigorous hostinies. The queen was compelled to choose which of her two highest prerogatives she would exercise: whether she would create Peers or dissolve the Parliament. The ties of party superseded the ties of neighbourhood and of blood; the members of the hostile factions would scarcely speak to each other or bow to each other; the women appeared at the theatres bearing the badges of their political sect. The schism extended to the most remote counties of England. Talents such as had never before been displayed in political controvery were enlisted in the service of the hostile parties. On the one side was Steele, gay, lively, drunk with animal spirits and with factious animosity; and Addison, with his polished satire, his inexhaustible fertility of fancy, and his graceful simplicity of style. In the front of the opposite ranks appeared a darker and fiercer spirit-the apostate politician, the ribald priest, the perjured lover—a heart burning with hatred against the whole human race—a mind richly stored with images from the dunghill and the lazar-house. The ministers triumphed, and the peace was concluded. Then came the reaction. A new sovereign ascended the throne. The Whigs enjoyed the confidence of the king and of the Parliament. The unjust severity with which the Tories had treated Marlborough and Walpole was more than retaliated. ley and Prior were thrown into prison; Bolingbroke and Ormond were compelled to take refuge in a foreign land. The wounds inflicted in this desperate conflict continued to rankle for many years. It was long before the members of either party could discuss the question of the peace of Utrecht with calmness and impartiality. That the Whig ministers had sold us to the Dutch, and the Tory ministers had sold us to the French; that the war had been carried on only to fill the pockets of Marlborough; that the peace had been concluded only to facilitate the bringing over the Pretender; these imputations and many others, utterly un-tained possession of the Spanish crown had founded or grossly exaggerated, were hurled lately proved the inefficacy of such renunciabackward and forward by the political dis- tions. The French lawyers declared the reputants of the last century. In our time the nunciation null, as being inconsistent with question may be discussed without irritation. the fundamental law of the monarchy. The We will state, as concisely as possible, the French people would probably have sided with reasons which have led us to the conclusion him whom they would have considered as the at which we have arrived. rightful heir. Saint Simon, though much less the slave of prejudice than most of his coun trymen, and though strongly attached to the regent, declared, in the presence of that prince, that he never would support the claims of the house of Orleans against those of the King of Spain. "If such," he said, "be my feelings, what must be the feelings of others?" Bolingbroke, it is certain, was fully convinced that the renunciation was worth no more than 8 2
The dangers which were to be apprehended from the peace were two; first, the danger that Philip might be induced, by feelings of private affection, to act in strict concert with the elder branch of his house, to favour the French trade at the expense of England, and to side with the French government in future wars; secondly, the danger that the posterity of the Duke of Burgundy might become extinct, that Philip VOL. II.-27
The second danger was, that Philip might have succeeded to the crown of his native country. This did not happen. But it might have happened; and at one time it seemed very likely to happen. A sickly child alone stood between the King of Spain and the heri tage of Louis the Fourteenth. Philip, it is true, solemnly renounced his claims to the French crown. But the manner in which he had ob
the paper on which it was written, and demanded it only for the purpose of blinding the English Parliament and people.
Yet, though it was at one time probable that the posterity of the Duke of Burgundy would become extinct, and though it is almost certain that if the posterity of the Duke of Burgundy had become extinct, Philip would have successfully preferred his claim to the crown of France, we still defend the principle of the Treaty of Utrecht. In the first place, Charles had, soon after the battle of Villa Viciosa, inherited, by the death of his elder brother, all the dominions of the house of Austria. It might be argued, that if to these dominions he had added the whole monarchy of Spain, the balance of power would be seriously endangered. The union of the Austrian dominions and Spain would not, it is true, have been so alarming an event as the union of France and Spain. But Charles was actually emperor. Philip was not, and never might be, King of France. The certainty of the less evil might well be set against the chance of the greater evil.
But, in fact, we do not believe that Spain would long have remained under the government either of the emperor or of the King of France. The character of the Spanish people was a better security to the nations of Europe than any will, any instrument of renunciation, or any treaty. The same energy which the people of Castile had put forth when Madrid was occupied by the allied armies, they would have again put forth as soon as it appeared that their country was about to become a province of France. Though they were no longer masters abroad, they were by no means disposed to see foreigners set over them at home. If Philip had become King of France, and had attempted to govern Spain by mandates from Versailles, a second Grand Alliance would easily have effected what the first had failed to accomplish. The Spanish nation would have rallied against him as zealously as it had before rallied round him. And of this he seems to have been fully aware. For many years the favourite hope of his heart was that he might ascend the throne of his grandfather; but he seems never to have thought it possible that he could reign at once in the country of his adoption and in the country of his birth.
These were the dangers of the peace; and they seem to us to be of no very formidable kind. Against these dangers are to be set off the evils of war and the risk of failure. The evils of the war-the waste of life, the suspension of trade, the expenditure of wealth, the accumulation of debt-require no illustration. The chances of failure it is difficult at this dislance of time to calculate with accuracy. But
we think that an estimate approximating to the truth, may, without much difficulty, be formed. The allies had been victorious in Germany, Italy, and Flanders. It was by no means improbable that they might fight their way into the very heart of France. But at no time since the commencement of the war had their prospects been so dark in that country which was the very object of the struggle. In Spain they held only a few square leagues. The temper of the great majority of the nation was decidedly hostile to them. If they had persisted, if they had obtained success equal to their highest expectations, if they had gained a series of victories as splendid as those of Blenheim and Ramilies, if Paris had fallen, if Louis had been a prisoner, we still doubt whether they would have accomplished their object. They would still have had to carry on interminable hostilities against the whole population of a country which affords peculiar facilities to irregular warfare; and in which invading armies suffer more from famine than from the sword.
We are, therefore, for the peace of Utrecht It is true, that we by no means admire the statesmen who concluded that peace. Hariey, we believe, was a solemn trifler. St. John a brilliant knave. The great body of their fol lowers consisted of the country clergy and the country gentry; two classes of men who were then immeasurably inferior in respectability and intelligence to decent shopkeepers or farmers of our time. Parson Barnabas, Par son Trulliber, Sir Wilful Witwould, Sir Fran cis Wronghead, Squire Western, Squire Sul len-such were the people who composed the main strength of the Tory party for sixty years after the Revolution. It is true, that the means by which the Tories came into power in 1710 were most disreputable. It is true, that the manner in which they used their power was often unjust and cruel. It is true, that in order to bring about their favourite project of peace, they resorted to slander and deception, without the slightest scruple. It is true, that they passed off on the British nation a renunciation which they knew to be invalid. It is true, that they gave up the Catalans to the vengeance of Philip, in a manner inconsistent with humanity and national honour. But on the great question of Peace or War, we cannot but think that, though their motives may have been selfish and malevolent, their decision was beneficial to the state.
But we have already exceeded our limits. It remains only for us to bid Lord Mahon heartily farewell, and to assure him, that whatever dislike we may feel for his political opinions, we shall always meet him with pleasure on the neutral ground of literature.
WALPOLE'S LETTERS TO SIR HORACE MANN.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, 1833.]
We cannot transcribe this title-page without strong feelings of regret. The editing of these volumes was the last of the useful and modest services rendered to literature by a nobleman of amiable manners, of untarnished public and private character, and of cultivated mind. On this, as on other occasions, Lord Dover performed his part diligently, judiciously, and without the slightest ostentation. He had two merits, both of which are rarely found together in a commentator. He was content to be merely a commentator-to keep in the background, and to leave the foreground to the author whom he had undertaken to illustrate. Yet, though willing to be an attendant, he was by no means a siave; nor did he consider it as part of his editorial duty to see no faults in the writer to whom he faithfully and assiduously rendered the humblest literary offices.
The faults of Horace Walpole's head and heart are indeed sufficiently glaring. His writings, it is true, rank as high among the delicacies of intellectual epicures as the Strasburgh pies among the dishes described in the Almanark des Gourmands. But, as the pâté-defoe-gras owes its excellence to the diseases of the wretched animal which furnishes it, and would be good for nothing if it were not made of livers preternaturally swollen, so none but an unhealthy and disorganized mind could have produced such literary luxuries as the works of Walpole.
He was, unless we have formed a very erroneous judgment of his character, the most eccentric, the most artificial, the most fastidious, the most capricious of men. His mind was a bundle of inconsistent whims and affectations. His features were covered by mask within mask. When the outer disguise of obvious affectation was removed, you were still as far as ever from seeing the real man. He played innumerable parts, and overacted When he talked misanthropy, he out-Timoned Timen. When he talked philanthropy, he left Howard at an immeasurable distance. He scoffed at courts, and kept a chronicle of their most trifling scandal; at Society, and was blown about by its slightest veerings of opinion; at literary fame, and left fair copies of his private letters, with copious notes, to be published after his decease; at rank, and never for a moment forgot that he was an honourable; at the practice of entail, and tasked the ingenuity of conveyancers to tie up his villa in the strictest settlement.
Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, to Sir Ho. Pace Mann, British Envoy at the Court of Tuscany. Now first published from the Originals in the possession of the EARL of WALDGRAVE. Edited by LORD DOVER. 3 vols. Svo. London. 1833.
The conformation of his mind was such, that whatever was little, seemed to him great, and whatever was great, seemed to him little. Serious business was a trifle to him, and trifles were his serious business. To chat with bluestockings; to write little copies of complimentary verses on little occasions; to superintend a private press; to preserve from natural decay the perishable topics of Ranelagh and White's; to record divorces and bets, Miss Chudleigh's absurdities and George Selwyn's good sayings; to decorate a grotesque house with piecrust battlements; to procure rare engravings and antique chimney-boards; to match odd gauntlets; to lay out a maze of walks within five acres of ground-these were the grave employments of his long life. From these he turned to politics as to an amusement. After the labours of the print-shop and the auctionroom, he unbent his mind in the House of Commons. And, having indulged in the recreation of making laws and voting millions he returned to more important pursuits-to researches after Queen Mary's comb, Wolsey's red hat, the pipe which Van Tromp smoked during his last seafight, and the spur which King William struck into the flank of Sorrel.
In every thing in which he busied himselfin the fine arts, in literature, in public affairs
he was drawn by some strange attraction from the great to the little, and from the useful to the odd. The politics in which he took the keenest interest were politics scarcely deserv ing of the name. The growlings of George the Second, the flirtations of Princess Emily with the Duke of Grafton, the amours of Prince Frederic with Lady Middlesex, the squabbles between Gold Stick and the Master of the Buckhounds, the disagreements between the tutors of Prince George-these matters engaged almost all the attention which Walpole could spare from matters more important still;-from bidding for Zinckes and Petitots, from cheapening fragments of tapestry, and handles of old lances, from joining bits of painted glass, and from setting up memorials of departed cats and dogs. While he was fetching and carrying
gossip of Kensington Palace and Carlton House, he fancied that he was engaged in politics, and when he recorded that gossip, he fancied that he was writing history.
He was, as he has himself told us, fond of faction as an amusement. He loved mischief. but he loved quiet; and he was constantly on the watch for opportunities of gratifying both his tastes at once. He sometimes contrived, Without showing himself, to disturb the course of ministerial negotiations, and to spread confusion through the political circles. He does not himself pretend that, on these occasions,