صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

and solemn judgment that is sure to follow and the public conviation comes to the punishment of this bustling hypocrisy with a strength which intrigue has never been able to withstand.

This result must have at length arrived, from the general character of the Queen's defence, and the national eye must have turned with disgust on the petty artifice and flagitious indecency of her abettors. But this result has been hastened by an act of wanton effrontery,--the Queen's visit to St. Paul's. We exclude that unfortunate woman from the chief share of the censure. She comes into these pages only as the puppet of faction. Let her crime be between her conscience and that tribunal before which the purest may well humble themselves. But as the Queen of England, giving, however ignorantly, some shadow of royal authority to the proceedings, that, to all other eyes, have for their object the overthrow of the constitution, we must look to the waving of her banner, not as the sport of a fickle and feeble wantoning, but as the direct signal around which the evil of the land is to be congregated; not to see it mocking the air in idle state, but leading wild, rude, revengeful beggars to the consummation of their labours. The junction of the Queen's cause with that of the radicals, makes both the fitier objects for administrative vigilance. Radicalism is subversion, total excision and overthrow : the substitution, not of one order of polity for another, but an utter destruction of the present state of things in all their shapes of established and ancient use, to make way for desolation, or for the desperate experiment of ignorance and passion, inflamed by obsolete grudges and new impunity. With these reformers, there is no gradual corrective of public suffering. These new doctors of the body politic have no faith in alternatives; the patient must at once take up his bed and walk, or be flung into the grave. The processes of nature are too slow for the rapid intelligence of revolution. Their harvest must be raised from a soil which has never been polluted by the ignorant husbandry of past generations. They will not dip their plough into the clay, unless it has been cleared by a general deluge. The cause which connected itself with those missionaries of public havoc, the propaganda of the downfal of kings and priests, at once stamped itself guilty. Innocence rests on the faith of the Law; Guilt takes refuge among the mob. The Queen has done much to establish the opinion of her judges by her adoption of this common subterfuge of crime. But radicalism has yet gained nothing by opening its sanctuary to the royal fugitive. With what rités it may have received her, what mysterious voices of speedy retribution on her accusers may have been uttered from the shrine, what grim and furious festivity crowned the reception of the illustrious

convert, remains to be told—perhaps to form the future revelation of the dungeon and the scaffold.

But radicalism is too wise in its generation, to give its help without an equivalent. It has nothing of the weakness of benevolence in its protection, it makes no Samaritan journeys to find out the perishing and wounded by the wayside. It drives a solid, worldly bargain, with a due estimate of the profit and loss on its charity, and volunteers its purse and its dagger only where it is secured upon the mortgage of opulence or power; and the bond will be exacted. The Queen's patronage is already contemplated as part and parcel of the estate of faction. Wbat new honour is to reinforce the decayed glories of Sir Robert Wilson's Star! what sinecure is to lay the unction 10 Alderman Wood's finances; by what well fed and festive occupation in the Royal Kitcheu, the member for Coventry is to resume the abdicated purple of his countenance,-all this is to be measured by the liberality that showered orders on a footman, and installed his beggary in the Barona. But, we may be assured, that from this treasury, the dry and withered resources of radicalism will be refreshed, and that, with whatever blushing reluctance, the haters of Kings will be converted into pensioners on the Royal Bounty.

Yet all this prospective fruition is not without its present balance. The triumphs at Brandenburgh house have bred jealousies. The civic manners of the patriotic alderman, brought out by wine and exhilaration, have been contrasted with those of men who, in other days, were companions for the honourable. Royalty is, after all, aristocratic, and the tastes which seem enamoured of a lacquey, in the languid airs of the Milanese, are not to be always relied on in our less amatory climate, for equal condescension, even, to a “ Feu Lord Maire de Londres.” Sir Robert Wilson's graces have, for some time, been in the ascendant, and even Peter Moore has not sighed without a smile. The alderman retired under pretence of ill health, like a disbanded minister, to his estates. But let Sir Robert tremble, for Bergami has suddenly ordered post-horses from Paris !

“Am I not Egypt--what if I have loved ?
Seen Cæsar kneel to me? Come, Antony,

And I will spurn all else" The lower agitators, who were not admitted into those arcana epularum, began to be offended. The smiles of royalty are relaxing by their very nature; and while the feast went on, the vigour of riot was obviously melting down. The rabble agents dreaded another Capua in Brandenburgh house, and to silence the growing discontent, and marshal their forces once more, a field-day was ordered under the name of a procession to St. Paul's. This measure had its advantage in one point of view, for it showed to the doubters, that their leaders were still ready to cry, “ to the field,” and that there was no defiance which they were not prepared to throw down to public decency. But in point of drawing over partisanship from the more respectable orders, all was failure, and worse than failure. The people of England are unwisely attempted by those who reason from their civil captiousness to their religious indifference. No demagogue has ever succeeded by adding the insult of religion to the insult of the laws. Fanaticism has done much, but atheism is not yet a passport to the errors even of the mob. England is not France. This procession to the metropolitan church was felt to be a religious offence, and ii excited great and general alienation. The belief of the citizens, and of all above the mere refuse of the streets, was against the validity of the Queen's defence by her counsel. Placards and addresses were their public language, and these of course both testify of innocence, and her “ unsunned snow,” the phrase which owes its origin to the protecting alderman, and is so happily characteristic of his eloquence. But their talk in the market-places and greetings of men,” was a perpetual ridicule of her claims to purity. The excursion to Brandenburgh House was a drive to the country, heightened by the glory of driving with four horses—the huzzas of the populace through whom they filed, and the consummating indulgence of passing through the drawing-room of a Queen's villa and receiving the homages of a Queen. On the same principle, Messalina would have had half the metropolis to shout after ber chariot-wheels. But here was no country excursion, no exhilaration by the indulgences of the wayside, no address, and acclamation, and firing of guns, and pantonime of mock royalty, but a hazardous and repulsive adventure to the house of prayer. In this the populace found but little excitement and no jest, and the rational, and religious, and loyal, a source of shame, regret, and alarm. From that moment inseparable disgust took possession of the majority. Something may be humanly forgiven even to guilt struggling to save itself by whatever desperate and frantic asseveration. The Queen's protest against the vote of the Peers, on the third reading, was a dreadful profanation in the eyes of those who had not been able to convince themselves of her innocence. But it might have been the outrage of passions, worked up to their height it was like the blind and reckless grasp of the drowning, that will seize what it can, without distinction or respect. But the visit to St. Paul's seemed wilful, gratuitous, audacious;—if the Queen was innocent, a measure unsuitable to her modesty, yet uncleared; if guilty, a flagitious profanation.

But the individual's guilt or purity is comparatively 'unimportant as a public interest. The view in which she has a right to attract public vigilance, is as the rallying point of a routed faction. Her movements, trifling as they may be in themselves, are of weight as the indications of this restless malignity. From the flittings of the mother bee we ascertain the swarming of the hive.

It was not forgotten on this melancholy occasion, with what sentiments the Queen regarded the church and clergy of England. If the evidence lied, that declared her to have abandoned all religious worship in her household in Italy, and to have attended the Catholic chapels as a sacrifice to the religion of Bergami, there could be no contradiction of her sentiments in such rescripts as these :

“Calm wisdom teaches me that I ought never to give my sanction to the narrow views of any sect." ---Answer to Lewis.

“I am not the narrow-minded advocate of any sect.Answer to Halifat.

“Churchmen are usually more remarkable, even than Statesmen, for being behind the Light of the Age. They adhere pertinaciously to ancient forms. They are unwilling to pass beyond that boundary of darkness in which their forefatbers lived." —Answer to Leicester Females.

“The Hierarchy made themselves instrumental in sacrificing the charitableness of the establishment to motives of secular interest or personal malevolence.”Answer to St. Botolph's.

“The Members of the Hierarchy must have forgotten it to be their duty not to prostrate themselves at the feet of any temporal master, in questions in which conscience is concerned." —Answer to Clerkenwell.

“Persons who have long been in the habit of making Religion the pretext of their tyranny, or the veil of their selfishness."Answer to Leicester Females.

“ The teniporal Peers, sanctified by the presence of united Bishops and Archbishops, are endeavouring to calculate the chances of adultery."-Answer to Marylebone.

“The religion and morals of a people are not at all dependent on the ceremonials of an expensive establishment.”-Answer to Montrose.

“There is only one view in which I can regard this alteration with any 'complacency, and that is, as the first step in the good work of ecclesiastical reformation.”- Answer to Leicester Females.

"Churchmen would do well, ere it be too late, to open their eyes upon the Sun of another reformation that is rising upon the world.”Ibid.

“The vicinity of a Cathedral is not always that kind of atmosphere that is most favourable to the growth of patriotic independence, or of high-minded generosity." ---Answer to Parishes of St. Maurice and Winchester.

The procession at length took place, after a week of ostentatious negotiation with Common Council-men and City Agitators, for the obvious purpose of blowing a trumpet to the loose and idle of the metropolis. A pompous programme of this royal progress was fixed up in the streets for some days before, and every art familiar to the Woods and Wilsons of this world was practised with minute diligence. But each “ graced actor" in this drama of the “Mobbed Queen,” had his appropriate part. Alderman Wood, illustrious for conduct and counsel within TempleBar, undertook to manœuvre the civic patriots. Sir Robert Wil

son, all military, adopted the command of what was, for effect, first called a Guard of Honour ! but afterwards, through prudent caution, screened under the softer appellation of a cavalcade. The Benefit Societies, a body formidable from their numbers, and still more from the compact organization and rapid correspondence, which make them among the first objects of radicalism to seduce, were ordered out, and the streets were to be lined from Hyde Park Corner to St. Paul's, by the various addressers, with al] “ the pomp of war”-flags, bands, and badges. But the madness was at an end—the whole exhibition failed. Out of perhaps fifty thousand, who in the extravagance of the time had carried up addresses, not five hundred obeyed the summons of " the general.” The cavalcade counted perhaps as many more, and consisted of a motley mixture of innkeepers, city apprentices, and petty farmers. No person of any consideration joined this parody of a royal progress. Nothing could be more threadbare. than this mounted majesty of the mob. Sir R. Wilson acted as Field-Marshal of those “ Beggars on Horseback.” But the streets were crowded with the gazers, who came attracted by curiosity, and with the pickpockets, who came to plunder the curious. It is one of the peculiar distinctions of the Queen, that she never moves unescorted by the spontaneous activity of this alert body of her subjects.

“Magnâ latronam comitante caterva.” Where the carcasses are, there will the eagles be gathered together. Her triumph infuses itself into the depths of society. Petty larceny is cheered by the discomfiture of law; the precedent of St. Stephen's has dissolved the Old Bailey of half its terrors, and Filch cries, at the top of his voice, “ Long live the Queen."

But nothing was spared that could render this culpable proceeding a more direct offence. The procession was led past Carlton House! though the route by the Haymarket was equally open, and much more common to the public. But this offence has been practised by all the processions. The day chosen was one on which the psalms contained expressions that, in the gross application of party, might allude to the Queen's accusers, and to this odious mingling of human passions, in a solemn act of thanksgiving, was to have been added a manifesto, in the shape of à sermon.--Archdeacon Bathurst, the son of the Bishop of Norwich, was the person who had the misfortune to appear fit for the purpose: and he arrived prompt and prepared to go through his part. The character of this divine is not that of " the prophet honoured in his own country,” and he would probably be listened to with more respect any where than in Norfolk. But his piety was nothing to the purpose. He had figured as a pamVOL. II.

55

« السابقةمتابعة »