« السابقةمتابعة »
No. XXIII. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11, 1828.
"Something alone yet not alone, to be wished, and only to be found, in a friend."-SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.
MR HUSKISSON AND THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.
THE facts respecting the late piece of dramatic surprise occasioned by Mr Huskisson's letter, are thus excellently stated by the Atlas, and followed by some remarks as excellent on the general spirit of the affair.
"After the vote on the East Retford question, Mr Huskisson, before he went to bed, wrote a "private and confidential" letter to the Premier, containing these words "I lose no time in affording you an opportunity of placing my office in other hands, as the only means in my power of preventing the injury which may ensue from the appearance of disunion in his Majesty's Councils." Mr Huskisson next morning found, to his astonishment, that the letter containing this sentence was considered as a resignation, and had already been laid before the King. In no other light would the Duke of Wellington view it, in spite of Mr Huskisson's repeated explanations, that he only meant to disembarrass his Grace in any steps he might feel himself called upon to take. The Duke persisted: "It was no mistake-could be no mistake,-and should be no mistake;" and Mr Huskisson was obliged to go. The master sometimes will take the servant's muttered warning, whether he will or not; and as soon as his successor can be found, the unlucky varlet is obliged to doff the livery of his office, pack up his budget, and depart. This may take place when an excellent servant, esteeming his merits too highly, incautiously gives himself airs. Perhaps it is difficult to find so efficient a butler, or so handy a valet-but insubordination is not to be endured, if the master is of a decisive temperament: if indeed he is tired of his domestic-if the family dislike him, or if " voices in the air" have whispered that William is in the way he will seize the first fair excuse to get rid of him. Mr Huskisson has undoubtedly made a great blunder; he confessedly wished to remain, and took the most obvious means to get turned out. It is remarkable, that in spite of his acknowledged ability, the sense of blunder 23
is so strong that little sympathy is felt for him. Had the Duke of Wellington been provided with a successor as efficient as the late Colonial Secretary, we have no doubt that his harshness would have met with a inilder censure. When, after the lapse of some days, he can find no substitute for Mr Huskisson but his Quartermaster-General, people are apt to suspect that he has sacrificed the praise of discretion to that of "decision," and that the whole has been a matter of hasty pique, unworthy of a statesman, and dangerous to a great nation. The probability however is, that the Duke expected to get on more smoothly without than with his colleague, whilst Mr Huskisson, anxious to stay, and yet apprehensive that his East Retford vote would operate against him, perhaps imagined he should play a better game if he took the lead into his own hand-a fatal miscalculation.'
Nothing can be better, we think, than this account of the affair: but we pause a little on two other remarks, with which the writer concludes.
"On the whole," (he says) "the affair is a childish one; and it is unfit that the interests of a nation should thus be exposed to suffer by hasty notes written with a severe headache at two o'clock in the morning, which give offence to an angry and perhaps a bilious gentleman over his breakfast next day. Unless there were secret motives of party operating on either side, it was unbecoming in the Premier to turn out an able Minister, merely because he wrote a blundering letter.”
Now the head-ache and the biliousness are well put. Montaigne says, he likes to rattle the word Pleasure in the ears of the philosophers, who affect not to seek the thing after their various modes, as well as other people. For a still better reason, we like to see the leaders of Government reminded of their common nature, and of the trivial causes to which their quarrels are owing ninety-nine times in a hundred. But we agree with those who think, that Mr Huskisson's letter contained a passage, which left the Duke no alternative but to shew a strong sense of it, glad as he may have been at the opportunity of being angry, and however extreme, beyond official usage, in resolving that there should be no mistake. Mr Huskisson says in that letter, "I owe it to you as the head of the Administration, and to Mr Peel as the leader of the House of Commons, to lose no time in affording you an opportunity of placing my office in other hands, as the only means in my power of preventing the injury to the King's service which may ensue from the appearance of disunion," &c. Now the Premier, by Mr Huskisson's own shewing, was either bound to agree with him in thinking this step "the only means" of preventing the injury, or he
was to make a friendly return to a hostile attack, and concede the first place in the matter to the inferior minister. This was clearly what Mr Huskisson desired. It was an attempt on the part of Ulysses to frighten Ajax; and Ajax not only stood upon his stubbornness, and was not to be frightened, but he turned the trick of Ulysses against himself. The letter, it was urged, was marked "private and confidential." True: this was part of the trick: that is to say, Ajax was to have a knock on the face, and to keep it all to himself, till he had propitiated his enemy. He did not chuse to do this, nor was it to be expected of him; and accordingly he followed up the private and confidential thump with a settler.
On the other hand, the mention of Ulysses reminds us of a person more worthy of that name, and of the greater quarrel, in which Ajax, as of old, was for the time defeated. It is all very well for the followers of this and that statesman to attribute to him nothing but generous motives, and to wonder that anybody can be so ungenteel as to think him human. But without denying that statesmen, like other people, are capable of generosity, and influenced by as many thousands of little feelings, good as well as bad, it is quite clear to us that the Duke of Wellington has never forgotten or forgiven the intellectual ascendancy of Mr Canning, nor ceased to feel uneasy in the company of his friends. Even in his late speech in his behalf, which is made so much of, and which we venture to say was as poor a thing every way as might have been expected from one who is no speaker nor capable of appreciating speakers, we recognized a sneer at Mr Canning for not following the profession for which he was so "well fitted;" and which, the Duke might have added, "it would have been so pleasant to me, if he had followed." So much for Mr Canning; and as for Mr Huskisson, he, of all men, was the last to think himself an exception to the dislike of Mr Canning's friends; for besides being a very clever man, and a good speaker, he had set the Duke right on a question, openly disputed between them, and upon which the future Premier had committed a great blunder: and the Duke has evidently not talents enough, of the intellectual order, to afford to endure this correction, or the company of any one capable of bestowing it. His Grace has a character for sin
cerity, which is almost all in all with us, provided there is good intention; and we were inclined to like him for it, and to hope that the grandeur of his position, as a man who had had the good fortune of settling the late wars, might supply him with a sort of moral superiority to his deficiencies, and enable him, in conformance with the spirit of the age, to discover the still higher glory of doing what Bonaparte himself had not done, and had repented for it. But from the way in which he has proceeded to fill up Mr Huskisson's place, joined with other evidences which now take a new and unfavourable aspect, we fear that he is what his enemies have represented him, a mere soldier, fond of mere power, unable to learn better, and thinking to rule us like a barrack-master. If so, we suspect that a greater "moral lesson" is preparing for him than he can imagine, and that he and his "Drawcansirs" will be rendered supremely ridiculous, both in and out of Parliament. Out of Parliament we are sure they will; and in Parliament we fancy certain civilians mustering up all the spirit of the toga against the sword, speeches and absurdities pulled to bits, and the debates next day powdered with parentheses of "Hear, hear!" and "A laugh," and "Loud laughter," and "Great indignation on the military benches."
If however we are mistaken, and the "great moral lesson" which he talked of in Bonaparte's case was not a mere phrase caught from the Emperor Alexander, or some other person at council, none will be more glad of it than ourselves, or louder in hailing the pheWe confess we are great hopers; and do think, that extraordinary circumstances may bring about others more extraordinary. The world are not to suppose that the speck of time, which they call the experience of ages, contains all that ever has been done, or ever will be: and if public opinion was ever a thing powerful (which it has never been denied), we have good reason to know, that never had it so many means of being powerful, and lifting up a multitude of voices, as at present. Thousands of presses are at work over the enlightened part of the globe, pouring forth knowledge, as from so many iron fountains; and whatever attempt may be made to the contrary, we no more believe that Wellington's soldiers, any more than Napoleon's, could be able to keep their feet
against the stream, than so many little boys against "the schoolmaster." We thought to have made a grander simile; but this will do for the occasion. A prosing Archbishop, who talks of Moses where Christian charity is concerned, is now laughed at, even in the House of Lords; and state militant will be treated no better than church militant, if it comes to be absurd.*
PASTA IN DESDEMONA.
A CRITIC in a Sunday paper has found fault with our opinion of Pasta's behaviour under the dagger in this character. His argument is as follows.
"Wilkes's admirer protested that he did not squint more than a gentleman ought to squint." The Companion, in the same mood of amiable enthusiasm, writes thus of Pasta. We have been told, that when Pasta (in Otello) sees the dagger upheld to kill her, she fairly seizes her petticoats, and shrieks, and runs for it. This is one of those great strokes of nature, by which she drives at once into the heart of the multitude; and nothing, as a thing tragic, can surpass it.' We too are vehement admirers of Pasta, but we must honestly confess that this action has not pleased us. Pasta's figure is not exactly the build for running; and when we have seen her scuttling over the stage, our minds have we know not from what associationranged to the bustle between the phoca or seal and Hector in Scott's Antiquary, and an unlucky sense of the comic has mixed with the horrible. Other people, it is true, may not think of that same phoca or seal who performs in the Antiquary, but they must surely see a particular awkwardness in Pasta's quick movements. The Companion tells us however that it is a great stroke of nature thus fairly to seize the petticoats and run for it "to gird up the loins," as Dominie Sampson expresses it, and "fly incon tinently." This nature is a word of immense convenience in criticism, because it is of such vague import. But as we are not savages nature varies considerably with persons and circumstances. It is natural to fly from death, but we know that persons who are conscious that death is inevitable do not attempt to fly from it; witness the conduct of individuals on the scaffold, who bend their heads to the block, or offer their necks to
*The Archbishop of Tuam brings up "the law and the prophets" to shew that the Catholics ought not to be emancipated, and says also that he has a few words to add "upon purgatory-(a laugh"- "I could go on," said his Grace, "for hours, on the doctrine of purgatory (a laugh)." The best proof of purgatory is, that the Catholics are in it at present. As to the law and the prophets, does his Grace remember what was said about them by the benevolent author of Christianity? "Love thy neighbours as thyself: in this are fulfilled the law and the prophets." This is the spirit of Christianity; and we are told in the same book, that "the letter killeth, and the spirit giveth life." But we are loth to quote texts, considering how many can be quoted on all sides, and all to undo one another. We all feel what true Christianity means, and that its essence consists in the very reverse of intolerance and want of progression.