Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

similar intrigues for power continue to appear. Frederick, then Prince of Wales, the father of the present king, had his party in opposition to the court; and though Pelham, Fox, Pitt, and Murray were ranged under the banners of administration, the prince's party was clearly gaining ground, when he unexpectedly died in 1751. The want of proper elevation of understanding and sentiment in the Duke of Newcastle, gave endless scope to the jealousies and intrigues of the different leaders of different parties; and when Mr. Pelham, the effective minister, died in 1754, a new scene was opened of contest between Fox, afterwards Lord Holland, and Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham. Pitt was, however, too magnanimous and able, to please either the Duke of Newcastle or the king. Fox, who loved money, though profuse and dissolute in his youth, was, on the whole, a better courtier, and being less worthy of success, obtained it.

These times cannot now be more easily or better understood than by reading these chapters of Coxe. Other particulars will be found besides those I have alluded to: that Mr. Pitt, for instance, never spoke the invective against Horace Walpole which is attributed to him; that the king. dom, from want of vigour in the cabinet, had a narrow escape from Marshal Saxe and a French invasion; that the life of Lord Chatham, as published some years ago, is superficial and inaccurate, drawn from newspapers and party pamphlets, interspersed with a few anecdotes communicated in desultory conversations by Earl Temple.

Particulars of this kind may be found in the text and in the notes of this work—this Life of Lord Walpole. The great wish of Lord Walpole seems to have been, to have persuaded the English king and ministry to form a strict alliance with Prussia. He laboured the point by every

effort in his power, private conversation, and a written memoir. He seems not to have sufficiently appreciated the difficulty of combining Austria and Prussia in a common system of politics; nor the improbability of bringing forward, with success, any power but the House of Austria, to oppose the monarchy of France. · The Walpoles, however, must be thought right in the main point of their politics—their endeavouring to persuade Maria

a

a

Theresa to yield to the injustice of the King of Prussia at first, the better to enable them to make a combination for her against the power of France, which was evidently become a most formidable enemy both to the liberties of Germany and of Europe.

They were also right in another point-that any contest with France would certainly be followed by another contest on English ground, for the crown of these realıns; i. e. by an invasion from the pretender. Sir Robert Walpole lived to see his long and constant prediction just fulfilling.

On the whole, the proper system of foreign politics was sufficiently plain, that France was becoming too strong ; that Prussia was interested in the Germanic liberties, and might have been prevailed upon to be at least neutral; and Austria, as the natural enemy of France, to be brought forward in open opposition. But Hanover, not England, and not Europe, was unfortunately the object-the great point at all events to be secured. Foreign expenses and entanglements, to an endless extent, and of an inextricable nature, were the consequence; a consequence that must be considered as the price which the nation paid for the establishment of her civil and religious liberties, and the establishment of the Brunswick family on the throne, on the principles of the Revolution in 1688.

As another object deserving your attention, may be mentioned the rebellion of 1745. You will see the history of it in Smollet. It has been professedly treated by Home, the author of the beautiful tragedy of Douglas. It is also noticed by Lacretelle; and it is always amusing to observe what foreigners say of us. Smollet, himself a Scotchman, was deeply affected by the cruelties that are generally understood to have followed the defeat of the Highlanders at Culloden. This seems the most material point of difference between his account and that of Home, who passes over this part of his subject in silence, very improperly; for it is on occasions like these, that history should exercise its awful censure, if blame has been incurred; and as the charge had been made, it should have been either confirmed or refuted. It is not very promising to see a history of the rebellion in 1745, dedicated to the reigning sovereign; and the silence of Home must be considered as an indirect acknowledgment, that the severities exercised on this occasion were more than were necessary, and therefore such as deserved reprobation.

The cause of humanity must not be violated, even by those who have been hazarding their lives in the defence of the free government of England; still less by those who are sitting in its cabinets.

Since I last read this lecture, a book has been publishedMemoirs of the Rebellion of 1745, by the Chevalier Johnston, who was aide-de-camp to Lord George Murray, and assistant aide-de-camp to Prince Charles. It should be looked at, particularly the introduction, which is sensible and important. The notes are always good. The great impressions left on the mind of the reader are, that the rebellion was in reality more formidable than he may have supposed; the cruelties of the Duke of Cumberland and of his agents more disgraceful. The author endeavours also to persuade his readers, but I think in vain, that the battle of Culloden was less decisive, and the talents and character of Prince Charles more totally unworthy of the enterprise, than he may have imagined. The last half of the book is occupied with the author's adventures and efforts to escape; they are often curious, and sometimes descriptive of manners. The author ends his memoir in something like despair, at the approach of old age and beggary. The MS. was originally in the Scotch College, and is now at Longman's. It is not very flattering to our national character, to be obliged to conclude from the Stuart Papers, now in possession of his majesty, that so large a part of the English aristocracy invited the prince into England; that much the same conclusion may be drawn from the Culloden Papers, lately published in 1815. This is noticed in a note to the present work.

But these are particulars not to be forgotten, when we are considering the merits and demerits of the Whigs of the last century, and of Sir Robert Walpole; those too of their opponents—the Tory and Jacobite leaders-Shippen, Sir William Wyndham, Lord Boling broke, and even of Pulteney.

I have now again another postscript to add to my lecture; for, many years after writing what I have just now delivered, I have just scen an article in the Quarterly Review, of Junc

1827, on Mr. Mackenzie's edition of the Works of Home, as I understand, by Walter Scott. I am such an idolater of this extraordinary writer, that nothing can be so gratifying to me, as to perceive that the representations thus made, are abundantly strengthened and confirmed by every thing he says. The article cannot be as gratifying to you as it has been to me; but it has a reference to other literary characters, as well as to Home, and you will find it, in every respect, very entertaining.

The work of Home was not entirely such as might have been expected from one, who was not only an actor in the scene, but the author of a tragedy like Douglas, elegant enough to have pleased on the French stage, and yet affecting enough to succeed on ours. The History of the Rebellion was a work which had been meditated so long, that it was delivered to the world too late—when the writer was no longer what he once was. But I recommend it to your perusal, because it has all the marks of authenticity; possesses, I think, more merit than is generally supposed ; treats of a very remarkable event in our history; and is, after all, entertaining, and not long.

I do not now detain you with the narrative of this enterprise, which even in the history will not occupy you for many pages.

The points of it are shortly these :-the pretender landed almost alone in one of the desolate parts of Scotland ; with difficulty got a few chiefs to join him ; obtained possession of the town, though not of the castle, of Edinburgh ; defeated one royal army that came to dislodge bim; pushed on to what he considered the disaffected parts of England, the northern counties; shaped his course for the capital, and actually reached Derby in his way to it. His followers, or rather some of the leaders, then despaired of the enterprise, and forced him to retreat. When he had returned to Scot land, a second royal army was defeated at Falkirk; and at length in April, 1746, about nine months after his first landing, his Highlanders were regularly encountered at Culloden. They were first sustained in their attack, and afterwards chased from the field by the veteran troops of the Duke of Cumberland. The pretender then became a fugitive,

and was hunted from place to place : and though a reward of thirty thousand pounds, in a manner not very worthy of an English cabinet, had been set on his head; and though he was transferred from the care of one Highlander to another, during several weeks, not a man could be found among these hardy children of tempests and poverty-these magnanimous outcasts of government and nature, base and unmanly enough either to assassinate or to betray. He at length made his way to France, like his ancestor, Charles II., after sufferings and escapes almost incredible.

There are parts of this story which you will find very interesting in Home :-the commencement of the enterprise ; the transactions that took place at Edinburgh while the rebels were approaching ; the intended night attack previous to the battle of Culloden.

Some disappointment is, however, experienced by the reader, when he comes to the adventures of Charles after his final defeat. They are not given either in a very clear or very interesting manner. There are a few papers in the appendix which make some amends.

But there are some particular topics connected with this enterprise, which I could wish you would make the subject of your

reflections. For instance: who, and what could be the men who could thus crowd in a moment around the descendant of James II., defeat a body of regular troops, throw England into confusion, and march within a hundred miles of the metropolis? These Highlanders ought surely to appear to the student a very extraordinary description of men: they certainly were so. Some account of them is given by Home; and of late a more full and regular account by Mrs. Grant. From this work, or even the critique on it, in the Edinburgh Review, and from the history of Home, you will be able to explain to yourselves the singular political problem (for such it is) to which I am now endeavouring to direct your future consideration.

I will allude to a circumstance or two. When Charles first reached the Highlands, in a small ship, with no other means than a few muskets and about four thousand pounds in money, and proposed to some of the chiefs to march to

, England and dethrone George II., heroic as were their

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »