Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

desert his ally, and purchase a diskonourable peace, under the dictates and mediation of France, by the cession of Servia and the important town of Belgrade. His finances were exhausted, and his armies reduced and dispirited.

• Mr. Walpole well knew, from long experience, that the States would not take an active part in opposition to France, unless the barrier towns were put in a state of defence, and unless they were secure of being supported by an army, not depending on the uncertain contingents of the Austrian levies, but effective in the field. On considering the situation of the European powers, none, appeared capable of promptly contributing this support, but the King of Prussia, who had an effective army of 80,000 men, and possessed a considerable treasure in reserve.

Both Mr. Walpole and his brother had long urged the policy of forming an alliance with Prussia; but their proposals met with insuperable difficulties, from the inveterate antipathy between the houses of Brunswick and Brandenburgh, which originated in the reigns of Frederick William and George the First.” VOL. 1. P. 417.

The adverse consequences of an attachment to Austria and coolness with Prussia soon became evident, when Frederick the Great attacked Maria Theresa, and after a fecble resistance made himself master of Silesia; at the same time a powerful French force entered Germany. The news of this aggression aroused all the feelings of gallantry in the English people; the selfish and imperious conduct of the court of Vienna was instantly forgotten; nothing was remembered but the wrongs of a young, beautiful, and unoffending princess; and the minister, Sir Robert Walpole, felt himself obliged, contrary to his own judgment, and in deference to the popular sentiment, to propose a grant of 300,000l. to the Queen of Hungary. Sir Robert had laboured extremely to effect an accommodation between the Queen and the King of Prussia, but without success; and Mr. Walpole animadverts, in a letter to Mr. Robinson the English minister at Vienna, on the folly of Austria in refusing “ to comply with the King of Prussia's demand of Lower Silesia including the town of Breslaw." He concludes by reprobating the “conduct of a court (of Vienna) wbose bigotry, pride, and presumption, as if all mankind were made to be subservient to their views, I find cannot be altered with any alteration of condition or circumstances.” Mr. Walpole, however, assisted his brother in supporting Austria, and relates the following anecdote, which proves " that the obstinacy of Maria Theresa was occasioned by the arts of opposition, and the ill-judged enthusiasm of the British nation.” It deserves to be recorded as one of the many instances in which

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

! At the sa

envious candidates for places have produced great and lasting injuries to their country.

« . At the request of Lord Orford, a person (alluding to himself) having represented to Count Ostein, the Austrian minister in London, the great advantages or fatal consequences of agreeing or disagreeing with Prussia, that minister promised to lay what was urged before his court in favour of the propositions of Prussia.

same time the Parliament had voted 300,0001. for enabling his majesty to make good his engagements with the

Queen of Hungary; and a certain great man (Lord Carteret), "then in opposition, told Count Ostein, that the subsidy did not proceed from the good disposition of the ministry, but was ex

torted by the general voice of the Parliament and people. The Austrian minister accordingly changed his sentiments and, language, and encouraged his court not to agree with Prussia ; because, England would spend the last drop of their blood, and the last penny of money, in support of the Queen of Hungary. The result was, that she obstinately rejected the alliance with Prussia, who entered into the measures of France.' VOL. II. P. 9.,

When we reflect on the hereditary mulierosity of the Austrian government, its shameful and abject slavery to popish superstition, its bigotry, pride, and presumption, during so many years, we can only account for its actual existence from the horror and detestation excited by the atrocities of the French revolution. It is singular that neither the general diffusion of knowledge, which has produced such changes in other states, nor the awful events which have recently passed in Europe, should not have induced some essential improvements in the civil and military administration of Austrian affairs. changeable does it appear to be, that all Mr. Walpole's remarks on it, above seventy years ago, seem perfectly applicable at the present day.

í Pride and bigotry," says he, "will get the better, at the court of Vienna, even of danger and necessity.”

The principal part of our author's second volume is conposed of Mr. Walpole's private letters to Mr. Trevor, from 1740 to 1746, detailing his opinions and reflexions on domestio and foreign politics, and the cabals and divisions of the cabinet ministers. After the resignation of his brother, Mr. Walpole declined all public business, retiring quietly with the tellership of the Exchequer: this being a place for life, the virulent enemies of the Walpole admi. nistration could not dismiss him. The particular and private circumstances here laid before the public, the exposure of George the Second's secret parțiality to Hanover, the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

But so


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

little selőishness and vulgar ambition of all the statesmen either in or out of place during his reign, and the mismanagement of public affairs, would be extremely interesting, did we not recollect that Mr. Coxe is rather an apologist than a biographer, that he passes over in silence any defects or errors in the policy of his hero, that he feels no reluctance at representing both the friends and the enemies of the Walpoles either as weak or depraved, and that he manifests not the least disposition to reprobate venality or reward merit; except the merit of the Walpoles. Mr. Coxe, however, is not so lenient to authors as to statesmen. In relating the King's attachment to Lord Bath, whom he was obliged to dismiss from office after forty-eight hours, and whom he ordered to write an account of the transaction, Mr. Coxe speaks freely of the “anonymous author of the Anecdotes of the Life of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham," and justly condemns him for slighting the word of the late Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Douglas, by asserting that Lord Bath's account of the Granville administration was fide indignus.

“ I think it a duty I owe to the public, in mentioning this wretched compilation, to declare, that, from the access I have had to the papers and documents of the times, I find the Life of the Earl of Chatham superficial and inaccurate, principally drawn from newspapers and party pamphlets, and interspersed, perhaps, with a few anecdotes communicated in desultory conversations by Earl Temple. In affecting to give a volume of important state papers, the editor has raked together a collection of speeches, memorials, and letters, the greater part of which are derived from periodical publications.

" ļt becomes a matter of extreme regret that the life of so great a statesman and orator has not been delineated by a more faithful and able hand.” VOL. II. P. 137.

We think there is much truth in the King's remark, that the Duke of Newcastle was not fit for a chamberlain to a petty court in Germany." We observe, however, that our author takes some pains to persuade his readers that Mr. Walpole was the first to recommend Mr. Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, ta office, and produces a jong memorial purporting to be addressed to George II. to that effect. Yet Mr. Walpole, in a letter to Mr. Yorke, complained of the presumption of the young man, and observed," the time is "come that green years can dictate to grey hairs; infants are now politicians, and crush hydras in their cradles. Even experimental know.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

ledge and wisdom belong to the young, and not the old, men of this age.” On this Mr. Coxe takes occasion to remark, that,

“ The strong expressions in this letter will remind the reader of Mr. Walpole's speech in the House of Commons, and the celebrated retort of Mr. Pitt, which is given in Chandler's Debates on a bill for the encouragement and increase of seamen in 1940, and echoed by Smollett and his copyists. Yet this celebrated retort of Mr. Pitt existed only in Johnson's imagination, who penned these debates; and is one of the instances which realise his assertion, that he took care the whig dogs should not have the better of it.' An anecdote, communicated by the late Lord Sydney, from the authority of bis father, who was present, will exhibit the slender foundation on which Mr. Pitt's supposed philippic was formed. I give it in his lordship's own words: • In a debate, in which Mr. Pitt, • Mr. Lyttleton, and perhaps some of the Grenvilles, who were

then all young men, had violently attacked Mr. Horace Walpole, he, in reply," lamented that, having been so long in business, he found that such young men were so much better informed

in political matters than himself; he had, however, one conso* lation, which was, that he had a son not twenty years old, and

he had the satisfaction to hope that he was as much wiser than
them, as they were than his father." Mr. Pitt gat up with great
warmth, beginning with these words: * With the greatest reve-
rence to the


of the honourable gentleman!” Mr. Walpole pulled off his wig, and showed his head covered with grey hair; which occasioned a general laughter, in which Mr. Pitt joined, and all warmth immediately subsided.” Vol. II.' P. 184.

Without detaining our readers with dry details of court and parliamentary cabals, and of Mr. Walpole’s honest zeal to be useful to his king and country even when retired from office, we shall extract our author's contrasted character of Mr. Fox, first Lord Holland, and Mr. Pitt, first Earl of Chatham. The reader may again contrast these characters with those of their two younger sons.

"The persons (after the death of Mr. Pelham, in March, 1754) who now aspired to the management of the House of Commons, were Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt, whose parliamentary abilities had for some time divided the suffrages of the nation, who had long fostered reciprocal jealousy, and who now became public rivals for power. Both these rival statesmen were younger brothers, nearly of the same age; both were educated at Eton, both distinguished for classical knowledge, both commenced their parliamentary career at the same period, and both raised themselves to eminence by their superior talents; yet no two characters were ever more contrasted.

" Mr. Fox inherited a strong and vigorous constitution, was profuse and dissipated in his youth, and, after squandering his private patrimony, went abroad to extricate himself from his embarrass


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ments. On bis return he obtained a seat in Parliament, and warmly
attached himself to Sir Robert Walpole, whom he idolised, and to
whose patronage he was indebted for the place of surveyor-general of
the board of works. In 1743 he was appointed one of the lords of ,
the Treasury, and in 1746 secretary at war, which office be now
filled. His marriage, in 1744, with Lady Caroline Lennox,
daughter of the Duke of Richmond, though at first displeasing to
the family, yet finally strengthened his political connexions. He
was equally a man of pleasure and business, formed for social and
convivial intercourse ; of an unrulled temper and frank disposition.
No statesman acquired more adherents, not merely from political
motives, but swayed by his agreeable manners, and attached to
him from personal friendship, which he fully merited by his zeal in
promoting their interests. He is justly characterised, even by Lord
Chesterfield, -as having no fixed principles of religion or morality,
and as too unwary in ridiculing and exposing them.' As a parlia-
mentary orator, he was occasionally hesitating and perplexed; but,
when warmed with his subject, he spoke with an animation and
rapidity which appeared more striking from his former besitation.
His speeches were not crowded with flowers of rhetoric, or distin-
guished by brilliancy of diction ; but were replete with sterling
sense and sound argument. He was quick in reply, keen in
repartee, and skilful in discerning the temper of the house. He
.wrote without effort or affectation, his public dispatches were manly
and perspicuous, and his private letters easy and animated. Though
of an ambitious spirit, he regarded money as a principal object, and
power only as a secondary concern.

“ Mr. Pitt, at an early period of his life, suffered extremely from
the attacks of an hereditary gout; hence, though fond of active
diversions, and attached to the sports of the field, he employed the
leisure of frequent confinement in improving the advantages of his
education, and in laying the foundation of extensive and useful
knowledge, which he increased during his travels by an assiduous
attention to foreign history and foreign manners. He is generally
represented as of a haughty, unbending, and imperious temper,
and too proudly conscious of his own superior talents; but they
who thus characterise him, are ill acquainted with his real dispo-
șition. The repeated attacks of a painful disorder did not sour his
temper, but rendered bim more susceptible of the comforts of
domestic, and the pleasures of social life. He was an agreeable
and lively companion, possessed great versatility of wit, adapted
to all characters and all occasions; excelled in epigrammatic turns,
and light pieces of poetry, and even condescended to join in songs
of mirth and festivity.

« On his return to England, he obtained a cornetcy of horse, which, with a small annuity from his family, 'was his only provision until he received a legacy of 10,000l. from the Duchess of Marlborough. From family connexions and early habits, he formed strict intimacy with his school-fellows, Mr. Lyttleton and the Grenvilles; attached himself to Lord Cobham, and became a partisan of Leicester House. In 1736, he came into Parliament for the borough of Old Sarum, and instantly commenced his opposition

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »