« ForrigeFortsett »
It was a wrong
a great wrong; and it was inevitable that we should do so. which he bore cheerfully, and with the submission which he felt to be one of his duties as a public servant in a free country. But it must have been bitter and trying to his secret sense of justice, seeing that subsequent revelations have exposed to view a peculiar and preternatural strength, a compass of power absolutely without precedent, in that very organ of his character to which our popular error ascribed an elementary weakness. Nobody can look back for a space of six or eight years but he must remember as a general notion prevailing against the Duke of Wellington, as a taunt often urged against us by our political opponents, often silently conceded by ourselves—that, either from habits of long usage, or from original vice of temperament, he was too rigid and untractable in his political opinions; in his demeanour too peremptory, too uncivic; that with the highest virtues of the military character he combined some of its worst disqualifications for political life; that his notions tended to impress too martial a character of discipline upon the public service; that even his virtues of a civic order were alloyed with this spirit-his directness and plain-dealing being but another aspect of that peremptory spirit which finds its proper place in a camp; and that, finally, as to the substantial merits of national wants or grievances, apart from the mode and manner of his administration, not less by temper than by his modes of experience, the Duke was incapacitated for estimating the spirit of his age, and stood aloof from all popular sympathies. Thus stood public opinion, when a memorable act of retribution was rendered to the Duke's merits, and a monument raised to his reputation, such as will co-exist with our language, in the series of his Despatches, &c., published by Colonel Gurwood. The effect was profound. The Duke of Wellington had long been raised as far beyond the benefits, as he is beyond the need, of any trivial enthusiasm derived from momentary sources or vulgar arts: and this book was fitted to engage the attention of none but the highly cultivated. The reverence of the land for the Duke's character, the gratitude of the land for the Duke's services, scarcely seemed open to increase. But undoubtedly a depth of tone and a solemnity approaching to awe, were impressed henceforth upon the feelings with which all thoughtful men regarded the Duke of Wellington as an intellectual being. Now, first, it was understood what quality of intellect had been engaged in our service, moving amongst what multiplied embarrassments, thwarted by what conflicts even in friendly quarters, winning its way by what flexibility of address, watching all obstacles by what large compass of talents, and compensating every disadvantage for the public service by what willing sacrifices of selfish feeling. Were it not for the singleness of purpose, for the perfect integrity, for the absolute self-dedication, and the sublime simplicity, we should say Here is a Machiavelian subtlety of understanding! With an apostolical grandeur of purpose, there is here combined the address of a finished intriguer; and for a service of nations upon the grandest scale, we see displayed a restless and a versatile spirit of submission to circumstances and to characters, which, according to all the experience of this world, belongs naturally to modes of selfishness the most intense. The wisdom of long-suffering; the policies of allowance in matters of practice; the spirit of indulgence to errors that were redeemable; the transcendent power to draw into unity of effect, elements the most heterogeneous, and tempers the most incompatible; in short, that spirit of civic accommodation to the times in which we had supposed him to have been most wanting, and that spirit of regard to the bold national temperament of the armies he led, which was held most irreconcilable with martial discipline;— precisely these were the qualities which the Gurwood correspondence has exposed as the foremost of the Duke's endowments: in any case, the very rarest endowments; and in this case, amongst an army so high-spirited, the most operative for the final success. In short, to sum up the truth by the sharpest antithesis, instead of ruling in his civic administration by means of military maxims, the Duke of Wellington applied to military measures and to the conduct of armies that spirit of civic policy which, in times less critical by far, had not been attempted by generals of nations the most democratic.
Such is the retributory service, late but perfect, rendered to the Duke's character. The shades of evening are now stealing over his life: and for him,
also, that night is coming in which no man can work. But as yet no abatement is visible in his energies of public duty. Tenderness, as towards a ward of the nation, is now beginning to mingle with our veneration. And, in the course of nature, the anxieties of a mighty people will soon be suspended on his health, as they have long been suspended on his majestic wisdom.
Meantime, there is a kind of duty-upon every question of politics to which the Duke of Wellington has been constructively a party-of looking towards him as the centre upon which our public counsels revolve. But in Asiatic questions he has a closer interest, and a sort of property by various tenures. Through his elder brother, as a brilliant administrator of our British Empire in India, and through his own memorable share in raising that empire, he has obtained a distinct cognizance of Indian rights, which makes him their natural guardian. And of this opium dispute he has himself demonstrated-that in its rebound, it is more truly a question for our Indian friends than for our Chinese antagonists. To the Duke, therefore, at any rate, wẹ look in this emergency-as one which lies originally within his field. And it is with the view of exhibiting the man as matched against the crisis—of equalizing the authority with the occasion-that we have digressed into this act of critical justice to the Duke's merits. But, if that course would have been a matter of propriety whilst merely looking with a general political deference to the Duke's authority, much more is it become such after the Duke's comprehensive examination of the case; and after the effect of that examination has been put on record by so public a test as instantly followed: some persons having silently, some avowedly, withdrawn from the further prosecution of a question which, in this stage at least, had been laid to rest by his Grace's exposition of its merits.
INDEX TO VOL. XLVII.
Aboukir, lines on the battle of, 458.
Angel, the Bramin, an Oriental tale, in
Anster, John, LL.D., his poetical trans-
-his lines on Wellington, 172-his
Asses, Thoughts upon, 57.
Aytoun, William E., his Ballads from the
Ballads from the Romaic, by William E.
Birch, J. Esq., his poetical translation of Elysian fields at Lowther, in Westmore-
Blackie, John S., Esq., his poetical trans-
Breton Faith, a short poem, by R. M.
Calderon de la Barca, Don Pedro, his
Carlo Sebastiani, the Aid-de-Camp, a tale,
Casuistry, 260-Case I. Health, 262-
Case II. Laws of hospitality in colli-
land, lines on them, by R. M. Milnes,
Emperor and the Rabbi, the, a Jewish
Essenes, on the, 105-Part II. 463—
Ethical sonnets, by R. M. Milnes, 360.
Faction, the anti-national, shown up,
France, the progress of Protestantism in,
Goblin lady, the, a comedy by Calderon
Goethe's Life and Works, reviewed, No.
III. From my life-Poetry and Truth,
Hunt, Leigh, his drama of the Legend of
Pestis Londinum Devastans. Carmi-
Pike, Alfred, of Arkansas, his lines
Prendeville, James, his edition of Milton,
Protestantism in France, its progress, 763.
Rabbi, the Emperor and the, a Jewish tra-
School, my Old, 779.
Scott, Sir Walter, lines on him, by R. M.
Shaw on Salmon Fry, 531.
Simmons, B., his song of a Returned Exile,
170 his ode on the Marriage of the
Sir Eliduc, a lay of Marie, by Delta-
Fitte first, 786-Fitte second, 788-
Song of the Returned Exile, by B. Sim-
Mocking-bird, lines addressed to it, by Syme, David, his poetical translation of
Alfred Pike of Arkansas, 354
Faust, reviewed, 223.
Whig-intrusion section of the Non-
Venetian painting and Titian, on, 88.
Talbot, the Hon., his poetical translation Veto, the, a new song, dedicated to the
Walter and William, a Tale, in verse, 96.
Wellington, Lines on, by Archæus, 172.
Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.