Ann. Reg 1819

CHAP. Commons by Lord Castlereagh, subjecting newspapers to

certain stamps, and to prevent the abuses arising from the publication of blasphemous and seditious libels. The first and third of the first four acts alone were permanent; the second and third were temporary only in their endurance, and have long since expired. The bills were all strenuously resisted, with the exception of the first, in both houses, but were passed by large majorities,—that in the Commons, on the Seditious Meetings Bill, being 223, the numbers 351 to 128 ; in the Lords, on the same bill, 97, the numbers being 135 to 38. In regard to the Training Act, however, which is still in force, a much greater de

gree of unanimity prevailed. Several members of both i Parl. Deb. xli.675, *"houses usually opposed to Government, but officially

acquainted with the state of the country, added their

testimony to its necessity; and that the practice of Sidmouth's training was then generally prevalent has since been Memoirs, iii. 302, 303. admitted by the Radical leaders, and their ablest his

torical advocates. 1*

A curious but instructive circumstance took place Impression when the Radical leaders were brought up for examinaLord Sid. mouth and tion before the Privy Council, into the presence of those Lord Cas

whom they had been taught to regard as of a cruel and unrelenting disposition, and the bitterest enemies of the people. “The simple-minded men who had followed Hunt were surprised,” says Miss Martineau,“ when brought into the presence of the Privy Council, at the actual appearance of the rulers of the land, whom they

had regarded as their cruel enemies. They found no Martineau, i, 246. ". cruelty or ferocity in the faces of the tyrants 2_Lord

Castlereagh, the good-looking person in a plum-coloured

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made on the Radicals.

* « There is, and can be, no dispute about the fact of military training; the only question is in regard to the design or object of the practice. Numerous informations were taken by the Lancashire magistrates, and transmitted to Government in the beginning of August." Bamford, the Radical annalist, assures us it was done solely with a view to the great meeting on the 16th August at Manchester. See Miss MARTINEAU, i. 227; BAMFORD'S Life of a Radical, i. 177, 180.

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Life of a


coat, with a gold ring on the little finger of his left hand, CHAP.
on which he sometimes looked while addressing them :
Lord Sidmouth, a tall, square, and bony figure, with thin

grey hairs, broad and prominent forehead, whose mild
and intelligent eyes looked forth from their cavernous
orbits ; his manners affable, and much more encouraging
to freedom of speech than had been expected.” 1 “ How I Bamford's
often,” says Thiers, “would factions the most opposite be Radical, i.
reconciled, if they could meet and read each other's
hearts." On the other hand, Hunt was far from exhibit-
ing the constancy in adversity which, in every age, has
animated the patriot and the hero. He was alternately
querulous and depressed—elated by popular applause,
but sadly cast down when the intoxicating draught was
taken from his lips. In this there is nothing surprising ;
rectitude of intention is the principle which animates the
patriot, who is sustained by its consciousness when aiding
the people often against their will. Vanity is the pre-

2 Martineau, vailing passion of the demagogue, and his spirits sink the i. 246, 247. moment the exciting influence is withdrawn.2

The beginning of the year 1820 was marked by two events which strongly riveted the attention of the nation, Death of the and had a beneficial general effect in reviving those feelings Kent. of loyalty, which, though sometimes forgotten, are never extinct in the breast of the English people. The Duke of Kent, the father of our present gracious Sovereign, had accompanied the Duchess and his infant daughter, the future Sovereign of Great Britain, to Sidmouth in Devonshire, for the benefit of change of air. There he was unfortunately exposed to wet and cold on the 13th January, which brought on a cough and inflammation of the lungs, which, notwithstanding the most active treatment, terminated fatally on the 23d of the same month. He was interred, with the usual solemnities, at Windsor on 7th February. This prince took little share in public life ; and the rigorous discipline which he had found it necessary to enforce in the army, in his earlier years, when in

2 D


Jan. 13.




1820, 6; Hughes, vi. 403.

CHAP, command, had at the time given rise to considerable dis

cussion. But he had survived this temporary unpopularity, as really estimable characters seldom fail to do; and in his latter years he possessed alike the respect of the nation and the warm affection of his personal friends. Personally intrepid, as his race have ever been, he possessed at the same time the kindness of heart and charm of manner, which in all, but in none so much as those of exalted station, are the main foundation of lasting affection. In politics he inclined to the Liberal side, as his brother the Prince-Regent and the Duke of Sussex had so long done ; but he had little turn for political contentions, and shrouded himself in preference in the seclusion and enjoyments of private life. Deeds of beneficence, or the support of institutions of charity, of which he was a

munificent patron, alone brought him before the eye of 1 Ann. Reg.

the public; but in private, no one was more kindly in his disposition, or had secured by acts of generosity a wider or more attached circle of friends.1

The death of the Duke of Kent was speedily followed Death of by that of his father, who had so long swayed the George III.

sceptre of the realm. Towards the end of January, the health of George III., which had hitherto been surprisingly preserved during his long and melancholy mental alienation, rapidly sunk. His strength failed, his appetite left him, and it became evident that the powers of nature were exhausted.

At length, at half-past eight on the 28th January, he breathed his last ; and the PrinceRegent, as George IV., formally ascended the throne, of which, during ten years, he had discharged the duties. On Monday the 31st, the new sovereign was proclaimed with the usual formalities at the Palace, Temple Bar, Charing Cross, and other places; the members of Parliament were sworn in, and both houses immediately adjourned to the 17th February.2

Although he had lived nearly ten years in retirement, and the practical discharge of the functions of royalty by


Jan, 28.

2 Ann. Reg. 1820, 7; Hughes, vi. 441.

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1820. 39.

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the sovereign who succeeded him had so long withdrawn CHAP.
him from the public gaze, the death of George III. made
a profound impression on the British heart. The very
circumstances under which the demise had taken place Deep im-
added to the melancholy interest which it excited, and the pression
feelings with which the bereavement was regarded by the deathe made
people. Nearly the whole existing generation had grown country.
up during his long reign of sixty years; there was no one
who had not been accustomed to regard the 4th of June,
the well-known birthday of the sovereign, as a day of re-
joicing ; no one could form an idea of a king without the
aged form which still flitted through the halls of Windsor
occurring to the mind. The very obscurity in which his
last days had been shrouded, the mental darkness which had
prevented him from being conscious of the surpassing glories
of the close of his reign, the malady which had secluded
him from the eyes of his affectionate people, added to the
emotion which his death occasioned. Old feelings were
revived, former affections, long pent up, gushed forth, and
flowed without control. The realisation of the catas-
trophe, though not of the sorrows, of Lear on the theatre
of the world, profoundly affected every heart. The king
had survived all his unpopularity ; be had lived down the
bitterest of his enemies. When the eloquent preacher
quoted the words of Scripture, “ And Joseph asked them
of their welfare, and said, Is your father well ? the old
man of whom ye spake, is he yet alive? And they an-
swered, Our father is yet alive. And they bowed their
heads, and made obeisance,”* all felt that now, as in
the days of the patriarchs, the same affections of a people
to their common father were experienced. The removal
of the aged king from this earthly scene made no change
in the political world ; it was unfelt in the councils or
cabinets of princes; but, like a similar bereavement in
private life, the circle of the domestic affections was for a


* Sermon on the Jubilee, 1810, by Rev. A. Alison--Sermons, i. 419.

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Queen Vic-
May 29,

CHAP. season drawn closer, from the removal of one who had

shared in its brightness. Nor did it lessen the emotion
felt on this event, that it occurred at the time when the
mighty antagonist of the departed sovereign was declining
in distant and hopeless captivity, and that while George
III. slept to death in the solitude of his ancestral halls,
Napoleon was dying a discrowned exile in the melancholy

The French said, in the days of their loyalty, “ The
Birth of king is dead-long live the king!” Never was the value

of this noble maxim more strongly felt than on the pre-
sent occasion. The death of the king, preceded as it
had been by that of the Princess Charlotte, the heiress
of the throne, the age and circumstances of the sovereign
who had just ascended it, and the situation of the other
members of the royal family, had long awakened a feel-
ing of disquietude as to the succession to the monarchy.
The Duke of York, now the heir-apparent, was married,
had no family, and the duchess was in declining health ;
the Duke of Clarence, the next in succession, was ad-
vanced in years, and although he had had children, they
had all died in infancy or early youth. The successors
to the crown, after the present sovereign, whose health
was known to be in a precarious condition, were, a
prince from whom no issue could now be expected,
and, after him, an infant princess. Many were the
gloomy apprehensions entertained of the eventual conse-
quences of such a state of things, at a time when Europe
was convulsed by revolutionary passions, and vigour and
capacity on the throne seemed, in an especial manner, ·
requisite to steer the monarchy through the shoals with
which it was surrounded. But how often does the course
of events deviate from what was once anticipated, and
Providence, out of seeming disaster, educe the means of
future salvation ! Out of this apparently untoward com-
bination of circumstances arose an event of the last im-

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