Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

X

1822.

[ocr errors]

ons.

openly and avowedly to recede from that system. But CHAP. they did so almost secretly, perhaps unconsciously, in the most effective way. Lord Londonderry alone had the sagacity to perceive, and the courage to avow, the real nature of the measure introduced, and the evils it was intended to obviate. “He did not treat it," said Sir JAMES GRAHAM, a statesman subsequently well known, “ as a question of fluctuation of prices, of want of Sir Ja means of consumption, or of superabundant harvests. Graham on The noble marquis (Londonderry) said plainly and 1828, Parl.

"" Deb.; and directly, 'This is a question of currency : the currency Tooke On

Prices, ii. of the country is too contracted for its wants, and our 127, 128. business is to apply a remedy."1 The remedy applied was most effectual, and entirely

150. successful, so far as the evils meant to be remedied were Its proviconcerned. By the Act of 1819 it had been provided $10 that the issuing of small notes by the Bank of England or country banks should cease on 1st May 1823, and it was the necessity of providing against this contingency which was one great cause of the contraction of the currency. On 2d July, however, Lord Londonderry introduced a bill permitting the issue of £1 notes to continue for ten years longer, and declared the £1 notes of the Bank of England a legal tender everywhere except at the Bank of England. This, coupled with the grant of £4,000,000 Exchequer bills, which Government were authorised to issue in aid of the agricultural interest, had a surprising effect in restoring confidence and raising prices ; and by doing so, it repealed, so long as it continued in operation, the most injurious parts of the Act of 1819. It will appear in a subsequent chapter how vast was the effect of this measure, wbat a flood of temporary prosperity it spread over the country, and in what a dismal catastrophe, from the necessity of paying all the notes at the Bank itself in gold, it ultimately terminated. Yet so ignorant were the legislature of the effects of this vital measure, and so little attention did it

X.

151.

rel commerce and nay tion.

0

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

CHAP. excite, that the second reading of it was carried in a

house of forty-seven members only in the Commons; and 1822

while so many hundred pages of Hansard are occupied with debates on reduction of expenditure and similar topics, which at the utmost could only save the nation

a few hundred thousands a-year, this measure, which re1 Parl. Deb. stored at least eighty millions a-year to the remuneration vii. 1458, 1662; Stat. of industry in the country, does not in all occupy two 3 Geo. IV., c. 172:""" pages, and can only be discovered by the most careful

examination in our parliamentary proceedings.1

Six very important acts were passed this session of Six acts Parliament at the instance of Mr Wallace, the President

e of the Board of Trade, for removing the shackles which · fettered the trade and navigation of the country, and improving their facilities. These acts opened a new era in our commercial legislation—the era of unrestricted competition and free trade in shipping. As such they are highly deserving of attention ; but their provisions will come with more propriety to be considered in a subsequent chapter, when taken in connection with the RECIPROCITY SYSTEM in maritime affairs, then introduced by Mr Huskisson. At present, it is sufficient to observe the date of the commencement of the new system being the same with that of so many other changes in our social system and commercial policy, and when the

general cheapening of articles of all sorts had rendered a ? Ann. Reg. general reduction of all the charges, entering how remotely 1822, 123, 126. soever into their composition, a matter of absolute neces

sity.2

Parliament rose on the 6th August, and the king pro152. Visit of the ceeded shortly after on a visit to Edinburgh, which he bad king to

urgh. never yet seen. He embarked with a splendid court at Aug. 15.

Greenwich on board the Royal George yacht on the 10th
Come
August, and arrived in Leith Roads in the afternoon of
the 15th. No sovereign had landed there since Queen
Mary arrived nearly three hundred years before. The pre-
parations for his Majesty's reception, under the direction of

[ocr errors]

Sir Walter Scott, were of the most magnificent descrip- CHAP. tion, and the loyal spirit of the inhabitants of Scotland – rendered it interesting in the highest degree. The heart- 1822. burnings and divisions of recent times were forgotten ; the Queen's trial was no more thought of; the Radicals were silent. The ancient and inextinguishable loyalty of the Scotch broke forth with unexampled ardour; the devoted attachment they had shown to the Stuarts appeared, but it was now transferred to the reigning family. The clans from all parts of the Highlands appeared in their picturesque and varied costumes, with their chieftains at their head; the eagle's feather, their well-known badge, was seen surmounting many plumes ; two hundred Ann. Reg.

1822, 179, thousand strangers from all parts of the country crowded 180; Per

sonal obserthe streets of Edinburgh, and for a brief period gave it vation. the appearance of a splendid metropolis. 1 The entry of the Sovereign into the ancient city of his

153. ancestors was extremely striking. The heights of the Cal- Particulars ton Hill, and the cliffs of Salisbury Crags, which overhang visit:

w of the royal the city, were lined with cannon, and ornamented with standards; and from these batteries, as well as the guns of the Castle, and the ships in the roads, and Leith Fort, a royal salute was fired as the monarch touched the shore. The procession passed through an innumerable crowd of spectators, who loudly and enthusiastically cheered, up Leith Walk, and by York Place, St Andrew Square, and Waterloo Place, to Holyrood House, where a levée and drawing-room were held a few days after. On the night following, the city was illuminated, and the guns of the Castle, firing at ten at night, realised the sublimity without the terrors of actual warfare. At a magnificent banquet given to the Sovereign by the magistrates of Edinburgh in the Parliament House, at which the Lord Provost acted as chairman, and Sir Walter Scott as vice-chairman, the former was made a baronet, with that grace of manner and felicity of expression for which the King was so justly celebrated. A review on Portobello Sands exhibited the

1822

154.

CHAP. gratifying spectacle of 3000 yeomanry cavalry, collected

from all the southern counties of Scotland, marching in procession before their Sovereign. Finally, the King, who during his residence in Scotland had been magnificently entertained at Dalkeith Palace, the seat of the Duke of Buccleuch, embarked on the 27th at Hopetoun House, the beautiful residence of the Earls of Hopetoun, where he conferred the honour of knighthood on Henry Rae

burn, the celebrated Scottish artist, and arrived in safety 1 Ann. Reg. in the Thames on the 30th, charmed with the reception 1822, 179, 180;' Per he had met with, and baving left on all an indelible imsonal observation.

to pression of the mingled dignity and grace of his manners, and felicity of his expressions.

His returu was accelerated by a tragical event, which Death of deprived England of one of her greatest statesmen, and Lord Londonderry.

erre? the intelligence of which arrived amidst these scenes of Aug. 12.

festivity and rejoicing. Lord Londonderry, upon whose shoulders, since the retirement of Lord Sidmouth, the principal weight of government, as well as the entire labour of the lead in the House of Commons, had fallen, had suffered severely from the fatigues of the preceding session, and shortly after exhibited symptoms of mental aberration. He was visited in consequence by his physician, Dr Bankhead, at his mansion at North Cray in Kent, by whom he was cupped. Some relief was experienced from this, but he continued in bed, and the mental disorder was unabated. It was no wonder it was so : Romilly and Whitbread bad, in like manner, fallen victims to similar pressure on the brain, arising from political effort. On the morning of the 12th August, Dr Bankhead, who slept in the house, being summoned to attend his lordship in his dressing-room, entered just in time to save him from falling. He said, “Bankhead, let me fall on your arms—’tis all over," and instantly expired. He had cut his throat with a penknife. The coroner's inquest brought in a verdict of insanity. His remains were interred on the 20th in Westminster Abbey, between

X.

1822.

the graves of Pitt and Fox. The most decisive testi- CHAP. mony to his merits was borne by some savage miscreants, who raised a horrid shout as the body was borne from the hearse to its last resting-place in the venerable pile ; a shout which, to the disgrace of English literature, has 1 Ann. since been re-echoed by some whose talents might have 1822, 180,

182; Martiled them to a more generous appreciation of a political neau, i. 287;

Hughes, vi. antagonist, and their sex to a milder view of the most 502.“ fearful of human infirmities.1*

Chateaubriand has said, that while all other contemporary reputations are declining, that of Mr Pitt is hourly His characon the increase. The same is equally true of Lord Londonderry; the same ever has, and ever will be, true of the first and greatest of the human race. Their fame with posterity is founded on the very circumstances which, with the majority of their contemporaries, constituted their unpopularity; they are revered, because they had wisdom to discern the ruinous tendency of the passions with which they were surrounded, and courage to resist them. The reputation of the demagogue is brilliant, but fleeting, like the meteor which shoots athwart the troubled sky of a vintry night; that of the undaunted statesman, at first obscured, but in the end lasting like the fixed stars, which, when the clouds roll away, shine for ever the same in the highest firmament. Intrepidity in the rulers of men is the surest passport to immortality, for it is the quality

155.

* « The news of Lord Londonderry's death struck the despots of Europe aghast upon their thrones-news which was hailed with clasped hands and glistening eyes by aliens in many a provincial town of England, and with imprudent shouts by conclaves of patriots abroad. There are some now, who in mature years cannot remember without emotion what they saw and heard that day. They could not know how the calamity of one man-a man amiable, winning, and generous in the walk of daily life-could penetrate the recesses of a world but as a ray of hope in the midst of thickest darkness. This man was the screw by which England had riveted the chains of nations. The screw was drawn, and the immovable despotism might now be overthrown. There was abundant reason for the rejoicing which spread through the world on the death of Lord Londonderry, and the shout which rang through the Abbey when his coffin was taken from the hearse was natural enough, though neither decent nor humane."--Miss MARTINEAU, i. 287, 288.

« ForrigeFortsett »