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with great effect, in support of that measure. In 1799, he was appointed one of the commissioners for managing the affairs of India ; and, in 1800, he married Joanna, the youngest daughter of General Scott, of Balcomie, an officer who acquired great wealth. This union made Mr. Canning perfectly independent of place, for his wife's fortune exceeded £100,000. On the dissolution of Mr. Pitt's cabinet, in 1801, Mr. Canning retired with the rest ; and for several successive sessions, his declamation, wit, and keenness of irony lent a formidable strength to the opposition arrayed against the Addington administration.
CANNING AT THE CLIFFORD STREET CLUB.
In the last century, there was a debating-club, whose meetings took place once a month, at the Clifford Street Coffee-house, at the corner of Old Bond-street. The speakers were chiefly Mackintosh, Richard Sharp, a Mr. Ollyett Woodhouse; Charles Moore, son of the celebrated traveller; and Lord. Charles Townshend, fourth son of the facetious Marquis. No great primitive principles of civil government were then much discussed ; it was before the French Revolution had “ brought death into the world, and all its woe.”
At the Clifford Street society, Canning generally took the liberal side of the above questions, to which his earliest prepossessions inclined. One evening, the question for debate was, “ The justice and expediency of resuming the ecclesiasti cal property of France.” Before the debate began, Canning had taken some pains to ascertain on which side the majority of members seemed inclined to speak, and finding that they were generally in favour of the resumption, he expressed his fears that the unanimity of sentiment would spoil the discussion; so he volunteered to speak against it. He did so, in a speech of considerable power, chiefly in reply to the opener, who had asserted the revocable condition of the property of the Church, which being created, he said, by the state, remained everafter at its disposition. Canning denied the proposition that ecclesiastical property was the creature of the state. He contended that though it might be so in a new government, yet, speaking historically, the greater as well as the lesser ecclesiastical fiefs were coeval with the crown of France, frequently strong enough to maintain fierce and not unequal conflicts with it, and certainly not in their origin emanations from its bounty. The Church, he said, came well dowered to the state, who was now suing for a divorce, in order to plunder her pin-money. He contended that the Church property stood upon the same basis, and ought to be protected by the same sanction as private property. It was originally, he said, accumulated from successive donations, with which a pious benevolence sought to enrich the fountains from which comfort ought to flow to the wretched, the poor, the forsaken. He drew an energetic sketch of Mirabeau, the proposer of the measure, by whose side, he remarked, the worst characters in history—the Cleons, the Catilines, the Cetheguses of antiquity -would brighten into virtue. He said that the character of the law-giver tainted the law. It was proffered to the National Assembly by hands hot and reeking from the cells of sensuality and vice; it came from a brain inflamed and distended into frenzy by habitual debauchery. These are, of course, but faint sketches of this very early specimen of Canning, as a speaker. The humour and irony with which he delighted his auditors, are indescribable.
Canning was then the most handsome man about town; and his fine countenance glowed as he spoke with every sentiment which he uttered. It was customary, during the debates, for pots of porter to be introduced by way of refreshment. One night, when the topic was the leaders of the French Revolution, Canning, in an eloquent tirade against Mirabeau, handled the peculiar style of the count's oratory with great severity. The president had, during this part of Canning's speech, given a signal for a pot of porter, which had been brought in and placed before him. It served Canning for an illustration. “Sir,” said he, “much has been said about the gigantic powers of Mirabeau. Let us not be carried away by the false jargon of his philosophy, or imagine that deep political wisdom resides in trained and decorated diction. To the steady eye of a sagacious criticism, the eloquence of Mirabeau will appear to be as empty and as vapid as his patriotism. It is like the beverage that stands so invitingly before you-foam and froth at the top, heavy and muddy within !"
No. 7, Clifford Street was Dr. Addington's, the father of Henry Addington, Lord Sidmouth, familiarly called “the Doctor," partly from his father's profession, and partly from his having prescribed for George III., in his illness of 1801, a pillow of hops as a soporific. This gave Canning the opportunity of calling him “the Doctor."
In 1805, Mr. Canning defended Lord Melville, the ex-First Lord of the Admiralty, who was accused by Mr. Whitbread and others of having made an unfair use of public money. Canning's defence of his friend was eloquent and skilful, but it failed. Mr. Pitt died in January, 1806; in February there was a complete change of ministers, and Mr. Canning was succeeded by Mr. Sheridan as Treasurer of the Navy. In April, 1807, Mr. Canning again accepted office, and was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the new cabinet formed by the Duke of Portland. Of all the departments of Government, this was, probably, the one he was best qualified for; his despatches were lucid, manly, and spirited, and many of his state papers are models of that kind of composition.
DUEL BETWEEN LORD CASTLEREAGH AND
MR. CANNING. In 1809, a disagreement took place between Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Canning, which terminated in a duel. The challenge was given by his Lordship, and accepted by Mr. Canning. The parties met on Putney Heath ; Lord Castlereagh being accompanied by the Marquis of Hertford, and Mr. Canning by Mr. Ellis. After taking their ground, they fired by signal, and missed; but, no explanation taking place, they fired a second time, when Mr. Canning received his adversary's ball in his thigh. He did not fall from the wound, nor was it known by the seconds that he was wounded, and both parties stood ready to receive further satisfaction, when Mr. Ellis perceiving blood on Mr. Canning's leg, the seconds interfered. Mr. Canning was conveyed to his house, Gloucester Lodge, Old Brompton, where he was for some time confined; but, as the bone of the thigh was not fractured, he recovered sufficiently to attend the levée on the 11th of October, and resign his seals of office, as did Lord Castlereagh also; and it is said that the King expressed his strong disapprobation of ministers settling cabinet disputes by the pistol.
LAST ILLNESS OF MR. CANNING. The circumstances attending the last illness of Mr. Canning are thus described :—The king, with his usual quickness, was the first to perceive the dangerous illness of Mr. Canning. Almost after he had quitted him on Monday, his Majesty observed to Sir William Knighton that Mr. Canning appeared very unwell, and that he was in great alarm for him. On Tuesday, at the express command of the King to see Mr. Canning, on the interview with him at the Treasury, Sir William made particular inquiries into the state of his health. Mr. Canning was then harassed by a cough, and he observed to Sir William Knighton that he almost felt as if he were an old man; that he was much weakened; but had no idea of there being anything dangerous in his condition, and that he trusted that rest and retirement would set him to rights. Sir William sent Dr. Maton to Mr. Canning, and, on parting with him, arranged that, as he should not leave town until Wednesday morning, he would call on him at Chiswick, on his way home to Windsor.
Sir William found Mr. Canning in bed, at Chiswick. He asked him if he felt any pain in his side. Mr. Canning replied that he had felt a pain in his side for some days, and on endeavouring to lie on his side, the pain was so acute that he was unable to do so. Sir William then inquired if he felt any pain in his shoulder. He said he had for some time been affected by rheum pains in the shoulder. Sir William told him that the pain did not arise from rheumatism, but from a diseased liver, and he immediately sent for the three physicians, who remained with him, and were, to the last, unremitting in their attendance. The disease continued to baffle medical skill; on the following Sunday, August 5th, bulletins were issued, stating Mr. Canning to be in imminent danger; and on Wednesday morning, August 8th, Mr. Canning expired, without pain.
DEATH OF MR. CANNING, AT CHISWICK HOUSE.
Almost every one living within the bounds of the great town knows something of that small but beautiful villa—a palace in miniature—a celebrated seat of the Duke of Devonshire, built by the great Earl of Burlington. Before the present structure was raised, here was a plain, commodious building; but part of this edifice having been destroyed by fire, the earl formed the plan of the beautiful villa we are describing, which, for elegance and taste, is supposed to surpass everything of the kind in England. At Chiswick there stands that classical and singular building, the idea of which is borrowed from a well-known villa of Palladio, and is a model of taste, whose walls once echoed to the gaieties of the most brilliant circle which one English woman ever drew around her. Who has not heard of the show, and some stories of the beautiful duchess ?
In that room, so plain, so unadorned, so barren of all luxury, the most gifted and the most ambitious of political adventurers breathed his last. It is a small, low chamber at Chiswick in which Canning died. He chose it himself; it had formerly, we believe, been a sort of nursery; and the Duke of Devonshire having accidentally slept there just before Canning took up his residence at the villa, it was considered more likely to be aired and free from damp than any other and costlier apartment. It had not even a cheerful view from the window, but overlooked a wing of the house, as it were, like a back yard. Nothing can be more common than the paper of the walls, or the furniture of the apartment. On one side of the fireplace are ranged a few books, chiefly of a light description, such as the Novelist's Magazine, Camilla, &c. Opposite the foot of the bed is the fireplace, and on the low chimney-piece stands a small bronze clock. How often to that clock must have turned the eyes of that restless and ardent being during his short and painful progress through disease to death. With how bitter a monotony must its ticking sound have fallen on his ear! Nothing on earth is so wearing to the fretful nerve of sickness as that low, regular, perpetual voice in which time speaks its warnings.
He was just a week ill. On Wednesday, a party of diplomatists dined with the Prime Minister. On the Wednesday following, the haughty spirit
66 Passed away
From that humble clay !" For the last three days, he was somewhat relieved from the excruciating pain he had before suffered. Not that it is true, as was said in the newspapers at the time, that his cries could be heard at some considerable distance from the house. One day, however, they were heard by the servants below.