Слике страница
PDF
ePub

Explodes, and with itself shoots out its crew
In smoke and ruin betwixt sea and heaven;
So will he, falling, draw down in his fall
All us, who're fixed and mortised to his fortune.
Deem of it what thou wilt ; but pardon me,
That I must bear me on in my own way.
All must remain pure betwixt him and me;
And ere the day-light dawns, it must be known
Which I must lose my father, or my friend.

SECTION XXXIV.

EXTRACT FROM MR. CANNING'S SPEECH ON THE WAR

WITH FRANCE.

So much, sir, as to the particular argument, that the past conduct of our former allies ought to lead us to withhold all credit from their future professions. There is, however, another and more general argument, comprehending alike these and the other powers of Europe; which, but that it has been stated by the honourable gentleman, I should really have thought scarcely worthy confutation. We, it seems, a wise, prudent, reflecting people--are much struck with all the outrages France has committed upon the continent; but on the powers of the continent itself, no lasting impression has been made. Is this probable? Is it possible? Is it in the nature of things, that the contemplation of the wrongs and the miseries which others have endured, should have worked a deeper impression upon our minds, than the suffering of those miseries and wrongs has left on the minds of those upon whom they were actually inflicted ?

Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures,

Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus ?” Yet the echo and report of the blows by which other countries have fallen, are supposed to have more effect upon us, than the blows themselves produced upon the miserable victims who sunk beneath them.

The pillage and bloody devastation of Italy strike us with horror ; but Italy, we are to believe, is contented with what has befallen her. The insults which are hurled by the French garrison from the walls of the citadel of Turin, rouse resentment in our breasts; but have no effect on the feelings of the Piedmontese. We read with indignation of the flag of Bernadotte displayed in mockery and insult to the emperor and his subjects ; but it flaunted in the eyes of the people of Vienna, without exciting any emotions of hatred or resentment. The invasion of a province of a friendly power, with whom they had no cause nor pretence for hostility, has created in us a decided detestation for the unprincipled hypocrisy and ambition of the Directory; but the Ottoman Porte sits down contented with the loss of Egypt; feels no injury, and desires neither reparation nor revenge. And then, sir, the wrongs of Switzerland ! They, too, are calculated to excite an interest here; but the Swiss, no doubt, endured them with quiet resignation, and contented humility. If, after the taking of Soleure, the venerable magistrates of that place were first handed round the town in barbarous triumph, and afterwards, contrary to all the laws of war, of nations, and nature, were inhumanly put to death; if, when the unoffending town of Sion capitulated to the French, the troops were let loose to revel in every species of licentiousness and cruelty ;-if, the women, after having been brutally violated, were thrown alive into the flames; if more recently, when Stanz was carried, after a short, but vigorous and honourable resistance, such as would have conciliated the esteem of any but a French

conqueror, the whole town was burnt to the ground, and the ashes quenched with the blood of the inhabitants ;-the bare recital of these horrors and atrocities awakens in British bosoms, I trust it does awaken, I trust it will long keep alive, an abhorrence of the nation and name of that people by whom such execrable cruelties have been practised, and such terrible calamities inflicted; but on the Swiss (we are to understand) these cruelties have left no lasting impression; the inhabitants of Soleure, who followed with tears of anguish and indignation, their venerated magistrates to a death of terror and ignominy; the husbands, and fathers, and sons of those wretched victims who expired in torture and in shame, beneath the brutality of a savage soldiery at Sion: the wretched survivors of those who perished in the ruins of the country at Stantz, they all felt but a transient pang; their tears by this time are dried; their rage is hushed; their resentment silenced : there is nothing in their feelings which can be stimulated into honourable and effectual action; there is no motive for their exertions, upon which we can safely and permanently rely! Sir, I should be ashamed to waste your time by arguing such a question.

SECTION XXXV.

EXTRACT FROM MR. CANNING'S SPEECH ON THE CATHOLIC

QUESTION.

I am

I feel, sir, that many apologies are due to the House, for thus trespassing on their patience in vindication of my character and motives from imputations, of which, if I know anything of my nature, I have some right to complain. But to be taunted with want of feeling for the Catholicsto be accused of compromising their interests,

conscious as -as I cannot but be—of being entitled to their gratitude for a long course of services, and for the sacrifices to their cause of interests of my own-this is a sort of treatment, which would rouse even tameness itself to assert its honour, and vindicate its claims.

I have shown that in the year 1812, I refused office rather than enter into an administration pledged against the Catholic question. I did this at a time when office would have been dearer to me than at any other period of my political life ; when I would have given ten years of life for two years of office; not for any sordid or selfish purpose of personal aggrandizement, but for far other and higher views. But is this the only sacrifice which I have made to the Catholic cause ? The House will perhaps bear with me a little longer, (as it has already borne with me so long,) while I answer this question by another fact.

From the earliest dawn of my public life-aye, from the first visions of youthful ambition—that ambition had been directed to one object above all others. Before that object all others vanished into comparative insignificance; it was desirable to me beyond all the blandishments of

be. yond all the rewards and favours of the crown. That object was to represent in this House, the university in which I was educated. I had a fair chance of accomplishing this object, when the Catholic question crossed my way. 1 was warned, fairly and kindly warned, that my adoption of that course would blast my prospect. I adhered to the Catholic cause, and forfeited all my long cherished hopes and expectations. And yet I am told that I have made no sacrifice—that I have postponed the cause of the Catholics to views and interests of my own. Sir, the representation of the university has fallen into worthier hands. I rejoice with my right honourable friend near me, in the high honour which he has obtained. Long may he enjoy the distinction, and long may it prove a source of reciprocal pride, to our parent university and to himself. Never till this hour have I stated, either in public or in private, the extent of this irretrievable sacrifice; but I have not felt it the less deeply. It is past, and I shall speak of it no more.

power,

The honourable gentleman who opened the debate on the other side of the House, on the first day of this lengthened discussion, was pleased to ask me in terms of great civility and kindness, whether I do not love popularity ? Sir, I am not insensible to the good opinion of honourable men, such as him who put to me this question. I am not insensible to the good will of an enlightened community. The man who disregards it, is not worthy to hold a high official station in a country which boasts a popular constitution. I have encountered too many of the vicissitudes of public life, not to know how to meet censures which I am conscious I do not deserve. On the other hand, I desire to retain popularity; but I would hold it honourably, or not at all.

Laudo manentem ;" or, to use the more beautiful paraphrase of Dryden :

“ I can applaud her-when she's kind ;

But when she dances in the wind,
And shakes her wings, and will not stay,

I puff the prostitute away.Yes, sir, I love, I covet, I enjoy popularity ; but I will not court it by the surrender of my conscientious judgment, or by the sacrifice of my settled opinions.

SECTION XXXVI.

RICHARD 1.-ABBOT OF BOXLEY..... Walter S. Landor.

Abbot. O my king! my.king! the champion of our faith at the mercy of a prince unworthy to hold his stirrup ! the conqueror of Palestine led forth on foot! a captive! and to those he commanded and protected! Could Saladin see this...

Richard. The only prince in the universe, who would draw his sword for me against the ruffian of Austria. He alone is worthy to rescue me, who hath proved himself worthy to fight me.

I might have foreseen this insult. What sentiment of magnanimity, honour, of humanity, ever warmed an Austrian bosom ?

Tell me, declare to me, Abbot, speak it out at once... is this the worst of my misfortunes! Groans burst from me; they cleave my heart; my own English, I hear, have forsaken me; my brother John is preferred to me ... I am lost indeed. What nation_hath ever witnessed such a succession of brave monarchs, for two hundred years, as have reigned uninterruptedly in England ? Example formed them, danger nurtured them, difficulty instructed them, peace and war, in an equal degree, were the supporters of their throne. If John succeed to me, which he never can by virtue, never shall by force, and I pray to God never may by fortune, what will remain to our country but the bitter recollection of her extinguished glory? I would not be regretted at so high a price. I would be better than the gone, presumptuous as is the hope ; but may the coming be better than I! Abbot, I have given away thrones, but never shall they be torn from me; rather than this, a king of England shall bend before an emperor of Germany, but shall bend as an oak before the passing wind, only to rise up again in all his majesty and strength.

Abbot. Abandoning a king like Richard, we abandon our fathers and children, our inheritance and name. Far from us be forever such ignominy! May the day when we become the second people upon earth, be the day of our utter extirpation !

Rich. I am yet king, and more than ever so, who in this condition rule over hearts like thine.

Genii and angels move and repose on clouds; the same do monarchs, but on less compact ones, and hardly firm enough for a dream to pillow on. Visions of reluctant homage from crowned heads, and of enthusiastic love from those who keep them so, have passed away from me, and leave no vacancy.

One thought commemorative of my country, and characteristic of my countrymen, is worth them all.

Abbot. Here are hardly, I reckon, more than threescore men ; and considering the character both of their prince and of their race, I cannot but believe that the scrip

« ПретходнаНастави »