Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

down the goddess of liberty into the dust, and broken all the insignia of republicanism, were to replace the hated race of the Bourbons on the throne of France. “ I'll speak to Pitt about it,” said his Majesty, who already saw a halo of glory, such as Alexander or Cæsar wore, encircling the brow of his warlike son. And he did speak to Pitt about it, and Pitt with his accustomed hauteur, turned a deaf ear to the application. He, however, now saw that he had the monarch in his toils; he knew that the appointinent of the Duke of York to the command of the British army, was a favourite object, not only with the king, but the queen; the king however had refused the translation of his relative, and thus, the minister and the king stood fairly balanced against each other. The duke was pressing ; and the king was also pressing; Pitt also pressed the proposed arrangement in the episcopal changes ; at last, after much coquetting and negotiation, a compromise was entered into, the appointment of the duke was made out, and his majesty was pleased to issue his conge delire, that most ridiculous specimen of state quackery, to the dean and chapter of Lincoln, recommending the Rev. Dr. G. P. Tomline to be by them chosen to the see thereof.

We now come to the counterpart of the Duke of Clarence. He also solicited employment, and his royal father also promised “ to speak to Pitt about it.” The Duke of Clarence was, however, more modest in his request than his gallant brother, who would not be content with the command of a regiment, but nothing less would satisty his ambition than the command of an entire army, where veteran officers were to be subordinate to him, who had grown grey in camps, and who bore the scars about them of a hundred battles. On the other hand, the Duke of Clarence simply solicited the command of a ship, to which his rank and character entitled him as much as any other officer on the books of the Admiralty. Not one of the lords of the Admiralty, however, was favourable to him, nor can it be supposed that the following letter, which he wrote to them, tended in any degree to remove the prejudice, which they had imbibed against him.

MY LORDS, At a time when this country is engaged in a war with a powerful and active enemy, whose great aim appears to be the subversion of all the ancient monarchies of Europe, it becomes every man who values the constitution under which he enjoye so many blessings, to rally round the throne, and protect it from the dangers by which it is so imminently threatened. Conscious that during my naval career, I never committed an act which could tarnish the honor of the flag, under which it was my pride and glory to fight, I solicit in this hour of peril to my country that employment in the service, which every subject is bound to seek, and particularly myself, considering the exalted rank which I hold in the country, and the cause which it is my duty to maintain and defend. I regard a refusal of that employment, as a tacit acknowledgment of my incapacity, and which cannot fail to degrade me in the opinion of the public, who from the conduct that has been pursued towards me, are justified in drawing a conclusion unfavourable to my professional character, on account of the very marked neglect which has been shown towards every application on my part, which has been transmitted to your lordships to be employed in the service of my country. If the rank, which I hold in the navy operates as an impediment to my obtaining the command of a ship without that of a squadron being attached to it, I will willingly relinquish that rank, under which I had formerly the command of a ship, and serve as a volunteer on board any ship to which it may please your lordships to appoint me. All I require is active service, and that when my gallant countrymen are fighting the cause of their country and their sovereign, I may not have the imputation thrown upon me, of living a life of inglorious ease, when I ought to be in the front of danger. Clarence Lodge, March 15th, 1794.

WILLIAM. To the Right Hon. the Lords of the Admiralty.

To this manly appeal, the lords of the admiralty did not think proper to pay any attention; and so stung was the Duke of Clarence, with this additional proof of the inimical feelings of the admiralty towards him, that in the moment of his exasperation, he wrote the following letter to his father :

“ March 24th, 1794.

6 SIR,

“On the 15th of this month I addressed a letter to the lords of the admiralty, of which I transmit you a copy, soliciting from them that employment in the service of my country, to which my rank and character entitle me. To neglect they have added insult, inasmuch as they have withheld from me even that courtesy, which is due to every individual, who makes a respectful tender of his services at a momentous period like the present, when everything that is valuable to an Englishman is at stake, and the throne on which you sit is endangered by the machinations of regicides and revolutionists. As in this treatment of the lords of the admiralty, my character as a naval officer becomes seriously implicated, I am emboldened to make this appeal to my royal father, soliciting from him, that he will be pleased to issue his commands to the lords of the admiralty, to grant me that employment which I desire, or publicly to state the grounds on which their refusal is founded.

« WILLIAM."

It forms no part of the etiquette of royalty to answer a letter, and in regard to the common subject, there be may some good ground for a strict adherence to such a punctilious form, at the same time, were kings in general to pay a little more attention to the complaints and petitions of their subjects, however humble may be the class, the people would become more endeared to royalty, and contribute to the expenses of it with greater freewill, than is exhibited by their present disposition. The letter of the Duke of Clarence, was that of a son to a father, not of a subject to his sovereign, and viewed from that point, a departure from the rigid rules of etiquette, would have been, not only excusable, but commendable. It is, however, sometimes, very convenient for an individual, who wishes to evade the granting of any application that may be made to him, to have a tool or instrument, who will in a few words convey to the applicant, the refusal of his solicitation, and couched too in such terms, which have a great deal of meaning, but no sense. That tool or instrument of royalty, is what is termed, the Secretary of State for the Home Department; and as it is another part of the etiquette of royalty, never to give a negative, the Duke of Clarence received one of the circulars used on such occasions, the import of which is, “ That his Majesty has not been pleased to issue his commands on the subject.”

Thus foiled in the great object of his ambition, neglected by the lords of the admiralty, and slighted by his sovereign and father, he sank, comparatively speaking, into the insignificance of a private life; but, he nevertheless continued to give his strenuous support to the war, although the recent disasters had rendered it everything but popular with the people.

We agree not with the Duke of Clarence in his support of the war. He leagued himself on the side of the crown, and was found the foremost amongst the retainers of the oligarchy, who declaimed with fury against the democratic government of France, and who joined in their cry for war, into which an ambitious minister was too disposed to plunge the country. There was, however, at the time, a band of patriots, the friends of liberty and peace, who urged whatever argument, humanity or policy could suggest, to calm the passions of an enraged senate and avert the uplifted scourge. They deprecated that alternative of despotism or anarchy, to which the prosecution of even a prosperous war would unavoidably expose us; they gave their decided opposition to a war of punctilio, pride, and passion, and wisely recommende i an assiduous cultivation of the arts of peace, and a steady attention to the improvement of our finances, till some great interest of our country could only be preserved by hostilities. But they argued, they deprecated, they advised in vain. Punctilio, pride, and passion prevailed against the plainest reason, and the wishes and interest of a few individuals outweighed in the senate the wish and interest of the community. To avenge the execution of the illfated Louis; to defend social order, morality, and religion ; to resent the obnoxious, but rescinded decree of November 19th, 1792; to rescue Holland, though not attacked; and even to close the navigation of the Scheldt, though not complained of, were amongst the most prominent features for war. But their texture was too flimsy to hide the real motives, viz., namely the desire to depress the spirit of liberty in England, to secure the usurped power of the oligarchy, and to aggrandize the power of the crown.

The means for attaining their ends, were to be found in war alone, and in a frenzy of rage it was commenced.

As a counterpoise to the defeats of the army, the navy of England was destined to be uniformly triumphant. The channel fleet, which, during the last summer, had achieved nothing worthy the reputation of its veteran commander, put to sea in the spring in search of an enemy which had hitherto eluded pursuit. Lord Howe was particularly solicitous to vindicate the honour of his country, as well as to rescue his own character from unmerited reproach ; and the powerful armament now under his command left no doubt relative to the result of a contest. On reaching the Lizard, a signal was made for the East Indiamen to proceed on their voyage, under convoy of six sail of the line and a frigate, which were not to separate from them until their arrival off Cape Finisterre. Having received information on the 19th of May that the Brest fleet was at sea, Lord Howe deemed it proper to effect a junction with the squadron lately detached under Rear-Admiral Montague as soon as possible; but on hearing, two days after, that the enemy had been seen a few leagues to the westward, he immediately altered his course, and steered towards them.

Great care had hitherto been taken to avoid any naval contest with the English; but, on the present occasion, orders were transmitted to Vice-Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse to protect the supplies from America at the risk of a battle. Jean Bon St. Andre, who had been employed at Brest to infuse a spirit of democracy into the seamen, acted on this occasion as a nati

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »