Page images

net council were decided for virtue; and when she met Tracy the next morning in the park, she was convoyed by her sister and brother-in-law, and stuck close to the letter of her reputation. She would do nothing: she would go no where. At last, as an instance of prodigious compliance, she told him, that if he would accept such a dinner as a butterwoman's daughter could give him, he should be welcome. Away they walked to Craven-street; the mother borrowed some silver to buy a leg of mutton, and they kept the eager lover drinking till twelve at night, when a chosen committee waited on the faithful pair to the minister of May-fair. The doctor was in bed, and swore he would not get up to marry the king, but that he had a brother over the way, who perhaps would, and who did. The mother borrowed a pair of sheets, and they consummated at her house; and the next day they went to their own palace. In two or three days the scene grew gloomy; and the husband coming home one night, swore he could bear it no longer. "Bear! bear what?"-" Why to be teazed by all my acquaintance for marrying a butterwoman's daughter. I am determined to go to France, and will leave you a handsome allowance."- "Leave me! why you don't fancy you shall leave me? I will go with you."—" What, you love me then?" "No matter whether I love you or not, but you shan't go without me." And they are gone! If you know any body that proposes marrying and travelling, I think they cannot do it in a more commodious 'method.'-pp. 51--53.

The revels of the gallant and the fair are described in such lively colours as lead us to believe that our own period has gained something in decency, if not in virtue. No wit of the present day would, like George Selwyn, set down Mrs. Dorcas, to assist him with her conversation when the lady had left him in a pet. And the scene of the stewed chickens at Vauxhall, where three or four women of fashion and their gallant attendants call in Betty the orange-girl to sup at a little table beside them, is much too scandalous for modern decorum.


The names of the performers in these gaieties are in the published work only marked by initials. A key, however, with the names at length, is in private circulation, not unnecessarily certainly, since without it posterity might find some difficulty in explaining the innuendo. Even in the present day, it would seem, the interpretation of several initials is doubtful or erroneous. the little B,' mentioned p. 81, is explained to be Booth, whereas upon looking at the context, which refers to the improvement of Warwick Castle, it appears plainly to stand for Brooke, the second title of that family. Alas! Oblivion has already laid him down in the houses of the fashionables of the eighteenth century! The dandies and the dowagers commemorated in these letters, the apes and the peacocks from Tarsus,' to borrow a phrase from Yorick's sermons, are all dead upon our hands,' and little

[ocr errors]

is preserved of them, even by the report of those who mingled in their society. Of the person to whom the letters are addressed it is only remembered that he was a gentlemanlike body of the vieille cour, and that he was usually attended by his brother John, (the Little John of Walpole's correspondence,) who was a midshipman at the age of sixty, and found his chief occupation in carrying about his brother's snuff-box. On the present occasion this lesser Teucer may be compared to the black and white cur with one ear, by whose constant attendance some persons of strong memory were enabled to recal to mind the important 'P. P. clerk of the parish,' almost five years after he was dead. The same may be said of many other heroes and heroines mentioned in these epistles. To these persons, and to their forgotten loves, foibles, and intrigues the genius of Walpole has given a kind of reminiscence, and enabled them to float down to posterity with the belle Stuart, the Warmesters, the Jennings, and the Wetenhalls of Grammont. Like the stag of the fable, he mistook the qualifications which did him most honour. That he lived in the first fashionable circles, or rather that he set an undue value upon his advantages in this respect, was a decided obstacle to his success as a man of literature: but that he was, notwithstanding, still distinguished by literary talent will be the means of preserving the names of that worshipful society on which he prided himself, and which would otherwise have been long since forgotten.

ART. V.-A Sketch of the Military and Political Power of Russia, in the year 1817. Fourth Edition. pp. 208. London.



are some spirits so strangely constituted, that though zealous and able allies in the hour of danger, they cannot bear to witness a too complete success of the cause in which they have laboured. If we desire to retain their friendship we must submit to be always in need of their help, since the first moment of our triumph will be the last of their good-will, and we may think ourselves fortunate if they do not thenceforth seek to pull down the edifice which they themselves have toiled to raise. Like the Brownies of rural superstition, they will clean a dirty house and arrange disordered furniture; but, if nothing good or useful is left for them to do, their morbid activity begins to seek for aliment in the work of subversion and defilement.

To this description of goblins, or something like it, we are inclined to refer the gallant and ingenious person, whom, on authority which his present predilections render decisive, we are instructed


to consider as the author of the present treatise. There are some, indeed, of his new political connexions, who (by their elaborate recapitulation of his ancient services, and their strictures on the supposed neglect which those services have met with) would seem to insinuate another and a less amiable cause for the singular turn which his politics have lately taken. Robin Goodfellow, it seems, (to preserve the parallel of Milton's drudging fiend,') when he had swept the house and helped to thrash the corn, did not find his cream-bowl duly set' in the chimney corner; and has, therefore, not only deserted his ancient post, but sends forth these doleful shrieks which alarm the peaceable neighbourhood. While covered with orders from all the foreign sovereigns who had been the eye-witnesses of his exploits, he never once received a simple knighthood from the dispensers of honours in his own country?' Of such an omission (which we, perhaps, regret) we cannot pretend to know the cause. But it is morally impossible that a ribband more or less can have so weighed with a British major-general, as that the fancied or real ingratitude of his country should have rendered him thus envious of her laurels, and transformed him from the zealous and faithful advocate of her good name into the prophet of her approaching fall, and the public accuser of her supposed injustice and tyranny. Of Sir Robert Wilson, above all, we hope far better things; and great as is the change which has taken place in his sentiments and conduct, we would willingly ascribe to no worse cause than energy deprived of its natural and accustomed vent, that disease of the soul whose unfortunate symptoms it is our present duty to consider.

The present volume professes to be a review of the political and military power of the Russian empire, and it was occasioned, as its author tells us, by two anonymous articles in a German and an English newspaper, the one extolling the strength of Russia at the expense of all the other states of Europe: the other contending that, great as she doubtless is, she has not the means, even if she should hereafter manifest the disposition, to reduce Austria, Prussia, France and Britain to slavery. Sir R. Wilson is too well read in journals to let such important documents escape his attention. He invests, forthwith, these squabbles of editors with an official and national character; he is apprehensive that Russia must regard this gratuitous publication' (why gratuitous, when, on his own shewing, the article in the English newspaper was in answer to an attack commenced in the Frankfort periodical work?) of opinions hostile to her professious, and admonitions insulting to her power, as a proceeding indecorously expressive of jealousy and apprehension.'-(p. 5.) And, accordingly, he not only republishes, at full length, the obnoxious article, so as to give it all the increased

ereased circulation which his work could obtain for it, but subjoins two hundred pages of commentary, of which the whole purport is to let loose again the dogs of war, and to sow dissension between nations which hitherto have fought side by side, and each found cause for joy in her comrade's glory and prosperity! A commentary in which he tells Russia that England is a helpless and easy prey; and England, that Russia is already gaping wide to devour her; in which the one is animated to aggression, and the other goaded on by the strongest motives of despair and indignation, to what Sir Robert himself regards as useless distrust and hostility! And all this because an English journal has expressed itself with better hope of the final safety of our country! How many people are there in Europe who have seen the article in question, except in Sir Robert Wilson's pages? In the recollection of how many of those who had seen it would it have been preserved for a week, if he had not thus embalmed it?-How can the greater part of the European or English public be confident that such an article has ever existed except in his work-or that he has not himself contrived it as a peg to hang his treatise on; like the garrulous hero of the well-known tale, who pretended to hear a gun go off, that he might the better introduce his gun-powder disquisition?-We do not say this as thinking disrespectfully of the passage which Sir Robert has thus rescued from oblivion, but the positions maintained in which he has by no means succeeded in refuting; we say it to prove how absurd, even on his own principles, the gallant officer's conduct has been, and how little suited to the character of a practised statesman or an enlightened patriot.

It is true that he has subjoined some observations, of which the professed purpose is to deter us from provoking Russia, by telling us that she is above our match. The purport of his Essay is not to recommend war, (marry, heaven forbid!) nor is it to point out any other means of escaping ruin. He only writes to tell us that we have sealed our doom; that we have ruined ourselves beyond redemption, and that the orb of our glory is gone down for ever, amid the hatred and curses of mankind. With these agreeable suggestions he comes to comfort our last moments, as the ordinary of Newgate consoled Jonathan Wild by the assurance of his final reprobation! or, at best, for, to do the gallant general justice, he has dropped some hints of the nature of that extreme unction which he would yet prescribe to us, we have only to bring back Napoleon from St. Helena,-to re-establish him in all the possessions which he occupied in 1810, and begin the work anew which we have now done so much too thoroughly. Thus, indeed, with Sir Robert Wilson's friends in the cabinet, and himself, instead of the Duke of Wellington, at the head of our army, it is highly probable

1 3


that we shall not, a second time, depress France so much, as to be again in danger of the overwhelming power of Russia. All this he seems to hint, for we do not know how to explain his expressions of restoring France to Europe,' unless it be that Europe is to be restored to France. But he hints it in a manner which implies that he has little confidence in his own nostrum,—that the patient, in his eyes, already wears the faciem Hippocraticam,'-and that the only renown which a physician can derive from her is to have foretold her approaching dissolution.

Is, then, the gallant author ignorant of the effect which such prognostications ordinarily produce on an individual or a community of high spirit and no contemptible remains of vigour? If he were himself roused from his slumber by the agreeable intelligenceA strong man is breaking into the house to bind you, but, lie quiet for your life!-do not attempt to cock your pistols or to draw your sword!-do not venture so much as to bolt your chamber door, or lift your head from the pillow,-for he is very strong,― and his intentions are alarmingly hostile!-Hark! -he is coming up stairs, and shortly it will be a mere joke to think of resistance.But, I would not advise you to resist even now; for he is very strong, and you are a weak and pitiful fellow, without a friend in the world!'-would the Sir Robert Wilson whom we once knew have been lulled into acquiescence by such an harangue; or would not every word which called in question his powers of preserving his honour and freedom have inflamed him with fresh desire to encounter his vaunted adversary? And is a high-minded nation like ours to be told of plans now gradually maturing for her overthrow; and to be exhorted, at the same time, to hold herself still, till those plans shall be fully developed and irresistible? or is there any British officer who would refrain from the exclamation of our ancient warrior on an occasion almost similar—

'What! shall they seek the lion in his den,

And fright him there, and make him tremble there?
Oh, let it not be said!-Forage and run

To meet displeasure farther from the doors;
And grapple with him ere he come so nigh!'

As a lover of peace, then, this author's conduct is sufficiently inconsistent and absurd. But there are, we grieve to say it, anomalies still more revolting and still less consistent with his former self, in the volume now before us. A transfer of affections from one political party to another, is an event too common to excite surprize, and may be so completely justified by a man's change of opinions, that it can with still less reason be made a subject of bitter censure. But there are some changes of sentiment to which no extenuation can apply, inasmuch as they do not refer to the persons


« PreviousContinue »