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The King's Visit to Hanover page 4

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His disappointment at the results of his policy; the disregard to English remonstrances on the part of the Holy Alliance, for which English arms and English money had prepared the way; the odium which attached to his name with the people of Europe, from their belief that he had betrayed the cause of freedom, and made himself the instrument of royal despots; the fact that secret societies abounded throughout the continent, and the disquieting apprehension that he was himself marked as one of their victims, preyed upon his mind, and rendered him morbidly sensitive to the attacks that were made upon him in parliament and the press; and the prospect of meeting another congress under such discouraging circumstances, and with altered views, was too much for the fortitude that had withstood so many assaults, and reason at last fell from her tottering throne. The liberal party had but a poor opinion of his ability. It was said that no minister had ever led the house of commons with such poverty of

intellect. His public speaking was miserable, abounding in words, confused with tautologies and parentheses, mixed metaphors, and unfinished periods. But his noble and genial qualities endeared him to his friends in private life, and caused his awful death to be felt with a pang of grief throughout a large circle of personal and political friends. The duke of Wellington, with whom he had been on terms of the closest intimacy, and who must be admitted to have been no bad judge of character, regarded him as the ablest, as he was beyond all comparison the bravest of his colleagues. The duke alone noticed the gradual development of disease in his mind. As the session wore on he became querulous in parliament, taciturn and gloomy at the meetings of the cabinet, and expressed great uneasiness about the meeting of crowned heads and ministers, where he had engaged to be present. The duke advised his friend to consult his medical attendant, and also wrote to Dr. Bankhead, suggesting that some excuse should be made for visiting lord Londonderry at his own house, and watching him closely. But, in spite of all the care which was taken to remove instruments of destruction out of the patient's way, he contrived to get hold of a penknife, with which, in a moment of delirium, he destroyed himself. "No words," says the Rev. G. R. Gleig, "can describe the effects produced by this catastrophe on English society in general, and among the members of the cabinet in particular. Though differing from some of them on various points, and especially in his desire to admit Roman catholics into parliament, lord Londonderry was held by them all in the highest esteem and respect The great characteristic of his nature was truth. He might be right or wrong in the opinions which he entertained; but he entertained none, or, at all events, did not advocate any, of the soundness of which he was not himself convinced. Of the slightest approach to finesse or intrigue he was incapable. This quality it was, indeed, which, while it commanded for him the steady friendship of the duke of Wellington, rendered his intercourse with Mr. Canning always slippery, and for a time severed it. He was not popular as a minister - it was hardly possible that he should be, for he had no sympathy with cant in any form, and was prone to express himself frankly in regard to it; but his views were those of a thorough English statesman of the school in which he had been bred. He had ever at heart the dignity of the crown, and the honour and welfare of the nation.... He was complete master of the house of commons; for even Mr. Brougham paid more deference to the manly statements of the foreign secretary than to the eloquent reasoning or brilliant sarcasm of any other speaker on the ministerial benches."

Amidst these varying and conflicting testimonies regarding the character of this remarkable statesman, it is not easy to form a true estimate; but impartial history, we think, will come to the conclusion that, with intellectual abilities not much above mediocrity, he owed his success as a statesman, in a great measure, to his fixity of purpose, and to his audacity, courage, and perseverance in adhering to it and carrying it out, in the midst of the most formidable difficulties; while the strength of his will was aided by a commanding person, an imperturbable temper, extreme affability, and winning frankness of manner. Of the policy of the government in which he bore so long a leading part, it must be said that it was narrow, exclusive, jealous of popular rights, favourable to despotism abroad and at home, devoted to the interests of the throne and the aristocracy, at the expense of social order and national progress. Such, at all events, was the impression of the majority of the nation, and the detestation in which the London populace held his character as a statesman was painfully evinced by the shouts of exultation which followed his coffin into Westminster Abbey, where it was deposited between the remains of Fox and Pitt. This conduct greatly shocked lord Eldon. " This morning," he writes, " I have been much affected by attending lord Londonderry to his grave. The concourse of people between St. James's Square and the Abbey was very great; the great bulk of them behaving decorously, some behaving otherwise; but I protest I am almost sorry to have lived till I have seen in England a collection of persons so brutalised as, upon the taking the coffin at the Abbey door out of the hearse, to have received it with cheering for joy that L, was no more. Cobbett and the paper called the Statesman have, by the diabolical publications he and that paper have issued, thus demoralised these wretches." f The honour conferred upon Ireland and Hanover by the royal visit had excited the jealousy of Scotland; and the most ardently loyal of the nobility and people of that country were extremely desirous that a similar honour should be conferred upon them. The king complied with their request, and started on the 10th of August. " There were great preparations," says lord Eldon, " to make his embarkation and voyage down the river one of the finest exhibitions ever seen upon the surface of old Father Thames." The river and its banks, from London to Greenwich, appeared in the highest state of animation, Swarming with human life, and gay with brilliant decorations. A party of hussars, guarding a plain carriage, were his majesty's only equipage. He wore a blue surtout and foraging cap, white trousers and Wellington boots. The shouts of the different groups of spectators attended his progress along the road to Greenwich, until the royal standard floating over the Hospital announced his arrival. Thousands of voices hailed him as the yacht departed with a favourable breeze; and as he passed Woolwich a royal salute was fired, and the regiment on duty at the Arsenal presented arms. At Tilbury Fort, Southend, and Sheer- ness he met with lively demonstrations of loyalty. At the latter place the lord mayor, and other authorities who had escorted the king down the river, parted from the royal squadron, and returned in their barge to town. The tide now checked the king's progress, and the ships lay to in the channel till morning. At Harwich, Scarborough, and other places, crowds of people put off in boats, as the squadron neared the shore. It was twice becalmed; and it was not till the 14th that the Royal George cast anchor off Leith. To the great disappointment of the waiting magistrates and inhabitants of the burgh, the king resolved to remain on board all night; but he appeared on deck in a naval uniform to acknowledge the salutes of the vessels in the roads that did him homage. On the 15th he had received intelligence of the death of his foreign secretary, and he immediately wrote a letter on the subject to lord Eldon. "I have this moment," he said, "heard from Liverpool of the melancholy death of his and my dear friend, poor Londonderry. On Friday was the last time I saw him. My own mind was filled with apprehensions respecting him; and they have, alas! been but too painfully verified. My great object, my good friend, in writing to you to-night, is to tell you that I have written to Liverpool; and I do implore of you not to lend yourself to any arrangement whatever until my return to town. This, indeed, is lord Liverpool's own proposal; and, as you may suppose, I have joined most cordially in the proposition. It will require the most prudent foresight on my part relative to the new arrangements that must now necessarily take place. You can easily judge the state of my mind."

Like the corporation of Dublin, the town council of Edinburgh erected a barrier, in order that the king might not take possession of the capital of his ancient kingdom of Scotland without becoming resistance. From this barrier to the landing-place, all classes and orders of people crowded in holiday-dress, adorned with St. Andrew's cross, and each man bearing his token of welcome - a white willow wand. For a mile and a half vehicles of all kinds were closely packed at each side of the road. Windows, doors, and house-tops were occupied; while adventurous youths sat perched aloft on the branches of trees and on narrow walls. In the distance, steeples, towers, and turrets were availed of for the purpose of commanding even a bird's-eye view. Southey, the poet-laureate of the day, sang how Scotland had at length enjoyed the long-desired presence of royalty, whose pomp had once more filled her ancient and long desolate palace of Holyrood; how highland and lowland, romantic glen and fertile carse, the silent mountain lake and busy port, the populous cities and pastoral hills, sent forth their loyal and rejoicing sons to welcome their king. The scenery about Edinburgh gave charming effect to the interest of this event: the old historic palace, embosomed in the valley; the castle, crowning the craggy precipice; the many-storied houses in the streets of the picturesque old town, with every possible diversity of building - college, cathedral, mansion, and cottage; the new town, with its uniform style of architecture - the houses, all built of cut stone, presenting the appearance of a series of palaces. The Calton Hill grandly crowned the whole; the acropolis of the modern Athens, circled with castellated buildings in the manner of a fortification, surmounted by a monument, an immense obelisk, rising from its summit. The whole aspect of the city and its vicinity was in truth as new to the inhabitants as it could have been to the king himself. Every height and precipice were occupied by detachments of the regular army, or more picturesque irregulars from beyond the Grampians; fines of tents, flags, and artillery, circling Arthur's Seat, Salisbury Crags, and the Calton Hill, and the old black castle and its rock, wreathed in the smoke of repeated salvos; while a huge banner royal, such as had not waved there since 1745, floated over all. Every street, square, garden, or open space below was seen paved with solid masses of silent expectants, except only where glittering lines of helmets marked the avenue guarded for the approaching procession.

Sir Walter Scott was the master of the ceremonies on this memorable occasion. He was now in the height of his popularity as the "great unknown." His romances had revived or created the spirit of chivalry, and ministered to the intense nationality of the Scotch people in general, and the highland clans in particular. Mr. Lockhart thought that the highland element had far too great a predominance in the ceremonials. " With all respect and admiration," he says, " for the noble and generous qualities which our countrymen of the highland clans have so often exhibited, it was difficult to forget that they had always constituted a small, and almost always an unimportant, part of the Scottish population; and when one reflected how miserably their numbers had of late years been reduced, in consequence of the selfish and hardhearted policy of their landlords, it almost seemed as if there was a cruel mockery in giving so much prominence to their pretensions. But there could be no question that they were picturesque, and their enthusiasm was too sincere not to be catching; so that by-and-by even the coolest-headed Sassenach felt his heart, like John of Argyle's, warm to the tartan; and high and low were in the humour not only to applaud, but each, according to his station, to take his share in what might really be described as a sort of grand terryfication of the Holyrood chapters in 'Waverley;' George IV., anno aetatis sixty, being well content to act prince Charlie, with the ' great unknown' himself for his baron Bradwardine." In arranging the programme, Sir Walter had as many parts to play as ever tasked the Protean genius of his friend Matthews. The bewildered local magistrates threw themselves on him for advice and direction. He had to arrange everything, from the ordering of a procession to the cut of a button and the embroidering of a cross. Provosts, bailies, and deacon-conveners of trades were followed, in hurried succession, by swelling chieftains, wrangling about the relative positions their clans had occupied on the field of Bannockburn, which they considered as constituting the authentic precedent for determining their respective places in the procession, from the pier of Leith to the Canongate. Scott was obliged to hear with becoming gravity " the sputtering controversies of such fiery rivals, each regarding himself as a true potentate, the representative of princes as ancient as Bourbon; and no man could have coaxed them into decent co-operation except him, whom all the highlanders, from the haughtiest Mac-Ivor to the slyest Callum Beg, agreed in looking up to as the great restorer and blazoner of their traditionary glories." *

There was a peculiar interest in this meeting between English royalty and Scottish clanship. Before the time of George IV. no prince of the house of Hanover was known to have touched the soil of Scotland, except one whose name had ever been held there in universal detestation, the cruel conqueror of Culloden - "the butcher Cumberland." Now that the very last dream of jacobitism had expired with the cardinal of York, there could be little doubt that all the northern tories, of whatever shade of sentiment, would concur to give their lawful sovereign a greeting of warm and devoted respect; but the feeling of the Scottish liberals, who then constituted the mass of the population, had been so greatly embittered towards George IV. personally, by the scandals connected with his treatment of the queen, that his visit to Scotland was a hazardous experiment. He probably felt this himself; but his reluctance to try it was overcome, chiefly, by the per. suasions of Sir Walter Scott.

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