Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

tiful bridge of Jena.* His wrath exhaled as usual in bitter sarcasms against the whole tribe of pen-and-ink men and politicians. He found also some distraction in the vice of garnbling, for which under Buonaparte, and indeed down to the reign of Louis Philippe, every public facility was afforded to all classes in the French capital. Such distractions could only have assisted the process of mental and bodily decay, which was further promoted by an accident. An English garrison without a horse-race is scarcely a thing in rerum naturâ. Blücher, attending one of these festivities at St. Cloud, fell heavily horse and man over á rope which he was too blind to perceive in his path, and it is said that the effects of this fall were perceptible in some very curious forms of hallucination, such as extort a smile even froin those who are contemplating the melancholy spectacle of the ruin of a noble mind.

The attractions of Paris were insufficient to overcome his aversion for its inhabitants. His head-quarters were for the most part established at St. Cloud, and occasionally transferred to Rambouillet and Chartres. The arrangement of the conditions of the peace of Paris afforded him the opportunity, of which he

* We are tempted to place here part of the last of the Duke of Wellington's long series of letters to Blucher on the subject of this bridge, and the whole of the immediately subsequent communication :• Mein lieber First,

* Paris, sih July, 1815. • The subjects on which Lord Castlereagh and I conversed with your Highness and General Comte Gneisenau this morning, viz. the destruction of the bridge of Jena and the levy of the contribution of one hundred millions of francs upon the city of Paris, appear to me to be so important to the Allies in general, that I cannot allow myself to om it to draw your Highness's attention to them again in this shape.

• The destruction of the bridge of Jena is highly disagreeable to the King and to the people, and may occasion disturbance in the city. It is not merely a military measure, but is one likely to attach to the character of our operations, and is of political importance. It is adopted solely because the bridge is considered à monument of the battle of Jena, notwithstanding that the Government are willing to change the name of the bridge.

. Considering the bridge as a monument, I beg leave to observe that its immediate destruction is inconsistent with the promise made to the Commissioners on the part of the French army, during the negotiation of the convention, viz. that the monuments, museums, &c., should be reserved for the decision of the Allied Sovereigns.

All that I ask is, that the execution of the orders given for the destruction of the bridge may be suspended till the Sovereigns shall arrive here, when, if it should be agreed by common accord that the bridge ought to be destroyed, I shall have no objection,' &c. &c.-Guru'ood, vol. xii. p. 552.

i A Paris, ce 10 Juillet, 1815, • Mein lieber Fürst,

à 9 heures du matin. • Le dîner est chez Very aujourd'hui à 6 heures, et j'espère que nous passerons une joumée agréable.

"Je viens de recevoir la nouvelle que les Souverains arrivent aujourd'hui à Bondy, et des ordres d'y envoyer des gardes, &c., ce que je fais. Je crois qu'ils ne s'arreteront que quelques heures à Bondy, et qu'ils pourront arriver ce soir.

• Agréez, &c. • Le Maréchal Prince Blucher."

• WELLINGTON.' 2 1 2

gladly gladly availed himself, even before its final signature, to depart for Prussia. His farewell address to the army bore date the 31st of October, 1815. The retiring forces began their march, but before Blücher himself crossed the frontier, hearing of some further diplomatic difficulties, he took upon himself to halt them as suddenly and peremptorily as if they had been a regiment on parade. The confusion produced by this parting act of authority was excessive, and was only put an end to by positive orders from Paris. Blücher reached Aix-la-Chapelle in a broken state of health on November 20, the day on which the peace was signed. Hence, with frequent delays, and harassed by the noisy demonstrations of respect with which he was everywhere received, he slowly made his way to Berlin.

The light seemed burning to the socket, but it was destined still to shine, though with enfeebled and tremulous lustre, some four years longer. He resided chiefly at Kriblowitz, in Silesia, on an estate with which, in 1814, he had been rewarded by the King, but paid occasional visits to Breslau and Berlin. A journey, dictated by medical advice, to the sea-baths of Dobberan, afforded him an occasion to visit the place of his birth, Rostock, where he recognised and received with touching amiability some surviving acquaintances of his earliest youth. Hamburgh and Altona were also gratified by glimpses of the veteran. He passed on his route the churchyard of Ottensen, in which repose the ashes of Klopstock. He had been personally acquainted with the poet, and as he passed he uncovered his grey head, a soldier's tribute of respect to the German muse, which his early patron Frederick the Great would have sneered at. He also visited Klopstock's widow, who opened on the occasion a bottle of tokay, which her husband thirty years before had charged her to reserve for some occasion of singular joy and festivity. These little incidents have their value. Napoleon's esteem for Ossian, and Blücher's for the

poem

of the · Messiah,' remind us of the veneration for female chastity which has been attributed to the King of Beasts. Of the honours showered upon him from all quarters, sovereigns, burgomasters, and municipalities, it is unnecessary to speak.

We have elsewhere mentioned that Blücher was a nervous and fluent writer; his intimates also asserted that he was born

At the festive meetings of the table, in which, when his health allowed him, he delighted to the last, he was Nestorian in his harangues and narrations, but failure of memory as to the order of dates made the latter very confused. He never failed to do justice to the participation of Gneisenau in all his greater military exploits. On one occasion he puzzled the society by gravely announcing his intention of kissing his own head;

he

an orator.

he solved the riddle by rising and embracing that of Gneisenau. This was an exploit which his English comrade in arms could not imitate. His last illness came upon him in September, 1819, at Kriblowitz. His death-bed was attended by the King, and he died calm and resigned in the arms of his faithful aide-de-camp Nostitz.

Art. VII.-1. Financial Statement of Sir Robert Peel in the

House of Commons, Friday, March 11, 1842. London.

pp. 36.

2. A Letter from Sir Richard Vyvyan, Burt., M.P., to his

Constituents upon the Commercial and Financial Policy of

Sir Robert Peel's Administration. London, 1842. 3. Guilty or Not Guilty ? being an Inguest on the Conservative

Parliament and Ministry. pp. 14. London and Plymouth,

pp. 36.

IT
T is a common saying that desperate diseases require des-

perate remedies; and the deplorable state of commercial distress and financial embarrassment, under which the Conservative ministers were called to office, ld, we are satisfied, have reconciled the country to even stronger measures than they have found it necessary to adopt. But we do not rest our humble approbation of Sir Robert Peel's policy on any such extreme grounds. The administrative affairs of a great country-except under the immediate avalanche of a revolution-can seldom be called desperate; and even when, as towards the close of the Melbourne administration, they most nearly approach that hopeless state, they require not a wild kill-or-cure treatment, but, on the contrary, increased caution, a cooler circumspection, and an adherence to principle the more rigid as the temptation to depart from it becomes stronger. It was, we presume, with these views that Sir Robert Peel contemplated the difficulties of his situation, and by them he seems to have been guided in the choice of his remedies-bold but not adventurous---extensive without being extravagant-developing rather than altering the existing system, and endeavouring to direct, by the lights of experience, the new tendencies and impulses of these active and go-a-head times. The details of these measures we shall consider hereafter, but we must, at the outset, bear our testimony to the great, statesmanlike, and, in its main features, novel principle, on which the system has been framed. We do not say that the details are noveltiesthe elements of any human work, material or moral, must be common to all men--the architect of St. Paul's and the mason of the Mansion-house employed similar stones and tools: the difference between one artist or onc statesman and another, is in the skill and genius which direct the combination; and in this view we venture to pronounce Sir Robert Peel's budget to be as striking for the novelty of its principle as for the admirable simplicity of its structure, and, as we believe, for the ultimate convenience and efficiency of its practical working.

common

In order to put this in its full light we must give a short summary of the case which Sir Robert Peel had to deal with.

The Duke of Wellington's administration, on its retirement towards the close of 1830-after not quite three years' tenure of office-having during that time repealed nearly 4,000,0001. of taxes, in addition to more than 30,000,0001. which had been repealed since the war-having reduced the capital of the national debt by 20,000,000l. and the annual charge by 1,000,0001.-left to their successors a surplus revenue of near three millions (2,913,6731.). This surplus Lord Melbourne's ministry gradually changed to a deficit by the double operation of increasing expenditure and diminishing revenue, and in the last year of their sway the addition made to the public debt by the accumulation of successive annual deficits amounted to the enormous sum of 7,500,0001., with an ascertained further deficiency for the then current year ending April, 1842, of 2,350,0001., and for the year ending April

, 1843, of 2,470,0001., exclusive of the expenses of the wars in the East, estimated at sums that would increase the annual deficiency to near four millions. The deficiency of the current year could only be met by funding it; but how was an annual deficiency of near four millions to be supplied? The Whigs had paralysed or drained up all the ordinary sources of taxationfirst they had made impolitic reductions, and then they had imposed inefficient substitutes--they had, for instance, destroyed, instead of modifying (as they might advantageously to all interests have done) the postage revenue, and threw away, as a mere sop to a small but urgent clique of their Radical partisans, a million and a half of the fairest, most equal, and least onerous of all taxation. Then, ou the other hand, they imposed 5 per cent. on the Customs and Excise, which was a notable failure, producing, instead of 1,895,0001., as estimated, only 206,0001.-about } per cent. instead of 5 per cent.; and at the very time when they made this unhappy attempt to increase the revenue by raising the duty on every article of the tariff 5 per cent., they and their partisans were preaching two contrary doctrines-one, that the best mode of raising an immediate revenue was by lowering the tariff!--and the other, that the state of the country required a great remission of the revenue derived from import duties. And these jumbled doctrines they next year affected to make the foundation of what they called a budget—but which was in truth the most ridiculous and the most disgraceful abortion that as ever generated between party spite and ministerial incapacity ridiculous, because no man believed that it could, or was even meant to, meet the pressing difficulty—and disgraceful, because it was a fraudulent device to embarrass the future administration, at the risk-nay, at the positive sacrifice-of great national interests, to the maintenance of which these very men were, by the strongest declarations, individually pledged. But what cared they? -- they knew their ministerial days were numbered-that, for causes entirely distinct from their financial difficulties, they must soon give way to the Conservatives; and the whole policy of their two last years was narrowed to the miserable hope of embarrassing their successors, and of creating a feeling in the country against any of the modes by which it seemed possible to retrieve our finances. With a system thus partly repudiated-partly paralysed-partly exhausted —and wholly disorganised -—'how' they fondly asked themselves, "how, in the face of doctrines so popular as those we have been inculcating on the public mind, is a new ministry to raise four millions of new taxes ?'

derived

Sir Robert Peel asked himself the same question, and found in his own good sense and courage, and in the concurrence and confidence of his Cabinet, the Parliament, and the Country, an answer which the Wbigs had not contemplated. He prudently began, as he stated in his speech of the 11th March, by examining the more obvious resources; and he boldly and honestly exposed all the difficulties which that examination revealed.

'Shall we pursue the system on which we have been acting of late years ? Shall we, in a time of peace, have resort to the miserable expedient of loans ? Shall we try a re-issue of exchequer bills ? Shall we resort to the savings-banks ? Shall we have recourse to any of these plans, which are neither more nor less than permanent additions to our debt ?

* We have to supply a deficiency of upwards of 5,000,000l. upon two years. Is there a prospect, by ordinary means, of retrieving the loss?.... Can you calculate, đo you anticipate, a possibility of reducing the amount of our next year's expenditure? I do not anticipate that such can be the case. Is this an occasional op a casual deficiency, and for which you can easily provide ? Is it a deficiency for the present year only? It is not. This deficiency has existed for the last seven or eight years. It is not an occasional deficiency. In 1838 the deficiency was 1,428,0001.; in 1839 it was 430,0001. ; in 1840 it was 1,457,0001.; in 1841 it amounted to 1,851,0001. ; in 1842 it amounted to 2,334,0001.: the amount of the deficiency in the five years was 7,500,0001. To that

« PředchozíPokračovat »