LORD HOLLAND'S MEMOIRS OF THE liTHIGS..
TILE publication of Lord Holland's Foreign Reminiscences went so far to damage the traditional reputation that was attached to his name, as to damp the expectation that much interesting or im- portant matter lay concealed in his unpublished papers. It was, however, to be anticipated that, from theposition which Lord Hol- land occupied in the Whig party, as connected with its leading families and as the nephew of Charles James Fox, he could scarcely fail to have preserved among his memoranda some of those minor incidents, some of those minuter shades of character, some of those anecdotes of society, which aid the student of history in realizing more perfectly and more vividly the events and the men of a past age. His position eminently qualified him to be the Horace Wal- pole of his time and party ; and the qualities which drew around him and fascinated all that was accomplished, high-born, and distinguished of the party that made Holland House a power in the country—the cynosure of young ambitions—enhanced his position, and gave him such opportunities of leaving behind him valuable and entertaining memoirs as have fallen to the lot of few. That he has not done so, must be attri- buted solely to his want of the powers of observation and re- flection which enable a man to stamp upon his memory inci- dents and traits of character, and to distinguish those which are interesting to posterity. Among the whole list of memoirs of the distinguished statesmen and men of letters of the last genera- tion, it is not too much to say -that Lord Holland's will carry off the palm for extreme scantiness in illustration of public events, or in anecdotes significant of the tone of the society of his day. All his intellectual activity must have been expended in conversa- tion, and have needed the excitement of society, or it must have been but a mere reflection of that which his guests did un- doubtedly possess and exercise. It would not -be the first time in the world, that polished manners, a kind heart, and a •hos- pitable -house, have gained for a man a reputation for talents and accomplishments which their real possessor has often failed to win. But be the cause what it may, the Amphitryon of the Whigs has managed in this volume to skim over that ex- citing period of our history between 1790 and the death of Fox in 1806, without chronicling a single event unknown before which is really worth knowing now. It is hard to conceive how, with such company as he lived-in, he could escape now and then recount- ing some saying or -some fact which would have given his readers reason to regret for the moment that they had not known -face to face the men who could so act and so speak. Most Lenten fare is it from title to finis ; and those who condemn -themselves to intel- lectual as well as physical Tasting during this ghostly season of the year, may find the fit instrument of their penance in these pages of one of the most popular, genial, and beloved men of our country. Such is Nature's thrift. However beautiful her gifts, they fall not-all -to one child of clay. Her gifts and those of Fortune were generous above ordinary measure to Lord Holland : he lived and died -a favourite with those who knew him : but he was neither an acute observer, a profound thinker, nor an accomplished writer. Those who are familiar with the political history of the earlier part of this century will not be surprised to -find in Lord Holland's remarks a tone of strong partisanship, with the absence of any de- finite constructive policy. Perhaps this is not more characteristic of those times than of a party almost perpetually in opposition. But as Lord Holland revised his work subsequently to the passing of the Reform Bill, sufficient time had elapsed, and circumstances had sufficiently altered, to allow a somewhat more generous appre- ciation of such a philosopher as Burke and such a statesman as Pitt. But Pitt snubbed the great families, had an especial con- tempt for the. Duke of Bedford, and made the poor gouty Duke of Northumberland resign his Coloneloy of Militia ; and Burke not only deserted the Whigs, but took a pension from Pitt, for (which not Lord Holland •condescends to sneer at him. Ah ! my Lord Hol- land, it is easy to be an independent patriot with Holland House to retire upon, a magnificent library to amuse oneself with, and more thousands a year than poor Burke ever had hundreds. And this great lord notices upon another occasion that lawyers are very fond of money, and not over-generous in their dealings. The re- mark is by no means of general or exclusive application to lawyers ; there are greedy lords to be found, as prime ministers and.railway directors could tell : but here again, it is not generous for a man born to wealth for which he never soiled a finger nor inked a pen to despise hard-working men for valuing the wages of their toil at something like what they have cost. There is not a symptom in this book of the faintest sympathy with any one out of the Privileged pale ; the people are an abstraction, a symbol for the party purpose of the Whigs. And who are the Whigs P Two or three dukes, two or three lords, and two or three wealthy commoners. Such is really the " Whig party' of which this memoir treats. Except that this dinner-party of distinguished gentlemen had certain speculative opinions, by advocating which they intended one day to come into power, it would be difficult to conceive how or why they have been called apopular party. A coterie we should rather call-them ; and sub- sequent history has developed into its practical consequences this fatal character. No doubt, however, this sort of family -feeling
• Memoirs of the Whig Party during My Time. By Henry Richard.Leiti Holland. Edited by his Son, Henry Edward Lord Holland. Volume I. Published by Long- man and Co.
among the leading Whigs gave to their eonnexion a warmth of personal attachment which drew forth much that was amiable and generous in their intercourse with one another, and in the absence of high public principle and genuine patriotism, was a bond of union that at any rate tended to keep up the standard of politi- cal •honour. In no one was this more exemplified than in Mr. Fox himself; and, with his singularly affectionateheart, it justifies quite as-much as his genius or his statesmanship the devotion of his followers. It is upon him that Lord Holland lavishes an exu- berant fondness in strong contrast with his cold critical treatment of most of his contemporaries; and it is satisfactory to learn that a collection of materials for his life, made by .Lord Holland himself and the late Mr. Allen, has been pissed in the hands of Lord John Russell to be put -into shape : 'long may his Lordship enjoy the leisure -necessary to complete his undertaking worthily ! There is a fitness in the last of Whig statesmen raising a memorial to him who will ever -invest that -title with an affectionate remembrance at least equal to its historical glory.
The extracts that follow are to the best of our recollection no- velties, and they will give a notion of the most amusing portion of the book.
THE PEEN= AMBASSADOlt (CHADVELIN) AND LORD GRENVILLE.
When General Lafayette first declared against the Jacobins, and it was expected that he would march his army to Paris and rescue the King, Chauvelin, with great emotion, and strutting across the room with strong gesticulations, declared that he, as his Ambassador, should be the chief in- strument in restoring the King ; that he would immediately draw up and present a memorial to theEnglish Government, declaratory of the termination of his mission and the illegality of the Government at Paris. D'Andre warned him of the consequences : " If," said he, " the King is restored by others, the step you are taking will no doubt gain you credit and favour, and entitle you to reward ; but if the Republicans triumph, you are an emigrant and a traitor." Chauvelin would not listen, though the advice came from a man hitherto more suspected of Royalism than himself : lie presented the paper—news soon arrived of General Lafayette's flight, and the triumph of the more violent parties. Chauvelin was in despair. In an interview with Lord Grenville, he condescended to solicit the restoration of his paper ; and Lord Grenville not only returned -it, but had the generosity and temper lo lsuppress the anecdote, when the subsequent conduct of Chauvelin was by no means calculated to insure any great forbearance or delicacy from him.
ENGLISH DIPLOMACY IM 1794. Lord Hervey had personally insulted the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and it Was generally supposed, in the maklicente city of Florence, that resentment at the French Minister for having supplanted him in the good graces of a lady quickened his hatred of the ;French Rqublic, or at least gave it the-turn of insisting on the dismissal of-his rival. The note circulated at Florence as Lord Hervey's was indeed called "a forgery" by Mr. Canning in the House of Commons. I have not investigated the fact since, but my memory is strangely defective if I had not the bestpossible testimony to the authen- ticity of that paper. At any.rate, Lord 'Herrey's conduct was intemperate, indecorous, and violent in the extreme:; lor either -by these offensive note., or in a personal audience with the Grand Duke, on which he insisted in violation of etiquette, he intimidated that Prince into a dismissal of La Flotte, and a breach of that neutrality which 'had been recognized and rip- proved of by Great Britain herself, and which his-brother the Emperor of :Germany wished him, even at that-period, strictly to adhere to. No Minis- ter at the Court of Florence but the Russian agent cooperated with Lord Hervey in this measure. Lord Hervey was indeed recalled, but he was not disavowed. It was expected that some man of experience and conciliatory manners would have been selected as his successor ; but 31r. W. Wyndham began his career by horsewhipping in the public drive, through the open windows of a Nuncio's carriage, Mr. Carletti, the Chamberlain and favourite of the Grand Duke. This dignified revenge was provoked by that gentleman having questioned the authenticity of news propagated by Mr. Wyndham, that we had taken Maidniuge. The affair terminated in a duel. Yet in spite of these sallies of intemperance, Mr. Wyndham was not, as Lord Her- vey had been, personally obnoxious to the Grand Duke, and his secret and most confidential adviser, Manfredini. They had °aught at the imprudenee of Lord Hervey to solicit his recall. They winked at the excesses of Mr. Wyndham, from a fear that he might be replaced by,a Minister who would exert more penetration in detecting and more address in defeating the ne- gotiations which they had then renewed with the French Republic. Mr. Wyndham was absorbed in his-pleasures, while his did antagonist Carletti, ostensibly banished for the duel, was silently concluding the treaty of peace, and was in reward appointed Minister of Tuscany to Paris. * * • * Nothing contributed in that war more to the success of the French than the false intelligence by which their enemies, and England more especially, were constantly misled. I saw Captain Young at Leghorn, who had just arrived with despatdhes to the Admiral to apprize him that he might now at length rely on a more cordial cooperation from the Spaniards; and on that very day Manfredini, the real Minister of Tus- cany, told me of the signature of peace between •the Courts of Madrid and the French Republic. Surprise, however, at such.ignorance was always much diminished upon an acquaintance with those employed in our diplo- macy,. In Italy there was not one man of talents equal to his situation. might perhaps except Mr. Jackson, our Chargé d'Affaires at Turin ; but he does not appear to have shone in procuringgood intelligence, as he furnished General Melee with the accounts which misled him in the campaign of 1800. Mr. Drake had indeed been bred to business, and wrote with eloquence and facility. Mr. Pitt, on reading. his despatches, was struck with his being "the most accomplished man in the line of diplomacy." Discernment was not one of those accomplishments : a predilection for the marvellous rendered his credulity excessive, and it became more hazardous by being supported with some degree of ingenuity. I never met with a man who took such pains to be deceived. He had folios of false intelligence. The less probable the relation, the greater he thought his merit in discovering it, and conse- quently the more disposed was he to believe it. He read me reports of the secret consultations-of the Comitd de Saint Publique at Paris, in-which the opinions and the motives-too of each interlocutor were arranged inthe form of,a set speech, and the whole dialogue given in the-shape of a debate, -qr rather of a tragedy, and a very bad and improbable one • yet had they All been sent, with great despatch and secrecy, to our Foreign Office, and, strange to say, read with relish and credited by our Ministers.
rrrr's DUEL wrrn rrEnirzy.
It was fought on a Sunday; a circumstance which gave a handle to-much vulgar abuse against Mr. Pitt. He did, indeed, urge the necessity of fight- ing immediately if at all, bcoause it was not proper for one in his situation to maintain any protracted correspondence on such a subject. Never did two men meet more ignorant of the use of their weapons. Mr. Pitt, con being cautioned by his amend rte take care cif his pistols, as they were " hair triggers," is said to have held them up and remarked that " he saw no hair." They fought near a gibbet, on which the body of the malefactor Abershaw was yet suspended; and I have been assured by a person whom anxiety about the event, of which he had been apprized, had drawn to the place, that in a gravel-pit within a few yards of the ground an assignation of a very different sort between a lover and a compliant mistress completed this group of human life. Mr. Tierney's second, General Walpole, leaped over the furze-bushes for joy when Mr. Pitt fired in the air. Some time, however, elapsed, and some discussion between the seconds took place, before the affair was finally and amicably adjusted. Mr. Pitt very consistently in- sisted on one condition, which was in itself reasonable,—that he was not to quit the ground without the whole matter being completely terminated. '
In the ensuing February I moved for an inquiry into the causes of the failure. I bad hardly given notice, when Mr. Sheridan gave notice of a similar motion in the Commons, and fixed a day preceding that which I had named. He came over to Holland House, and procured from me all the materials which I had collected, and which he used without scruple. He wen repeated, word for word and like a lesson, a long paper which had been confidentially communicated to me, and which I, won by his protestations of not divulging it, had imprudently intrusted to him. Such petty tricks, as traits of a singular character, may be worth preserving; but it is right to add, that the fascination of his conversation and the mixture of archness and good-humour with which he defended himself when detected or attacked for such artifices, made all who knew him, and many whom he injured in more important matters than such trifles as these, in some measure his ac- complices by forgiving, winking at, and encouraging his great and his little delinquencies. * • •
" It is a peace," said Mr. Francis, " of which everybody is glad and no- body proud." Mr. Sheridan, to whom I repeated these words two hours after they were spoken, and who affected not to hear them, in the course of less than two hours delivered them as his own in the House of Commons, on a conversation for fixing the day for taking it into consideration.
Fox's last hours are described with ample detail, and form the most interesting episode in the book. Like every record of his existence, this narrative increases our admiration for the charming temper and cheerful serenity which self-indulgence could not impair nor suffering disturb. Lord Holland's attachment to his uncle is the one bright spot in this book. He fixes as his motto to it--
"Libro hoc babes, ne sperne, quad restat mei."
We believe and hope better things for him. The Whiggery, the acrimony, the narrowness, have all passed away ; and what re- main are not these, but the genial happy disposition, the frank sincerity, the desire of truth, which, with other less noble influ- ences, shed their light about the salons and the historic library- of Holland House, but are not radiant in this volume.