TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE LATE KING OF HOLLAND.
TnE death of the Count of NASSAU, Ex-King of Holland, leaves Louis PHILIPPE alone in his glory, the only royal personage in
Europe who had come to the years of discretion and was able to take a part in public affairs in the first French Revolution. Even these two relics of the Ante-Revolutionary wra were Revolution- ary Kings : they owed their crowns to the Revolution. Had it not been for that event, the one would in all likelihood have remained a prince of the blood in a legitimate kingdom, and the other per- petual president of a legitimate republic. But the action and re- action of the conservative and innovating principles tossed them out of their natural position, and, after driving them awhile to and fro, deposited them on thrones. They were not of the number of
the old-established Sovereigns—of the class of Louis the Sixteenth, who lost his head literally, or of GEORGE the Third, who lost his figuratively, or of FRANCIS the Second, who never had one to lose ;
but they form a connecting link—a transitionary series between
these old-world Sovereigns and the young occupants of the revolutionized thrones of Spain and Portugal and reform-billed
Britain, and the not much older occupants of the thrones of Prussia
and Russia. The death of the Count of NASSAU leaves only one of these links remaining : we shall soon be in an entirely new
world, between which and the past yawns a gulf not so wide but equally bridgeless as that which separates us from the feudal and classical ages.
Every man has a mission in this world : it may be to fulfil some task—it may be merely to read a lesson by his example. No man leaves the sphere in which he has moved entirely unaltered by
his presence, though the change is sometimes so minute as to be with difficulty discernible. WILLIAM the First of Holland was
one of those infinitesimal agents. The accident of his birth, and the course of events, which he did not influence and scarcely at- tempted to influence, placed him on a throne. Down to the mo-
ment of his assuming the sceptre fashioned for him by the land- partitioners of Vienna and Verona, he was little better than a pas- sive instrument in the hands of others. And his only use since he was seated on a throne has been to help to disabuse the world of a sentimental error.
The error alluded to was the false estimate of the value of what have been called Citizen Kings. Immediately before the breaking out of the French Revolution, the fashionable tone of opinion which gave its form to that convulsion, if it did not originate it attributed, most preposterously, an exclusive value to the mere household virtues. The rulers of mankind had been so prone to compensate themselves for the toils and dangers of their high station by licentious indulgence in private, that quiet God-fearing kings came to be regarded with wonder and admiration. Louis the Sixteenth, because his character presented a contrast to his predecessor's, not unlike that which existed between the characters
of Dumbiedikes and his father, was esteemed a saint. And GEORGE
the Third was idolized because he was a constant husband, a regu- lar church-goer, and a good farmer. The middle-class public was flattered by seeing kings imitating its manners ; it worshipped the cut of its own coat placed on the back of royalty ; it never dreamed that the men who would have made such decent and comfortable
neighbours could be deficient in the qualities which a ruler ought to possess. The triumphs of England under GEORGE, and the mis- fortunes of France under Louis, distracted attention, and kept people from discovering their mistake.
It was reserved for WILLIAM of Holland, in less exciting times,
to point that moral by his example. Upon 'change he would have been a model of the respectable merchant. He died enormously rich, and violated none of the conventional morali- ties of private life in acquiring it. He was an exemplary do- mestic man—a good husband and father. He bad also the same kind of passion for promoting "useful knowledge," that made wealthy citizens found Blue Coat Schools in former days, and patronize BELL and LANCASTER in the present. And his notions of education were quite citizenish ; for as these worthy persons sought to make all young men good 'prentices, so he aimed at moulding all his subjects into steady Dutchmen. His narrow pedantic policy irritated the Belgians ; who did not see why they should be trans- formed into Dutchmen, any more than Dutchmen into Belgians. His want of sympathy with all whom he did not regard, in virtue of their belonging to his family-establishment, as being part of himself, prevented his inspiring an enthusiastic attachment into any of his subjects ; and the steady, unfeeling, calculating manner in which he kept filling his private purse, alienated the affections even of those whom policy and self-interest kept faithful to him. The separation of Belgium from Holland was precipitated by his obsti-
nate persistence in a narrow-minded policy. It has not benefited either country economically ; for it has separated the manufacturers of Belgium from the traders of Holland, without enabling the former
to enter into more intimate relations with the traders of France, or the latter with the manufacturers of Westphalia ; and it has given in Belgium, not equal rights to the Roman Catholic population, but undue ascendancy in the palace to the Roman Catholic priesthood. The respectable bourgeois has proved a most mischievous king. The close of his reign was characteristic : he abdicated a few years ago, to escape the opposition that would otherwise have been offered to his forming a new matrimonial alliance. This was not
the prompting of a silly passion in dotage, but the sagacious cal- culation of a man entirely wrapt up in self. The Ex-King had been so long accustomed to the thousand minute yet important attentions of a wife, that he felt uncomfortable without one. He never regarded his kingly occupation in any other light than as a profession by which he might earn a large salary. He was forced to choose between comfort and emolument ; and finding, on balancing his books, that he had got enough to live upon, he re- tired from business, just as any extensive merchant might have done if he was placed in similar circumstances. Wise in his generation, he suffered, it is true, the anxieties which are common to all specu- lators on a large scale ; but he lived to a good old age, surrounded by every thing that can minister to comfort and luxury. His sub- jects, however, have learned from experience what it is to have a master who pastures his flock only to shear them.
The moral of the reign of Wrearsat the First of Holland is, that something more goes to the making of good kings than the mere domestic virtues. The instinct of rule, large and general sympathies, that disposition (so fatal to persons in the private walks of life) which makes men take more interest in their neigh- bours' affairs than their own, a sense of a higher justice than dic- tates the mere payment of legal debts—these are elements df the statesman ; and no one can be a good king who is not formed by nature for a statesman. If a blameless domestic character be added to these, so much the better : but if the choice lies between a king possessed of only the statesman's and a king possessed of only the household virtues, a HENRI Quatre, with his "sages et royales economies " and all his Gabrielles, does more good to a nation than a decorous Wreaiam of Holland, with his hoarded millions.