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These extracts may, perhaps, give an unjust impression of Argenson, who, from the general tenor of his letters, appears to have been a temperate and reasonable person. His patience and his nervous system seem, however, to have been taxed to the utmost. His pay could not support him. The costs of living here are horrible, he writes. I have only two thousand crowns a year for all my expenses, and I have already been forced to
DEPUTATION OF CONSTITUTIONALISTS BEFORE THE QUEEN OF PORTUGAL. (See p. 413.)You must remember that you are writing to a Trustee of the John
Before another attempt was made to open the portals of the Legislature the question was brought to a practical issue by an event similar to the Clare election, by which O'Connell forced on the decision with regard to Catholic Emancipation. The City of London had returned Baron Rothschild as one of its members; and at the morning sitting on the 26th of July, 1850, he presented himself at the table to take the oaths. When the clerk presented the New Testament, he said, "I desire to be sworn on the Old Testament." Sir Robert Inglis, in a voice tremulous with emotion, exclaimed"I protest against that." The Speaker then ordered Baron Rothschild to withdraw. An animated debate followed as to whether the Baron could be sworn in that way, although he declared that that was the form of oath most binding upon his conscience. He presented himself a second time, when there was another long debate. Ultimately, on the 6th of August, to which the matter was adjourned, the Attorney-General moved two resolutionsfirst, that Baron Rothschild was not entitled to vote in the House till he took the oath in the form prescribed by law; and, second, that the House would take the earliest opportunity in the next Session to consider the oath of abjuration, with a view to the relief of the Jews. These resolutions were carriedthe first, by a majority of 92 to 66; the second, by 142 to 106.All Canada soon became infatuated with noblesse; and country and town, merchant and seignior, vied with each other for the quality of gentilhomme. If they could not get it, they often pretended to have it, and aped its ways with the zeal of Monsieur Jourdain himself. Everybody here, writes the intendant Meules, calls himself Esquire, and ends with thinking himself a gentleman. Successive intendants repeat this complaint. The case was worst with roturiers who had acquired seigniories. Thus Noel Langlois was a good carpenter till he became owner of a seigniory, on which he grew lazy and affected to play the gentleman. The real gentilshommes, as well as the spurious, had their full share of official stricture. The governor Denonville speaks of them thus: Several of them have come out this year with their wives, who are very much cast down; but they play the fine lady, nevertheless. I had much rather see good peasants; it would be a pleasure to me to give aid to such, knowing, as I should, that within two years their families would have the means of living at ease; for it is certain that a peasant who can and will work is well off in this country, while our nobles with nothing to do can never be any thing but beggars. Still they ought not to be
During this Session a very important Bill was introduced, and passed both Houses, for the improvement of the police, and the administration of justice in London. The old unpaid and very corrupt magistrates were set aside. The metropolis was divided into five districts, each having its police office, at which three justices were to sit, each having a salary of three hundred pounds per annum. They were not allowed to take fees in their own persons, and all fines paid in the courts were to be put in a box towards defraying the salaries and other official expenses. Constables and magistrates were empowered to take up persons who could not give a good account of themselves, and commit them as vagabonds.The marriage of the Prince of Wales with Mrs. Fitzherbert was notorious; but as it was not openly avowed by the Prince, no steps were taken to dissolve it. But in 1794 the Prince had got a new favourite, the Lady Jersey, already a grandmother, but a young one. For her Mrs. Fitzherbert was dismissed, showing how little the Prince thought of the reality of the marriage with that fair lady, and he now lived openly and ostentatiously with Lady Jersey, Lord Jersey being well contented with the arrangement for the sake of the good things he hoped to gain by it, being at once appointed Master of the Horse to the Prince. But the Prince's extravagance and gambling, by the practice of which, notwithstanding his own losses, he reduced his friends, one after the other, as the Earl of Moira, Sir Wallace Porter, and others, to beggary, had now brought him into extreme difficulties. His debts, after having been more than once paid off by Parliament, now again amounted to six hundred and thirty thousand pounds! Another appeal to Parliament was absolutely necessary, for his creditors were grown excessively clamorous. The king seized the opportunity to induce the Prince to marry a foreign princess, representing it as the only plan by which they could apply to Parliament for such an increase of means as would enable him to liquidate his debts. But instead of allowing the Prince to go abroad and make his own selection, so that there might be possibly some degree of freedom of choice in the matter, the queen was anxious to have her own niece, the Princess Louisa Augusta Amelia of Mecklenburg, selected for him. This Princess, afterwards the popular Queen of Prussia, was a good creature, and might possibly have wrought some favourable change even in so depraved a nature as that of the Prince of Wales. But the king was equally determined to secure the unenviable post for his own niece, Caroline Amelia Elizabeth, the second daughter of the Duke of Brunswick, who was one of the petty princes of Germany. To effect this arrangement, an attachment between the Crown Prince of Prussia and this Princess Caroline had to be rent asunder. The Prince was ready to fall in with any such bargain, on condition that he was liberated from his debts. It was certain that he would please himself as to the lady or ladies with whom he would really live. All obstacles of nature, or of nearness of consanguinity, or of private attachments were overborne by diplomacy, and by the promise of the discharge of the Prince's debts. The Princess Caroline of Brunswick was selecteda young lady of not unpleasing person in her youth, according to the descriptions of the time, but of defective education, and coming to this country with the repugnance of a prior and rudely-sundered attachment. She landed at Greenwich on Sunday, the 5th of April, 1795, and the marriage ceremony was performed at St. James's, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the 8th. The Princess had not been ignorant of the dissolute character of her appointed husband, and his mode of receiving her was not calculated to inspire any brilliant hopes of his improvement. He had sent his mistress, the Lady Jersey, to meet her on landing, and he made no disguise of his connection with her before or after the marriage. The Memoirs of the time assert that Lady Jersey omitted no arts to render the Princess ridiculous and even disgusting to the Prince; but what chagrined him far more deeply was the breach of the promises held out to him of the discharge of his debts by a parliamentary grant or grants.
During the Republic of France, and in the worst times of Robespierre, the French had their Minister, M. Genet, in the United States, who excited the democrats to acts of hostility against Great Britain, and gave them French authority to seize and make prizes of British vessels at sea, though they were nominally at peace with England. And though Washington, then President, protested against these proceedings, the main body of the people were against him, and were supported in that spirit by Jefferson, who was Secretary of State. When Jefferson became President, in 1801, and Madison his Secretary of State, the hatred to Great Britain was carried to its extreme, and the friendship of Buonaparte was cultivated with the utmost zeal. When Jefferson was a second time President, in 1807, he violently resisted our right of search of neutral vessels, thus playing into the hands of Buonaparte and his Berlin Decree, in the hope of carrying on a large trade with the European Continent at our expense. Out of this arose the affair of the Leopard and the Chesapeake off the capes of Virginia, in which the Chesapeake, refusing to allow a search for British deserters, was attacked and taken. This put the whole of the democracy of America into a raging fury, though the boarding of the United States war-sloop, the Hornet, in the French port of L'Orient, for the same purpose, was passed over without a murmur. To prevent such collisions, Canning, on the part of the British Government, issued orders that search of war-ships should be discontinued. This, however, did not prevent Jefferson from making proclamations prohibiting British men-of-war from entering or remaining in American ports; and the utmost indignities were offered to all the officers and crews of our men-of-war who happened to be lying in American harbours. Moreover, Jefferson issued, in December, 1807, an embargo against all American vessels quitting their own ports, because if at sea they did not submit to be searched to ascertain whether they were carrying goods to French ports, they were treated as hostile by Great Britain, were attacked and seized. This was in retaliation of Buonaparte's Berlin Decree, and made necessary by it. On the other hand, Buonaparte seized any American or other vessel entering into any port of Europe under the power of France, which had submitted to search. To prevent this certain seizure of trading vessels, the embargo was issued, and all merchant vessels of all nations were prohibited from entering American ports. A more suicidal act than this could not be conceived, and the people of the United States soon complained loudly of the consequences. In 1809, Madison succeeding Jefferson in the Presidency, and Buonaparte having now rendered matters worse by his Milan Decree, besides his Berlin one, Madison abolished the general embargo with all nations except France and Great Britain, and declared this, too, at an end, whenever either or both of these nations withdrewthe one its Decrees and the other its Orders in Council. But in 1810 Madison declared that France had withdrawn its Decrees so far as America was concerned; though this was notoriously untrue. Numbers of American vessels continued to be seized in French ports, though the United States Government dared not complain, nor did they ever recover any compensation from Napoleon; it was from Louis Philippe that they first obtained such compensation, and, curiously enough, through the friendly intervention of Great Britain.