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his hand for this or that portfolio. “Which department do you want them to give me?" was his question. “ That of public instruction," was the reply. “Very well,” he rejoined, " once there, I shall cause my chansons to be adopted as a text-book in the seminaries for young ladies.” At which rejoinder, the importunate young democrats would laugh at their own silly notion.—So with those who urged him to go to court, and make his way with a Citizen King. “You can go sans façon ; people go there in boots.” “Well, well-in boots to-day, and within a fortnight in silk stockings."
It was at the close of the year 1815 that Béranger “hazarded” the publication of his first volume of songs. He was then thirty-five, and pressed for means. The volume was well received, and Louis XVIII. himself is alleged to have said, “We must forgive many a fault in the author of the King of Yvetot”—the said Louis being further alleged, bythe-by, to have departed this life with a copy of the chansons on his night-table. In his account of the publication of this volume, and the character of its contents, we could have wished to find Béranger uttering a frank, unreserved, and serious peccari—in repentant remembrance of its licentious freedom. All that he says on the subject, however, is, that this first volume contains the largest number of verses which recal “the somewhat cynical licenses of our olden literature. There can be no better proof that I did not suppose they must incur severe reproaches. When I was told that our old writers of the school of Rabelais were not models for imitation, even in
it was too late to cancel verses which, as I have elsewhere said, contributed to my reputation. From that moment they were the property of the public; to omit them in new editions would have been useless; besides, the booksellers would not have consented to this, and I own there are some among them which I should have strongly regretted. And, after all, is it becoming in the age I live in to be severe against productions the excuse for which is their gaiety, if, indeed, it be not their antidote contre-poison), when the portrayal of the most brutal passions has been pushed even to obscenity by drama and romance ? Has not high-art poetry itself something to be reproached with, as regards faults of this kind ?
“Let those who are for insisting on the reproaches cast on me by so many persons, examine the poetical works of Goethe ; they will see that this great genius was not so severe as they are on the subject of my youthful songs.
The autobiographer's apology—if it be one-hath this extent, no more. It is his-if it be one-not ours. Valeat quantum. And should the English reader think it meet and right to cut down that quantum to a minimum, nothing remains for us (time being up, and space out) but to cut down the valeat into a vale—and so an end.
A PIECE OF POLITICAL PATCHWORK,
HAD that distinguished prognosticator, England's half-crown Raphael, or that far-seeing star-gazer, her sixpenny Zadkiel, ventured to prophesy, more suo, within the hearing (suppose) of the late Sir Robert Peel, that some day in the paulo-post-future tense, more or less distant, the Right Honourable Viscount Palmerston should take the place of First Lord of the Treasury, we can very well fancy Sir Robert expressing nothing like utter incredulity, and indeed telling that precious pair that they had made a no very hazardous guess, and one in which the noble Viscount, only give him time enough (for his years were a little against him), might justify them to the letter. But had Zadkiel of the sixpenny almanack, and Raphael of the two-and-sixpenny, thereupon waxed bold in their previsions, and gone so far as to predict, that, once in office, this Adonis of threescore and upwards, this mature Cupid of the Globe, this jaunty old gentleman of fashion, this model man of the world, worldly (as the world reckoned) from the core of his heart outwards, and ever .primed with a jest at the expense of unworldliness of every kind, and otherworldliness of every degree,-had the astrological gemini gone the length of predicting that this predestined Premier would become, as Premier, the pet of the Record newspaper, and a special favourite at Exeter Hall,--that he who had lectured Scottish Presbyterians for talking of Providence when they should be nosing their sewers, and who was popularly supposed to be one of those who “thank God they are no saints,” should exercise his ministerial patronage by seating on the episcopal bench now a Villiers, now a Bickersteth, and now a Pelham-and make over the Deanery of Carlisle to a Close of Cheltenham-and, in short, divide honvurs with the Earl of Shaftesbury himself, in the reconsidered estimate of the "religious world,”-- had the audacious seers into futurity ventured on foreseeing all this as looming in the distance, we cannot but feel persuaded Sir Robert would have pronounced the thing overdone this time, the joke run to seed, the notion too far-fetched; and that his advice to the rash prophets would have been to “shut up"
say no more about it; or, in his peculiar manner, to suggest to them three courses as possible under the circumstances—either that they, or that he, or that all three together, should leave the room.
Not but what there was a day, “ long long ago, long ago," when Evangelical leaders augured hopefully of the young Viscount, then just of age. The Rev. Francis Close, of carpet-slipper and anti-macassar celebrity, is not the first Evangelical Dean of Carlisle. Fifty years ago the Dean was that Isaac Milner whose share in the well-known Ecclesiastical History won him as much renown among Low Churchmen, as his mathematical genius, conversational talent, and jovial presidency of Queen's,
secured for him at his beloved Cambridge: Dean Milner, indeed, belonged to the same theological party as Dean Close does, though, if invidious comparisons be allowed, he was, physically and intellectually, a man of quite another girth and dimensions. Well; in Isaac Milner's Correspondence occurs the following passage, in a letter to Mr. Wilberforce, dated Queen's College, Feb. 7, 1806, during a contested election for the University : “By-and-by, in came Lord Palmerston. We conversed a full hour on the subject of the slave trade, and I can assure you a more ingenuous appearance I never saw. The young man's conscience seemed hard at work, for fear, not of saying too little, but of saying too much ; viz., of saying more than he could justify to his own mind, from the little consideration which he had given to the subject. He is but a lad, but I could not discover the most latent hostility, or ground for suspecting hostility; and he must be a deceiver indeed, of a very deep cast, if he deceives at all, in this instance.” Lord Palmerston in the role of ingenui vultus puer almost appears something new under the sun ; leaving, like the poet's Lucy, a
memory of what has been
And never more will be. One of his many portrait-painters—for in newspaper and review, in magazine and pamphlet, caricaturists included, their name is Legioncompares the perplexity of a biographer in attempting a sketch of his lordship’s career, to the difficulty of daguerreotyping that slippery customer, Proteus, himself. “ Proteus, the Politician,” is indeed the title of one of Ebony's squibs let off against this noble." man so various :"-in which squib (not itself to be followed too literally, however, he is tracked through his political harlequinade, as first of all playing the Tory, " for Pitt was up, and Fox was down"—then, on the demise of cet autre grand Williams,
-since stocks were up with Fox
And follow'd him thro' the mire, sir.
Took up old Charley's dice, sir;
A patriot's honest price, sir.
And threw the lucky main, sir :
And Tory turn’d again, sir. And so on, through the ringing of the changes—the adjutant of Liverpool, and one of the Co-efficients of the Whig and Tory firm of Canning and Co., until
Out went Canning's sparkling lamp,
And Goderich came, the placid ;
The next a neutral-acid
and so on again, and again-all to the tune, and in the tone, of him who
vowed “and would maintain, until his dying day, sir, that whatsoever king should reign, he would be vicar of Bray, sir."
Dr. Maginn (possibly himself the author of the foregoing pasquinade) once said, in referring to that Oldest Inhabitant of our Parnassus, the late Mr. Rogers, that “after passing the first eighty or ninety years of his age in the usual dissipations of youth, he began to bethink him of a profession." In the same way the biographer of Lord Palmerston, as Mr. Whitty says, has to mention, that the illustrious career commenced when his lordship was attaining half a hundred years. “ In fact, he was only politically of age when, repudiating his guardians, the Tories, he discovered (in 1830) that ' life' was only to be seen with the Whigs. . He selected silence as his talent when other men are most talkative, and was for twenty years (from 1809 to 1828) a mere official subordinate." Many were of opinion he would never be anything else. But when the split occurred between the Canningites and Wellington, new hopes and new fears were raised, by the tactics of some of the former: “Ah!" cries Kit North, at the fifty-first of the Noctes Ambrosiane (Aug., 1830), when the company are discussing the defection of Charles Grant, Huskisson, “and, above all, Palmerston," from the Duke's disorderly camp,—“Ah! had some of these lads exerted themselves when in place as they have done out of it, we should have seen different doings in more cases than one. Why, Lord Palmerston was considered as a mere outworn fashionable voluptuary, cold, careless, blasé all over-behold the spur is clapt to him, and he turns out both a declaimer and a debater of the most laudable acerbity-a very thorn in poor Peel's withers.” A more recent, and more admiring critic, has said, that, like the blossoming of the aloe, the parliamentary fruition of his genius, though long deJayed, is quite marvellous. Another observes, that, as the review of the “Hours of Idleness” stung Lord Byron into poetical activity, so the cavalier manner in which the Duke of Wellington treated the Canningites probably aroused the self-asserting qualities of Lord Palmerston. Scarcely had he touched the soil of opposition ere he rose with Antæan energy; and the sudden vigour that appeared in his politics drew the remark from a shrewd humorist at the time, that it was “ like a Beau Brummell suddenly becoming a Boanerges."
For at that time of day, his life's mid-day, however, and something over, his lordship “enjoyed” the reputation of being constitutionally, and habitually, if not inveterately, an indolent, lounging man about town, whose politics, or political business-habits, never would nor could rise superior to the system of dolce far niente, and laissez-faire, or rather laissez-aller, combined. Sam Slick's friend, Dr. Spun, who is so satirical about the Colonial Office, and its succession of Secretaries, after describing the sleepy reign of Lord Glenelg, goes on to say: “Lord Palmerstaff (for the Doctor shirks actual names in full] imagined himself the admiration of all the women in town, he called himself
Cupid, spent half the day in bed, and the other half at his toilet; wrote all night about Syria, Boundary line, and such matters; or else walked up and down the room, conning over a speech for Parliament, which he said was to be delivered at the end of the session.” All the allusions of that bygone time are to a similar effect--not without certain
-recognitions dim and faint
of a latent power in this slumbering Cupid, and "somewhat of a queer perplexity's as to its demi-semi-developed character, destiny, and extent. We find Christopher North, in 1831, ironically congratulating himself and his Ambrosial-Night fellows on having the happiness to belong to a generation “one of whose most precious luminaries is, I understand, the Viscount Palmerston.” “Undoubtedly," responds Tickler—"and a very handsome luminary too, I assure you”-declaring, in fact, that he has not often met with a dandy of fifty worthy of holding the candle to him. Physically? inquires North, or Intellectually? or both? And long Timothy answers, that his lordship's physique, taking into account the lustra of the chandelle (qui vaut bien son jeu), appears blameless; that the Viscount is a well-made, light-limbed, middle-sized man, with the spring of thirty in him, and a headpiece which, but for some considerable thinning of locks, and a certain frostification in progress [1831, remember) among most elaborately tended whiskers of almost Berghamesque dimensions, might still, being copper-plated, wake soft sighs in the fair reader of the Forget-me-not, when the days of the years of her virginity are expired.” Whereupon North remarks: “I remember the last time I met with poor Canning, where he and I have spent so many happy days together, on the Queen of the Lakes, he spoke of Lord Palmerston in terms of considerable warmth. I think the expression was, “If I could only shake this puppy's luxurious habits, he might make a fair second-rater'
-one of those nautical allusions which Mr. Canning is said to have gustfully affected, as though he had spent his prime like Mr. Croker in the Admiralty itself.
Under the thinly disguised name of Viscount Pallarston, his lordship was described by the author of “ Wynville,” some half-dozen years ago, as in certain respects the most remarkable amongst those pupils of Mr. Canning who were inclined to support reform—there being in his character a combination of many qualities not often found together. In the early part of his career, it is remarked, his public reputation was by no means high, for he sacrificed too much to social enjoyment, being proficient in those graceful pursuits which impart more polish to the person than power to the will. “ But his nature was too masculine to sink beneath the flowery bondage of fashionable life, and applying to affairs he took them for his pastime. Popular with both sides of the House of Commons, bold without bitterness, at once affable and vaunting in his post, he could alternately conciliate or command as exigency required. With the advantages of official experience, he had also some of the main qualities requisite for power.” For instance, like more than one of his contemporaries, he had acquired from Dugald Stewart, we are reminded, a certain largeness of thought, enabling him to look beyond precedents on the official file, and making him understand and sometimes sympathise with those broad social impulses which burst beyond traditional routine.
“As fluent in the cant of diplomacy as if he had lisped it from his cradle, he could as a debater sail near the wind without committing himself to any tack, like one bred in the old Pittite school. His secretarial aptitude was undoubted, for he had been connected all his life with office -having served under Portland, Perceval, Liverpool, Canning, and Wellington,-all being ministers of transitional Toryism. He had as much liveliness of fancy as is requisite for decorating a parliamentary