« AnteriorContinuar »
thunder, would stop an intoxicated boy in the wasteful career of dissipation. He loved festivals and pageants, the prevailing folly of bis time, with unusual frivolity; and his ordinary living is represented as beyond comparison more showy and sumptuous than even that of his magnificent and chivalrous predecessor. Acts of Parliament were no adequate barrier to his misgovernment. Of what avail are statutes, says Walsingham, since the king, with his privy council, is wont .to abolish what Parliament has just enacted? The constant prayer of the Commons in every session, that former statutes might be kept in force, is no slight presumption that they were not secure of being regarded. It may be true that Edward IIL's government had been full as arbitrary, though not so unwise as his grandson's; but this is the stronger argument, that nothing less than an extraordinary remedy could preserve the still unstable liberties of England.
'The best plea that could be made for Richard was his inexperience, and the misguiding suggestions of favourites. This, however, made it more necessary to remove those false advisers, and to supply that inexperience. Unquestionably, the choice of ministers is reposed in the sovereign ;' a trust, like every other attribute of legitimate power, for the public good; not, what no legitimate power can ever be, the instrument of selfishness or caprice. There is something more sacred than the prerogative, or even than the constitution; the public weal, for which all powers are granted, and to which they must all he referred. For this public weal, it is confessed to be sometimes necessary to shake the possessor of the throne out of his seat: could it never be permitted to suspend, though but indirectly and for a time, the positive exercise of misapplied prerogatives? He has learned in a very different school from myself, who denies to Parliament, at the present day, a preventive as well as vindictive control over the administration of affairs ;' a right of resisting, by those means which lie within its sphere, the appointment of unfit ministers. These means are now indirect; they need not be the less effectual, and they are certainly more salutary on that account.'
After this opinion of the conduct and character of Richard, the rentier of' Mr Hallam will. not be surprised to find him approving of his subsequent deposition, and of the elevation of Henry'of Lancaster to the throne.
• His government, for nearly two years, was altogether tyrannical; and, upon the same principles that cost James II. his throne, it was unquestionably far more necessary, unless our fathers would have abandoned all thought of liberty, to expel Richard II.'—' The revolution which elevated Henry IV. to the throne, was certainly so far accomplished by force, that the king was in captivity; and those whq might still adhere to him, in no condition to support his authority. But the sincere concurrence, which most of the prelates and nobility, if ith. the'mass of the people, gave to changes that could not have been otherwise effected by one so unprovided with foreign support as Henry, proves this revolution to have been, if not an indispensable, yet a national act, and should prevent our considering the Lancastrian Kings as usurpers of the throne.'—' The claim of Henry, as opposed to that of the Earl of March, was indeed ridiculous; but it is by no means evident, that, in such cases of extreme urgency, as leave ,00 security for the common weal but the deposition of a reigning prince, there rests any positive obligation upon the Estates of the realm to fill his place with the nearest heir. A revolution of this kind seems rather to defeat and confound all prior titles, though in the new settlement it will commonly be prudent, as well as equitable, to treat them with some regard.'
In discussing the claim of the House of York, he does justice to the moderation and humanity of the excellent person who first brought forward that pretension; and remarks, that the sanguinary violence of Margaret left him not the choice of perhaVirng a subject with impunity.
* But with us, who are to weigh these antient factions in the balance of wisdom and justice, there should be no hesitation in deciding, that the House of Lancaster were lawful sovereigns of England. i am indeed astonished,' says Mr Hallam, ' that not only such historians as Carte, who wrote undisguisedly upon a Jacobite systemi j?ut even men of juster principles, have been inadvertent enough to mention the right of the house of York. If the original consent of the nation,—if three descents of the throne,—if repeated acts of parliament,—if oaths of allegiance from the whole kingdom, and more particularly from those who now advanced a contrary pretension,—if undisturbed, unquestioned possession during sixty years, could not secure the reigning family against a mere defect in their genealogy, when were the people to expect tranquillity? Sceptres were committed, and governments were instituted, for public protection and public happiness,—not certainly for the benefit of rulers, or for the security of particular destinies. No prejudice has less in its favour; and none has been more fatal to the peace of mankind, than that which regards a nation of subjects as a family's private inheritance. For, as this opinion induces reigning prinfces and their courtiers, to look on the people as made only to obey them; so, when the tide of events has swept them from their thrones, it begets a fond hope of restoration, a sense of injury and imprescriptible rights, which give the show of justice to fresh disturbances of public order, and rebellious against established authority.'
On the Regency question we have the misfortune to differ from Mr Hallam. The narrative on the rolls of Parliament, t» which he refers, (p. 398), does not, in our opinion, prove, that, during the infancy or infirmity of the King, the ' right of determining the persons by whom, and fixing the limitations under which, the executive government shall be conducted in the King's name and behalf, devolves upon the great Council of Parliament,' understanding by that phrase the two houses of Parliament without the King, or some one to represent his person. Mr Hallam's mistake arises from his not adverting to the fact, that the Parliament which met at the accession ot Henry Vlth, was a full and complete Parliament, being held by the Duke of Gloucester, under a commission from the Great Seal. Mr Hallam's last chapter contains a variety of miscellaneous information on the state of society in Europe in the middle ages. It is full of curious and entertaining matter, but obviously incapable of abridgement.
Art. VI. Lyon en Mil Huit Cent Dix-Sept. Par le Colonel Fabvieh, ayant fait les Fonctions de Chef de l'Etat Major du Lieutenant du Roi dans les 7me et 19me Divisions Militaires. Paris. Delaunay, 1818.
't'his little tract is full of interest to those who read for mere -*• amusement; and it is calculated to convey much useful instruction to the government of every country, which either is, or, from sinister views, is represented to be, in a disturbed state. We regard it as teaching a most valuable lesson to those who are at the head of affairs in France:—and it is very melancholy to add, that it may not be thrown away upon the rulers of our own country, where no such excuses are to be found for rashly charging the people with disaffection, and treating them as traitors, because one set of men are alarmed at nothing, and another have an interest in pretending to be so.
It is well known, that, in the course of the last summer, serious discontents existed in the city of Lyons and its neighbourhood. These feelings broke out into acts of open violence. Many examples were made; the jails were filled with prisoners; the eoursprevotales were busily occupied; the publick functionaries were incessant in their pursuit of delinquents. All that transpired of the effects of these proceedings, was the increase of the evil—although the disturbed districts exhibited the imposing appearance of a most active and indefatigable government, bent upon investigation and punishment. The government having, for a considerable time, been misled by the usual false statements of the local authorities, and perceiving, at last, that there were gross errors committed somewhere, resolved, most judiciously, to send an officer of high rank to the spot, and arm him with the fullest powers. Equally happy was the selection
of Marshal Marmont, Duke of Ragusa—an officer who possessed the confidence of the king, and well merited that of both the army and the country. Colonel Fabvier accompanied him as chief of his staff. The result of his mission, was the almost immediate restoration of tranquillity; and, although the importance of this result would have amply justified the publication of an account of the measures by which it was brought about, it seems that our author has been still further called upon to describe them by the recent revival of the calumnies against the people of Lyons, with the addition of others equally gross against Marmont, under the sanction of a respectable authority in the French Legislature. He observes, that the Marshal is precluded, by his situation, from addressing the publick upon this subject. We may add, that neither he, nor the questions discussed, have lost any thing by the task devolving upon Colonel Fabvier, who tells his story in plain and distinct language, and with an air of honesty calculated to make a deep impression on every reader. 'Pour moi, qui, dans cette mission, ai rempli près de lui les fonctions de chef d'état major, je crois faire une chose utile et honorable en cédant au désir que j'éprouve de repousser une attaque injuste. Je cède d'ailleurs au besoin, mille fois plus pressant encore pour un Français ami de son pays, d'empêcher que l'opinion ne s'égare sur les véritables causes de l'horrible tragédie qui a terrifié et ensanglanté une contrée toute entière; de dire à la France que cette population respectable et digne d'un si grand intérêt, que ces anciens militaires dénoncés à la justice nationale, n'ont mérité d'être signalés que par la résignation avec laquelle ils ont supporté les persécutions dont on les a accablés; que, si quelques-uns se sont laissé prendre aux pièges qui leur étaient tendus, l'immense majorité n'a pas cessé d'être patriote, amie de l'ordre et de la paix; je cède enfin à l'esperance que le tableau de ce qui s'est fait, en démasquant les artisans de nos malheurs, pourra les faire renoncer désormais à leurs coupables projets, ou empêcher du moins qu'ils ne trouvent encore une fois des dupes ou des victimes.'
In order rightly to comprehend this history, it is necessary to recollect, that the disturbed district had been much divided by party. Buonaparte having always been extremely popular at Lyons, as soon as the restoration of the Bourbons brouglrt back to office the Royalist, or rather Ultra-Royalist functionaries whom his return in 1815 had displaced, they found themselves engaged in administering the powers of a very unoo-. pnlar government; and probably contracted no little dislike, i» their tarn, for the people over whom they were set.- Partly from a sincere desire to gratify this feeling, and partly from that love of activity and vigour which always distinguishes local magistrates, they never ceased to court all occasions of exerting their authority, and to rqlresent their department as in a state of disaffection bordering upon actual rebellion. A very unimportant riot which happened on the 8th of June at Lyons, had been magnified by these calm observers into a horrible conspiracy, deeply planned, and powerfully armed with resources for overthrowing the government, and delivering up the country to massacre and pillage. The English reader will at once recognise the language of our own secret committees in the following passage, descriptive of the fabulous accounts transmitted by some of the most silly and hot-brained of mankind, the Ultra-rloyalist Functionaries, to the French ministry. 'Numerous bodies' (they said) 'were organized in every direction? arms were distributed to them; considerable-. sums- of money were provided and set apart for their pay; they had bold and enterprising leaders; and this was only one of the ramifications of an immense plan' (we believe Lord Sidmouth's word was' vast) ' which embraced not merely the neighbouring departments, but the whole of France.' Here the Gallican reporters,' we must confess, go a step beyond our own in the wildhess of their imaginations, or the acumen of their sense for seeing plots, and tracing their mutual connexions. 'It seems,' they add, 'that these movements are combined with the conspiracy at Lisbon, and the revolution in the Brazils!' (p. 5.) In vain did the facts of the case bear irrefragable testimony to the utter falsehood of all these fables% No armed bodies of men were seen; twenty Gensdarmes and a few chasseurs, had sufficed to keep all quiet, and to restore tranquillity wherever it was interrupted for a moment; no movement had taken place; no member of the pretended directing committee been found; a few wretched peasants only had been seized in their villages, disposed to turbulence, but without chiefs, concert, or any determinate object. All this was unable to check the career of the magistrates and their creatures. Whoever chuses to say a plot exists, may persist in his assertion in spite of all negative evidence: For he has only to repeat that it is a plot, and of course a secret one; and though it has not yet been discovered, it is indubitably on the very point of explosion. Accordingly, with a single exception (a magistrate of tried and unquestioned loyalty), the whole of the constituted authorities maintained their statement, by daily adding new details of disaffection and conspiracy. Nor was their zeal for the public peace only shown in propagating perpetual stories of its being broken; they scoured the country in all direction*