Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

sh, in wait attractivep's mannerciliatory; there that the in his

the ground would show a habitation, still he was totally unprepared for such an extent of road so destitute of the vestiges of living beings. Upon a better acquaintance with England, subsequently, Mr. Rush found that in other parts the population was still thinner. It is difficult, then, he confesses, for him to believe that England is over-peopled.

Mr. Rush, during the remainder of his journey from Portsmouth to London, seems to have been pleased with the improvements which he observed as he advanced. Shortly after his arrival in the metropolis, he waited on the minister for foreign affairs. This office was filled at the time time by Lord Castlereagh ; and in his first interview with this nobleman, Mr. Rush says, that the whole reception given him was very conciliatory; that there was a great simplicity in his lordship’s manner, which he considered as the best and most attractive characteristic of a first interview. Mr. Rush, in walking from his abode in Bond-street to Whitehall, made sundry observations on the sights which struck his eyes during his pedestrian journey. The people he met in the streets constantly, he tells us, reminded him of his own countrymen; he caught the same expressions, and his ear took in the same accents, to which he thought he had been accustomed from his birth; it was like, as he represents it, coming to another planet, where he heard and saw familiar voices and faces, and yet he was constantly reminded that he was in the midst of strangers.

On the 3d of January, 1818, Mr. Rush waited on Lord Castlereagh, by appointment, at the residence of the latter in St. James'ssquare. In this interview, the noble secretary behaved with his accustomed politeness. The interview was altogether on business, and Mr. Rush soon declared what was the direct object of his mission. He said that there were two subjects which he was charged by his government to communicate to the notice of his majesty the king of England. The one concerned the slaves carried off by the English ships, from the United States, at the close of the late war,* in contravention, as the Americans believed, of the treaty of Ghent. The other was a subject which grew out of the commercial convention of the 3d July, 1815, between the two countries, whereby a reciprocity was established, of duties and charges of every kind upon the vessels of the two nations in their ports mutually. This convention ought properly to have come into effect on the day of its date : but, in fact, it did not, and both parties continued to levy the duties as formerly, without the slight-. est respect whatever for the new reciprocity system. Mr. Rush said that the American government had become compunctious, and that she wished to know if England would join her in retracing their steps, by taking retrospective measures, for carrying the convention

* These, we believe, are the slaves located in Trinadad, who have turned out so well, as will be seen by the previous article.

into effect from the very day of its date, as was at first intended. The noble lord demanded time to consider these grave matters, and then took his turn in the character of remonstrant and supplicator. But the subjects to which his application referred have no interest for the present race of politicians.

As soon as Mr. Rush had leisure to look about him, he made the interesting tour of London, dividing his description of his journey into two sections: the one being his travels in London, east of Temple Bar ; the other being those in London, north of Oxford Street. This portion of Mr. Rushs's itinerary, is written in a very lively vein, and will be read with pleasure. We prefer, however, accompanying him to a dinner, to which he was invited by Lord Castlereagh, on the 20th January, and which, as a specimen of the diplomatic banquets so accurately registered in the Court Calendar, may deserve attention.

The invitation was for seven o'clock, and the party, which consisted principally of the members of the cabinet, were assembled when Mr. Rush and his lady arrived. The company were dressed in black, for the periodat which this entertainment took place was shortly after the death of the Princess Charlotte. There was one exception, that of a lady who was dressed in white satin. The salutations were cordial, but in subdued tones ; and the hand, Mr. Rush remarks, was given. The dining-room was on the floor with the drawingroom; and, as the company entered, the reflection of the profuse light shed from the numerous candelabras, as it blazed from the polished dish covers, forks, spoons, &c., all of massive silver, gave to the whole apartment a character of splendour which seems to have fixed the deep attention of the American. Lord Castlereagh sat at the head, with the lady of the French Ambassador on his right; whilst Lady Castlereagh took a chair at the side of the table, opposite the middle, having his Grace of Wellington on her left. Mrs. Rush sat next the Earl of Westmoreland, and opposite to her was the lady of the Portuguese ambassador, sitting next the French ambassador. By this account we learn that the rules of breeding amongst the bon tonat least so far as the dinner party is concerned--are nearly the same as those which prevail in humbler circumstances; we understand also from Mr. Rush, that each of the ladies who sat next the gentleman was led by him, in the usual way, from the drawing-room to the dining room. Mr. Rush himself was placed between Lords Mel. ville and Mulgrave, both of whom gratified him exceedingly: the former by his eulogy of the United States, the latter by his panegyric on President Monroe. · In the passage of the party to the dining-room, Mr. Rush observes, that, being near to these two lords, he gave place to them, having understood that cabinet ministers took precedence of plenipotentiaries, on such occasions. But both declined it, Lord Melville kindly observing, “ We are at home.” The number of servants in attendance were twelve, the upper ones being out of livery.

The conversation related principally to France and French society, the foreigners speaking English ; but the general conversation seems to have been conducted in French. Indeed, Mr. Rush says, that, before dinner, having glanced at the books which were lying about, he found that they were all in the language of France; and for a moment his imagination was carried back to the days of Charles II. when the English were but too prone to copy the model of their Gallican neighbours. Our author states, as the result of his subsequent experience, that the enlightened classes in England are more ready to adopt all that they find good amongst the French, than the same classes in France are to imitate what is worthy of their selection amongst the English ; and as a testimony of the truth of this principle, he states, that whilst every welleducated person of either sex in England speaks French, the numof the same order in France who speak English may be regarded as a sort of rare exception to the general rule of complete ignorance of that language.

The ladies left the table at nine o'clock, and were joined by the male company shortly before ten. The whole of the party in the drawing-room formed a series of knots or groups, and Mr. Rush and the Austrian ambassador were soon engaged in a very amicable confab. The latter protested that his court was fervent in its desire to cultivate close relations with the United States, and, as an evidence of her intention, she had already appointed the Baron Sturmer as her Consul-General in that country. Our author took the most favourable opportunity of expressing to Lord Castlereagh the pleasure he experienced in making the acquaintance of his guests, but particularly that of the Duke of Wellington, of whom Lord Castlereagh spoke in terms the most flattering. His lordship told Mr. Rush that the duke's military achievements were sufficiently known; but that few, except those immediately around him, were acquainted with the ability in council, the caution, the disposition to conciliate where interests clashed, which marked the conduct of the noble duke in his capacity of minister, and which elevated his character still higher in the scale, with the whole of the great powers of Europe. Mr. Rush gives a list of the diplomatic corps assembled in England, from all parts of the world, during the period of his residence there. He bears testimony to the cordiality of their intercourse with each other. The representatives of the chief powers were Prince Lieven, for Russia ; Prince Esterhazy, for Austria; Baron Humboldt (brother of the Humboldt), for Prussia; Baron Fagal, for the Netherlands ; the Duke of San Carlos, for Spain; and the Marquis Palmella, for Portugal. All these personages filled the character of ambassadors, between whom and ministers plenipotentiaries a distinction exists, which seems to consist altogether in the fiction, that the ambassador is more essentially and directly the representative of his Majesty's person, and not only takes precedence in all matters of form and ceremony, but is otherwise greatly exalted. Thus, then, we collect from the remarks of

r Consul on, she has the Unite

Mr. Rush, that the ambassador is the first rank, minister plenipotentiary the second, minister resident the third. The two first set of functionaries have their credentials addressed directly to the sovereign, whilst those of the ministers resident, chargé-d'affairs, &c. are directed merely to the secretary of state. The embassies of the great powers are abundantly provided with secretaries and other officers, in various capacities, forming a general community quite formidable for its number. But, in respect of the retinue of ambassadors generally, there is a vast difference between the modern practice and that of some one hundred years ago. Two hundred gentlemen accompanied the Duc de Sully to England ; Bassompiere, predecessor of the Duc, speaks of being accompanied to France, on his way back from his embassy, with an equipage of four hundred persons. There is nothing like this in the present day, at the same time that the observance of form and state is still as rigorously enforced as it was in the most fastidious periods of the monarchy. An astonishing proof of the truth of this remark is, as Mr. Rush shows, that the uncertainty of the nature of the forms by which the intercourse of ambassadors is regulated, has given rise to great difficulties—nay, even to wars! It was not until the meeting of Congress at Vienna, in 1815, that these forms were abolished. The Congress determined that, for the future, every question respecting precedence should be settled by the rule of time, so that the senior resident, or he who was longest at a court, should be deemed to be the first, no matter how low the relative rank of his nation. Mr. Rush very properly praises the large states for so rational and impartial a regulation, for it originated altogether with them. The rule applies to all cases of intercourse, and thus takes in the ceremony of visiting. The member of the diplomatic corps who has last arrived pays the first visit; this rule, however, applies only to those of the same class; and by its operation, all these disgraceful scenes at court which we read of in history, such as cutting the traces of coaches, in order that one ambassador's vehicle may whip up before another, are completely and for ever done away with. The disorders arising out of this feeling of jealousy, amongst the diplomatic agents assembled at particular courts were, at different periods, carried to such a pitch as to call for the application of a remedy. In the treaty of Westphalia, an attempt was made to establish the relative rank of each of the states, and thus define the pretensions of the different ambassadors. But the authors of the treaty, so far as this object was concerned, only strove to manufacture a rope of sand; nor did better success attend another similar enterprise, contemplated in the treaty of Utrecht, in which the title of minister plenipotentiary was introduced, with the view of facilitating the means of establishing permanent distinctions of rank amongst the diplomatic bodies. But it is curious to observe how great have been the advantages of a law founded on justice and common sense: there can be no greater proof that these

VƏL. 11. (1833) NO. 11.

ingredients are at the root of any ordinance or regulation which, by the mere moral influence that it suspends over a particular society, saves itself uniformly from being violated. Thus the diplomatic statute, which requires of the junior minister to make the first visit, turns out to be a dead letter, in consequence of the emulation of the older ones not to be outdone in courtesy. Mr. Rush tells us, that as he was preparing to pay his first visit, after his arrival in town, he was, to his great surprise, anticipated by several members of the corps. But all this courtesy and politeness end at once when a solemn treaty is in question. In the signing of this solenin instrument, all difficulties regarding the right of precedence are got rid of by a very ingenious and simple contrivance, the treaties are executed in double original, and by this process each nation receives the opportunity of being named first, and signing first, in that particular document which is to be deposited in its own archives. At first the coequality of the United States of America, as a republic or a secondary form of government, was questioned; but the objection was resisted by the firmness of James Madison, and the republican minister is now in the full enjoyment of the same rights as the monarchical ones.

On the 1st February, 1818, Mr. Rush had a long interview with Lord Castlereagh; the subjects of discussion were the slave question under the treaty of Ghent, the north western boundary between the United States and the British possessions, and the post at the mouth of the Columbia river. There is nothing in the report of the discussion between the ministers which could now deserve to be dwelt on. We therefore hasten to the next chapter, in which we find Mr. Rush in a state of anxious preparation for a levee, at which he is to be introduced, in his official character, to the Prince Regent. As the day of the levee approached, the minister's anxiety increased, for it was the first time that he had been in Europe, and could not be confident that he possessed a sufficient knowledge of the structure and habits of its society to adjust his behaviour to its standard. He was aware, he said, that a competent knowledge of the world might guide any one in the common walks of life, more especially if that person carry with him the great element of good breeding a wish to please; but, on the other hand, he knew that in private society there were rules which could be comprehended only after experience, so that he could not be altogether indifferent to the trial which he was about to undergo at the levee. As we have never met with so good an account of this oft repeated royal ceremony, we shall avail ourselves of the present one, recommended by the many advantageous circumstances under which it was written :

I arrived before the hour appointed. My carriage having the entrée, or right to the private entrance, I went through St. James's Park and got to Carlton House by the paved way, through the gardens. Even this ap

« ElőzőTovább »