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can be understood without a commentary, by all men, women, and children, saving and excepting the late Colonial Secretary. His late correspondence with the Duke of Wellington must be included in all subsequent editions of the Complete Letter-Writer.
Having no room for a Noctes this month, our readers must be contented with a laugh at Mr Huskisson in his epistolic character. Not to mince the matter, no man ever made of himself such a fool, (at the least,) as our late Atlas, on whose shoulders was thought to repose, in succession, the weight of the last half-dozen administrations. In the first place, who in his senses would dream of writing a letter on business at two o'clock in the morning? You might as well write an article for Maga after ten tumblers. It won't do. Mr Huskisson had been bothered, and badgered, and bitten for hours; and yet nothing would satisfy him, before going to bed, but to indite an epistle to the Duke of Wellington, at that moment, it is to be hoped, in a sound, strong, snoring sleep. Had Mr Huskisson felt disinclined to tumble in, we should have had no objection whatever to his sitting up all night long, and cruelly braying Lord Sandon, with unsparing pestle, in the mortar of his imagination. After a few broiled chickens, and pots of porter, the languor, and irritation, and excitement,
the frail and feverish being of an hour," would have given place to alacrity, composure, and strength of mind; his vote on the East Retford question,
"In his flowing cups freshly remembered,"
would have been dismissed with a chuckle or a hiccup; the sour looks of friends with forbidding faces, which he complains frowned on him at the close of the debate, "however unimportant in itself the question which had given rise to that appearance," Iwould have risen before him through the misty vapours of the hot toddy, clothed in the tenderest effulgence of their wonted smiles; pen, ink, and paper, would have appeared things not of use, but ornament; and he would ultimately have lain down to balmy slumbers, with his fine countenance placid beneath its tufted night-cap, as the face of a child asleep in its simplicity, after its lisped prayers. In
stead of such Christian course of con→ duct, nothing would satisfy the Secretary but to keep prancing about the parlour, with his tail cocked like that of a nag under ginger, his eyes fiery as a ferret's, lips pale and quivering, sallow cheeks, discoloured with crimson, dilated nostrils, and clenched fists, big with inflating self-importance, as an elderly matron with what she vainly imagines to be a child, but known to all the rest of the wise, but wicked world, to be but wind-and then pulling a chair with great violence to his escritoire, down with a thud on his hurdies, determined to demolish, by one magnanimous epistle, the poor helpless creature, scarcely known by any greater achievement than having had the good fortune to win Waterloo !
Surely there was a sad want of judgment in all this, betokening a diseased mind, that must have rendered its owner unfit for a place in the Cabinet. Hear the words of his vain regret, his imperfect penitence, and his angry remorse-" For that statement I am sure I shall receive the indulgence of every gentleman, when I say it was made under a state of health far from good, and after sixteen hours toil of mind between official business in Downing-street and attendance in the House of Commons: under these circumstances I wrote that letter, which I now acknowledge it would have been better to postpone till next morning."
Let us have a look at the letter.
"Downing-street, Tuesday Morning, Two a. m. May 20.
"MY DEAR DUKE,-After the vote which, in regard to my own consistency and personal character, I have found myself, from the course of this evening's debate, compelled to give on the East Retford question, I owe to you, as the head of the administration, and to Mr Peel, as the leader of the House of Commons, to lose no time in affording you an opportunity of placing my office in other hands, as the only means in my power of preventing the injury to the King's service, which may ensue from the appearance of disunion in his Majesty's councils, however unfounded in reality, or however unimportant in itself the question, which has given rise to that appearance.
"Regretting the necessity of troubling you with this communication, believe me, my dear Duke, ever truly yours,
(Signed) "W. HUSKISSON."
This is the only good letter of the whole batch-and is as plain as any -pike-staff. Neither does it betray any symptoms of having been written at two o'clock of the morning, after 16 hours' toil, in a state of bad health, hastily, or under the influence of strong feelings. It is an honest-looking epistle-and good for sore eyes. But we -have Mr Huskisson's own word for it --that it did not express his real sentiments, wishes, and intentions. It is, he has himself told us, a piece of mere humbug. It was not intended to beit is not a resignation.
Now, gentle and hungry reader, suppose that you had been engaged to dine with a friend in his own houseday and hour distinctly specified, and that you had, on the morning of the feast, written a letter to himself or lady, expressing your sorrow that it would not be in your power to appear before your plate, what would you now think of yourself, and what would the whole world think of yourself, had you complained that your chair had been occupied by another bottomthat it never had been your foolish intention to lose your dinner-and that had Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom, in great alarm and consternation at your intimated absence, written, conjointly and severally, calling upon you for Godsake not to leave their table desolate at such a crisis, you would have been prevailed on to eat in your words, as well as their turtle-soup and venison-pasty, and played a knife and fork to the admiration of all beholders?
This first letter of the series is certainly what Mr Coleridge would call a Psychological curiosity." Written hastily and hurriedly, it is as cool as a cucumber-produced at midnight, the very witching hour of night, it is clear as day-penned at an hour when Mr Huskisson "could drink hot blood," it is mild as milk,-composed "after sixteen hours toil of mind, between official business in DowningStreet, and attendance in the House of Commons," it has all the character of a composition by an elderly gentleman, sitting by the side of a purl ing stream in literary leisure,-and though the writer himself has the amiable modesty to say that" it would have been better had he postponed it till the next morning," we beg leave to assure him that he, in saying so, does injustice to himself and his epis.
tle; for all parties have unanimously pronounced it the very best letter he ever wrote during the course of his pretty long, active, and miscellaneous life.
Well-off went the letter in a box by itself to the Duke of Wellington. It had not far to go-only a few yards -but the more hurry the less speed; and though written at two, it did not meet the eyes of his Grace till ten o'clock of the morning. For eight hours it enjoyed a private and confidential nap in its cabinet-box. Mr Huskisson expect that the Duke was to be wakened out of his sleep at two or three o'clock of the morning? That would have been most unreasonable indeed; and if he knew that the Duke seldom sat down to the dispatch of public, till he had finished private business-say about ten o'clock-after a hearty breakfast-why not wait for a few hours-why all this strangely mingled impatience and resignation?
Mr Huskisson has not favoured us with a detailed account of his meditations between the hours of two of the morning and one of the forenoon of May 20, 1828. He must have thought the Duke of Wellington a very dilatory correspondent. Eleven hours had elapsed, and no reply to his letter. Lord Dudley, it seems, had meanwhile called upon the Secretary, about one o'clock; and after transacting some business connected with his department-business which occupied about an hour-Mr Huskisson "observed to my noble friend, in a passing jocular way, that I was guilty of a little act of insubordination last night, in the East Retford Bill, but felt myself bound, in point of honour, to vote as I did. Allusion to the subject began and ended there, and my noble friend was still sitting with me when I received from the noble Duke a letter". yes,-a letter-which there can be no doubt Mr Huskisson snatched off the salver-for we are not told that it was in a cabinet-box-with an eagerness that must have astonished his orderly. We shall suppose the letter read-once
twice-thrice-that there might be no misunderstanding of its contents,and on the close of the final perusal, we think it will be granted, that a sight of Mr Huskisson's face must have been worth a trifle. As the Duke's letter is not long, we shall quote it.
"Ever yours, most sincerely, (Signed)
Mr Huskisson persisted to the last in maintaining, that his own letter was not a letter of resignation; but he never for a moment seems to have doubted the meaning of the Duke's. Lord Dudley, however, who is well known to be the most pleasant person possible, seeing his friend Huskisson much ruffled and discomposed, exclaimed very good-naturedly, in a passing jocular way," "The Noble Duke must labour under some mistake-I'll go to him and explain the circumstances, and settle it all." No thing could be more obliging; yet it occurs to simple people like ourselves to ask, how my Lord Dudley could "explain circumstances," of which, from Mr Huskisson's account, it was absolutely impossible he could know anything whatever? The only two things that could require explanation were Mr Huskisson's own letter, which Lord Dudley had not seen; and Mr Huskisson's motives for writing it, of which Lord Dudley knew nothing for all that the former had as yet said to the latter, was, "I was guilty of a little act of insubordination last night," and allusion to the subject began and ended there;" and yet off runs, at a round and high trot, one of the most accomplished peers of the realm, to" explain the circumstances," of which he was as ignorant as the man in the moon, or more so-and" settle it all" in a jiffey. Meanwhile Mr Huskisson, we may suppose, sought to compose his nerves by a calker of "summat ;" and after some time
my noble friend" returned, but to tell him that he was not successful, as the Duke said to him," it is no mistake, it can be no mistake, and it shall be no mistake." On hearing this uttered by Lord Dudley, not in
a passing jocular way," but with a sober tone and solemn aspect, Mr Huskisson, we venture to say, moved towards the sideboard, and, turning up his little finger, emptied the second calker-and all little enough,
too, for a gentleman in his situation, or predicament.
Recovering from the shock, but not yet satisfied with Lord Dudley's communication from the Duke," it is no mistake, it can be no mistake, and it shall be no mistake," Mr Huskisson shook hands with the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs-who took his leave, with that elegance and amenity that characterise his whole deportment in public and private life-and then, after biting his nails and scratching his head for a quarter of an hour, he determined to employ Lord Pal merston on the same mission. Lord Palmerston went to the Duke-hardly expecting, we guess, as Lord Dudley had done, "to explain the cir cumstances, and settle it all;" and Lord Palmerston returned from the Duke, and " told me precisely what I had already heard from my noble friend at the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, namely, that it was a positive resignation, and could This not be understood otherwise. was really a trial of temper harder to put up with than any recorded in Mrs Opie's ingenious Tales; and we are entitled, on general principles, and reasoning a priori, from our knowledge of human nature, to affirm that Mr Huskisson tossed off, somewhat hurriedly, another-that is a thirdcalker. If he did not then " it was a mistake, it could not but be a mistake, and it shall be a mistake."
Lord Palmerston now took his departure, and poor Mr Huskisson, instead of sitting down to a good hot dinner, and a bottle of old port, began to puzzle his pate over a second letter to the most obstinate Duke that ever presided over a Cabinet-a precious epistle it is indeed!
"Downing-street, May 20, 1828, half past 6 P.M.
"MY DEAR DUKE,-Having understood from Lord Dudley and Lord Palmerston, that you had laid my letter of last night before the King, under a different impression from that which it was intended to convey, I feel it due both to you and to myself to say, that my object in writing that letter was, not to express any intentions of my own, but to relieve you from any delicacy which you might feel towards me, if you should think that the interests of his Majesty's service would be prejudiced by my remaining in office, after giving a vote, in respect to which, from the turn
which the latter part of the debate had tas ken, a sense of personal honour left me no alternative.
"Believe me, my dear Duke, yours very sincerely,
(Signed) "W. HUSKISSON." Now, suppose for a moment, that Mr Huskisson states the case here truly and fairly, and that he had no other wish or intention, "scope or tendency," in writing his first letter to the Duke, but "to relieve him from any delicacy" he might feel, in thinking that the interests of his Majesty's ser vice would be prejudiced by Mr Huskisson remaining in office,-this as sertion is in the teeth of everything else contained in Mr Huskisson's explanation in the House. For he ad mits, that he wrote the letter when fatigued, ill, sick, worried out of tone and out of temper" in a state of excitement," as Lord Palmerston said disturbed and angry at the recollection of the black faces frowning on him,and justly frowning,-from among his friends; and yet in that admitted mood of mind he sat down to indite a letter to the head of the government, for no other purpose but the sweet, soft, and amiable one, of " relieving the Duke of Wellington from delicacy,"-under which, it has since ap peared, his Grace did not groan, and which was not incumbent on any human being out of Sterne's Sentimen tal Journey. Delicacy is one of the prettiest things in this world, when exhibited by a young gentleman, in a pair of well-cut inexpressibles, towards a young lady in a waltz, whose gossamery gown is ever and anon getting involved in inevitable entangle ment with her partner's legs, requiring the utmost and promptest delica cy to be relieved during the airy evolutions of that Dance of Danger. But when an old stager of a Secretary opens his jaws in the House of Commons, and gives vent to the wrong monosyllable,―to save what he chooses to call his honour,―at the expense of the dis credit of the Cabinet to which he belongs,-why distress himself about such a purely imaginary evil as the delicacy of other people's situation? The Duke of Wellington has relieved himself ere now, without permission granted by anybody, from situations of far more delicacy, and difficulty, and danger, than any in which he and his government could ever have been
placed by Mr Huskisson. What his Grace would have done, had Mr Huskisson not written that or any other letter, we do not pretend to know→→→→ but we think it most probable that he would either have cashiered him, or imposed a thorough apology, and promise, under penalty of instant dismissal, never again, while in his Majes ty's service, to vote with his Majesty's Opposition. Be that as it might, Mr Huskisson's letter, even had it been such a letter as he absurdly and insolently maintains it bona fide to be, -a letter written to "relieve from delicacy,"-would have been altoge ther unnecessary; for is the Duke of Wellington a Prime Minister of such a feeble mind, as even for one single moment to dream of "delicacy," when it is his duty to take care that the consistency, dignity, and honour of his Cabinet, shall be preserved, or their violation punished?
The Duke's reply to Mr Huskis son's second letter, is necessarily rather longer than his reply to the first, but still concise and laconic. Nothing can be better.
"London, May 20, 1828.
MY DEAR HUSKISSON, I have receidid not understand your letter of two o' ved your letter of this evening. I certainly clock this morning as offering me any opevening, as leaving me any, except that of tion; nor do I understand the one of this submitting myself and his Majesty's Go vernment to the necessity of soliciting you to remain in your office, or of incurring the loss of your valuable assistance to his Ma jesty's service. However sensible I may be of this loss, I am convinced that in these times any loss is better than that of character, which is the foundation of public confidence. "In this view of the case, I have put out of it altogether every consideration of the discredit resulting from the scene of last night; of the extent of which you could not but have been sensible, when you thought proper, as a remedy for it, to send me the offer of placing your office in other hands.'
"Ever, my dear Huskisson, yours most sincerely, (Signed)
Mr Huskisson told the House,." I will say that when I received this, I was in some degree surprised." Why should he? The Duke's first letter should have prepared him for something of the sort. There is a great
Revealing, on its conscious countenance,'
Of dark-green copse-wood, dark, save, here and there,
Above his landward haunts, dips down alert
With quicken'd wing, in silence re-ascends.-
And now the wood engirds me, the tall stems
High stretching; like a good man's virtuous thoughts
Sweet minstrel of the morn? Behold her nest,
How sweet, contrasted with the din of life, Its selfish miseries, and ignoble cares,