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It was about 1828 that, sometimes of a Sunday evening, two or three friends would drop in at the dwelling of the writer to take coffee and a whiff at a hookah, or cigar. I found a reply from him not long ago in an old writing-desk, when Captain Cochrane and General Miller were, on one occasion, among the four or five who came to meet him.
"MY DEAR SIR,-I wil accept your kind invitation for Sunday, with (as somebody says) the utmost animosity and concupiscence. "Yours, very truly,
The trivial remembrances of bygone times, how sadly memory presses them upon the heart, especially when the rapid torrent of years pours too fast for a correct calculation of the rate at which it rushes onwards! Upon endeavouring to recal incidents of the parted time, that with their accompanying years have gone into the buried eternity, it is difficult, if successful in recalling, to connect them in a regular chain. I have a number of notes from Tennent, like "angel visits, few and far between," but these do not enable me to be exact as to the succession of events. I quitted London in 1832, and lost sight of Emerson for some years; and when I next saw him he had added Tennent to his former name, having married the daughter of a merchant of that name in Belfast. I was again absent from town for several years in succession, and until the parliamentary committee of 1852, for considering the duties on wine, I rarely saw him. Of that committee he was a member, and of that side which was opposed on every point to free trade principles. He considered wine was a "luxury," and that it ought to be taxed. In other words, because it had been so enormously taxed in this country by a strange display of ministerial ignorance in 1704, it was precluded from a fair market here, and was not to be suffered to come in otherwise than as a luxury. No matter whether an ultimate increase to the revenue would be the result or not. According to the true principle of free trade, whether the trade be in pearls, or gold in exchange for muck, it is no consequence. The relative proportionate values of commodities will adjust themselves. On the committee, too, wholly misinformed upon the subject, Sir Emerson was of opinion that if the duty were lowered there would not be wine enough in Europe to supply the demand. All this was fallacious; but it appeared, bythe-by, that Sir Emerson was combatting, sub rosa, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer being in fear of the revenue falling off, and that the question with him was in reality the security of the existing return, and its preservation intact. Sir Emerson's views, therefore, were directed not to the improvement of the revenue by
an enlarged commerce, but to "leaving well alone." As one of the members of the committee, he seemed openly more a champion for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, than as one who was considering the subject with an enlarged vision in relation to the national benefit of free trade. How far Sir Emerson had it in view
to distinguish in his own mind the support of the narrow doctrines of the past through his desire to act rather as a partisan than a lucid enunciator of a clear and self-evident principle, and to what extent, it is impossible to say. He soon afterwards published a volume upon the subject, which, as matters turned out, did neither good nor harm to any side of the question. The conversion of Sir Robert Peel caused the arguments on the side sustained by Tennent to become of no effect. The present writer, when the committee of the Commons had ceased its labours for the day, before leaving the committee-room, asked Sir Emerson for the perusal of some papers he possessed, which were only as yet seen by members of the House, and he kindly complied, upon a word of honour, that they should not be seen by any one but myself, until the House made them public.
In return, I was enabled to supply him with some information useful to him on a private matter. He was then at the Board of Trade, if I recollect rightly. When I passed by Whitehall, I used sometimes to visit him for a few moments at his post. One day I sent him a paper relative to wine, which he said he should carry home to read while taking his glass after dinner, "since I had censured the measure proposed by the government." "It would seem the Chancellor of the Exchequer is eager to supply chicory (to the coffee-sellers) and jerupega in place of our old cup of coffee and a chasse of Curaçoa," so he wrote me.
The election for Belfast in 1841, I learned, had terminated in his favour, for at the time I was absent again from London. He was secretary to the India Board for a brief period, but resigned that post for the secretaryship of Ceylon, whither he proceeded, coming back in 1850. He was afterwards, on his return to England, but for a short time, in one of the government offices, and was secretary then to the Board of Trade. In 1867 he retired from office, and was raised to a baronetcy. In the New Monthly Magazine is an anonymous series of "Letters from the Levant," written from Greece between 1827 and 1829. They were the production of his pen. His other publications have his name annexed.
A few months ago we met by his appointment on a matter of no public moment. It was at the Carlton Club, as the distance to his house was too considerable at the risk of my not finding him at home. I think we met but twice subsequently. The last time was a hurried call on my part. I was much struck with his "staid"
appearance, neat and precise as usual, but there was such a want of that alertness he used to display in his movements, that it seemed to me as some change in temperament. Passing over the immediate cause of our meeting as of no moment here, he asked me, in the course of conversation, whether I had seen the last volume of the despatches of the Duke of Wellington, published by his son. The room in which we were seated was a book-room well filled. He sat with his left to the fire; on his right hand was a table-desk, where he had been just before busily at work. When we had finished the subject which led me to call on that occasion, Sir Emerson began a conversation regarding the imprudence of the son in publishing the correspondence of his father. The truth was that I had not read the volume, and, as it sometimes happens, I mistook Tennent's censure, under the idea that the volume alluded to was connected with the measure of Catholic emancipation in Ireland, in place of its relating to the period long ago, when the late Duke was secretary there. The censure of Tennent applied to the present duke was not unnatural with one a native of Ireland, who was opposed to the conduct of the late Duke being known in his despatches. They exhibited scenes of corruption that then prevailed. My replies were made in the Duke's defence for his conduct in the affair of Catholic emancipation, not for acts of his secretaryship so many years before. Tennent was attacking the present duke for "letting the cat out of the bag," as the proverb goes. On reading the despatches subsequently, I was much surprised at Tennent not correcting me in mistaking one period of office for another. He was so full of indignation that he did not perceive my error, and could find no excuse for the present duke, who had only displayed an honest candour. Tennent was indignant that the scenes in Ireland should have been exhibited. so openly without any occasion. But the late Duke of Wellington was not an official likely to evade any point in which he was concerned. He was too candid and plain-spoken, the marks of a naturally powerful mind.
Still while we conversed thus in mutual error, Tennent did not correct me, nor show that we were speaking of different periods in the Duke's public life, separated by a long interval of time. I allude to the circumstance only because I imagined he was not quite as clear in intellect as he had been before. Else he would have been alert, and pleased to expose my error. He seemed unusually heavy and opposite to his natural character. There was about him a more "staid" manner than customary, which leads me to think since that some change of health, some cloudiness of perspicacity, which affects the intellect before it becomes clearly perceptible, was even then taking place in his constitution, or he would have done then as of yore, caught at my error and
been pleased to display it. His heaviness, I must again repeat, struck me at the time. He was not as active as usual on my leaving him, as he accompanied me to the door-showing a manner and want of alertness which I had not seen when I met him a short time before. In fact, after I had passed a little distance towards home, I began to account for it by asking myself mentally how old he was, as if age had been the cause of the change I imagined I saw about him. It was the last time I ever did see him. Sir Emerson Tennent, after forty-six years of acquaintance, I was to see no more. I had a note from him in relation to the topic upon which we had met. In that he closed with a compliment to myself in the affair, that it would be too like egotism to repeat in his words, which comprehended my "high-mindedness," as he termed it. It was an affair very peculiar, but which it is not of any moment to gratify mere curiosity by relating. It concerned other parties, too, one of whom was an individual of note.
Never were there two men of the "Green Island" less alike than Wyse and Tennent, and the third that might complete the trio, before alluded to, from the same pleasant island, William Henry Curran, all have alike passed away, as ere long their remembrances must do with myself. In ability, Tennent was the least able of the three, but their native land need not have blushed for either of them. Tennent's age was about midway between threescore and the period said to be allotted as that to which man in general has a chance of attaining. He appeared fully what men in general are at sixty-six. The most extraordinary change in relation to him was in his handwriting. I have notes of his written at both early and late periods of our intimacy, and not the remotest resemblance exists between them; to such an extent, indeed, was this the case, that I doubt whether it can be paralleled.
I do not imagine the political opinions of Sir Emerson were deeply grafted in his nature, for I never knew him violent in those he professed. In fact, I doubt whether he had trained his mind to any political colour. He seemed rather to attain his personal objects by the support of his party, than to view the field of politics with a broad glance for the sake of any intrinsic excellence in this or in that particular measure which is supported abstractedly from the perception of its superiority. In action as a man of business he was ready, and fulfilled his duties with diligence and perspicacity. Cut off from existence when his friends had a reasonable ground to expect its protraction, it is the more painful to contemplate, as a Spanish wit and renowned satirist remarks, though it strikes us too seldom from that feeling which makes us repel through deceptive hope thoughts which are not of a pleasant character, ever crediting that death is elsewhere, and not within ourselves.
Sir Emerson was not a deep thinker, and had too much of the impress of the mode to be singular in his opinions, or, in other words, to think and act upon conviction alone where that conviction was not in assent with the mode. He was not one, therefore, who was calculated to lead upon any question as a writer, or to act as a politician. He was a man of the world. There are those yet surviving who can remember pleasant moments passed in his society, and recal them not without regret; for though by no means a distinguished leader in political life, in the social circle, particularly before he embarked in politics, he was an exceedingly pleasant companion, and society might have better spared a better
Yours very faithfully,
THE RUINED CITIES OF ZULU LAND.*
A GALLANT captain.of the 105th (Madras) is supposed, to the delectation of all amateurs of adventure and sport, to forego his hard-earned leave, and spend it in Zulu Land instead of England, shooting elephants, lions, and antelopes, and visiting the mysterious ruins of Ophir of old. The work is not one of mere fiction, we are told, as the materials upon which it is founded were furnished to Captain Walmsley, government agent, Zulu frontier, Natal, by those enterprising German missionaries to whom, as we have previously had occasion to describe at length, we were first indebted for a knowledge of the ruins of olden times in the interior of the country in question, as it is also to a German mineralogist that we have been since indebted for the discovery of extensive gold-fields in the same little explored regions.
A first acquaintance with Wyzinski, as the German missionary is dubbed, is picked up under peculiar circumstances. A melancholy cry, as that of a person in pain, attracts the attention of the hunters; guided by the ominous sound, the missionary is discovered, his bones being crunched by the powerful teeth of two lion cubs. Captain Hughes, the supposed hero of the work, in his anxiety to save him, is himself tumbled over and nearly killed by the feline maternal. Both, however, get safely to camp, and, despite their wounds, relate their history very unconcernedly, and enter into a compact to proceed together to Moselkatse in order to obtain his pass to visit the ruins of the Zulu cities.
*The Ruined Cities of Zulu Land, by Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley, Colonel Ottoman Imperial Army, with Illustrations by Martinus Kuijtenbrouwer. Two Vols. Chapman and Hall.