position to claim that they are forbidden. When either theory is permissible, both will have lost the significance which alone makes them worth having. The whole position and character of the Church of England will be changed. Words which High Churchmen and Low Churchmen alike have been accustomed to take in their own sense will have been formally declared to have no sense at all. The effect of such a revision as this would be to create a new Church-a Church which as regards ceremonial, and in the end as regards doctrine, will be either Catholic or Protestant, at the pleasure of each individual incumbent, or of each individual congregation, or in the last resort of each individual bishop. What will be the attitude of the Evangelical party in presence of this change I do not presume to say. Of the High Church party I can speak with some knowledge. For them at all events to sit quiet under such a revolution would be impossible. would be bad enough if the use of the vestments so intimately associated with the conflicts of the last forty years had been forbidden. It will be far worse to have them relegated with other antiquarian survivals to the region of ecclesiastical art. High Churchmen have no wish to enter upon the task of revision ; on the contrary they think that in the present circumstances of the Church that task is at once unnecessary and perilous. But if so wanton an experiment is persisted in they will be bound to do what in them lies to ensure that the Prayer Book, if revised at all, shall be revised in a Catholic sense. They are no believers in

our incomparable liturgy.' They are fully alive to the grave imperfections and omissions of the existing book. If revision is to be the order of the day they will have no option but to put forward far larger proposals of their own, and to call upon the Church to make her choice between the two.

What is likely to be the nature and effects of the discussions thus provoked? If the bishops would but frankly put this question to themselves, I do not think we should hear much more of the Letters of Business.


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

WILLIAM BECKFORD was a many-sided man. As an author he gave proofs of his humour in that elaborate jest, the History of Extraordinary Painters ; of his imagination in the famous story of Vathek ; and of his powers of observation and picturesque description in his two books of travel. He was one of the greatest of English connoisseurs, collecting most kinds of works of art and vertu ; his library was one of the most magnificent ever brought together by a private man; and, further, he was, to a great extent, the architect of his Oriental palace of Fonthill. Something of him in all these aspects is known, but hitherto every one has been ignorant that he dabbled unofficially in high politics, and actually endeavoured, by the unaided efforts of himself and his agents, to arrange a basis for a treaty of peace between France and England in the year

1797. An announcement inserted some months ago in the daily and weekly papers, to the effect that the present writer, being engaged upon a biography of Beckford, would be glad to be allowed to inspect any existing correspondence of that personage, had the happy result of inducing Mr. John Macnamara, of Brighton, to forward (among others) the letters that are here printed by the generous permission of that gentleman. The correspondence came into Mr. Macnamara's possession many years ago from his great-uncle, John Pedley, a friend of Beckford, and brother to that Robert Deverell, formerly Pedley (1760-1841), for some years from 1802 Member of Parliament for Saltash.

The letters have been carefully copied, but Beckford's handwriting is not always very legible, and, though they were examined under a magnifying glass, it is conceivable that some names may here be misspelt. The correspondence is now printed with the object to make public Beckford's interesting adventure in diplomacy, but it also throws some light upon Beckford's activity and thoroughness as a collector.


William Beckford, al Fonthill, to Nicholas Williams, at Paris.

Fonthill 11" July 1797. I perfectly agree with you in the propriety of your remaining in France till the Mouron business &c. &c. &c. is settled. Methinks Monsieur Mouron was in a great hurry.

Follow up closely the great point of restitution & amongst other objects enquire after a certain China bason mounted on 3 griffins of gilt bronze which was amongst my effects at Calais. I believe this piece of China may be ranked amongst the first specimens of porcelain in Europe. As the great mass of my property lay at Calais I recommend yr utmost vigilance in hunting it out. There were two small Japan Cabinets at Calais, one in the shape of a sort of a baby House with Galleries & Sliding Doors &c. The other with rich folding

. doors inlaid with Mother of pearl & gold Mosaic in the style of the Box Wyatt bought for me. Both should be gotten back if possiblethe first was the gift of my relation the late Dss of Queensbury.

I am extremely happy to hear of the Claudes & the Japans-obtain, I particularly desire the best information & proposals you can concerning them. I have set my heart upon them. You will take care no doubt to add proper fewel (sic) to Sanrages Zeal by thanking & remunerating him with cordial Liberality. For material points I make no doubt of your acting with the same caution & yet energy as in those of smaller import. Nothing can be more grateful, more satisfactory to me than the style of your proceedings.

My ideas (though I never had the plaisir of seeing the friend of the rough gentleman) coincide intirely with yours. Watch Auguste well & take care his debts to me are faithfully paid. He is a slippery Eel; but if he escapes your harpoon I shall be much mistaken. I rejoice in the safe arrival of the passport, power of Atty &c.

You know how to act in every particular, in every occurence. The public are well primed and I cannot help flattering myself something might still be effected towards the accomplishment of the great object of our wishes. Of one thing at least I am certain that it will not be your fault if our Country is not benefited by my exertions at this momentous juncture.

With every friendly & cordial good wish believe me most sincerely


W. B.

Nicholas Williams, al Paris, to James Goddard, at Salisbury. Dear Sir,-I am favor'd with your kind letter of the 25th ult". and thank you for your observations about the House, I had written

I M. Boucher on that subject previous to your letter and have given M". White of Lincoln's Inn instructions to act with him in my behalf.

Your kind attentions to my family will not be forgotten, and your friendly wishes for my speedy return I am cqually thankful

for; that period I hope is not far distant tho' the changes and com

motions here, which you have no doubt heard of, will retard the # progress I was making in the affairs with which I am entrusted.

The late victory of the Patriots ' I consider decisive and the Republic i now established on firmer ground than ever, therefore I hope, unani

mity amongst themselves, and, arising out of that, Peace with their neighbours, may be looked for on more probable grounds than hereto

fore. You and our friends at Salisbury will I know be gratified l; to hear that whatever party prevailid, M". B. has ever been held in the

same estimation and his interest remained undiminished, and tho' s every other Englishman have been sent out of Paris, I remain with

the most positive assurance of protection in secure possession of his property. This friendship has arisen, from his known abilities and moderation, and the great encouragement he gave to Arts and Manufactories while he was in the Country, and might have been made use of on our side the water to the most beneficial purposes ; but alas, personal enmity and individual prejudice have in this particular been much more prevalent than patriotism or sound policy, and the real good of the nation has been sacrificed to personal prejudices unworthy the Councils of a great Kingdom.

I beg you will present my thanks to the Mayor for his kind invitation, and assure him and all our friends that I very much regret I cannot have the pleasure to be of their party the 13t's ; I hope however the time is not far off when I shall see them all in perfect health, and that we shall have frequent opportunities to more firmly cement that friendship which it will be my pride to cultivate.

I desire you will present my particular Compliments to Mrs. Goddard and be assured of the most friendly regard of

yours very sincerely

Paris gin Sept. 1797.

Nicholas Williams, al Paris, to William Beckford, at Fonthill.

Paris Oct 10th 1797. It is very distressing to me My Dear Sir to have been obliged to keep you so long in suspense since my letter to you of the 20 Ult'., I have not yet been able to accomplish the great work I was in hopes to have done and explained to you in person before this time; many unforseen obstacles have fallen in the way which we then had no idea of. I can do a great deal here by money but I cannot sport with your property without a solid prop for the Leaver I want to work by it; I have frequent interviews with the Minister of Foreign affairs and had I power I could at this moment as your Agent make a peace that I think would be very satisfactory to England, but it must be done in a very different stile to that of our Lord who is returned.

Presumably the coup d'etat of 18 Fructidor (September 4).

They demanded of him as their Ultimatum a restitution of all conquests (made by the English since the commencement of the War) to France and its Allies, and as he had not power to comply with this, he was sent home to have the resolution of his Court, for which they have consented to wait will the 16th of the present month, and the French Negociators will not be recalled from Lille till after that period.

The Minister of Foreign affairs has declared to me that they have the greatest repugnance to treat with Lord Malmsbury, but would have as great pleasure to negociate with you or La Si Hellens inviting you to this Negociation, and expressing the aversion of the Nation to Ld. Malmsbury; he will also authenticate by plain language in those letters, that I have had frequent interviews with him upon the subject of peace, and that he has authorized me to inform the Government of England the Preliminaries of a treaty, which they are ready to receive, either you or L' S' Helens to Negociate upon immediately, and speedily conclude a peace on liberal and honorable terms to the both Nations. These Preliminaries are expressed in the paper

. No 2 inclosed, the original of which is now in the hands of the Minister, they cannot be given to me by him in writing, but as I have said before he will express upon the letters which he will give me, that I have had conferences with him upon the subject of peace and am authorized to declare that the Preliminaries are which they expect to be the Basis of the treaty; and he will assure to me upon his honor that for one Month after my departure from Paris they shall not be receded from, nor will they in that time attend to any application, nor treat with any person through any other channel but your interest : I pushed hard to confine him to you only, but after a consultation at the Directory, that could not be complied with ; but as I am to bring those letters to England open, Lo St Hellens's need not appear till we are assured nothing can be done by yours. It is promised also that I shall very confidentially have interviews with the Directory before I go who will confirm to me how desirous they are of treating with you in the most friendly manner.

As these transactions are, and must be kept perfectly secret, and are principally carried on by Secretaries and upper Clerks (the

( Government being supposed to know nothing of the money part of the business) these Gentlemen expect the immediate deposit of £6000 on the condition expressed in No 2, the greatest part of which will be divided amongst themselves and without which nothing can be done.

Tho' I consider it is hardly possible Mr Pitt will refuse to make peace on the terms here offered, yet £6000 is too large a sum of money for me to risk without your particular orders, nor is it I find in my power to do so without a Credit superior to that which I hold, as the letter of £3000 Credit which Mr Wildman obtained for me is worthy nothing, the House refusing to advance a shilling upon it, nor can M" Perreguax at present supply me with a quarter of it without

« VorigeDoorgaan »