« ZurückWeiter »
has never been led to expect the reversion of an estate, does not severely feel the loss of it: for it is the indulgence of hope that embitters disappointment.
ON THE REGAL CHARACTER.
This is a subject exceedingly curious, and worth explaining. In writing a criticism, I hope I shall not be accused of intending a libel.
Kings are remarkable for long memories in the merest trifles. They never forget a face or person they have once seen, nor an anecdote they have been told of any one they know. Whatever differences of character or understanding they manifest in other respects, they all possess what Dr. Spurzheim would call the organ of individuality, or the power of recollecting particular local circumstances, nearly in the same degree; though I shall attempt to account for it without recurring to his system. This kind of personal memory is the natural effect of that self-importance which makes them attach a correspondent significance to
all that comes in contact with themselves. Nothing can be a matter of indifference to a King, that happens to a King. That intense consciousness of their lofty identity, which never quits them, extends to whatever falls under their immediate cognisance. It is the glare of Majesty reflected from their own persons on the persons of those about them, that fixes their attention; and it is the same false lustre that makes them blind and insensible to all that lies beyond that narrow sphere. “My Lord,” said an English King to one of his courtiers, “ I have seen you in that coat before with different buttons"-to the astonishment of the Noble Peer. There was nothing wonderful in it. It was the habitual jealousy of the Sovereign of the respect due to him, that made him regard with lynx-eyed watchfulness even the accidental change of dress in one of his favourites. The least diminution of glossy splendour in a birth-day suit, considered as a mark of slackened duty or waning loyalty, would expose it, tarnished and threadbare, to the keen glance of dormant pride, waked to suspicion. A God does not penetrate into the hearts of his worshippers with surer insight, than a King, fond of the attributes of awe and sovereignty, detects the different degrees of fawning adulation in those around him. Every thing relating to external appearance and deportment is scanned with the utmost nicety, as compromising the dignity of the royal presence. Involuntary gestures become overt acts; a look is construed into high treason; an inconsiderate word is magnified into a crime against the State. To suggest advice, or offer information unasked, is to arraign the fallibility of the throne : to hint a difference of opinion to a King, would create as great a shock, as if you were to present a pistol to the breast of any other man. “Never touch a King," was the answer of an infirm monarch to one who had saved him from a dangerous fall. When a glass of wine was presented to the Emperor Alexander by a servant in livery, he started, as if he had trod upon a serpent. Such is their respect for themselves ! Such is their opinion of human nature !—“There's a divinity doth hedge a King,” that keeps their bodies and their minds
sacred within the magic circle of a name; and it is their fear lest this circle should be violated or approached without sufficient awe, that makes them observe and remember the countenances of others with such infinite circumspection and exactness.
As Kings have the sagacity of pride, courtiers have the cunning of fear. They watch their own behaviour and that of others with breathless apprehension, and move amidst the artificial forms of court-etiquette, as if the least error must be fatal to them. Their sense of personal propriety is heightened by servility : every faculty is wound up to flatter the vanity and prejudices of their superiors. When Coates painted a portrait in crayons of Queen Charlotte on her first arrival in this country, the King, followed by a train of attendants, went to look at it. The trembling artist stood by. “Well, what do you think?” said the King to those in waiting. Not a word in reply. "Do
think it like?" Still all was hushed as death. “Why, yes,” (he added) “ I think it is like, very like. "A buzz of admiration instantly filled the room; and the old Duchess