In any case, he does not seem to have quite made up his mind in his early days as to the precise political opinions with which he was to identify his career. He supported Pitt, for example, in the great debates on the question of the Parliamentary Union with Ireland; but it was observed at the time that he carefully avoided committing himself to any views with regard to the Catholic claims, although the refusal of the Catholic claims was the cause of the Rebellion of 1798, and that rebellion was made the excuse for the Act of Union, which was carried in great measure by Pitt's implied promises that when the Union was carried something would be done to satisfy the Catholic demand. In fact, for a long time, Canning acted as the regular champion of Pitt in the House of Commons, and outside its doors as well. He started, in conjunction with one or two political friends, the famous Anti-Jacobin newspaper, a paper intended to hold up to ridicule all the doctrines of the French Revolution and of its admirers in this country. Canning was a master of brilliant political sarcasm, and there can be no doubt that the Anti-Jacobin became quite a power in its day. The basis of the satire was easy enough. It simply assumed that every public man who hoped for peace with France, and who talked even in the mildest way of putting any possible faith in the leaders of the French people, must be a thoroughgoing sympathiser with the sentiments of the Jacobin Club in Paris, the club to which Danton and Robespierre belonged, must be the uncompromising enemy of the Throne, the Altar, and the aristocracy, must be a devotee of the supposed rights of man, must consider the horny-handed mechanic as the natural lord of creation, must regard education as the enemy of enlightenment, and religion as the opponent of virtue. Such were the genial assumptions on which the Anti-Jacobin was conducted. It must be owned that its satirical touches make bright reading, even still, and the time has yet to come, and is probably far distant, when the House of Commons is no longer to be regaled by citations from the Ballad of the Needy Knife -Grinder. Among those who co-operated with Canning in the production of the Anti-Jacobin was Hookham Frere, Canning's old associate, who was afterwards his parliamentary colleague and worked with him and under him in more than one Ministry.
George Grote. (1794-1871).
Canning had almost avowedly entered Parliament with the view of becoming a Minister of the Crown, and his chance was not long postponed; for in the spring of 1796 he became Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Mr. Disraeli, in one of his novels, has laid it down as a law that an Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whose chief is in the House of Lords, is "master of the situation." This was Canning's position, and he was undoubtedly well qualified to be master of the situation. In 1807 he became Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The splendour of his career displayed itself almost altogether in his foreign policy. The higher his position, the greater his influence, the more conspicuous became his capacity for developing a foreign policy best calculated to maintain the peace and the honour of his own country, and to discourage war and the policy that leads to war. In 1822 he was appointed Viceroy of India, and was actually on the eve of departure when the suicide of Lord Londonderry called him back to the Foreign Office.
The artificial arrangements made by the Congress of Vienna and by the Holy Alliance were already beginning to break up. This was only what any intelligent man, not to say any statesman, might have confidently anticipated; but it does not appear to have been anticipated in the least by any of the Continental statesmen who were in office, and was expected, indeed, by very few statesmen in England. The Continental Sovereigns went on as if their powers were destined to endure for ever. The faintest grumblings on the part of any of their subjects only provoked new measures of repression. The immediate result was that Spain was in a state of revolution; that along the banks of the great German rivers the young men were forming themselves into associations for the spread of liberty; that even in Vienna itself the Emperor of Austria found it hard to keep down revolt; and that in Poland the Emperor of Russia's brother, the Grand Duke Constantine, whose memory is still execrated by all patriotic Poles, was employing measures of the most atrocious severity and cruelty to crush the spirit of kotzebue's death the kingdom; while already keen observers could see that a struggle was in preparation for the rescue of Italy from the bondage in which she had been cast by the Allied Sovereigns.
There was in Germany at that time a popular dramatist named Kotzebue, some of whose plays were once very popular in England, and in adapted form and in English translation held their place on our stage for a long time, although one of them was satirised by James and Horace Smith in "The Rejected Addresses," and by Thackeray in "Pendennis." Kotzebue had held several offices under Russia, and was suspected, and indeed was known to be in the habit of sending frequent letters to the Emperor of Russia; and it was understood that the object of the letters was to direct the Emperor's attention to the movement going on among the students all over Prussia in favour of national liberty and independence. A young fanatic of the time, a Jena student, named Sand, driven to frenzy by what he had heard of Kotzebue's doings, gave with his own hand the unhappy poet a death more tragic than any described in the poet's own gloomiest drama. Sand was tried, found guilty, and sent to execution at once, and his death was made the occasion for a great popular demonstration in honour of his memory. Of course, no one could attempt to justify the murder committed by Sand; but such deeds often come as the warning to tell despotic rulers that people are growing impatient of their rule. No warning, however, was taken by the Sovereigns of the Continent, whose only idea, beyond immediate measures of repression, was to get together another European Congress, in order to obtain sanction and support for their despotic sway. "Quick! a congress," wrote the French poet Beranger, "two - three - congresses - four, five, six congresses," and so he went on in some spirited verses to ridicule the folly of those who believed that a whole continent of peoples could be kept in order by the dictates of a meeting of crowned conspirators. It was therefore arranged that a Congress should be held at Verona, and England was invited to take part in the assembly and to send her representative to assist in guiding its councils.