In the midst of this constitution-making, famine was stalking through the country, and bankruptcy was menacing the exchequer. The first loan of thirty millions had proved a total failure; a second of eighty, according to a fresh plan of Necker's, was equally a blank. With the necessities of the Government, the necessities of the people kept pace. The whole country was revolutionising instead of working; destroying estates instead of cultivating them. Farmers were afraid of sowing what they might never reap; trade and manufactures were at an end, for there was little money and no confidence. The country was not become unfruitful, but its people had gone mad, and the inevitable consequence was an ever-increasing famine. This, instead of being attributed to the true causes, was ascribed by the mob orators to all kinds of devilish practices of the Court and the aristocracy.During the recess a violent quarrel had been going on in the City, which showed the disorganisation of the Opposition. Wilkes had offered himself as sheriff; but Alderman Oliver, who had lately been in prison for his bold conduct in the affair of Miller, the printer, had refused to support the claim of Wilkes. In fact, not only he, but the Lord Mayor, Alderman Townshend, and Sawbridge, were beginning to see through Wilkes. Oliver went further—he refused to serve as the other sheriff with Wilkes. Government availed itself of these divisions to defeat the election of Wilkes. Alderman Bull became the second candidate with Wilkes, and Government induced their party in the City to nominate Aldermen Plumbe and Kirkman in opposition to them. Wilkes would probably have been defeated, especially as Oliver finally came forward, supported by all the eloquence and exertions of John Horne. But, fortunately for Wilkes and his fellow-candidate, Bull, a letter sent by the Government agent to a Mr. Smith in the City was misdelivered to another Mr. Smith, a supporter of Wilkes and Bull, announcing the exertions that Government would make in support of their men, Plumbe and Kirkman. This letter was immediately published, and, alarming all the enemies of Government, made them rally round Wilkes and Bull, who were accordingly elected.
In committee the Opposition endeavoured to introduce some modifying clause. They proposed that the Dissenters should have schools for their own persuasion; and, had the object of the Bill been to prevent them from endangering the Church by educating the children of Churchmen, this would have served the purpose. But this was not the real object; the motive of the Bill was the old tyrannic spirit of the Church, and this most reasonable clause was rejected. They allowed, however, dames or schoolmistresses to teach the children to read; and they removed the conviction of offenders from the justices of peace to the courts of law, and granted a right of appeal to a higher court. Finally, they exempted tutors in noblemen's families, noblemen being supposed incapable of countenancing any other than teachers of Court principles. Stanhope seized on this to extend the privilege to the members of the House of Commons, arguing that, as many members of the Commons were connected with noble families, they must have an equal claim for the education of their children in sound principles. This was an exquisite bit of satire, but it was unavailing. The Hanoverian Tories, headed by Lord Anglesey, moved that the Act should extend to Ireland, where, as the native population was almost wholly Catholic, and therefore schismatic in the eye of the Established Church, the Bill would have almost entirely extinguished education. The Bill was carried on the 10th of June by a majority only of seventy-seven against seventy-two, and would not have been carried at all except for the late creation of Tory peers.The force left to keep possession of Cabul and guard the protégé of the Indian Government was so situated as to tempt the aggression of a treacherous enemy. Sir William Macnaghten, the British Resident, and his suite, resided in the Mission Compound, which was badly defended, and commanded by a number of small forts, while the commissariat stores were placed in an old fort, detached from the cantonment and in such a state as to be wholly indefensible. Moreover, General Elphinstone, the commander of the troops, was old and inefficient. A conspiracy had been formed by the friends of Akbar Khan, son of the deposed sovereign, Dost Mahomed, who forged a document, and had it circulated amongst the principal men of Cabul, to the effect that it was the design of the British envoy to send them all to London, and that the king had issued an order to put the infidels all to death. The insurrection commenced by an attack on the dwellings of Sir Alexander Burnes, who was about to succeed Macnaghten, and Captain Johnson, who resided in the city. Sir Alexander addressed the party from the gallery of his house, thinking that it was a mere riot. The insurgents, however, broke in, killed him with his brother, Lieutenant Burnes, and Lieutenant Broadfoot, and set the house on fire. The Afghans then surrounded the cantonments, and poured in a constant fire upon them from every position they could occupy. They quickly seized the ill-defended commissariat stores, upon which the existence of the British depended. The garrison bravely defended itself with such precarious supplies as could be had from the country; but at length these supplies were exhausted. Winter set in, snow fell, and there was nothing before them but the prospect of starvation. They therefore listened to overtures for negotiation, and the British envoy was compelled to consent to these humiliating terms on the 11th of December, 1841:—That the British should evacuate the whole of Afghanistan, including Candahar, Ghuznee, and Jelalabad; that they should be permitted to return unmolested to India, and have supplies granted on their road thither; that means of transport should be furnished to the troops; that Dost Mahomed Khan, his family, and every Afghan then detained within our territories should be allowed to return to their own country; that Shah Sujah and his family should receive from the Afghan Government one lac of rupees per annum; that all prisoners should be released; that a general amnesty should be proclaimed; and that no British force should ever be sent into Afghanistan without being invited by the Afghan Government. These terms having been agreed to, the chiefs took with them Captain Trevor as a hostage; but nothing was done to carry the agreement into effect, and Macnaghten and Elphinstone remained irresolutely at Cabul. Some of their staff attempted to bribe the Afghans, and Akbar Khan thereupon determined to withhold supplies. It soon became evident that the object was to starve out the garrison, and compel them to surrender unconditionally. At length, on the 22nd of December, they sent two persons into the cantonment, who made a proposal in the name of Akbar Khan, that the Shah should continue king, that Akbar should become his Prime Minister, and that one of the principal chiefs should be delivered up to the British as a prisoner. This was a mere trap, into which Sir William Macnaghten unfortunately fell with fatal credulity. On the 23rd of December the envoy, attended by Captains Lawrence, Trevor, and M'Kenzie, left the Mission Compound, to hold a conference with Akbar Khan in the plain towards Serah Sung. Crowds of armed Afghans hovering near soon excited suspicions of treachery. Captain Lawrence begged that the armed men might be ordered off; but Akbar Khan exclaimed, "No, they are all in the secret." At that instant Sir William and the three officers were seized from behind and disarmed. Sir W. Macnaghten was last seen on the ground struggling violently with Akbar Khan, consternation and terror depicted on his countenance. "His look of wondering horror, says Kaye, "will never be forgotten by those who saw it, to their dying day." The other three officers were placed on horses, each behind a Ghilzai chief, who galloped off with them to a fort in the neighbourhood. Captain Trevor fell off his horse, and was instantly murdered. The others were assailed with knives by the infuriated Afghans, and barely escaped to the fort with their lives. Meanwhile the head of the British Minister was cut off and paraded through the streets, while the bleeding and mangled trunk was exposed to the insults of the populace in the principal bazaar.GEORGE II. AT DETTINGEN, 1743.
These treaties were regarded by Lord Lake, Sir John Malcolm—who had to negotiate them—and many men of eminence in Indian affairs, as based on a policy which could not last; that there could be no quiet in Hindostan so long as the restless Mahrattas and Pindarrees were not broken up, nor till the Indus was made the boundary of our Indian empire towards the north-west. We shall see that a few more years justified their foresight. These treaties, however, having, for the present, restored peace to the north, Lord Lake, after giving a grand review of the army on the banks of the Hyphasis, to impress the Sikhs with a sense of our military superiority, commenced his march back to Delhi, and in February, 1807, quitted his command in India, few commanders having rendered more brilliant services in that part of our empire, or left behind them more sincere esteem and admiration.
One of the events of the early part of this year was the capture of the Dutch island of Cura?oa, by a squadron under Captain Brisbane; but by far the most prominent naval transaction of the year was the seizure of the Danish fleet off Copenhagen—a proceeding which occasioned severe censures on Britain by Buonaparte and the Continental nations under his domination. The Opposition at home were equally violent in the outcry against this act, as in open violation of the laws of nations, Denmark then being nominally at peace with us. But, though nominally at peace, Denmark was at heart greatly embittered against us by our bombardment of its capital in 1801, and it was quite disposed to fall in with and obey the views of Napoleon, who was now master of all Germany, at peace with Russia through the Treaty of Tilsit, and, therefore, able any day to overrun Denmark. Buonaparte was enforcing his system of the exclusion of Britain from all the ports of the Continent, and it was inevitable that he would compel Denmark to comply with this system. But there was another matter. Denmark had a considerable fleet and admirable seamen, and he might employ the fleet greatly to our damage, probably in endeavouring to realise his long-cherished scheme of the invasion of England; at the least, in interrupting her commerce and capturing her merchantmen. The British Ministers were privately informed that Buonaparte intended to make himself master of this fleet, and they knew that there were private articles in the Treaty of Tilsit between Russia and France, by which he contemplated great changes in the North, in which Denmark was believed to be involved. Upon these grounds alone the British Government was justified, by the clearest expressions of international law, in taking time by the forelock, and possessing themselves of the fleet to be turned against them; not to appropriate it, but to hold it in pledge till peace. Grotius is decisive on this point:—"I may, without considering whether it is manifest or not, take possession of that which belongs to another man, if I have reason to apprehend any evil to myself from his holding it. I cannot make myself master or proprietor of it, the property having nothing to do with the end which I propose; but I can keep possession of the thing seized till my safety be sufficiently provided for." This view would fully have justified the British Government, had nothing further ever become known. But subsequent research in the Foreign Office of France has placed these matters in their true light. The Treaty of Tilsit contains secret articles by which Alexander was permitted by Napoleon to appropriate Finland, and Napoleon was authorised by Alexander to enter Denmark, and take possession of the Danish fleet, to employ against us at sea. These secret articles were revealed to the British Government. No man at this time was so indignant as Alexander of Russia at our thus assailing a power not actually at war. He issued a manifesto against Britain, denouncing the transaction as one which, for infamy, had no parallel in history, he himself being in the act of doing the same thing on a far larger scale, and without that sufficient cause which Britain could show, and without any intention of making restitution. We only seized a fleet that was on the point of being used against us, and which was to be returned at the end of the war; the horrified Czar invaded Sweden, while at peace, and, without any declaration of war, usurped a whole country—Finland, larger than Great Britain. Russia, in fact, had brought Denmark into this destructive dilemma by its insidious policy; but, having seized Finland, in five years more it committed a still greater robbery on Denmark than it had done on Sweden, by contracting with Bernadotte to wrest Norway from Denmark, and give it to Sweden.But the Nabob of Oude held out new temptations of gain to Hastings. The Rohillas, a tribe of Afghans, had, earlier in the century, descended from their mountains and conquered the territory lying between the Ganges and the mountains to the west of Oude. They had given it the name of Rohilcund. These brave warriors would gladly have been allies of the British, and applied to Sujah Dowlah to bring about such an alliance. Dowlah made fair promises, but he had other views. He hoped, by the assistance of the British, to conquer Rohilcund and add it to Oude. He had no hope that his rabble of the plains could stand against this brave mountain race, and he now artfully stated to Hastings that the Mahrattas were at war with the Rohillas. If they conquered them, they would next attack Oude, and, succeeding there, would descend the Ganges and spread over all Bahar and Bengal. He therefore proposed that the British should assist him to conquer Rohilcund for himself, and add it to Oude. For this service he would pay all the expenses of the campaign, the British army would obtain a rich booty, and at the end he would pay the British Government besides the sum of forty lacs of rupees. Hastings had no cause of quarrel with the Rohillas, but for the proffered reward he at once acceded to the proposal. In April, 1774, an English brigade, under Colonel Champion, invaded Rohilcund, and in a hard-fought field defeated the Rohillas. In the whole of this campaign nothing could be more disgraceful in every way than the conduct of the troops of Oude. They took care to keep behind during the fighting, but to rush forward to the plunder. The Nabob and his troops committed such horrors in plundering and massacreing not only the Rohillas, but the native and peaceful Hindoos, that the British officers and soldiers denounced the proceedings with horror. It was now, however, in vain that Hastings called on the Nabob to restrain his soldiers, for, if he did not plunder, how was he to pay the stipulated forty lacs of rupees? and if he ruined and burnt out the natives, how were they, Hastings asked, to pay any taxes to him as his new subjects? All this was disgraceful enough, but this was not all. Shah Allum now appeared upon the scene, and produced a contract between himself and the Nabob, which had been made unknown to Hastings, by which the Nabob of Oude stipulated that, on condition of the Mogul advancing against the Rohillas from the south of Delhi, he should receive a large share of the conquered territory and the plunder. The Nabob now refused to fulfil the agreement, on the plea that the Mogul ought to have come and fought, and Hastings sanctioned that view of the case, and returned to Calcutta with his ill-gotten booty.
During this protracted agony of suspense and alarm business was almost at a standstill. Nobody seemed to think or talk of anything but the rebellion—the chances of success and the possibility of having to submit to a republic. There could not be a more striking proof of the inability of Lord Clarendon to cope with this emergency than his dealings with the proprietors of the World, a journal with a weekly circulation of only 500 or 600 copies, which subsisted by levying blackmail for suppressing attacks on private character. It was regarded as a common nuisance, and yet the Lord-Lieutenant took the editor into his confidence, held private conferences with him on the state of the country, and gave him large sums for writing articles in defence of law and order. These sums amounted to ￡1,700, and he afterwards gave him ￡2,000 to stop an action in the Court of Queen's Bench. Mr. Birch, the gentleman in question, was not satisfied with this liberal remuneration for his services; the mine was too rich not to be worked out, and he afterwards brought an action against Sir William Somerville, then Chief Secretary, for some thousands more, when Lord Clarendon himself was produced as a witness, and admitted the foregoing facts. The decision of the court was against Birch; but when, in February, 1852, the subject was brought before the House of Commons by Lord Naas, the Clarendon and Birch transactions were sanctioned by a majority of 92.
The Opposition made no objection to the re-election of Onslow as Speaker of the Commons, but they made a determined attack on the Address. Lord Noel Somerset moved that in the Address his Majesty should be desired not to engage this kingdom in a war for the defence of his Hanoverian dominions. This was seconded by Shippen, who declared that he had grown old in the House of Commons only to see all the predictions of his life realised in the management of the nation. Pulteney seemed to be animated by a double portion of patriotic indignation. He reviewed Walpole's whole administration, and accused him, not merely of individual acts of erroneous policy, but of deliberate treachery. The Whigs, elated by this fiery denunciation of the Minister, called for a division; but Pulteney, aware that they had not yet a majority, observed that dividing was not the way to multiply. Walpole, on his part, offered to leave out the paragraph thanking his Majesty for his royal care in prosecuting the war with Spain; but this was only regarded as a proof of conscious weakness, and Pulteney proceeded to charge Walpole with purposely ruining the nation to serve the Pretender. This called Walpole up, and he defended himself with all his accustomed self-command and ability. He retorted the charges of serving the Pretender on his enemies, and these with real grounds. He referred to Chesterfield's recent visit to the Pretender's Court at Avignon. He asked, as he had done before more than once, whether he, as Minister, had raised the war in Germany, or advised the war with Spain? Whether he was amenable for the deaths of the late Emperor and the King of Prussia, which opened up all these complications? Whether the lawless ambition of Frederick, and the war between Sweden and Russia, were chargeable on him? He offered to meet the Opposition on the question of the state of the nation, if they would name a day. This challenge was accepted, and the 21st of January, 1742, was fixed upon. The clause respecting the Spanish war, as Walpole had suggested, was also struck out, and the Address then was carried unanimously.
Amongst the earliest of the prose writers may be mentioned the theological authors. Cumberland was the author of a Latin treatise, "De Legibus Natur?," in which he successfully combated the infidelity of Hobbes. Bull, who, as well as Cumberland, became a bishop, distinguished himself before the Revolution by his "Harmonia Apostolica," an anti-Calvinistic work, and by his "Defensio Fidei Nicen?." In 1694 he published his "Judicium Ecclesi? Catholic?." John Norris, of the school of Cudworth and Henry More, and nearly the last of that school called the English Platonists, published, besides many other works, his "Essay on the Ideal World" in 1701 and 1702. He also wrote some religious poetry of no particular mark.
In 1765 Clive embarked for India for the third and last time. He went out with the firm determination to curb and crush the monster abuses that everywhere prevailed in our Indian territories. He had made a fortune of forty thousand pounds a year, and he was, therefore, prepared to quash the system by which thousands of others were endeavouring to do the same. No man was sharper than Clive in perceiving, where his own interest was not concerned, the evils which were consuming the very vitals of our power, and making our name odious in Hindostan. The first and most glaring abuse of power which arrested his attention was as regarded his old puppet, Meer Jaffier. He had lately died, and his own court had proposed to set up his legitimate grandson; but the Council preferred his natural son, Nujeem-ul-Dowlah, a poor spiritless youth, who agreed that the English should take the military defence of the country, and also appoint a Prime Minister to manage the revenue and other matters of government. The Council agreed to this, and received a present from the nabob of their creation of one hundred and forty thousand pounds, which they divided amongst themselves. This was directly in opposition to the recent order of the Court of Directors, not to accept any presents from the native princes; but, as Clive states, he found them totally disregarding everything but their own avarice.The Commissioners recommended the appointment of a central board to control the administration of the Poor Laws, with such assistant Commissioners as might be found requisite, the Commissioners being empowered and directed to frame and enforce regulations for the government of workhouses, and as to the nature and amount of the relief to be given and the labour to be exacted; the regulations to be uniform throughout the country. The necessity of a living, central, permanent authority had been rendered obvious by the disastrous working of the old system, arising partly from the absence of such control—an authority accumulating experience in itself, independent of local control, uninterested in favour of local abuse, and responsible to the Government. A Board of three Commissioners was therefore appointed under the Act, themselves appointing assistant Commissioners, capable of receiving the powers of the Commission by delegation. The anomalous state of things with regard to districts was removed by the formation of unions.
Amongst the Independents the names of John Clayton and William Beugo Collyer, and amongst the Unitarians Dr. Priestley, Theophilus Lindsey, and Thomas Belsham are conspicuous.
ELBA.But whilst these conflicts were taking place, the Revolution was marching on at full speed, and had reached its height—the Declaration of Independence. The Continental Congress, on the 15th of May, passed a resolution that it was necessary for such of the States as had not framed for themselves such constitutions as were required by the altered circumstances of the country, to forthwith frame such as should be conducive to their safety and welfare. This was published in all the newspapers, accompanied by a statement that, as the King of England, in concurrence with his Parliament, had excluded the people of those colonies from his protection, it became indispensable to abolish the constitution established by that power, and frame one for themselves. Here was a plain declaration; there was no longer any mistake.详情
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