But the new Government met its Nemesis in Ireland. O'Connell and the priests were resolved that, so far as in them lay, Protestant ascendency should not be re-established in that country. The Anti-Tory Association was but one of many names and forms which the Protean agitation had assumed, and all were brought to bear with concentrated power upon every point to secure the defeat of the Ministerial candidates. Minor differences were sunk for the occasion, and all forces were combined against the Government. The consequence was that amongst the large constituencies the cause of Reform was almost everywhere successful. In Kerry, in Meath, in Youghal, and Tralee, the candidates returned were the sons and nephew of O'Connell. He himself stood a severe contest for Dublin, and was returned with Mr. Ruthven, but was unseated on petition. It was during this contest that he recommended that a "death's head and cross-bones" should be painted on the door of every elector who would support the "nefarious and blood-stained" tithe system.
Since the appearance of the Waverley Novels the poetry of Scott has been somewhat depreciated, but his metrical romances, if not of the highest class of poetry, are always fresh, from their buoyancy and the scenery in which they are laid. They are redolent of the mountain heather and summer dews; and the description of the sending of the "fiery cross" over the hills, and the battle in "Marmion," as well as other portions, are instinct with genuine poetic vigour. Campbell, who won an early reputation by his "Pleasures of Hope," is more esteemed now for his heroic ballads "Hohenlinden," "The Battle of the Baltic," and his "Mariners of England;" Moore, for his "Irish Melodies," than for his "Lalla Rookh;" Byron, for his "Childe Harold," rather than for his earlier love tales of the East, or his later dramatic poems. Amongst the very highest of the poets of that period stands Percy Bysshe Shelley (b. 1792; d. 1822), the real poet of spiritual music, of social reformation, and of the independence of man. Never did a soul inspired by a more ardent love of his fellow-creatures receive such a bitter portion of unkindness and repudiation. John Keats, of a still more delicate and shrinking temperament, also received, in return for strains of the purest harmony, a sharp judgment, in no degree, however, equal to the severity of that dealt out to Shelley. In his "Ode to a Grecian Urn," and his "Lamia," Keats left us examples of beauty of conception and felicity of expression not surpassed since the days of Shakespeare. In his "Hyperion" he gave equal proof of the strength and grandeur to which he would have attained.But though the abandonment, for the present, of this enterprise, so fondly cherished by France, was calculated to cast a damp on the country, Buonaparte had another project ready which flattered the French pride of conquest. This was to seize on Egypt, as the preliminary to the fall of Britain. He had for some time entertained this idea, and had written from Italy to the Directory on the subject in the previous September. To insure the real destruction of England, he said, they must make themselves masters of Egypt. Malta and Corfu must be seized first, and for this purpose he conceived eight or ten sail of the line and twenty-five thousand men would suffice. The possession of Egypt, he contended, would draw all the commerce of the East thither, instead of taking the circuitous route by the Cape of Good Hope. He had thoroughly inspired Talleyrand with his scheme. Egypt was imagined to be much more wealthy than it was, and there were monuments of ancient art for Buonaparte and his right-hand bandit, Monge, to lay hands on. The Directory, which was extremely unpopular, uneasy at the presence of so popular and daring a person, were glad to be rid of him anywhere, the farther off the better. There were not wanting counsellors who already advised him to perpetrate a coup d'état, and place himself at the head of affairs; but Buonaparte, not at all averse from the prospect, replied, "The pear is not ripe." He knew that, however popular with his own army, he was looked on with jealousy by the army of the Rhine, which served under, and prided themselves in, Moreau. He knew that the middle classes hated him for sweeping them away with grape-shot in the affair of the Sections. He hoped to make himself yet more popular and more necessary, and that in the meantime the Directory would have completed their full measure of odium. He now therefore plunged into arrangements for this grand conquest of the East.
In our time this defeat would, as a matter of course, have turned out the Ministry, but in that day it had no such effect. They continued to hold office, and to command undiminished majorities on other questions. Still more singular was its effect, for it induced them to offer office to their triumphant opponent Walpole, who not only accepted a subordinate post amongst them—the Paymaster of the Forces—but consented to support the very clauses regarding the Scottish peers which he had so firmly denounced, should they be inclined to bring forward the Bill a third time.
Spain having now, most fatally for herself, been persuaded to join France in the war with England, turned her first attention to Gibraltar which she hoped France would enable her to conquer. But France showed no disposition to assist her to regain Gibraltar. At the same time, the great object was to accomplish the union of the French and Spanish fleets, which they deemed must then be invincible, and not only drive the English from the seas, but enable them to land in England itself. The French managed to muster fifty thousand men, whom they marched to the different ports on the Channel, from Havre to St. Malo. By this means, keeping England in fear of an invasion, their fleet slipped out of Brest on the 3rd of June, under the command of D'Orvilliers, and effected the desired junction with the Spaniards at Cadiz. The French fleet consisted of thirty sail of the line; the Spanish, of thirty-eight; making the united fleet sixty-eight sail, besides numerous frigates and smaller vessels. Never, since the days of the Armada, had such a mighty squadron threatened the shores of Great Britain.
The case against the queen closed on the 7th of September. An adjournment took place to allow time for the preparation of her defence, which was opened on the 3rd of October by Mr. Brougham, in a magnificent oration, justly celebrated as one of the finest specimens of British forensic eloquence. It concluded as follows:—It was now expected by the Whigs, and by a great part of the public, that they should come into office. At first the conduct of the Prince Regent favoured this supposition. He applied to Grey and Grenville to draw up the answer that he should return to the two Houses on their addresses on his appointment. But he did not quite like this answer, and got Sheridan to make some alterations in it. He then returned the paper to Grey and Grenville, as in the form that he approved. But these noblemen declared that they would have nothing more to do with the paper so altered; and Sheridan, on his part, suggested to the prince that he would find such men as Ministers very domineering and impracticable. Nor was this all—Lord Grenville and his family held enormous patronage. Like all the Whigs, the Grenvilles, however they might study the interests of the country, studied emphatically their own. Grenville had long held, by a patent for life, the office of Auditor to the Exchequer; and in accepting office in "All the Talents" Ministry, he managed to obtain also the office of First Lord of the Treasury. The Auditorship of the Exchequer was instituted as a check on the Treasury, but neither Lord Grenville nor his friends saw any impropriety in destroying this check by putting both offices into the same hands. They declared this union was very safe and compatible, and a Bill was brought in for the purpose. But when the King had become both blind and insane, and no Regent was yet appointed, Lord Grenville, being no longer First Lord of the Treasury, but Perceval, he suddenly discovered that he could not obey the order of the Treasury for the issues of money to the different services. It was strictly necessary that the Great Seal, or the Privy Seal, or the Sign Manual, should be attached to the Treasury orders, or, failing these, that they should be sanctioned by an express Act of Parliament. As neither Great nor Privy Seal, nor Sign Manual was possible until a regent was appointed, Lord Grenville's conscience would not let him pass the orders of the Treasury, and all payments of army, navy, and civil service were brought to a stand. Perceval, after in vain striving hard to overcome the scruples, or rather the party obstinacy of Grenville, was compelled to go to the House of Parliament, and get the obstacle removed by a resolution of both Houses. The notice of the public being thus turned by Grenville to his holding of this office, and his readiness to unite the two offices in his own person, which his pretended scruples of conscience now invested with so much danger, produced a prejudice against him and his party, which was hostile to their coming into power. Besides this, the Opposition were greatly divided in their notions of foreign policy. Grey and his immediate section of the party felt bound, by their advocacy of Fox's principles, to oppose the war; Grenville and his friends were for a merely defensive war, and for leaving Portugal and Spain, and the other Continental nations, to fight their own battles; whilst Lord Holland, who had travelled in Spain, and was deeply interested in its language and literature, was enthusiastic for the cause of the Peninsula, and the progress which Wellington was making there. It was utterly impossible that, with such divided views, they could make an energetic Ministry at this moment, and it was equally certain that they could not again form an "All the Talents" by coalition with the Conservatives. And, beyond all this, it does not appear that the Regent was anxious to try them. Like all heirs-apparent of the house of Hanover, he had united with the Opposition during his youth, but his friendship appeared now anything but ardent. Sheridan still possessed something of his favour, and the Earl of Moira was high in it; but for the rest, the prince seemed quite as much disposed to take the Tories into his favour; and he, as well as the royal dukes, his brothers, was as much bent on the vigorous prosecution of the war as the Tories themselves. No Ministry which would have carried that on languidly, still less which would have opposed it, would have suited him any more than it would have done his father. The King, too, was not so deeply sunk in his unhappy condition but that he had intervals lucid enough to leave him alive to these questions, and he showed so much anxiety respecting the possible change of the Ministry, and fresh measures regarding the war, that his physicians declared that such a change would plunge him into hopeless madness and probably end his life. The Queen wrote to the prince, saying how much satisfaction his conduct in regard to these matters had given to his father, and he wrote to Mr. Perceval, declaring that this consideration determined him not to change the Ministry at all. At the same time he expressed to the Minister his dissatisfaction with the restrictions which had been imposed upon him. Perceval, even at the risk of offending the prince, justified the conduct of Ministers and Parliament. In this he might be the more bold, as it was clear that there was no longer any danger of a Whig Government.
SIR JAMES GRAHAM.
"THE POLLING."THE MUTINY AT SPITHEAD: HAULING DOWN THE RED FLAG ON THE "ROYAL GEORGE." (See p. 456.)HEROISM OF THE MAID OF SARAGOSSA. (See p. 556.)
CORONATION OF WILLIAM IV.: THE ROYAL PROCESSION. (See p. 343.)But the Committee found itself opposed in these objects in the highest quarter. The king displayed the most firm disposition to protect his late Minister, and was in constant communication with Walpole and his friends for the purpose. Every means were used to protect from the scrutiny of the Committee those who were possessed of the most important information, and to induce them to remain obstinately silent. Mr. Edgecumbe, who had managed the Cornish boroughs for Walpole, and could have revealed things which would have filled the Committee with exultation, was raised to the Upper House, and thus removed from the power of the Commons. Paxton, the Solicitor to the Treasury, a most important witness, remained unshakably silent, and was committed to Newgate; nor was the Committee more successful with Scrope, the Secretary to the Treasury. This officer, who, no doubt, held most desirable knowledge in his bosom, firmly refused to make any disclosures, though he was now a very feeble old man. Other officials declined to make statements whose disclosure might incriminate themselves, and which they were excused from doing by the great principles of our judicature. To remove this obstacle Lord Limerick, the Chairman of the Committee, then moved that a Bill of Indemnity should be passed, to exempt witnesses from all penalties in consequence of their disclosures. This passed the Commons by a majority of twelve, but was rejected in the House of Lords by a large majority.详情
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