The Scottish burgh question was brought forward again this Session. The magistrates of the burgh of Aberdeen having been elected, in 1817, in the same corrupt manner as those of Montrose had been in 1816, the Court of Session had declared the election illegal. The burgh of Montrose was found to have been disfranchised; but this was not the case with Aberdeen, and the magistrates applied to Government to grant a warrant for a new election, or rather a re-election of themselves. This the Government, in the face of the decision of the Court of Session, as well as of a numerously signed petition from the burgesses praying that the election should be by open poll, issued. On the 1st of April Lord Archibald Hamilton moved an address to the Prince Regent, praying for a copy of this warrant. It was strenuously resisted by Ministers, but the motion was lost by only a small majority. On the 6th of May Lord Archibald Hamilton renewed his motion in another form—namely, that the petitions which had been presented from Scottish burghs on the subject of Reform should be submitted to a committee of inquiry. He showed that out of sixty-six royal burghs thirty-nine had voted for Reform; that these thirty-nine contained a population of four hundred and twenty thousand souls, whilst the remaining twenty-seven contained only sixty thousand. The preponderance was so great that, in spite of the opposition of Ministers, the House took another view of the matter, and Lord Archibald's motion was carried, though only by one hundred and forty-nine votes against one hundred and forty-four.
These were measures which must have greatly irritated the American colonists. They exhibited a disposition to curb and repress their growing energies between the interests of British merchants and British West Indian planters. The prospect was far from encouraging; whilst, at the same time, the English Ministers, crushing these energies with one hand, were contemplating drawing a revenue by taxation from them on the other. Britain argued that she sacrificed large amounts in building up colonies, and therefore had a right to expect a return for this expenditure. Such a return, had they had the sagacity to let them alone, was inevitable from the trade of the colonies in an ever-increasing ratio.
There was another point, besides the seizure of unsuspecting British travellers, on which Buonaparte could deeply wound the honour of the British monarch, and at the same time furnish himself with considerable materials of war—the seizure of Hanover. George III. held this hereditary territory distinct from his Crown of Britain, as a State of the German federation. It was impossible to defend this against France with the forces kept there, and Napoleon ordered General Mortier to cross the Dutch frontier, and march into the Electorate with twenty thousand men. The Duke of Cambridge, who was Viceroy there, and General Walmoden, at first, put themselves in an attitude of resistance; they called on the chief Powers of Germany to protest against this invasion of the German Empire, and to come to their aid, if this remonstrance was disregarded. The Duke of Cambridge, seeing himself totally deserted by Germany, thought it best to surrender Hanover to France, by agreement that the troops should retire behind the Elbe, and not serve again till exchanged. This was done at the end of May; the different towns made their submission on the 3rd of June, and on the 5th Mortier entered Hanover; the Duke of Cambridge had quitted the country; and the British Cabinet refusing to ratify the Convention previously made with him, he called on the Hanoverian army to surrender as prisoners of war. Walmoden would have resisted with anything like equal forces, but as that was impossible, he made the best terms he could, which were that his army should give up their arms and disband themselves.
The fame of Wren must rest on St. Paul's, for in palaces he was less happy than in churches. His additions to Windsor Castle and St. James's Palace, and his erection of Marlborough House are by no means calculated to do him high honour, whilst all lovers of architecture must deplore the removal of a great part of Wolsey's palace at Hampton Court to make way for Wren's structure. A glorious view, if old drawings are to be believed, must all that vast and picturesque variety of towers, battlements, tall mullioned windows, cupolas, and pinnacles, have made, as they stood under the clear heaven glittering in the sun. The writers who saw it in its glory describe it in its entireness as the most splendid palace in Europe. Of the campaniles of Wren, that of St. Bride's, Fleet Street; of Bow Church, Cheapside; of St. Dunstan's-in-the-East; and the tower of St. Michael's, Cornhill, are the finest. The last is almost his only Gothic one, and would have been a fine tower had the ornament been equally diffused over it, and not all been crowded too near the top. Wren was thwarted in his design for the London Monument. He drew a plan for one with gilt flames issuing from the loop-holes, and surmounted by a ph?nix, but as no such design could be found in the five Orders, it was rejected, and the existing commonplace affair erected. One of his last undertakings was the repair of Westminster Abbey, to which he added the towers at the west end, and proposed to erect a spire in the centre. Sir Christopher left a large quantity of drawings, which are preserved in All Souls' College library, Oxford.The next great architect of this period is Sir John Vanbrugh, who, when in the zenith of his fame as a dramatic writer, suddenly started forth as an architect, and had the honour of erecting Castle Howard, the seat of the Earl of Carlisle; Blenheim House, built for the Duke of Marlborough, in reward of his victories; Duncomb Hall, Yorkshire; King's Weston, in Gloucestershire; Oulton Hall, Cheshire; Grimsthorpe, in Lincolnshire; Eastbury, in Dorsetshire, now destroyed; and Seaton Delaval, in Northumberland, since partly destroyed by fire. Besides these, he built the opera house, also destroyed by fire. In all these there is a strong similarity, and as a general effect, a certain magnificence; but, when examined in detail, they too frequently resolve themselves into a row of individual designs merely arranged side by side. This is very much the case with the long fa?ade of Blenheim. There is a barbaric splendour, but it has no pervading unity, and only differs from the Italian manner of Wren by a much bolder and profuser use of the Grecian columns and pilasters. In fact, the architecture of the whole of this period is of a hybrid character, the classical more or less modified and innovated to adapt it to modern purposes and the austerity of a northern climate.
New York, Jersey, and the New England States traded in the same commodities: they also built a considerable number of ships, and manufactured, especially in Massachusetts, coarse linens and woollens, iron, hats, rum, besides drying great quantities of fish for Spain, Portugal, and the Mediterranean markets. Massachusetts already employed 40,000 tons of shipping. New England furnished the finest masts in the world for the navy; Virginia and Maryland furnished 50,000 hogsheads of tobacco, annually valued at ￡370,000; employing 24,000 tons of shipping. From these colonies we received also large quantities of skins, wool, furs, flax, etc. Carolina had become a great rice-growing country. By the year 1733 it had nearly superseded the supply of that article from Italy in Spain and Portugal; in 1740 it exported nearly 100,000 barrels of rice; and seven years afterwards, besides its rice, it sent to England 200,000 pounds of indigo, rendering us independent of France for that article; and at the end of the present period its export of indigo had doubled that quantity, besides a very considerable exportation of pitch, sassafras, Brazil wood, skins, Indian corn, and other articles.When such facts as these, again and again urged upon the attention of the legislators, failed to produce any practical result, it became evident to the leaders of the League that they must do something more than be the educators of the people in the principles of Free Trade. One of the ablest of the London newspapers, which was friendly to their cause, had warned them that nothing could be done in the House of Commons until they could send members there expressly to support their views. The fact was that the party which had an interest in opposing the Registration Bill returned some forty or fifty members; while the Corn Law Leaguers, as yet, returned not one. The Leaguers were now aroused to the importance of this branch of their tactics. The first fruit of this policy was seen in December, when the borough of Walsall being declared vacant, led to a contest long after remembered in the history of the movement. The Leaguers failed; but their failing was not barren. Captain Lyttelton, a Whig, and Mr. Gladstone, brother of the distinguished statesman were the two candidates on this occasion. The League sent a deputation to test the candidates on the question of Corn Law Repeal, intending to give all their influence to the Whig candidate, if he pledged himself to advocate their objects. There was then no hope for assistance from Tory statesmen; and the League determined to bring forward a new candidate, in the person of Mr. J. B. Smith, one of the most prominent of their own body, and then President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Amid disturbances during which the military were called in, Mr. Gladstone was returned, but by the narrow majority only of 362, against 335 votes given for the League candidate. This event created a strong impression; but it was but the beginning of the efforts of the League in this field, which were destined again and again to be crowned with a more successful issue. At the general election of 1841, however, the League was powerless against the Conservative majority, though Mr. Cobden was returned for Stockport.
Lord Howe, when he had collected his ships after the storm which separated him from D'Estaing, again made for Boston, in the hope of being able to attack the French Admiral in the harbour; but he found him too well protected by the batteries to be able to reach him. He therefore returned to New York, and, as his leave of absence had arrived, he surrendered the command to Admiral Byron, and took his leave of America on the 26th of September, and reached Portsmouth on the 25th of October. Byron now had a very good fleet, consisting of ships of one size or other to the number of ninety-one sail. Such a fleet assembled on the American coast at a proper time would have intercepted and destroyed the fleet of D'Estaing, and have cleared all those waters of French and American privateers. Byron no sooner came into command than he also made a voyage to Boston, to see whether he could not come at D'Estaing's fleet; but his usual weather attended him, his ships were scattered by a tempest, and D'Estaing took the opportunity of sailing to the West Indies, according to his orders. Notwithstanding the agreement of the French to assist America, they were thinking much more of recovering Canada or seizing on the British West India islands for themselves.CAPTURE OF MURAT. (See p. 117.)Before the conclusion of this treaty Pitt had made another effort to obtain peace with France. The fact that one ally, Austria, was engaged in separate negotiations gave him a fair excuse, and Lord Malmesbury was once more sent to negotiate. He went to Lille, presented his plan of a treaty, and at first all went well. Britain promised to restore all her conquests with the exception of Ceylon, the Cape of Good Hope, and Trinidad. But the Directory suffered the negotiations to drag on, and when intestine struggles in France had been terminated in the triumph of the Republican party on the 18th Fructidor (September 4), the negotiations were suddenly broken off on the ground that Malmesbury had not full authority. Once more the war party in France had gained the day, and the weary contest was resumed.
Grey and Fox then made an equally brisk attack on the support of Turkey by Ministers. They greatly applauded the Czarina, and Fox affirmed that so far from Turkey soliciting our interference, it had objected to it. On the same day, in the Lords, Lord Fitzwilliam opened the same question. He contended that we had fitted out an expensive armament to prevent the conquest by Russia of Oczakoff, and yet had not done it, but had ended in accepting the very terms that the Czarina had offered in 1790. Ministers replied that, though we had not saved Oczakoff, we had prevented still more extensive attempts by Russia. Though the Opposition, in both cases, was defeated, the attack was renewed on the 27th of February, when the Earl Stanhope—an enthusiastic worshipper of the French Revolution—recommended, as the best means of preventing aggression by Continental monarchs, a close alliance on our part with France. Two days afterwards Mr. Whitbread introduced a string of resolutions in the Commons, condemning the interference of Ministers between Russia and Turkey, and the needless expenditure thus incurred, in fact, going over much the same ground. A strenuous debate followed, in which Grey, Fox, Windham, Francis, Sheridan, and the whole Whig phalanx, took part. On this occasion, Mr. Jenkinson, afterwards Earl of Liverpool, first appeared, and made his maiden speech in defence of Ministers. He showed that the system of aggression had commenced with Russia, and menaced the profoundest dangers to Europe; that Britain had wisely made alliance with Prussia to stem the evil, and he utterly repudiated all notion of the moderation of the Czarina, whose ambition he asserted to be of the most unscrupulous kind.[See larger version]
But the question of the restrictions upon Dissenters was again taken up by Lord Stanhope, in 1811. On the 21st of March he presented to the House of Lords a short Bill "For the better securing the liberty of conscience." It had the same fate as his former ones. Ministers seemed rather inclined to abridge the liberty of conscience, for immediately afterwards, namely, on the 9th of May, Lord Sidmouth brought in a Bill to limit the granting of licences to preach, asserting that this licence was made use of by ignorant and unfit persons, because having such a licence exempted them from serving in the militia, on juries, etc. The Bill excited great alarm amongst the Dissenters, and Lord Stanhope and Lord Grey, on the 17th of the month, when Lord Sidmouth moved for the second reading of the Bill, prayed for some time to be allowed for the expression of public opinion. The second reading was, accordingly, deferred till the 21st, by which time a flock of petitions came up against it, one of which was signed by four thousand persons. Lord Erskine said that these petitions were not a tenth part of what would be presented, if time were afforded for the purpose; and he ridiculed the idea of persons obtaining exemption from serving in the militia by merely taking out licences to preach. Lord Grey confirmed this, saying that it was impossible for persons to obtain such licences, except they were ministers of separate congregations. This was secured by an Act passed in 1802, and still more, the party applying for such licence was restricted from following any trade, except that of keeping a school. These regulations, he stated, were most minutely adhered to, both in the general and local militia, and he challenged Lord Sidmouth to show him a single instance, since the Act of 1802, where exemption had been improperly obtained by a Dissenter. Lord Grey proved from actual returns that the whole number of persons who had been licensed during the last forty-eight years had only been three thousand six hundred and seventy-eight, or about seventy-seven annually on an average, and that the highest number reached in any one year had been only about one hundred and sixty. He contended that these facts demonstrated the non-necessity of the Bill. It was lost.
The Crown had resolved to proceed against the queen by a Bill of Pains and Penalties, the introduction of which was preceded by the appointment of a secret committee, to perform functions somewhat analogous to those of a grand jury in finding bills against accused parties. Mr. Brougham earnestly protested against the appointment of a secret committee, which was opposed by Lords Lansdowne and Holland. The course was explained and defended by the Lord Chancellor, who said that the object of Ministers in proposing a secret committee was to prevent injustice towards the accused; that committee would not be permitted to pronounce a decision; it would merely find, like a grand jury, that matter of accusation did or did not exist; such matter, even if found to have existence, could not be the subject of judicial proceeding, strictly so called. The offence of a queen consort, or a Princess Consort of Wales, committing adultery with a person owing allegiance to the British Crown would be that of a principal in high treason, because by statute it was high treason in him; and as accessories in high treason are principals, she would thus be guilty of high treason as a principal; but as the act of a person owing no allegiance to the British Crown could not be high treason in him, so neither could a princess be guilty of that crime merely by being an accessory to such a person's act. Yet although, for this reason, there could be no judicial proceeding in such a case, there might be a legislative one; and the existence or non-existence of grounds for such legislative proceeding was a matter into which it would be fit that a secret committee should inquire. In no case could injustice be done, because that committee's decision would not be final. There might be differences of opinion about the best mode of proceeding, but, for God's sake, said the Lord Chancellor, let it be understood that they all had the same object in view, and that their difference was only about the best mode of procedure.The rapid growth of the commerce of the American colonies excited an intense jealousy in our West Indian Islands, which claimed a monopoly of supply of sugar, rum, molasses, and other articles to all the British possessions. The Americans trading with the French, Dutch, Spaniards, etc., took these articles in return; but the West Indian proprietors prevailed upon the British Government, in 1733, to impose a duty on the import of any produce of foreign plantations into the American colonies, besides granting a drawback on the re-exportation of West Indian sugar from Great Britain. This was one of the first pieces of legislation of which the American colonies had a just right to complain. At this period our West Indies produced about 85,000 hogsheads of sugar, or 1,200,000 cwts. About three hundred sail were employed in the trade with these islands, and some 4,500 sailors; the value of British manufactures exported thither being nearly ￡240,000 annually, but our imports from Jamaica alone averaged at that time ￡539,492. Besides rum, sugar, and molasses, we received from the West Indies cotton, indigo, ginger, pimento, cocoa, coffee, etc.
[See larger version]At the Congress, which began in June, William Stanhope, Horace Walpole, and Poyntz represented England. At Paris Lord Waldegrave supplied the place of Horace Walpole; and at the Hague the Earl of Chesterfield ably managed the national interests. At the Congress there was a frequent exchange of memorials and counter-memorials, but no real business was done. The only things which grew apparent were that France and Spain were becoming more reconciled, and that the league between Spain and the Emperor was fast dissolving.详情
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