Such was the position of affairs when Parliament was prorogued on the 9th of August. The Peel Ministry appeared to be as firmly seated as any combination then possible was likely to be, and the agriculturists' monopoly seemed safe at least for another year; but the Government had already received warnings of a coming storm. The weather had been for some time wet and cold, but as yet a general failure of the wheat crop was not anticipated. The trouble approached from a quarter in which no one had looked for it. Early in the month of August Sir Robert Peel had received an account of an extraordinary appearance in the potato crop in the Isle of Wight. On the 11th of August Sir James Graham received a letter from a great potato salesman, indicating that the same mysterious signs were observable throughout the south-eastern counties, and he hastened to communicate the facts to his colleague. These isolated observations soon became confirmed from numerous quarters, and the account was everywhere the same. First a brown spot was observable on the skin of the potato; then the spot became black, the leaves and flowers of whole fields grew shrivelled, black, and putrid; and the crops, wherever the plague appeared, were almost entirely destroyed. From Ireland the most alarming accounts were received, and the newspapers were quickly filled with details of the progress of the "potato disease." It began to be asked what would be done with the unemployed multitudes in that country, whose stock of provisions for the next ten months was gone?
Carteret—or Granville, as we must now style him, for he succeeded to the earldom in 1744—still retained the favour of the king precisely in the same degree as he had forfeited that of the people and the Parliament, by his unscrupulous support of George's Hanoverian predilections. Elated with the favour of the king, Granville insisted on exercising the same supreme power in the Cabinet which Walpole had done. This drove Pelham and his brother, Newcastle, to inform the king that they or Granville must resign. George, unwilling to part with Granville, yet afraid of offending the Pelham party, and risking their support of the large subsidies which he required for Germany, was in a great strait. He sent for Lord Orford up from Houghton, who attended, though in the extreme agonies of the stone, which, in a few months later, brought him to his end. Walpole, notwithstanding the strong desire of the king to retain Granville, and that also of the Prince of Wales—who on this and all points connected with Hanover agreed with the king, though no one else did—decided that it was absolutely necessary that he should resign; and accordingly, on the 24th of November, Granville sullenly resigned the seals, and they were returned to his predecessor, the Earl of Harrington.
Lord Wellington came up with him on the 9th of April, in the meantime having had to get across the rapid Garonne, with all his artillery and stores, in the face of the French batteries. The next morning, the 10th, being Easter Sunday, Wellington attacked Soult in all his positions. These were remarkably strong, most of his troops being posted on well-fortified heights, bristling with cannon, various strongly-built houses being crammed with riflemen; while a network of vineyards and orchards, surrounded by stone walls, and intersected by streams, protected his men, and rendered the coming at them most difficult. The forces on both sides were nearly equal. Soult had about forty-two thousand men, and Wellington, besides his army composed of British, Germans, and Portuguese, had a division of fifteen thousand Spaniards. The difficulties of the situation far out-balanced the excess of about three thousand men on the British side; but every quarter was gallantly attacked and, after a severe conflict, carried. Soult retired into Toulouse, and during the ensuing night he evacuated it, and retreated to Carcassonne. The loss of the Allies in killed was six hundred, and about four thousand wounded. Soult confessed to three thousand two hundred killed and wounded, but we may calculate his total loss at little less than that of the Allies, although his troops had been protected by their stone walls and houses.[See larger version]
Mr. Manners Sutton was again chosen Speaker of the House of Commons, having already presided over four successive Parliaments, occupying a period of fourteen years, during which he performed the onerous duties of his high position to the satisfaction of all parties. A week was occupied in the swearing-in of members. All the preliminary formalities having been gone through, the Parliament was opened by the king in person on the 2nd of November. The Royal Speech, which was of unusual length, excited the deepest interest, and was listened to with breathless attention and intense anxiety. The concluding paragraph of the Speech, while expressing the strongest confidence in the loyalty of the people, intimated the determination of the Government to resist Parliamentary Reform. This attitude was regarded as a defiance to the Opposition; and it roused into excitement the spirit of hostility, which might have been disarmed by a tone of conciliation, and by a disposition to make moderate concessions. Nothing, therefore, could have been more favourable to the aims of the Whig leaders than the course taken by the Administration; and if they wanted an excuse for breaking forth into open war, it was supplied by the imprudent speech of the Duke of Wellington. The Royal Speech, indeed, suggested revolutionary topics to the Reformers, by its allusion to Continental politics. The king observed that the elder branch of the House of Bourbon no longer reigned in France, and that the Duke of Orleans had been called to the throne. The state of affairs in the Low Countries—namely, the separation of Belgium from Holland—was viewed with deep regret; and "his Majesty lamented that the enlightened administration of the King of the Netherlands" should not have preserved his dominions from revolt; stating that he was endeavouring, in concert with his allies, to devise such means of restoring tranquillity as might be compatible with the welfare and good government of the Netherlands, and with the future security of other States.
All this time, too, the brave Tyrolese were in open revolt, so that the success of Austria would have instantly produced a universal rising of the country. But for six weeks the Austrians continued to allow Napoleon to keep open his communication with Vienna, whence he procured every material for building, not one bridge, but three; timber, cordage, iron, and forty engines to drive the piles, were procured from its ample magazines. Besides building the bridges, Buonaparte had quickly fortified the island, and placed batteries so as to prevent any successful attack upon him, whilst he was now furnished with the means of issuing from the island almost at pleasure. Since their being cooped up on Lobau, the French had received numerous reinforcements; and though the Archduke John was marching to join the Archduke Charles, Eugene Beauharnais was close at his heels, continually harassing him and compelling him to fight. On the frontiers of Hungary, the town of Raab ought to have enabled John to resist and retard Beauharnais, and have allowed the Archduke Regnier, who was organising another army in Hungary, to come up; but Raab only stood out eight days, and John was obliged to cross the Danube at Pressburg, to endeavour to advance and make a junction with the Archduke Charles. But Eugene Beauharnais managed to join Buonaparte still earlier, and the Emperor did not then allow John to unite with Charles; for, on the night of the 5th of July, he began to fire on the Austrians, on the left bank of the Danube, from gunboats; and whilst they were replying to this, he quietly put his forces across the river. At daylight the next morning the Archduke Charles was astonished to find the French army on the open land; they had turned his whole position, had taken the villages of Esslingen and Enzersdorf, and were already assailing him in flank and rear. The archduke retired upon Wagram, which was lost and taken several times during the day. Buonaparte attempted to break the centre of the Austrian line by a concentrated fire of grape-shot, but the Austrians replied vigorously with their artillery. The French were held in check, if not repulsed. The Saxons and other German troops displayed a disposition to break, and go over to the Austrians. Buonaparte spoke sharply to Bernadotte of the conduct of the Saxons, and the marshal replied that they had no longer such soldiers as they brought from the camp of Boulogne. When night closed the French were in confusion, and, in reality, worsted. The next morning, the 6th of July, the archduke renewed the attack on all the French lines, but is said to have left his centre too weak. Buonaparte again endeavoured to break it, but failed. Bernadotte, Massena, and Davoust were all in turn driven from their positions. Buonaparte, in a state of desperation, cried, "The Austrian centre must be battered with artillery like a fortress." He ordered Davoust to make a desperate charge on the left wing, and called on Drouet, the general of his artillery, to bring up all the artillery of the Guard, and support Davoust. Davoust directed the whole of his force on the left wing, which was broken, and then Buonaparte, forming a dense and deep column of all his best troops, old and new Guards, and his celebrated Grenadiers à cheval, under Macdonald and Beauharnais, drove against the centre with a fury that shattered it, and the battle was decided. But at what a price! The Austrians had twenty-six or twenty-seven thousand killed and wounded, and the French upwards of thirty thousand. Buonaparte lost three generals, and had twenty-one wounded. The Austrians had thirteen generals killed or wounded; but they had taken many more prisoners than they had lost. Whilst the battle was raging, the Archduke John was approaching from Pressburg; but Austrian slowness, or, as it is said, conflicting orders from his brother and the Aulic Council, did not permit him to come up in time, or he would assuredly have turned the day.Numbers of persons fled from the different towns to the frontiers of Holland, trade became stagnant, manufactories stood empty; the whole country began to assume a melancholy and ruinous aspect. Many of the refugees, formed into revolutionary clubs by French emissaries, were prepared not merely to oppose Joseph's despotism, but all monarchical government whatever. A powerful body of these placed themselves under the leadership of Van der Noot, a lawyer, who assumed the title of plenipotentiary agent of the people of Brabant; and of Van der Mersch, an officer who had served in the Seven Years' War, who was made their commander-in-chief. These two men were in league with the new Assembly of Breda, and issued their proclamations. These Trautmansdorff caused to be burnt by the executioner. The patriots in Brussels who sympathised with those in arms were, many of them, arrested; the citizens were disarmed, the fortifications strengthened by palisades, and every means of defence was resorted to.
[See larger version]
There was no man in the colonies, nevertheless, who contributed so much to bring the open Declaration of Independence to a crisis as Thomas Paine, the celebrated author of "The Rights of Man" and of "The Age of Reason." Paine was originally a Quaker and staymaker at Thetford, in Norfolk. He renounced his Quakerism and his staymaking, became an exciseman, and then an usher in a school, reverting again to the gauging of ale firkins. In 1772 he wrote a pamphlet on the mischiefs arising from the inadequate payment of the excise officers, laying them open to bribes, etc. This pamphlet having been sent to Franklin, induced him to recommend the poor author to emigrate to America. Paine adopted the advice, and settled at Philadelphia in 1774. He there devoted himself to political literature, wrote for the papers and journals, finally edited the Philadelphia Magazine, and, imbibing all the ardour of revolution, wrote, in January of the year 1776, a pamphlet called "Common Sense." This pamphlet was the spark that was needed to fire the train of independence. It at once seized on the imagination of the public, cast other writers into the shade, and flew, in thousands and tens of thousands of copies, throughout the colonies. It ridiculed the idea of a small island, three thousand miles off, ruling that immense continent, and threatening, by its insolent assumption, the expanding energies of three millions of men, more vigorous, virtuous, and free, than those who sought to enslave them.Lord Belvidere " " 45,000GEORGE CANNING.
The American Colonies and their Trade—Growing Irritation in America—The Stamp Act—The American Protest—The Stamp Act passed—Its Reception in America—The King's Illness—The Regency Bill—The Princess Dowager omitted—Her Name inserted in the Commons—Negotiations for a Change of Ministry—The old Ministry returns—Fresh Negotiations with Pitt—The first Rockingham Ministry—Riots in America—The Stamped Paper destroyed—Pitt's Speech—The Stamp Act repealed—Weakness of the Government—Pitt and Temple disagree—Pitt forms a Ministry—And becomes Lord Chatham—His Comprehensive Policy—The Embargo on Wheat—Illness of Chatham—Townshend's Financial Schemes—Corruption of Parliament—Wilkes elected for Middlesex—Arrest of Wilkes—Dangerous Riots—Dissolution of the Boston Assembly—Seizure of the Liberty Sloop—Debates in Parliament—Continued Persecution of Wilkes—His Letter to Lord Weymouth—Again expelled the House—His Re-election—The Letters of Junius—Luttrell declared elected for Middlesex—Incapacity of the Ministry—Partial Concessions to the Americans—Bernard leaves Boston—He is made a Baronet—"The Horned Cattle Session"—Lord Chatham attacks the Ministry—Resignations of Granby and Camden—Yorke's Suicide—Dissolution of the Ministry.
Thus the whole country was torn by religious animosity; the nobles were insolent to the Crown, and the people were nothing. Such was the divided condition of Poland which led to its dismemberment. All nobility of mind was destroyed; pride and oppression were the inseparable consequences of such a system. There was no middle class, no popular class; it was a country of lords and slaves—of one class domineering over the other. The Greek Catholics were the Dissidents, and the Dissidents sought aid from Russia—which was also Greek in religion—and, to insure this aid, condescended to the lowest arts of solicitation, to the practice of fawning, stooping, and cringing to the great barbarous power of Russia on one side, and to the equally barbarous power of Turkey on the other. The nobles could bring large bodies of cavalry into the field, as many, at times, as a hundred thousand; but as they had no free people, and dreaded to arm their slaves, they had little or no infantry, except such as they hired, and even this was in no condition to withstand the heavy masses of Russian infantry, much less such armies as Prussia or Austria might be tempted to bring against them.Disappointed in their hopes from England, educated Roman Catholic opinion in Ireland began to drift towards the United Irishmen, in spite of the peasants' war that was rife in various parts of the country between the members of the two religions. Suddenly their expectations received an unlooked-for impulse. During the spring of 1794 Pitt determined to send over Lord Fitzwilliam, who was heir to the Marquis of Rockingham and a prominent member of the Portland Whigs, as Lord-Lieutenant. It was clearly understood that Fitzwilliam should be allowed to inaugurate a policy of reform, but Pitt wished that reform to be gradual and cautious. It is plain that he gave Grattan intimation to that effect, and that Grattan thought the stipulation a reasonable one, but it is equally clear that he somehow or other failed to make much impression upon Fitzwilliam. No sooner had the new Lord-Lieutenant arrived in Ireland than he proceeded to dismiss Castle officials before he could possibly have had time to inquire into the rights and wrongs of their cases, and with equal abruptness turned out the Attorney, and Solicitor-General, and Mr. Beresford, the Commissioner of Revenue, the head of the most powerful of the Protestant families. The result was a violent outcry, which was increased when he proceeded, in conjunction with Grattan, to draw up a Bill for the immediate granting of the Catholic claims. The Ascendency party clamoured for his recall, and the Lord Chancellor Fitzgibbon represented to the king that to admit Roman Catholics to Parliament would be to violate his Coronation Oath. Pitt was obliged to give way, and on March 25th, 1794, Fitzwilliam left Ireland, amidst every sign of national mourning. The incident is a melancholy one, but a calm review of the circumstances produces the conclusion that the indiscretion of Lord Fitzwilliam was very much the cause of it.
The Reformers made repeated and strenuous efforts to obtain a parliamentary expression of the desirableness of this country refraining from interfering with the internal affairs of France, and of making specific arrangements with that country. Earl Stanhope made such a motion in the Lords on the 6th of January, and the Duke of Bedford made a similar one on the 27th of February. Lord Grey had moved the same thing on the day before, but all these endeavours were rendered abortive by Pitt's standing majority. It was replied that France had no government that could be treated with, and Lord Mansfield asserted that we had a right to interfere in the internal affairs of any country that acted on principles dangerous to its neighbour. Fox, on the 24th of March, moved for a committee of the whole House to inquire into the state of the nation, but this was rejected on the ground that the times were too critical, and Canning adduced the condition of Ireland, just on the verge of rebellion, as a sufficient cause for not ascertaining our actual state.Austria professed great friendliness to Napoleon, and he thought that she would not like to break with him on account of the Empress. But Austria, on the 27th of June, signed an engagement with Russia and Prussia, at Reichenbach, in Silesia, binding herself to break with him if he did not concede the terms which they demanded. These were to restore Illyria and the whole of Austrian Italy; to reinstate the Pope; to leave Poland to the three Powers who had formerly possessed themselves of it, and to renounce Spain, Holland, Switzerland, and the Confederation of the Rhine. Buonaparte treated these demands as sheer madness; but he was nearly mad himself when Talleyrand and Fouché, and still more, his best military counsellors, advised him at least to fall back to the left bank of the Rhine, and make that the boundary of France. He offered to annihilate the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, giving up the whole of Poland to Russia—such was his gratitude to the Poles!—to restore Illyria to Austria, but to cut down Prussia still more by pushing the Rhenish Confederation to the Oder.The Ministry being complete, Parliament met on the 2nd of December. It was found that the new Administration had not that influence in the boroughs that Newcastle, who had cultivated it, had; and several members of the Cabinet, Pitt amongst them, had difficulty in getting returned, as was the case with Charles Townshend. In the king's speech, his Majesty was made to speak of the militia, which he was known by everybody to hold in sovereign contempt, as the best and most constitutional means of national defence. He announced also that he had ordered the return of the Hanoverian troops to their own country; and the Duke of Devonshire inserted in the Address from the Lords an expression of thanks for having brought these troops over. Pitt had declared that he would quit the Cabinet if such a vote was passed, and Temple came hurrying down to the House—Pitt being absent from the Commons with the gout—and declared that he had quitted a sick bed to protest against it. This was an unlucky beginning. It was clear that there was want of unity in the Cabinet at its very birth, and out-of-doors the people were loudly complaining of the scarcity of food, and bread riots were frequent. The king himself could not help ridiculing the speech his new Ministers had composed for him; and a poor printer being arrested for putting another speech into his mouth, George said he hoped the man might receive very lenient punishment, for, as far as he could understand either of the speeches, he thought the printer's the best. To abate the ferment out-of-doors, the Commons passed two Bills: one prohibiting the export of grain, flour, or biscuit; the other prohibiting, for several months, distillation from wheat or barley.详情
Copyright © 2020