On the 31st of May, pursuant to notice, Sir Robert Peel brought forward a motion of want of confidence in the Government, in the following words:—"That her Majesty's Ministers do not sufficiently possess the confidence of the House of Commons to enable them to carry through the House measures which they deem of essential importance to the public welfare; and that their continuance in office under such circumstances is at variance with the spirit of the Constitution." The right hon. baronet referred to a number of precedents for the course he adopted—namely, the cases of Sir Robert Walpole, Lord North, Mr. Pitt, Lord Sidmouth, Lord Liverpool, the Duke of Wellington, and himself, each of whom resigned, failing the support of a majority of the House of Commons; and he insisted that Lord Melbourne was bound to follow their example. A debate of two nights followed: it was interrupted by the Whitsun holidays, after which it was resumed and lasted three nights more, during which all sorts of topics were discussed, and all the shortcomings of Ministers were dwelt upon, and urged against them with great earnestness. The burden of the charges against them was, that they were causing the greatest public mischief by leaving important questions in doubt, setting party against party, and stirring society to its very foundations. At length the House went to a division, when there appeared for Sir Robert Peel's motion, 312; against it, 311, giving a majority of 1 against the Government. At the meeting of the House on the following Monday the most lively anxiety was manifested as to the course Ministers would pursue. Lord John Russell stated that, after the late division, he felt that in that House of Commons the Government could expect no further majorities, and that they were resolved to appeal to the country. The determination, it is now known, had been opposed by the Premier, but he was overruled by the more sanguine members of the Cabinet.
On the 21st of June Pitt introduced and carried several resolutions, which formed the basis of his Commutation Act. These went to check smuggling, by reducing the duty on tea from fifty to twelve and a half per cent., and to raise the house and window tax so as to supply the deficiency. A Bill was then passed to make good another deficiency in the Civil List, to the amount of sixty thousand pounds. Early in August Mr. Pitt brought in his India Bill, which differed chiefly from his former one in introducing a Government Board of Commissioners, with power to examine and revise the proceedings of the Court of Directors. This, which afterwards acquired the name of the Board of Control, was opposed by Fox, but passed both Houses with little trouble.
Sir Robert Peel was sent for by the Queen. No difficulties were now raised about the Ladies of the Court, since the difficulty had been settled through the diplomacy of the Prince Consort and his well-intentioned, though pedantic, adviser, Baron Stockmar. In due time the following Administration was formed:—First Lord of the Treasury, Sir Robert Peel; Lord Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst; Chancellor of the Exchequer, Right Hon. H. Goulburn; President of the Council, Lord Wharncliffe; Privy Seal, Duke of Buckingham; Home Secretary, Sir J. Graham; Foreign Secretary, Earl of Aberdeen; Colonial Secretary, Lord Stanley; President of the Board of Control, Lord Ellenborough; President of the Board of Trade, Earl of Ripon; Secretary at War, Sir H. Hardinge; Treasurer of the Navy and Paymaster of the Forces, Sir E. Knatchbull. The Duke of Wellington was in the Cabinet without office. It was thus composed of thirteen members, but of these Wellington, Lyndhurst, Aberdeen, Stanley, and Graham were the only people of importance. Before the prorogation of Parliament on the 7th of October the Poor Law was continued until the end of the following July, and the financial deficit of ￡2,500,000 was provided for by the creation of ￡5,000,000 of new stock, half of which was devoted to the funding of Exchequer Bills.
Meanwhile, the first municipal election under the Manchester Charter of Incorporation had been held, at which Mr. Cobden, and a number of other gentlemen professing Free Trade views, had been chosen aldermen, not without formidable opposition. At a meeting held at Leeds, and attended by seven or eight thousand persons, the Chartists, under Mr. Feargus O'Connor, resisted the resolutions of the Free Traders, on the ground that the movement was one only intended to give the manufacturers power to lower the wages of their workmen—a mistaken doctrine, but one not altogether without support in the writings of the Free Trade party, some of whom, with the common propensity of zealous advocates for adopting doubtful arguments as well as good ones in support of their objects, had put forth the statement that the British manufacturer required cheap food in order to get cheap labour, and thus to compete the better with foreign producers. The opposition of the Chartists created great confusion at almost every meeting held under the auspices of the Manchester Association. Bread, however, continued to rise, and the task of the Association in rousing the country became easier.
FROM THE PAINTING BY F. X. WINTERHALTER IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY.This being done, Mr. Vyner suggested that the physicians should rather be examined by the House itself, a proposal supported by Fox. Pitt replied that this was a matter requiring much delicacy, and that the opinions of the physicians before the Council being on oath, he imagined that they had greater force than any given before Parliament, where they would not be on oath. But, during the four days' adjournment, he had ascertained, to his satisfaction, that the majority of the physicians were of opinion that the king would pretty soon recover, and that especially Dr. Willis was of this opinion, under whose more immediate care he was; and no sooner did the Commons meet, than Pitt most judiciously acquiesced in the suggestions of Vyner and Fox; and the physicians were examined by a committee of twenty-one members, of which he himself was chairman. On the 16th of December Pitt brought up the report of the committee, in which a majority of the physicians had expressed the opinion that the malady of the king would not be of long duration; and he then moved for another committee to search for precedents as to the power to be exercised by a regent. Fox declared that Pitt knew very well that there were no precedents to be found while there existed an Heir Apparent, at the time, of full age and capacity; that he was seeking only the means of delaying what ought to be done at once; that the failure of the mind of the sovereign was a case of natural demise, and that the Heir Apparent succeeded to the exercise of the royal authority from the period of that failure, as a matter of course; that the Parliament had, indeed, the authority to decide that such failure had actually taken place, and to sanction the assumption of the powers of regency, as the other two Estates of the realm, but nothing more. When Fox made this astounding assertion, Pitt slapped his thigh and exclaimed to a colleague sitting near him, "I'll unwhig the gentleman for the rest of his life."
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Far above all other English artists of this period, however, stood William Hogarth (b. 1697). There is no artist of that or any former age who is so thoroughly English. He is a John Bull from head to foot—sturdy, somewhat headstrong, opinionated, and satirical. He is, indeed, the great satirist of the brush; but his satire, keen as it is, is employed as the instrument of the moralist; the things which he denounces and derides are crimes, follies, and perverted tastes. In his own conduct, as on his canvas, he displayed the same spirit, often knocking down his own interests rather than not express his indignant feeling of what was spurious in art, or unjust towards himself. Hogarth was the first English painter who attracted much notice amongst foreigners, and he still remains one of the most original in genius of the British school. His subjects are not chosen from the loftier regions of life and imagination, but from the very lowest or the most corrupted ones of the life of his country and time. "The Harlot's Progress," "The Rake's Progress," "Marriage à la Mode," "The March to Finchley," "Gín Lane," "Beer Lane," etc., present a series of subjects from which the delicate and sensitive will always revolt, and which have necessarily an air of vulgarity about them, but the purpose consecrates them; for they are not selected to pander to vice and folly, but to expose, to brand, to extirpate them.
Hearing that General Cope—who had seen his blunder in leaving open the highway to the Scottish capital—after having reached Inverness, had begun a rapid march on Aberdeen, trusting to embark his army there, and reach Edinburgh in time to defend it from the rebel army, Charles marched out of Perth on the 11th of September. He reached Dunblane that evening, and on the 13th he passed the fords of Frew, about eight miles above Stirling, knowing that several king's ships were lying at the head of the Firth. On their approach, Gardiner retired with his dragoons from the opposite bank. Stirling, being deserted by the troops, was ready to open its gates; but Charles was in too much haste to reach Edinburgh. Hearing that Gardiner, with his dragoons, intended to dispute the passage of Linlithgow Bridge, Charles sent on one thousand Highlanders, before break of day, under Lord George Murray, in the hope of surprising them; but they found that they had decamped the evening before, and they took peaceable possession of Falkirk and the old palace. The prince himself came up on the evening of that day, Sunday, the 15th, where the whole army passed the night, except the vanguard, which pushed on to Kirkliston, only eight miles from Edinburgh.AFFRAY AT BOSTON BETWEEN THE SOLDIERS AND ROPE-MAKERS. (See p. 201.)BEAUS AND BELLES OF THE REGENCY PERIOD.详情
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