The great financial questions of 1786 were the Duke of Richmond's plan of fortifying Portsmouth and Plymouth, and Pitt's proposal of a sinking fund to pay off the national debt, an excise duty on wines, and Pitt's commercial treaty with France. During the previous Session the Duke of Richmond, Master-General of the Ordnance, had proposed a plan of fortifying these large arsenals, so that, in the supposed absence of our fleet on some great occasion, they would be left under the protection of regiments of militia, for whom enormous barracks were to be erected. A board of officers had been appointed to inquire into the advantages of the plan, and their report was now brought up on the 27th of February, and introduced by Mr. Pitt, who moved that the plan be adopted. This scheme was strongly opposed by General Burgoyne, Colonel Barré, and others. Mr. Bastard moved an amendment declaring the proposed fortifications inexpedient. He said the militia had been called the school of the army, but to shut them up in these strongholds, separate from their fellow-subjects, was the way to convert them into universities for pr?torian bands. He protested against taking the defence of the nation from our brave fleet and conferring it on military garrisons; tearing the ensign of British glory from the mast-head, and fixing a standard on the ramparts of a fort. The Bill was rejected, Fox, Sheridan, Windham, and all the leading Oppositionists declaiming against it.
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The nobles rose in a body and quitted the Assembly; but Gustavus continued his speech to the three remaining Orders. He declared it necessary, for the salvation of the country, for him to assume almost despotic powers, and he called on the three Estates to support him in punishing the traitorous nobles, promising to secure the liberties of the country as soon as this was accomplished. Not only the three Orders, but the public at large zealously supported him. Stockholm was in a state of high excitement. Gustavus surrounded the houses of the chief nobility with his brave Dalecarlians; secured twenty-five of the principal nobles, including the Counts Brahé, Fersen, Horne, and others, who were consigned to the castle. He had already arrested nine of the leaders of the insurrection in the army in Finland, and these officers were now also confined in the castle; others had escaped and fled to their patroness in St. Petersburg. To intimidate the king, nearly all the officers of the army, the fleet, and the civil department threw up their commissions and appointments, believing that they should thus completely paralyse his proceedings. But Gustavus remained undaunted. He filled up the vacancies, as well as he could, from the other Orders of the State; he brought the nobles and officers to trial, and numbers of them were condemned to capital punishment, for treason and abandonment of their sworn duties. Some few examples were made; the rest, after a short confinement, were liberated, and they hastened to their estates in the country. But it was found there, as everywhere else, that rank confers no monopoly of talent. The three other Orders warmly supported Gustavus, and he remodelled the Diet, excluding from it almost all the most powerful nobles, and giving greater preponderance to the other three Orders. In return for this, these Orders sanctioned an act called the Act of Safety, which conferred on the king the same power which is attached to the British Crown, namely, that of making peace or war. They granted him liberal supplies, and he quickly raised an army of fifty thousand men. As he considered the reduction of the restless and lawless power of Russia was equally essential to Britain, Holland, and Prussia, as to Sweden, Gustavus called on them to second his efforts. But Pitt would do nothing more than guarantee the neutrality of Denmark; and even this guarantee he permitted to become nugatory, by allowing the Danish fleet to give protection to the Russian fleet in the Baltic. A second Russian squadron, commanded by Dessein, a French admiral, descended from Archangel, entered the Baltic, menaced Gothenburg, and by the aid of the Danish ships was enabled to join the other Russian fleet at Cronstadt.And, in truth, everything now seemed to run counter to Walpole, and to tend towards war. His colleague, the Duke of Newcastle, who had been one of the most obsequious of subordinates both under Stanhope and Walpole, now thought he should serve himself decidedly by advocating war. The king was naturally of a martial turn; he had won some military repute in his youth, and he was no longer under the exceedingly sensible guidance of the queen. Newcastle, therefore, probably in the hope of supplanting Walpole, fostered this spirit in the king, and took advantage of it to recommend warlike measures in the Cabinet, and to send despatches to the British ambassadors in Spain, which but for the energy and wisdom of Walpole might have done irreparable mischief, and which rendered the negotiations extremely difficult. Lord Chancellor Hardwicke and Lord Harrington arrayed themselves on the same side, and blew the war-note in the House of Lords with unrestrained zeal. There was a time when Walpole would have had these antagonistic colleagues dismissed; but both he and they saw too well that there was such a strong war spirit in both king and people, that no such thing was possible. He therefore pursued his efforts with the Court of Spain for peaceable conclusions, at the same time that he fell in so far with the belligerent spirit as to make active preparations as if for an encounter. This, however, was his last and most powerful argument for peace—an argument meant to tell on the fears, as he could not reach a spirit of conciliation in the Spaniards.
All Europe was astonished by the news of the French Revolution. The successful insurrection of the working classes in Paris—the flight of the king—the abolition of monarchy—the establishment of a Republic, all the work of two or three days, were events so startling that the occupants of thrones might well stand aghast at their recital, and tremble for their own possessions. It would not have been surprising if the revolutionary spirit emanating from Paris had, to a large extent, invaded Great Britain and Ireland. The country had just passed through a fearful crisis; heavy sacrifices had been made by all classes to save the people from starvation; many families had been utterly ruined by gigantic failures, and there was still very general privation prevailing in all parts of the United Kingdom. In such circumstances the masses are peculiarly liable to be excited against the Government by ignorant or unprincipled agitators, who could easily persuade them that their sufferings arose from misgovernment, and that matters could never go right till the people established their own sovereignty—till they abolished monarchy and aristocracy, and proclaimed a republic. The Chartist agitation, though not formally proposing any such issue of the movement, had, nevertheless, familiarised the minds of the working classes with the idea of such a revolution. The points of their charter comprised vote by ballot, universal suffrage, annual parliaments, payment of the members, and the abolition of the property qualification. Besides, the Chartist leaders had been in the habit of holding what was called a National Convention, which was a kind of parliament of their own, in which the leaders practised the art of government. The train was thus laid, and it seemed to require only a spark to ignite it; but a thick shower of sparks came from Paris, as if a furnace had been emptied by a hurricane. It would have been almost miraculous if there had been no explosions of disaffection in Great Britain in such circumstances as these.
Parliament assembled on the 9th of January, 1770. People had been surprised at the unusual delay in summoning it, considering the critical state of America, but they were much more surprised when the subject put foremost in the king's speech was a lamentation over the murrain which had appeared amongst horned cattle during the recess, and which Ministers had taken some measures to stop without calling together Parliament. It was true that he afterwards alluded to the state of affairs in America, and trusted some means would be devised by Parliament to appease the irritation. But whilst war itself appeared imminent there, whilst the whole country at home was in a state of high discontent, and the Spitalfields weavers were at this moment in a state of open riot, the idea of giving the chief place in the royal speech to horned cattle caused a burst of universal ridicule. It was thenceforth called the "Horned Cattle Session." Junius launched one of his fierce missives at the Duke of Grafton, observing, "Whilst the whole kingdom was agitated with anxious expectation on one great point, you meanly evaded the question, and, instead of the explicit firmness and decision of a king, gave us nothing but the misery of a ruined grazier."[See larger version]
No sooner, therefore, had the Parliament closed and the king set out to Hanover, than Ministers sent off William Stanhope to Madrid to procure a treaty of peace without any mention of Gibraltar. On arriving at Madrid he found that the Court had removed to Seville, in Andalusia. This had been done by the influence of the queen, in order to draw Philip from the Council of Castile, which was doing all it could to prevail on him again to abdicate. Stanhope followed the Court to Seville, and laboured with such effect that he obtained the signing of a treaty of defensive alliance between England, Spain, and France, to which Holland afterwards acceded (November 9, 1729). By this treaty Spain revoked all the privileges granted to Austria by the treaties of Vienna, and re-established the British trade with her American colonies on its former footing, restored all captures, and made compensation for losses. The Assiento was confirmed to the South Sea Company. Commissioners were appointed to adjust all claims of Spaniards for ships taken in 1718, and to settle the limits of the American trade. The succession of Don Carlos to Parma and Tuscany was recognised, with the right to garrison the ports of Leghorn, Porto Ferrajo, Parma, and Placentia with six thousand Spanish troops. Not a word was said of Gibraltar—a silence amounting to a renunciation of its demand by Spain; and that Philip regarded it as such was evidenced by his beginning to construct the strong lines of San Roque, and thus to cut off all communication with the obnoxious fortress by land.
In pursuance of this report, Mr. O'Loughlin, the Irish Attorney-General, introduced a Bill, early in the Session of 1836, for the better regulation of Irish corporations. There still remained, he said, 71 corporations, which included within their territories a population of 900,000, while the number of corporators was only 13,000. Of these, no less than 8,000 were to be found in four of the larger boroughs, leaving only 5,000 corporators for the remaining 67 corporations, containing above 500,000 inhabitants. So exclusive had they been, that though, since 1792, Roman Catholics were eligible as members, not more than 200 had ever been admitted. In Dublin the principle of exclusion was extended to the great majority of Protestants of wealth, respectability, and intelligence. In a word, the Attorney-General said that the management of corporations, and the administration of justice in their hands, was nothing but a tissue of injustice, partisanship, and corruption. He concluded by laying down a plan of Reform which would assimilate the Irish corporations to those of England. On the part of the Conservatives it was admitted that the greater part of the corporations in Ireland were created by James I., avowedly as guardians of the Protestant interests, and to favour the spread of the Protestant religion; and that ancient and venerable system this Bill would annihilate—a revolution against which they solemnly protested, even though it covered many abuses which had crept into it during the lapse of time. They were quite appalled at the prospect of the evils that this Bill would produce. Borough magistrates were to be elected by popular suffrage. What a source of discord and animosity! First, there would be the registration of the voters, then the election of the town councillors, and then the election of the mayor, aldermen, and town clerks. What a scene would such a state of things present! How truly was it said that the boroughs would be the normal schools of agitation! Then what was to become of the corporate property, which yielded an income of ￡61,000, while the expenditure was only ￡57,000, and the debt charged on it only ￡133,000? Was all this property to be placed under the control of the priests, whose influence would determine the elections?ATTACK ON THE ROYAL CARRIAGE. (See p. 448.)[See larger version]
[See larger version]The large majorities in the House of Lords were to be ascribed chiefly to the unparalleled influence of the Duke of Wellington. But the public at the time were little aware of the difficulties that great man had to deal with in overcoming the opposition of the king, who was much under the influence of the Duke of Cumberland. When the storm of Conservative violence reached its height, after the rejection of Peel in Oxford, and his return, not without a struggle, for Westbury; and when, on the 3rd of March, he gave notice that he would draw the attention of the House to the clause of the Royal Speech referring to Ireland, the king, greatly excited and alarmed, sent the same evening to desire that the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and the Chancellor should wait upon him next day. He had already seen the Chancellor once, and the Duke twice separately. The king received his three Ministers, when they presented themselves at the palace, kindly but gravely; he looked anxious and embarrassed while he requested them to make him acquainted with the details of their Bill. It was explained to him that it would relieve Roman Catholics from the necessity of making a declaration against the doctrine of transubstantiation; whilst it so far modified in their case the oath of supremacy, as to omit all notice of the king's authority in things spiritual. "What!" he exclaimed, "do you mean to alter the ancient law of supremacy?" It was to no purpose he was shown that the alteration applied only to Roman Catholics, who would be dispensed from swearing what they could not believe; but he appealed to his own coronation oath, in reference to which he could not recognise the dispensing power of his Ministers. The king was condescending in the extreme. He seemed deeply grieved at the dilemma to which they had been brought. He acknowledged that possibly he had gone too far on former occasions, though he had acted entirely through misapprehension. But now he trusted that they would see, with him, that it had become a point of conscience, and that there was no alternative left him except to withdraw his assent. In the most respectful manner they acquiesced in his Majesty's determination, allowing, without a murmur, that he had a perfect right to act as he proposed. But when he went on further to ask what they intended to do, the Duke's answer was explicit: they must retire from his Majesty's service, and explain to Parliament that unexpected obstacles had arisen to the accomplishment of the policy which they were engaged to pursue. To this Mr. Peel added, that as the Bill for the suppression of the Catholic Association had been carried on the understanding that other and more comprehensive measures would follow, it would be necessary to make Parliament generally aware of the causes which operated to prevent the bringing forward of those measures. The king heard all this to an end, without attempting to interrupt, or argue with, his Ministers. He admitted, on the contrary, that it was impossible for them to take any other course, and then bade them farewell, kissing each of them on both cheeks. They set off from Windsor immediately, and arrived at Lord Bathurst's, where their colleagues were waiting dinner for them. They made a full report of all that had occurred, and announced that the Government was at an end. The party broke up, believing themselves to be out of office; but early next morning, before any decisive steps had been taken, a special messenger arrived at Apsley House with a letter from the king. It was guardedly expressed, for it went no further than to state that his Majesty had found greater difficulties than he expected in forming a new Cabinet, and was therefore desirous that the present Ministry should go on. The moment was critical, and the position of the Government delicate and in some sense insecure. No doubt, his Majesty's letter might be read as implying an abandonment of the objections which he had taken to the policy of his Ministers overnight, but it was certainly capable of a different interpretation. It appeared, therefore, to the Duke, that before proceeding further it would be necessary to come to a clear understanding with the king as to his Majesty's real intentions, and Mr. Peel concurring in this opinion, the Duke was requested to write to the king on the subject. He did so, with all the candour and loyalty which were natural to him; and the result was an unequivocal declaration from the Sovereign that he would accept the measures of his Ministers as his own.
With Spain the prospect of war became every day more imminent. Stanhope quitted that country, and the Spanish Government ordered the seizure of the Prince Frederick, a ship belonging to the South Sea Company. Twenty thousand men were assembled and sent against Gibraltar. All attempts on the great fortress were as useless as former ones had been. The English regarded the attack with even an air of indifference, whilst their guns, sickness, and desertion, were fast cutting off the besiegers. In four months the investing army, being reduced to half its number, drew off with this empty but destructive result.Our Relations with Scinde—Occupation of the Country—Napier in Scinde—Ellenborough's Instructions—A New Treaty—Capture of Emaum-Ghur—The Treaty signed—Attack on the Residency—Battle of Meeanee—Defeat of Shere Mahommed—Subjugation of Scinde—Napier's Government of the Province—Position of the Sikhs—Disorders in Gwalior—Battle of Maharajpore—Settlement of Gwalior—Recall of Lord Ellenborough—Sir Henry Hardinge—Power of the Sikhs—Disorders on the Death of Runjeet Singh—The Sikhs cross the Sutlej—Battle of Moodkee—Battle of Ferozeshah—The Victory won—Battle of Aliwal—Battle of Sobraon—Terms of Peace—Administration of the Lawrences—Murder of Vans Agnew and Anderson—Renewal of the War—Battles of Chillianwallah and of Goojerat—Capture of Mooltan—Annexation of the Punjab.
Besides the miscellaneous poets, the dramatic ones numbered Congreve, Vanbrugh, Farquhar, Colley Cibber, Nicholas Rowe—already mentioned—Savage, Lansdowne, Ambrose Philips, and others. In many of the plays of these authors there is great talent, wit, and humour, but mingled with equal grossness. Congreve's dramas are principally "The Old Bachelor," "The Incognita," "The Double Dealer," "The Way of the World," comedies, and "The Mourning Bride," a tragedy. Vanbrugh, the celebrated architect, produced "The Relapse," "The Provoked Wife," "The Confederacy," "The Journey to London," and several other comedies. Farquhar's principal plays are "The Beaux's Stratagem," "Love and a Bottle," and "The Constant Couple." Savage was the author of the tragedy of "Sir Thomas Overbury;" Nicholas Rowe, of five or six tragedies and one comedy, the most popular of which are "The Fair Penitent" and "Jane Shore." Rowe also translated Lucan's "Pharsalia." As for Colley Cibber, he was a mere playwright, and turned out above two dozen comedies, tragedies, and other dramatic pieces. Lord Lansdowne was the author of "The She-gallants," a comedy, and "Heroic Love," a tragedy of some merit; and John Hughes wrote "The Siege of Damascus," a tragedy, which long remained on the stage.CHAPTER XX. REIGN OF VICTORIA (continued).详情
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