The great difficulties of the Government at this time were the settlement of the questions with Spain of the right to cut logwood in the bay of Campeachy, and the retention of Gibraltar. The Spaniards had frequently resisted the cutting of logwood in the Bay of Campeachy by the English; and in 1717 the Marquis of Monteleone had presented a memorial against it; but the Board of Trade contended that the practice was of old standing, and amounted to a right. This representation was now laid before the House of Commons, and was backed by many petitions from the merchants of London and other places, complaining of the interruptions to their trade to the South American and West Indian colonies, which had been carried on by connivance rather than by actual permission of Spain. There was a great fermentation in the public mind on these subjects, and the Minister was accused of tamely submitting to national injuries. The nation seemed ready to rush into a war with Spain, and perhaps all the more so that the king, in his opening speech, had observed that "an actual war was preferable to such a doubtful peace, but that the exchange was very easy to be made at any time."The Young Pretender, during this time, had been making a hard run for his life, beset and hunted on all sides for the thirty thousand pounds set upon his head. During the whole five months of his adventurous wanderings and hidings, nothing could induce a single Highlander to betray him, notwithstanding the temptation of the thirty thousand pounds. The most familiar story is his escape from South Uist, where he had been tracked and surrounded. At this moment Miss Flora Macdonald, a near relative of Macdonald of Clanranald, with whom she was on a visit, stepped forward to rescue him. She procured a pass from Hugh Macdonald, her stepfather, who commanded part of the troops now searching the island, for herself, her maid, Betty Burke, and her servant, Neil Mac Eachan. She, moreover, induced Captain Macdonald to recommend the maid, Betty Burke—which Betty Burke was to be Charles in disguise—to his wife in Skye as very clever at spinning. At the moment that all was ready, General Campbell, as if suspecting something, came with a company of soldiers, and examined Clanranald's house. The prince, in his female attire, however, was concealed in a farm-house, and the next morning he and his deliverer embarked in a boat with six rowers and the servant Neil. In passing the point of Vaternish, in Skye, they ran a near chance of being all killed, for the militia rushed out and fired upon them. Luckily the tide was out, so that they were at a tolerable distance, were neither hurt, nor could be very quickly pursued. The boatmen pulled stoutly, and landed them safely at Mougstot, the seat of Sir Alexander Macdonald. Sir Alexander was on the mainland in Cumberland's army; but the young heroine had the address to induce his wife, Lady Margaret Macdonald, to receive him; and as the house was full of soldiers, she sent him to her factor and kinsman, Macdonald of Kingsburgh, in the interior of the island, who brought him to a place of safety. At last, on the 20th of September, he got on board the French vessel. Lochiel and Cluny, and about a hundred other refugees, sailed with him, and they landed at the little port of Roscoff, near Morlaix, in Finistère, on the 29th of September, whence Charles hastened to Paris, was received in a very friendly manner by Louis XV., and by the Parisians, when he appeared at the opera, with rapturous acclamations.[See larger version]
The release of Wilkes by the Court of Common Pleas was a triumph over Ministers, which, had they been wise, would have induced them to take no further notice of him. They had only made a popular demigod of him. The people, not only in London, but all over the country, celebrated his exit from the Tower with the liveliest demonstrations, especially in the cider districts, still smarting under the new tax, and where they accordingly once more paraded the jack-boot and petticoat, adding two effigies—one of Bute, dressed in a Scottish plaid and with a blue ribbon, the other no less a person than the king, led by the nose by Bute.
OLD NEWGATE.THE GORDON RIOTS.But during these transactions France and England had not been idle. A new alliance had been signed at Hanover between England, France, and Prussia, to which soon after were added Denmark and Holland. The real objects of this treaty were to counterbalance that between Spain, Austria, and Russia, to compel the dissolution of the Ostend Company, and to prevent the menaced assistance to the Pretender. This was the celebrated Treaty of Hanover.
George and his soldiers, however, lost no atom of heart; they determined to cut a way through the enemy or die on the ground; and luckily at this moment the enemy committed almost as great an error as Stair had done. Noailles quitted his post in front of the king's army, and crossed the Main bridge to give some further orders on that side; and no sooner did he depart than his nephew, De Gramont, eager to seize the glory of defeating the English, and not aware that the whole British army was at that moment about to bear down upon him, ordered his troops to cross the ravine in their front, and assault the English on their own side. The order was executed, and had instantly the unforeseen effect of silencing their own batteries on the other side of the river, for, by this movement, the French came directly between their fire and the English, which it had been till that moment mercilessly mowing down.As Ministers did not resign on being placed in a minority the third time, rumours were industriously circulated by their opponents that they meant to rule the country despotically; that they were about to dissolve Parliament the second time, and had resolved to maintain the army on their own responsibility, without the Mutiny Act. On the 2nd of March Lord John Russell, referring to these rumours, gave notice that he intended to bring forward the Irish Appropriation question, and the question of Municipal Reform. It was for a test of this kind that Sir Robert Peel waited. In the meantime he denied that he had any such intentions as those ascribed to him, and compelled Mr. Hume to withdraw his proposal to limit the supplies to three months. He promised that Government would bring in a Bill on the Irish Church; but it would adhere strictly to the principle that ecclesiastical property should be reserved for ecclesiastical purposes. He declared they would be prepared to remedy all real abuses when the report of the Commissioners appointed for their investigation was received.
The Bute Ministry was now in power, and determined on reversing the policy of Pitt—policy which had added so magnificently to the territory and glory of the country. Bute had now to seek powerful connections to enable him to carry on. The commonplace man seeks to make up for his feebleness by associating with him, not men of merit, but men of aristocratic connection. For this reason he conferred the Privy Seal on the Duke of Bedford, and the Seal of Secretary on the Earl of Egremont. To break the force of popular indignation for the loss of Pitt from the helm—for the people knew who was the great man and successful minister well enough—the king was advised to confer some distinguished mark of favour on Pitt. He was offered the government of Canada as a sinecure, with five thousand pounds a year. Pitt was not the man to undertake a highly responsible office without discharging the duties, and he was next offered the Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster; but he preferred a simple pension of three thousand pounds a-year, and that a title should be conferred on his wife. By this arrangement he was left in the House of Commons, and in a position to continue his exertions for the country. Both these suggestions were complied with.[See larger version]
These certainly were large concessions, but it was to be remembered that we had not received them for nothing; they had cost vast sums, and the national debt had been doubled by this war, and now amounted to one hundred and twenty-two million six hundred thousand pounds. These territories had, in fact, cost us upwards of sixty million pounds; and it is certain that Pitt would have exacted a more complete renunciation from France of the conquered countries. There was a clause inserted which Pitt would never have permitted—namely, that any conquests that should be made after the signing of these articles, should be restored by all parties. Now, Bute and the Ministry knew that we had expeditions out against Cuba and the Philippines, and that the only conquests likely to be made were in those quarters. To throw away without equivalent the blood and money expended in these important enterprises was a most unpatriotic act. Still, there was opportunity for more rational terms, for Grimaldi, the Spanish ambassador at Paris, held back from signing, in hope that we should be defeated at Havana, and that then he could raise his terms. When the news of the loss of both Havana and Manila arrived, Grimaldi was in great haste to sign, and Mr. Grenville and Lord Egremont very properly insisted that we should demand an equivalent for the conquest in Cuba. Pitt would have stood firm for the retention of that conquest as by far the most important, and as justly secured to us by the refusal of the Spanish ambassador to sign at the proper time. But Bute would have signed without any equivalent at all. Fortunately, there was too strong an opposition to this in the Cabinet, and the Duke of Bedford was instructed to demand Florida or Porto Rico in lieu of Havana. Florida was yielded—a fatal, though at the moment it appeared a valuable concession, for it only added to the compactness of the American colonies, hastening the day of independence, whilst Cuba would have remained under the protection of the fleet, one of the most valuable possessions of the British empire.For a time, Bute and his colleagues appeared to brave the load of hatred and ignominy which was now piled everywhere upon them, but it was telling; and suddenly, on the 7th of April, it was announced that the obnoxious Minister had resigned. Many were the speculations on this abrupt act, some attributing it to the influence of Wilkes, and his remorseless attacks in the North Briton; others to the king and queen having at length become sensitive on the assumed relations of Bute and the king's mother; but Bute himself clearly stated the real and obvious cause—want of support, either in or out of Parliament. "The ground," he wrote to a friend, "on which I tread is so hollow, that I am afraid not only of falling myself, but of involving my royal master in my ruin. It is time for me to retire."详情
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