The circumstance sank deeply into the mind of the king, and, resenting especially the conduct of Grenville—who had acted as though he held a monopoly of office,—he determined to be rid of him. He therefore consulted with his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland. That prince, to whom age and infirmities seemed to have given a degree of wisdom, declared the offer of the Ministry to Pitt to be the necessary step, and willingly undertook to make it. But knowing that Pitt would not even listen to the proposal without Temple, he dispatched a summons to Stowe for that nobleman, and himself, infirm as he was, went to Hayes, to learn the will of the great commoner personally. Pitt showed himself disposed to accept the office, on condition that general warrants should be declared illegal; that the officers dismissed on account of their votes be restored; and that an alliance with Protestant powers, and especially with Prussia, should be formed, to counterbalance the compact between France and Spain. This was asking a great deal; but Pitt demanded more in the particulars of appointments, namely, that Pratt, who had opposed the Court so decidedly as regarded Wilkes and general warrants, should be Lord Chancellor, and he opposed the Court desire that the Duke of Northumberland should be at the head of the Treasury. Pitt, moreover, designed the Treasury for Temple. But, when Temple arrived, he refused to take office at all. The fact was that just now he was making a reconciliation with his brother, Grenville, and was averse from throwing him overboard. So far from joining Pitt, he was on the verge of another breach with him. Pitt, disconcerted by this repulse, with a weakness to be deplored in so great a man, refused to accept the offer to form a ministry at all.MR. STANLEY (AFTERWARDS 14th EARL OF DERBY). [From a photograph by S. A. Walker, Regent Street, London.
[See larger version]
The restrictions, however, if not to any great extent a practical grievance, were felt to be a stigma utterly undeserved, and the necessity for an annual Indemnity Act continually reminded a large, influential, intelligent, energetic portion of the nation of their inferiority to the rest of the king's subjects. The Government felt that public opinion was against them. They therefore allowed the Bill to go into committee without opposition, and there they adopted it as their own by carrying certain amendments. It passed the Commons by a majority of 44, the numbers being 237 to 193. From the tone of the debate in the Commons it was evident that the Government was not sorry to be left in a minority. In the House of Lords the measure encountered more opposition. Lord Eldon, exasperated with the treatment he had received from the Ministers, denounced it with the utmost vehemence. When he heard of its success in the Lower House, he was in a state of consternation.On the motion for taking this Bill into further consideration, on the 8th of April, Mr. Hussey presented various petitions from merchants regarding the measure, and moved that the Bill required recommittal. He was seconded by Fox, who now, though approving of the main principles of the Bill, took occasion to contend for the development of the advanced doctrines of political liberty inculcated by the French revolutionists, and to urge the insertion of clauses in the Bill, in accordance with them. When the day for the debate on the Bill arrived, Fox called on Burke, though he had not done so for some time, and, in the presence of a common friend, entered into explanations which appeared satisfactory. Fox then proposed that the answer of Burke should not take place on the discussion of the Quebec Bill, though this was the Bill on which this topic had been introduced. Burke refused to comply; but the two old friends walked to the House together, displaying the last show of friendship which was to take place between them. Accordingly, on the 6th of May, when the chairman of the Committee put the question, that the Quebec Bill be read paragraph by paragraph, Burke rose, and determined to have a fair hearing on the question of the French Revolution, and proceeded to inveigh strongly against it. Then there were loud cries of "Order!" and "Question!" and Mr. Baker declared that the argument of Mr. Burke was calculated to involve the House in unnecessary altercation, and perhaps with the Government of another nation. Fox said his right honourable friend could scarcely be said to be out of order, for it seemed to be a day of privilege, when any gentleman might stand up and take any topic, and abuse any Government, whether it had reference to the point in question or not; that not a word had been said of the French Revolution, yet he had risen and abused it. He might just as well have abused that of China or Hindostan. This taunt came with ill grace from Fox, who had himself introduced this extraneous topic into the debates on this very Bill, and seized that occasion to attack Burke's opinions in his absence.[See larger version]
After this complete surrender the House resumed its labours in committee on the Bill on the 1st of June. Few alterations were made, and the thinned ranks of the Opposition ceased to throw obstacles in the way. The third reading was carried by a majority of 84, the numbers being 106 and 22. The Lords' amendments having been acquiesced in by the Commons, the Bill was referred to the Upper House, and on the 7th of June it received the Royal Assent by commission, the Commissioners being Lords Grey, Brougham, Lansdowne, Wellesley, Holland, and Durham. The king was so hurt by the coercion to which he had been subjected, and by the insults heaped upon himself, the queen, and all belonging to him, that nothing could persuade him to go to the House and give his assent in person. "The question," he said, "was one of feeling, not of duty; and as a Sovereign and a gentleman he was bound to refuse."
The enemy, meanwhile, were on the alert, trying, by their fleets and armies, to assail us in almost every quarter. In the very opening days of the year—at the very commencement of January, 1781—the French made an attack on the island of Jersey. They had sent across the Channel a fleet carrying nearly two thousand men; but their ships met the common fortune that has ever attended invaders of Britain: they were scattered by tempests, many of them dashed on the rocks of those iron-bound shores, and some driven back to port. They managed, however, to land eight hundred men by night, and surprised the town of St. Helier's, taking prisoner its Lieutenant-Governor, Major Corbet, who thereupon thinking all lost, agreed to capitulate. But the next officer in command, Major Pierson, a young man of only twenty-five, refused to comply with so pusillanimous an order. He rallied the troops and encouraged the inhabitants, who fired on the French from their windows. The invaders, surrounded in the market-place, were compelled to surrender, after their commander, the Baron de Rullecourt, and many of his soldiers, were killed. The gallant young Pierson was himself killed by nearly the last shot.
"THE POLLING."On the withdrawal of Melville, Whitbread moved for his impeachment, and Mr. Bond for his prosecution in the ordinary courts of law, and this amendment was carried. But Melville preferred impeachment to a trial at common law. Mr. Bond was induced to withhold any further procedure in consequence of his motion, and Mr. Leycester, one of Melville's friends, made a fresh motion for impeachment, which was carried, and on the 26th of June Whitbread, accompanied by a great number of members, impeached him at the bar of the House of Lords. A Bill was also passed through both Houses regulating the course of his impeachment. The impeachment itself, owing to very important events, including the death of Pitt, was not proceeded with till April, 1806. On the 10th of July Lord Sidmouth and the Earl of Buckinghamshire resigned. It was supposed that difference of opinion regarding Lord Melville's case was the cause, and the surmise was correct, Addington taking strong exception to the appointment of Sir Charles Middleton, a very old man, to succeed Melville. Lord Camden succeeded Sidmouth, and Lord Harrowby Lord Buckinghamshire. Castlereagh obtained Camden's post of Secretary of Colonial Affairs. This secession weakened Pitt's Ministry considerably. On the 12th of July Parliament was prorogued, but a message was sent down to the House to enable his Majesty to carry out some arrangements in the north of Europe, which were necessary for the security and independence of Britain, and a sum, in addition to the large supplies already granted, was voted, which was not to exceed three millions and a half.The beacon light is quenched in smoke,
Calder had been sent after Nelson, with the hope that, if he missed Villeneuve and Gravina, he (Calder) might fall in with and intercept them. Scarcely was he under sail, when he discovered this fleet, on the 22nd of July, about thirty-nine leagues north-west of Cape Finisterre. Villeneuve and Gravina were congratulating themselves on having made their voyage in safety, when this British squadron stood in their way. They were twenty sail of the line, seven frigates, and two brigs; and Calder had only fifteen sail of the line, two frigates, and two smaller craft. The Spanish and French admirals endeavoured to give them the slip, and get into Ferrol; but Calder would not permit this. He compelled them to fight, and the battle lasted from half-past four in the afternoon till half-past nine in the evening. Calder captured two sail of the line, and killed and wounded between five hundred and six hundred men. He himself lost thirty-nine killed, and he had a hundred and fifty-nine wounded, and his ships, some of them, had suffered much damage. A thick fog parted the combatants for the night, and at daybreak the hostile fleets were distant from each other about seventeen miles. Villeneuve had the wind, and made as if he would renew the battle, but did not; and the same happened on the following day, when he sheered off, and Calder turned homewards without pursuing them. This action, though a victory, was regarded, both in France and England, as inferior to what was expected of British naval commanders. The French claimed a success; the English public murmured at Calder's conduct. They said, "What would Nelson have done had he been there?" Such was the popular discontent, that Sir Robert Calder demanded that his conduct should be submitted to a court-martial, and the verdict of the court confirmed the outcry:—"This court," it said, "are of opinion that on the part of Admiral Sir Robert Calder there was no cowardice or disaffection, but error in judgment, for which he deserves to be severely reprimanded, and he is hereby severely reprimanded accordingly." Buonaparte, however, was greatly exasperated at the result, and at Villeneuve putting into Ferrol instead of getting into Brest, where Napoleon wanted him to join the rest of the fleet. After this, endeavouring to obey the Emperor's positive orders to reach Brest, he put to sea, but was glad to run for Cadiz instead, on account of the union of Admiral Collingwood with Calder's fleet. In that harbour now lay five-and-thirty sail of the line, and Collingwood kept watch over them. Indeed, being soon reinforced, he kept a blockade on all the Spanish ports between Cadiz and Algeciras, in the Strait of Gibraltar. It was at this juncture that Napoleon came to the conclusion that it was hopeless to attempt the invasion of England.
The troops of the Convention were equally successful against Lyons. It was speedily invested by numerous troops, under the command of Dubois-Crancé, one of the Commissioners of the Convention. On the 21st of August he summoned the place to surrender, but the Lyonese held out till the 2nd of October, when Couthon, one of the most ruthless of the Jacobin deputies, arrived, with twenty-eight thousand armed peasants, from Auvergne. He demanded that the city should be instantly bombarded, and, if necessary, reduced to ruins. Dubois-Crancé said there was no need for this merciless alternative, as the place must very soon yield from famine. Couthon thereupon obtained an order from the Convention to supersede Dubois-Crancé, as devoid of proper Republican zeal; and on the 7th of October commenced a terrible bombardment. The inhabitants came to a parley with Couthon, and agreed to surrender without conditions. Couthon immediately appointed a committee to try all rebels, and he sent his opinion of the population at large to the Convention, describing the people as of three kinds—the wicked rich, the proud rich, and the ignorant poor, who were too stupid to be good Republicans. He proposed to guillotine the first class, to seize the property of the second, and to remove the last into different quarters of France. The Convention adopted his views cordially, and passed a decree that Lyons should be destroyed; that nothing should be left but the houses of the poor, the manufactories, the hospitals, the school of arts, the public schools, and public monuments; that the name of Lyons should be buried for ever, and that on its ruins should be erected a monument bearing this inscription:—"Lyons made war against liberty: Lyons is no more!" The name of the spot ever afterwards was to be the Liberated Commune. The massacres were carried out by Collot d'Herbois.
The continued resistance of the English Government meanwhile was rousing the quick blood of Ireland. The old Catholic Convention of 1793 was revived, and from year to year met and passed increasingly strong resolutions in Dublin. In 1810 its meetings, and the agitation it occasioned throughout the kingdom, became very conspicuous. A private letter was circulated all over the country, recommending the appointment of committees everywhere in order to the preparation of a monster petition. It was resolved that as soon as the Convention met, it should sit in permanence, so as to keep up an incessant action throughout the country. The Government took alarm, and Mr. Wellesley Pole, Secretary of State for Ireland, issued a letter to the sheriffs and chief magistrates throughout Ireland, ordering them to arrest all persons concerned in sending up delegates to this Convention. No sooner was this known in England than Lord Moira in the Lords, and Mr. Ponsonby in the Commons, adverted to the subject, and called for a copy of all correspondence by Government upon it. The demand was resisted in both Houses. On the 4th of April Lord Stanhope moved a resolution that the letter of Mr. Wellesley Pole was a violation of the law, being, in fact, a prohibition of his Majesty's subjects to assemble for the purpose of petitioning Parliament. This was negatived by twenty-one votes against six.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?详情
Copyright © 2020