Such was the peace abroad and the prosperity of the country at this time, that there occur few events worthy of record. Of those which took place in 1731, the most remarkable was an Act abolishing the use of Latin in all proceedings of the Courts of Justice, and the next the renewal of the charter of the East India Company. If the country was peaceful and prosperous, however, it was neither free from corruption nor from the need of extensive reform. The very system of Walpole which produced such a show of prosperity that an old Scottish Secretary of State asked the Minister what he had done to make the Almighty so much his friend, was built on the most wholesale bribery and corruption. It was, in fact, a purchased domestic peace. In social life the example of the Government produced the like dishonesty. There was a fearful revelation of the proceedings of a charitable corporation for lending small sums of money to the industrious poor at legal interest; and Sir Robert Sutton, the late Ambassador at Paris, was found so deeply implicated in the frauds and extortions practised on those they were employed to benefit, that he was expelled from the House. There was also an inquiry into the state of the public prisons of London, which opened up a most amazing scene of horrors. It was found to be a common practice of the warders to connive at the escape of rich prisoners for a sufficient bribe, and to inflict the most oppressive cruelties on those who were too poor to pay heavy fees.D'Estaing, who expected to have taken the place with little trouble, greatly alarmed lest the English should seize most of the French West Indian islands in his absence, urged an assault contrary to the wishes of Lincoln, and this was made on the 9th of October. The forces, five thousand eight hundred in number, were led on in two columns, but they were received by such a raking fire from walls and redoubts, and from the brig flanking the right of the British lines, that they were thrown back in confusion; and before D'Estaing and Lincoln could restore order, Colonel Maitland made a general sortie with fixed bayonets, and the whole attacking force fled in utter rout. D'Estaing would now remain no longer, but re-embarked his forces, and sailed away, to the unspeakable chagrin of the Americans, who retreated in all haste, the greater part of the militia breaking up and returning home.Mr. Smith O'Brien returned to London, took his seat in the House of Commons, and spoke on the Crown and Government Securities Bill, the design of which was to facilitate prosecutions for political offences. He spoke openly of the military strength of the Republican party in Ireland, and the probable issue of an appeal to arms. But his address produced a scene of indescribable commotion and violence, and he was overwhelmed in a torrent of jeers, groans, and hisses, while Sir George Grey, in replying to him, was cheered with the utmost enthusiasm.
The fate of Cabul was now to be decided. Some mark of just retribution should be left upon it, and General Pollock determined to destroy the great bazaar, where the mangled remains of our murdered envoy had been exposed to the insults of the inhabitants. The buildings were therefore blown up with gunpowder, the design being to allow the work of destruction to extend no further. But it was impossible to restrain the troops. "The cry went forth that Cabul was given up to plunder. Both camps," wrote Major Rawlinson, "rushed into the city, and the consequence has been the almost total destruction of most parts of the town, except the Gholom Khana quarter and the Bala Hissar. Numbers of people—about 4,000 or 5,000—had returned to Cabul, relying on our promises of protection, rendered confident by the comparative immunity they had enjoyed during the early part of our sojourn here, and by the appearance ostentatiously put forth of an Afghan Government. They had many of them re-opened their shops. These people have been now reduced to utter ruin; their goods have been plundered, and the houses burnt over their heads. The Hindoos in particular, whose numbers amount to some 500 families, have lost everything they possessed, and they will have to beg their way to India in the rear of our columns." Meanwhile General Nott had retaken Ghuznee.The fall of Granville became the revolution of all parties. The Pelhams, in order to prevent his return to the Ministry through the partiality of the king, determined to construct a Cabinet on what was called a broad bottom—that is, including some of both sections of the Whigs, and even some of the Tories. They opened a communication with Chesterfield, Gower, and Pitt, and these violent oppositionists were ready enough to obtain place on condition of uniting against Granville and Bath. The difficulty was to reconcile the king to them. George was not well affected towards Chesterfield, and would not consent to admit him to any post near his person, but permitted him, after much reluctance, to be named Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. As for Pitt, he was even more repugnant to the king than Chesterfield, and Pitt, on his part, would accept nothing less than the post of Secretary at War. The Pelhams advised him to have patience and they would overcome the king's reluctance; but when they proposed that the Tory Sir John Hynde Cotton should have a place, George, in his anger, exclaimed, "Ministers are kings in this country!"—and so they are for the time. After much negotiation and accommodating of interests and parties, the Ministry was ultimately arranged as follows:—Lord Hardwicke remained Lord Chancellor; Pelham was First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer; the Duke of Newcastle became one Secretary of State, Lord Harrington the other; the Duke of Devonshire remained Steward of the Household; the Duke of Bedford was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, with Lord Sandwich as Second Lord; Lord Gower was made Privy Seal; Lord Lyttelton became a member of the Treasury Board; Mr. Grenville was made a Junior Lord of the Admiralty; Sir John Hynde Cotton received the office of Treasurer of the Chamber in the Royal Household; and Bubb Doddington contrived to be included as Treasurer of the Navy. Lords Cobham and Hobart had also appointments; and the Duke of Dorset was made President of the Council.
The chiefs of the Tory party were at this time sanguine in their expectation of being speedily called to office. Their hopes were founded mainly upon the dissensions that were known to exist in the Cabinet. These dissensions were first revealed by O'Connell's motion for a committee to inquire into the conduct of Baron Smith, when presiding as a judge in criminal cases, and especially with reference to a charge addressed by him to the grand jury of Dublin, in which he said: "For the last two years I have seldom lost an opportunity for making some monitory observations from the Bench. When the critical and lawless situation of the country did not seem to be generally and fully understood, I sounded the tocsin and pointed out the ambuscade. Subsequent events deplorably proved that I had given no false alarm. The audacity of factious leaders increased from the seeming impunity which was allowed them; the progress of that sedition which they encouraged augmented in the same proportion, till on this state of things came, at length, the Coercion Bill at once to arrest the mischief, and consummate the proof of its existence and extent." As there was no doubt that these shafts were aimed at O'Connell, this last charge afforded him a fair opportunity of putting a stop to the abuse by bringing the conduct of the talented but eccentric judge before Parliament; for, as there was no political case in the calendar, there was no excuse for the attack. Mr. Littleton declared it impossible to refuse his consent to the motion. Mr. Stanley, Lord Althorp, and Lord John Russell expressed a similar view. Sir James Graham briefly but warmly dissented from his colleagues. He had come down to the House with the understanding that they meant to oppose the motion. He for one still retained his opinion, and had seen no reason to change it. As one who valued the independence of the judges and his own character, he must declare that if the motion were carried, and if, as its result, an Address was presented to the Crown for the removal of Baron Smith, it would be a highly inexpedient—nay, more, a most unjust proceeding. The present would be the most painful vote he had ever given, since he felt it incumbent upon him to sever himself from those friends with whom during a public life of some duration he had had the honour of acting; but feeling as he did the proposition to be one dangerous in itself, he conceived he would be betraying the trust committed to him if he did not declare against it. Baron Smith was ably defended by Mr. Shaw, by Sir J. Scarlett, and Sir Robert Peel. On a division, the motion for a committee of inquiry was carried by 167 to 74, Sir James Graham and Mr. Spring-Rice voting in the minority. Next morning Sir James tendered his resignation as First Lord of the Admiralty, which was declined, and in the following week the vote was rescinded by a majority of six.Cope had landed his force at Dunbar on the very day that the prince entered Edinburgh. His disembarkation was not completed till the 18th. Lord Loudon had joined him at Inverness with two hundred men, and now he met the runaway dragoons, six hundred in number, so that his whole force amounted to two thousand two hundred men—some few hundreds less than the Highlanders. Sir John took the level road towards Edinburgh, marching out of Dunbar on the 19th of September. Next day Lord Loudon, who acted as adjutant-general, rode forward with a reconnoitring party, and soon came back at a smart trot to announce that the rebels were not approaching by the road and the open country to the west, but along the heights to the south. Sir John, therefore, altered his route, and pushed on to Prestonpans, where he formed his army in battle array. He placed his foot in the centre, with a regiment of dragoons and three pieces of artillery on each wing. His right was covered by Colonel Gardiner's park wall and the village of Preston; his left extended towards Seaton House, and in his rear lay the sea, with the villages of Prestonpans and Cockenzie. Between him and the Highlanders was a deep morass.
The restless spirit of Buonaparte did not allow him any repose, even after his subjugation of the greater part of the north of Europe. Whilst he had been contending with the Russians, he had been planning fresh campaigns—fresh conquests at the opposite extremity of the Continent. Godoy, the favourite of the King of Spain, and the paramour of his dissolute queen, who had professed great admiration of Buonaparte, seeing him so deeply engaged in Germany, had suddenly called out a considerable army, and addressed it in a vaunting but mysterious way. The news of this reached Buonaparte on the field of Jena, and, discovering by this means the real sentiments of the Spanish favourite towards him, he vowed vengeance on Spain. It was by no means the first time that he had contemplated the conquest of Spain and Portugal, but this circumstance inspired him with a new impulse in that direction, and a plausible excuse. In his interviews with Alexander of Russia, these views had been avowed; and now, no sooner had he returned to Paris than he commenced his operations for that purpose. He blended this scheme, at the same time, with his great one of shutting out the British trade from the whole Continent. Russia had, by the Treaty of Tilsit, entered into a compact to enforce his system in her ports. Holland was compelled to submit to it. The kingdom of Westphalia was now in the hands of his brother Jerome, who had been forced to separate from his American wife, Elizabeth Paterson, and had been married to a daughter of the King of Würtemberg, so that the territories now comprised in the new kingdom of Westphalia were under the same law of exclusion. He had extended it to the Prussian ports since his conquest of that country, and to the Hanseatic towns. Denmark was ready to comply, and the treaty with Russia extended his embargo ostensibly to the whole western shores of the Baltic. Sweden refused to accept it, and the foolhardy King Christian IV. declared war on Russia, and invaded Norway. He promptly lost Finland and Pomerania. Sir John Moore, with an army of 10,000 men, was sent to his assistance, but found him so unreasonable that he thought it better to return without landing the troops. Christian was soon afterwards deposed, and his uncle established in his place, who accepted the Continental system. But Alexander was as little faithful in this part of the Treaty as in other parts. In fact, he dared not strictly enforce the exclusion of British trade, were he so disposed. Nearly the whole heavy produce of Russia—hemp, iron, timber, wax, pitch, and naval stores, which constituted the chief revenues of the Russian nobles—was taken by the British, and paid for in their manufactures. To have cut off his trade would have made the life of Alexander as little secure as that of his father, Paul, had been. The Russian and British trade therefore continued, under certain devices, and notwithstanding the decrees of the Czar to the contrary. Buonaparte knew it, but was not prepared to open up a new war with Russia on that account—at least, at present. He was now turning his attention to the south.
Wellington was quite prepared for the fiercest attack of Buonaparte. Notwithstanding his loss at Quatre Bras, he had still about sixty-eight thousand men, though the British portion did not exceed thirty-five thousand; and Buonaparte, as he had stated, had about seventy thousand, but most of them of the very best troops of France, whilst few of Wellington's army had been under fire before, and some of the Belgians and Hanoverians were of very inferior quality. In point of cannon, Buonaparte had more than double the number that Wellington had. But the Duke informed Blucher that he should make a stand here, and the brave old Marshal replied to Wellington's request of a detachment of Prussians to support him, that he would be there with his main army. Wellington therefore expected the arrival of the Prussians about noon; but though they lay only about twelve miles off, the difficulties of the route over the heights of Chapelle-Lambert, and the occupation of part of Wavre by the French division under Grouchy, prevented their advance under Bulow from reaching the field till half-past four. Wellington, however, rested in confident expectation of the support of the Prussians and of their numerous cannon.All attempts at negotiation having failed, sealed green bags were laid upon the table of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons, with a message from the king to the effect that in consequence of the arrival of the queen he had communicated certain papers respecting her conduct, which he recommended to their immediate and serious attention. The bags contained documents and evidence connected with a commission sent in 1818 to Milan and other places to investigate charges—or rather to collect evidence to sustain charges which had been made against the Princess of Wales. The principal of these charges was that she had been guilty of adultery with a person named Bergami, whom she had employed as a courier, and afterwards raised to the position of her chamberlain and companion. The commission was under the direction of Sir John Leach, afterwards Vice-Chancellor.
The Great Seal had remained in commission ever since the resignation of Sir Robert Peel, and it was supposed to be reserved for Lord Brougham when the king's objections to his reappointment should be overcome. Such, however was not the case, as Lord Melbourne was determined to have nothing more to do with him. On the 1st of January, 1836, Sir Charles Pepys, Master of the Rolls, was appointed to the office of Lord Chancellor, and created a peer by the title of Lord Cottenham. At the same time Mr. Henry Bickersteth, appointed Master of the Rolls, was called to the Upper House by the title of Baron Langdale. Lord Brougham, thus passed over, was too ill to make any protest, but before long he assumed an attitude of active opposition to the Ministry. Parliament was opened by the king in person on the 4th of February, 1836, in a Speech remarkable for the number and variety of its topics. It gave the usual assurances of the maintenance of friendly relations with all Foreign Powers—expressed regret at the continuance of the civil contest in the northern provinces of Spain, and hope of a successful result to our mediation between France and the United States. Referring to domestic affairs, the state of commerce and manufactures was declared to be highly satisfactory; but difficulties continued to press on agriculture. Measures were to be submitted for increasing the efficiency of the Church, for the commutation of tithes, for alleviating the grievances of Dissenters; and improvements in the administration of justice were recommended, especially in the Court of Chancery. The special attention of Parliament was directed to the condition of the poor of Ireland, and it was suggested that as experience had proved the salutary effect of the Poor Law Amendment Act in England, a similar measure might be found useful in alleviating the social condition of Ireland. Allusion was also made to the reform of Irish corporations, and the adjustment of the Irish Tithe question, which we have already disposed of in preceding pages. Chiefly with reference to these questions, amendments to the Address were moved in both Houses; in the Upper by the Duke of Wellington, whose amendment was carried without a division; in the Commons Ministers won by 284 against 243.
FATHER MATHEW AND THE FAMINE-STRICKEN POOR. (See p. 537.)
The platform for the chairman and speakers consisted of a couple of waggons boarded over, and Hunt and his friends had some difficulty in reaching it through the dense crowd, the attendant bands continuing to play "God Save the King," and "Rule Britannia," till they were safely placed on the platform, when the music ceased, and Hunt, having been called to the chair, took off his white hat, and was commencing his address, when there was a strange movement in the throng, and a cry, "The soldiers are upon us!" and this was the fact. The magistrates had met in great numbers on the previous Saturday, and had determined to seize the ringleaders; but instead of doing this as they might have done, at their several localities when drilling, or on their way to the town, they left this to be done after these vast numbers were assembled, and by the aid of the soldiers, which was certain to produce serious consequences. We have the statements of these magistrates themselves, as laid before Parliament, and of Sir William Jolliffe, M.P., lieutenant of the 15th Hussars, and personally engaged on the occasion. The reason assigned by them was, that they waited to see "what the complexion of the meeting might be;" but, if this was the case, they might as well have waited till some disorder took place, which they did not, but sent the soldiers into the crowd, whilst peacefully and in an orderly manner standing to listen to the chairman. Had they waited to the end, they would undoubtedly have seen the immense crowd disappear as quietly as it had come. But the magistrates were clearly excited by their fears. They had assembled a great constabulary and military force. Two hundred special constables had been sworn in; six troops of the 15th Hussars lying in the barracks were held in readiness; a troop of Horse Artillery with two guns; the greater part of the 31st Regiment of Infantry; several companies of the 88th Regiment; the Cheshire Yeomanry, nearly four hundred men, who had ridden in that very morning; and about forty Manchester Yeomanry, chiefly master manufacturers. These were troops enough to storm a town, much more to defend it from an unarmed multitude. The whole of this force, except the Manchester Yeomanry, was put under the command of Colonel L'Estrange, of the 31st Regiment, in the absence of Sir John Byng, the general of the district, but who had his headquarters at Pontefract, and who, it appeared, had received no information of these military preparations, or of the imagined need of them.
The Scottish rebellion had been an auspicious circumstance for the arms of France. Marshal Saxe had taken the field, to the surprise of the Allies, in the very middle of winter, invested Brussels, and compelled it to surrender on the 20th of February, 1746. One town fell after another; Mons, Antwerp, Charleroi, and finally, Namur capitulated on the 19th of September, after a siege of only six days. As soon as Cumberland could leave Scotland after the battle of Culloden, he returned to London, in the hope that he should be appointed, covered, as he was, with his bloody laurels, to the supreme command of the Allied forces in Flanders, where he flattered himself he could arrest the progress of the French. But that command had been conferred on Prince Charles of Lorraine, the Emperor's brother, much to the disgust of both Cumberland and the king. On the 11th of October the Prince of Lorraine engaged the French at Raucoux, on the Jaar, and was signally defeated; the English cavalry, under General Ligonier, managing to save his army from total destruction, but not being able to stem the overthrow. At the close of the campaign the French remained almost entire masters of the Austrian Netherlands.TWOPENNY PIECE OF GEORGE III.详情
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