In Britain there were terrible outcries in consequence of the scarcity of bread. There were rioting and plundering of corn-factors' and bakers' shops, and Government passed a number of Acts giving premiums on the importation of grain, and forbidding the making of any but mixed and coarse breads. Had not large subscriptions been raised, and private benevolence been called forth to an immense extent for the relief of the distress, the consequences would have been more terrible. Pitt was in favour of remedial legislation, but Grenville was against interfering with the laws of supply and demand.The expedition against England was at this moment actually in motion. The squadrons of Brest and Rochefort were already united under the command of Admiral Roquefeuille, and sailing up the Channel to clear the way for the transports containing the soldiers. Sir John Norris had been appointed Admiral of our Channel fleet, consisting of twenty-one ships of the line. He had lain at Spithead, but had quitted that station and sailed into the Downs, where he was joined by other ships from Chatham; and thus was not only superior in number to the French, but had the advantage of being well acquainted with the coasts, he having long been Captain of Deal Castle. Roquefeuille sailed right up to the Isle of Wight, and, observing no vessels off Spithead, he, in his French egotism, concluded that the fleet had sought shelter in Portsmouth harbour. He therefore lost no time in despatching a small vessel to Dunkirk to hasten on his armament. Seven thousand men were instantly sent on board transports, and the prince and Marshal Saxe, who was to take command of the land force, accompanied them. Roquefeuille, meanwhile, proceeding on his voyage, came to anchor off Dungeness, which he had no sooner done than he beheld the British fleet bearing down upon him in much greater force than his own, for he had only fifteen ships of the line and five frigates. The destruction of the French fleet appeared inevitable, but Sir John Norris this time justly incurred the censure of lingering. He thought, from the state of the tide and the approach of night, it was better to defer the attack till morning; and, when morning came, no Frenchmen were to be seen. The French admiral, much more active than poor old Sir John, had slipped his cables and made the best of his way homewards.
But though this difficulty was tided over, there remained a still greater one with Sweden. Charles XII., overthrown by the Czar Peter at the battle of Pultowa, had fled into Turkey, and obstinately remained at Bender, though the Czar and his allies were all the time overrunning and taking possession of the Swedish territories on the eastern side of the Baltic. Russians, Norwegians, Danes, Saxons, and Prussians were all busy gorging the spoil. The King of Denmark, amongst the invasions of Swedish territory, had seized on the rich bishoprics of Bremen and Verden, which had been ceded to Sweden at the Peace of Westphalia. These bishoprics, which lay contiguous to Hanover, had always been an object of desire to that State. And now Charles of Sweden, suddenly ruined by the proceedings of his neighbours, who thus rent his kingdom limb from limb, galloped away from Bender, and in November, 1714, startled all his enemies by appearing at Stralsund. The Danish king, seeing a tempest about to burst over his head, immediately tempted the English king to enter into alliance with him, by offering him the stolen bishoprics of Bremen and Verden on condition that he should pay a hundred and fifty thousand pounds and join the alliance against Sweden. Without waiting for any consent of Parliament, Sir John Norris was sent with a fleet to the Baltic, under the pretence of protecting our trade there, but with the real object of compelling Sweden to cede the bishoprics, and to accept a compensation in money for them.LORD BUTE AND THE LONDONERS. (See p. 175.)At the opening of the year 1814 Buonaparte was busy endeavouring to make good some of his false steps, so as to meet the approaching Allies with all possible strength. He made haste to liberate the captive Pope, and thus remove one of the causes of the hostility of the Italians to him, for in Italy the Austrians were bearing hard on his Viceroy, Eugene, who had but about forty-five thousand men there, whilst Murat, at Naples, so far from supporting the claims of Napoleon, was endeavouring to bargain with the Allies for the kingdom of Naples. Buonaparte, at the commencement of the year, sent Cardinal Maury and the Bishops of Evreux and Plaisance to Pius VII. at Fontainebleau. But even in such pressing circumstances Buonaparte could not make a generous offer. He endeavoured to bargain for the cession of a part of the Papal territories, on condition of the surrender of the rest. But Pius, who had always shown great spirit, replied that the estates of the Church were not his to give, and he would not give his consent to their alienation. Foiled on this point, Buonaparte then sent word that the Pope should be unconditionally liberated. "Then," said Pius, "so must all my cardinals." This was refused, but he was permitted to go alone, and a carriage and guard of honour were given him. Before departing, Pius called together the cardinals, seventeen in number, and commanded them to wear no decoration received from the French Government, and to assist at no festival to which they should be invited. He then took his leave, on the 24th of January, and reached Rome on the 18th of May. Thus ended the most foolish of all the arbitrary actions of Napoleon. The folly of it was so obvious that he disclaimed having ordered the seizure of the Pope, but he showed that this was false by keeping him prisoner more than five years.
[See larger version]The question of the Prince's income was not so easily disposed of. On the 24th of January, Lord John Russell, having moved that the paragraph relating to the subject should be read, quoted, as precedents for the grant he was about to propose, the instances of Prince George of Denmark, Prince Leopold, and Queen Adelaide. As far as he could judge by precedent in these matters, ￡50,000 a year was the sum generally allotted to princes in the situation of the Prince Consort to the Queen of England. He therefore moved—"That her Majesty be enabled to grant an annual sum not exceeding ￡50,000 out of the Consolidated Fund, as a provision to Prince Albert, to commence on the day of his marriage with her Majesty, and to continue during his life." The debate having been adjourned for a few days, Mr. Hume moved, as an amendment, that only ￡21,000 should be granted. Colonel Sibthorpe moved that ￡30,000 be the sum allowed. Mr. Goulburn was in favour of that sum. The amendment proposed by Mr. Hume was lost by a majority of 305 against 38. When Colonel Sibthorpe's amendment became the subject of debate, Lord John Russell, alluding to professions of respect made by Lord Elliot for her Majesty, and of care for her comfort, said: "I cannot forget that no Sovereign of this country has been insulted in such a manner as her present Majesty has been." Lord Elliot and Sir James Graham rose immediately to protest against this insinuation, as in all respects most uncalled-for and unjustifiable. The House then divided on the amendment, which was carried by a very large majority, the numbers being—ayes, 262; noes, 158: majority for the sum of ￡30,000, 104. Such a signal defeat of the Government, on a question in which the Sovereign naturally felt a deep interest, was calculated to produce a profound impression upon the country, and in ordinary circumstances would have led to a change of Ministry; but it was regarded as the result of an accidental combination between heterogeneous materials, and therefore Lord Melbourne did not feel called upon to resign. However, the decisions caused, says Sir Theodore Martin, considerable pain and vexation to the Queen.
Such, then, was the state of affairs at the meeting of Parliament in November, 1768. These events in America claimed immediate attention. The petition of the Convention of Massachusetts, on its arrival, was rejected indignantly. The Opposition called for the production of the correspondence with the civil and military authorities there on the subject, but this demand was negatived. In January, 1769, the House of Lords took up the subject in a lofty tone. They complained of the seditious and treasonable proceedings of the people of Boston and of Massachusetts generally; and the Duke of Bedford, affirming that it was clear that no such acts could be punished by the magistrates or tribunals of the colony, moved an address to the king recommending that the criminals guilty of the late outrages should be brought to England and tried there, according to an Act of the 35th of Henry VIII. On the 26th of January it was introduced to the Commons. There it excited a very spirited opposition. Pownall, who had himself been governor of Massachusetts, and knew the Americans well, accused the Lords of gross ignorance of the charters, usages, and character of the Americans; and Governor Johnstone as strongly condemned the motion, which was carried by one hundred and fifty-five to eighty-nine. On the 14th of March a petition from New York, denying their right to tax America in any way, was rejected, on the motion of Lord North; and, still later in the session, Governor Pownall moved that the revenue acts affecting America should be repealed forthwith. By this time everybody seemed to have become convinced of the folly of the attempt; but Ministers had not the magnanimity to act at once on the certainty that stared them in the face. Parliament was prorogued on the 9th of May, and did not meet again till the following January, as if there were nothing of moment demanding its attention.
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Sir E. Bulwer Lytton (afterwards Lord Lytton) is chiefly known as a most successful novelist, but he won fame also as a dramatic author, his chief productions in this line being The Lady of Lyons and Richelieu. He was born in 1805, and was the youngest son of General Bulwer, of Haydon Hall. He commenced the career of authorship very early, having written "Weeds and Wild Flowers," "O'Neil, the Rebel," and "Falkland," before the appearance of "Pelham" in 1828. Then in rapid succession appeared "The Disowned," "Devereux," "Paul Clifford," "Eugene Aram," "The Last Days of Pompeii," "Rienzi," "Ernest Maltravers," "Alice, or the Mysteries," "The Last of the Barons," "Harold, or the Last of the Saxon Kings," and several others. In 1831 he entered the House of Commons, and represented Lincoln till 1841. His political career, however, belongs to the reign of Queen Victoria.
This alarming event produced an instant and zealous union of the Court and the nobles. The heads of the aristocracy and of the dignified clergy threw themselves at the feet of the king, declaring the monarchy lost if he did not at once dismiss the States. The utmost confusion reigned in the palace. The unhappy Louis, never able to form a resolution of his own, was made to sway to and fro like a pendulum between opposite recommendations. The Assembly had adjourned on the 19th to the next day, and Bailly, on reaching the door of the hall, attended by many other deputies found it not only closed, but surrounded by soldiers of the French Guard, who had orders to refuse admittance to every one. Some of the fiercer young spirits amongst the deputies proposed to force their way in; but the officer in command ordered his men to stand to their arms, and showed that he would make use of them. Bailly induced the young men to be patient, and obtained leave from the officer to enter a court and write a protest. A brisk conference was then held, while standing in the Avenue de Paris, in the midst of pouring rain, as to whither they should betake themselves. The deputy Guillotin recommended that they should go to Old Versailles, to the Jeu de Paume, or Tennis Court, and this plan was adopted.It was now proposed that as the Orange leaders had violated the law as much as the Dorsetshire labourers, they should be dealt with in the same manner, and that if evidence could be obtained, the Duke of Cumberland, Lord Kenyon, the Bishop of Salisbury, Colonel Fairman, and the rest should be prosecuted in the Central Criminal Court. There was an Orangeman, named Heywood, who had betrayed his confederates, and was about to be prosecuted by them for libel. The opponents of the Orangemen, believing his allegations to be borne out by the evidence given before the committee, resolved to have him defended by able counsel, retaining for the purpose Serjeant Wilde, Mr. Charles Austen, and Mr. Charles Buller. All the necessary preparations were made for the trial, when Heywood suddenly died, having broken a blood-vessel through agitation of mind, and alarm lest he should somehow become the victim of an association so powerful, whose vengeance he had excited by what they denounced as treachery and calumny. The criminal proceedings, therefore, were abandoned. Almost immediately after the opening of Parliament in February, 1836, Mr. Finn and Mr. Hume again made a statement in the House of Commons of the whole case against the Duke of Cumberland and the Orange Society, and proposed a resolution which seemed but a just consequence of their terrible indictment. The resolution declared the abhorrence of Parliament of all such secret political associations, and proposed an Address to the king requesting him to cause the dismissal of all Orangemen and members of any other secret political association from all offices civil and military, unless they ceased to be members of such societies within one month after the issuing of a proclamation to that effect. Lord John Russell proposed a middle course, and moved, as an amendment, an Address to the king praying that his Majesty would take such measures as should be effectual for the suppression of the societies in question. Mr. Hume having withdrawn his resolution, the amendment was adopted unanimously. The king expressed concurrence with the Commons; a copy of his reply was sent to the Duke of Cumberland, as Grand Master, by the Home Secretary. The duke immediately sent an intimation that before the last debate in the Commons he had recommended the dissolution of the Orange societies in Ireland, and that he would immediately proceed to dissolve all such societies elsewhere. "In a few days," Harriet Martineau remarked, "the thing was done, and Orangeism became a matter of history."
In this utter desertion, the king prevailed on Lord North, who was already Chancellor of the Exchequer, to accept Grafton's post of First Lord of the Treasury, with the Premiership. Lord North, eldest son of the Earl of Guildford, was a man of a remarkably mild and pleasant temper, of sound sense, and highly honourable character. He was ungainly in his person and plain of countenance, but he was well versed in the business of Parliament, and particularly dexterous in tagging to motions of the Opposition some paragraph or other which neutralised the whole, or turned it even against them. He was exceedingly near-sighted, so much so, that he once carried off the wig of the old Secretary of the Navy, who sat near him in the House. For the rest, he was of so somnolent a nature that he was frequently seen nodding in the House when Opposition members were pouring out all the vials of their wrath on his head. He thought himself a Whig, but if we are to class him by his principles and his acts of administration, we must pronounce him a Tory.The popular agitation became so alarming, however, that Mr. Stevens, one of its instigators, was indicted and held to bail on a charge of sedition. But this interference with liberty of speech served only to inflame the excitement, and to render the language of the orators more violent. In June, 1839, Mr. Attwood presented the Chartist petition to the House of Commons, bearing 1,200,000 signatures, and on the 15th of July he moved that it should be referred to a select committee, but the motion was rejected by a majority of 289 to 281. This gave a fresh impulse to the agitation. The most inflammatory speakers besides Mr. Stephens were Mr. Oastler and Mr. Feargus O'Connor. The use of arms began to be freely spoken of as a legitimate means of obtaining their rights. Pikes and guns were procured in great quantities; drilling was practised, and armed bands marched in nocturnal processions, to the terror of the peaceable inhabitants. At length, Lord John Russell, as Home Secretary, reluctant as he was to interfere with the free action of the people, issued a proclamation to the lieutenants of the disturbed counties, authorising them to accept the armed assistance of persons who might place themselves at their disposal for the preservation of the public peace. As a means of showing their numerical strength, the Chartists adopted the plan of going round from house to house with two books, demanding subscriptions for the support of the Charter, entering the names of subscribers in one book, and of non-subscribers in the other. Each subscriber received a ticket, which was to be his protection in case of insurrection, while the non-subscribers were given to understand that their names would be remembered. Another striking mode of demonstrating their power and producing an impression, though not the most agreeable one, was to go in procession to the churches on Sunday some time before Divine service began, and to take entire possession of the body of the edifice. They conducted themselves quietly, however, although some were guilty of the impropriety of wearing their hats and smoking pipes.
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE. (After the Portrait by G. Richmond.)
[See larger version]Such was the state of things in Canada which the Imperial Parliament was called upon to consider in the spring of 1838. The first feeling which the news of the insurrection produced in Britain was one of alarm; the next was that all the forces that could be spared should be immediately dispatched for the purpose of crushing the revolt; and a ship of the line was employed for the first time in carrying a battalion of 800 Guards across the Atlantic. The Duke of Wellington censured the Government for not having had a sufficient military force to preserve the peace in Canada, and used the oft-repeated expression that was stultified on several occasions during the latter portion of Victoria's reign, that a great nation cannot make a little war. On the 22nd of January Lord John Russell moved for leave to bring in a Bill suspending the Constitution in Lower Canada for three years, and providing for the future government of that province, with a view to effecting a satisfactory settlement of the affairs of the colony. He stated that her Majesty's Government had resolved to send out an experienced statesman, of high character and position, and of well-known popular sympathies, with ample powers, and that Lord Durham had consented to go. The Government measure was carried in the House of Commons by a majority of 262 to 16, and unanimously in the Lords.详情
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