It was found that the potato was almost the only food of the Irish millions, and that it formed their chief means of obtaining the other necessaries of life. A large portion of this crop was grown under the conacre system, to which the poorest of the peasantry were obliged to have recourse, notwithstanding the minute subdivision of land. In 1841 there were 691,000 farms in Ireland exceeding one acre in extent. Nearly one-half of these were under five acres each. The number of proprietors in fee was estimated at 8,000—a smaller number in proportion to the extent of territory than in any other country of Western Europe except Spain. In Connaught, several proprietors had 100,000 acres each, the proportion of small farms being greater there than in the rest of Ireland. The total number of farms in the province was 155,842, and of these 100,254 consisted of from one to five acres. If all the proprietors had resided among their tenantry, and been in a position to encourage their industry and care for their welfare, matters would not have been so bad; but most of the large landowners were absentees. It frequently happened that the large estates were held in strict limitation, and they were nearly all heavily encumbered. The owners preferred living in England or on the Continent, having let their lands on long leases or in perpetuity to "middlemen," who sublet them for as high rents as they could get. Their tenants again sublet, so that it frequently happened that two, three, or four landlords intervened between the proprietors and the occupying tenant, each deriving an interest from the land. The head landlord therefore, though ever so well-disposed, had no power whatever to help the occupying tenants generally, and of those who had the power, very few felt disposed. There were extensive districts without a single resident proprietor, and when the absentees were appealed to by the local relief committees during the famine to assist the perishing people, they seldom took the trouble of answering the application.The only matters of interest debated in Parliament during this year, except that of the discontent in the country, were a long debate on Catholic emancipation, in the month of May, which was negatived by a majority of only twenty-four, showing that that question was progressing towards its goal; and a motion of Lord Castlereagh for the gradual abolition of sinecures. This intimated some slight impression of the necessity to do something to abate the public dissatisfaction, but it was an impression only on the surface. This Ministry was too much determined to maintain the scale of war expenditure to which they had been accustomed to make any real retrenchment. A committee appointed to consider the scheme recommended the abolition of sinecures to the amount of fifty-four thousand pounds per annum, but neutralised the benefit by recommending instead a pension-list of forty-two thousand pounds per annum. The country received the amendment with disgust and derision.Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Mr. Arthur O'Connor, nephew of Lord Longueville, went over to Paris to arrange the invasion. In London, Fitzgerald, his French wife, who accompanied him, and O'Connor, were entertained by members of the Opposition, and dined at the house of a peer in company with Fox, Sheridan, and several other leading Whigs; and Thomas Moore, in his Life of Fitzgerald, more than hints that he made no secret to these patriots of the object of his journey, for he was of a very free-talking and open Irish temperament. The friends of Fox have been inclined to doubt this discreditable fact, but no one was more likely than Moore to be well informed about it; and when Fitzgerald and O'Connor were on their trial, not only Fox, but Sheridan, Lord John Russell, the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk, Lords Thanet and Oxford came forward, and gave them both the highest character as excellent, honourable men. These emissaries reached Basle, by way of Hamburg, in the spring of 1797, and there, through Barthélemy, negotiated with the Directory. The Directory objected to receive Lord Edward Fitzgerald at Paris, on account of his connection with the Orléans family through his wife, lest the people should imagine that it was with some design on the Orléans estate; he therefore returned again to Hamburg, and O'Connor proceeded to Paris and arranged for the expedition under General Hoche, whose disastrous voyage we have already related. Fitzgerald and O'Connor did not reach Ireland again without the British Government being made fully aware of their journey and its object, from a lady fellow-traveller with Fitzgerald to Hamburg, to whom, with a weak and, as it concerned the fate of thousands, unpardonable garrulity, he had disclosed the whole. Almost simultaneously the arrest of the revolutionary committee of the North disclosed a systematic and well-organised conspiracy. In March, 1797, General Lake proceeded to disarm the revolutionaries in Ulster, and accomplished his task with ruthless severity.
On the 22nd of January, 1801, the first Imperial Parliament met, and Addington was re-elected Speaker. The king did not meet this Parliament till the whole of its members had been sworn; his opening of it for business took place on the 2nd of February, and his speech had no cheering topics to give spirit to its first proceedings; on the Continent there had been nothing but defeat on the part of the Allies, of triumph on that of France. Our late ally, Paul, had not only seized our merchant vessels in the ports of the Baltic, and the property of our merchants in the Russian towns, but he had entered into a league with Sweden and Denmark to close the Baltic altogether to us, and to compel us to relinquish the right of search. This confederacy, by stopping the supplies of corn from the North, threatened us with great aggravation of the distresses at home; and some members advocated the surrender of the right of search, or the acceptance of the principles of an armed neutrality, such as Catherine of Russia had endeavoured to establish. But Pitt plainly showed that to allow neutral vessels to carry arms, ammunition, and commodities of life into the ports of our enemies would render all blockades of their forts useless, and enormously increase our difficulties during war. Orders were immediately issued to send a powerful fleet into the Baltic to chastise the insane Czar.
L'univers t'abandonne—"Grey followed, contending that we ought to avoid the calamities of war by all possible means. A long debate ensued, in the midst of which Mr. Jenkinson declared that on that very day, whilst they were discussing the propriety of sending an ambassador to France, the monarch himself was to be brought to trial, and probably by that hour was condemned to be murdered. All the topics regarding Holland and Belgium were again introduced. Fox was supported by Grey, Francis, Erskine, Whitbread, and Sheridan; but his motion was negatived without a division.
Notwithstanding the hopes which might have been fairly entertained that the measure of Reform would have been rendered complete throughout the kingdom, a considerable time elapsed before its benefits were extended to the sister country; and a large amount of persevering exertion was required before a measure for the purpose was carried through Parliament, although its necessity was unquestionable. This arose from certain difficulties which it was not found easy to overcome, so as to meet the views, or, at least, to secure the acquiescence, of the various parties in the House. And hence it happened that it was not until 1840 that an Act was passed for the regulation of municipal corporations in Ireland, after repeated struggles which had to be renewed from year to year, and the question was at length only settled by a sort of compromise. On the 7th of February, 1837, Lord John Russell moved for leave to bring in the Irish Municipal Bill, which was passed by a majority of 55; but the consideration of it was adjourned in the Peers till it was seen what course Ministers were to adopt with regard to the Irish Tithe Bill. Early in 1838 the Bill was again introduced, when Sir Robert Peel, admitting the principle by not opposing the second reading, moved that the qualification should be ￡10. The motion was lost, but a similar one was made in the Upper House, and carried by a majority of 60. Other alterations were made, which induced Lord John Russell to relinquish his efforts for another year. In 1839 he resumed his task, and the second reading was carried by a majority of 26. Once more Sir Robert Peel proposed the ￡10 qualification for the franchise, which was rejected in the Commons, but adopted in the Lords by nearly the same majorities as before. Thus baffled again, the noble lord gave up the measure for the Session. In February, 1840, the Bill was introduced by Lord Morpeth with a qualification of ￡8. Sir Robert Peel now admitted that a settlement of the question was indispensable. With his support the Bill passed the Commons by a majority of 148. It also passed the Lords, and on the 18th of August received the Royal Assent.The claims of Ireland seeming, for the moment, to be happily satisfied, Ministers now proceeded to carry out those reforms for which they had loudly called during the many years that they had been in opposition. They adopted and introduced the Bills of Sir Philip Clerke and Mr. Carew for excluding contractors from the House of Commons, and revenue officers from voting at elections. The Bill against the contractors passed the Commons with little difficulty; but the Ministers immediately felt the mischief of allowing Lord Thurlow to retain his place of Chancellor. He opposed the measure vehemently, and divided the House upon it. Lord Mansfield gave it his cordial resistance, and the new Lord Ashburton, though created by the present Administration, tacked to it a clause exempting all gentlemen who merely contracted for the produce of their estates. The clause, however, was lopped away again on the return of the Bill to the Commons, and the Act passed without it. The Bill for disqualifying revenue officers was opposed with equal pertinacity by Thurlow and Mansfield; though Lord Rockingham stated that the elections in seventy boroughs depended chiefly on revenue officers, and that nearly twelve thousand of such officers created by the late Ministry had votes in other places. The Bill passed, after exempting all officers who held their posts for life, and therefore were charitably supposed to be beyond the reach of undue influence, as if no such thing as promotion had its effect.
Sir R. Musgrove, made receiver of customs, with ￡1,200 a year.
Pottinger was the first political agent at Hyderabad. He was succeeded by Major Outram, who could detect no hostility or treacherous purpose in the rulers of the country, though he admitted that during the reverses in Afghanistan they had intrigued freely with the enemy. But this favourable account did not suit the designs of Lord Ellenborough. He had issued a proclamation as hollow as it was high-sounding, condemning the "political system" that had led to the Afghan war. But he immediately began to act upon that system in Scinde, though with the evacuation of Afghanistan the solitary reason for the occupation had disappeared. In order to accomplish his objects more effectually, he superseded Outram, and sent Sir Charles Napier, with full civil and military authority, to get possession of the country any way; by fair means if possible, but if not, he was at all events to get possession. It was to be his first "political duty" to hear what Major Outram and the other political agents had to allege against the Ameers of Hyderabad and Khyrpore, tending to prove hostile designs against the British Government, or to act hostilely against the British army. Lord Ellenborough added, "that they may have had such hostile feelings there can be no doubt. It would be impossible to suppose that they could entertain friendly feelings; but we should not be justified in inflicting punishment upon these thoughts. Should any Ameer or chief with whom we have a treaty of friendship and alliance have evinced hostile designs against us during the late events, which may have induced them to doubt the continuance of our power, it is the present intention of the Governor-General to inflict upon the treachery of such ally or friend so signal a punishment as shall effectually deter others from similar conduct. But the Governor-General would not proceed in this course without the most ample and convincing evidence of the guilt of the person accused." Certain letters were speedily produced by Sir Charles Napier (which, no doubt, he considered authentic, though never proved to be so, and which might very easily have been fabricated by interested parties), showing a design among the chiefs to unite for the defence of their country. On the pretence of danger suggested by those documents, a new treaty was tendered to the Ameers for signature on the 6th of December, 1842, which required that around certain central positions the British Government should have portions of territory assigned to it, and another portion should be given to the Khan of Bhawlpore as a reward for his fidelity; that the Ameers were to supply fuel for the steamers navigating the Indus, and that failing to do so, the servants of the Company were to fell what wood they required within a hundred yards of the river on either side, and that the East India Company should coin money for Scinde, with the head of the Queen of Great Britain stamped on one side. This was a virtual assertion of sovereign rights; and if the people had any spirit at all, any patriotism, the casus belli so much desired was now forced upon them. The Ameers were so circumstanced that they pretended to accept the treaty; but it mattered little to Sir Charles Napier whether it was signed or not; for long before it was ratified he issued a proclamation in which he said, "The Governor-General of India has ordered me to take possession of the districts of Ledzeel Kote and of Banghara, and to reannex the said districts to the territory of his Highness the Nawab of Bhawlpore, to whom they will immediately be made over." This was done, and Sir Charles Napier forthwith marched into the country without any declaration of war; having by this time succeeded in blackening the character of the people, according to the custom of invaders, in order to make the seizure and confiscation of their country seem to be an act of righteous retribution. The following despatch from Sir Charles Napier would be worthy of a Norman invader of the twelfth century:—"I had discovered long ago that the Ameers put implicit faith in their deserts, and feel confident that we can never reach them there. Therefore, when negotiations and delays, and lying and intrigues of all kinds fail, they can at last declare their entire obedience, innocence, and humility, and retire beyond our reach to their deserts, and from thence launch their wild bands against us, so as to cut off all our communications and render Scinde more hot than Nature has already done. So circumstanced, and after drawing all I could from Ali Moorad, whom I saw last night at Khyrpore, I made up my mind that, although war was not declared, nor is it necessary to declare it, I would at once march upon Emaum-Ghur, and prove to the whole Talpoor family, both of Khyrpore and Hyderabad, that neither their deserts nor their negotiations could protect them from the British troops. While they imagine they can fly with security they never will."
The Opposition was in ecstasies: it was the first defeat of Ministers on a financial question since the days of Walpole, and in our time the Chancellor would have resigned. The blow seemed to rouse Chatham. Three days after this event, on the 2nd of March, he arrived in town, though swathed in flannel, and scarcely able to move hand or foot. He declared that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and himself could not hold office together. A few days, and Townshend would have been dismissed from office, and the country might have escaped one of its greatest shocks; but, unfortunately, the malady of Chatham returned with redoubled violence, and in a new and more terrible form. He was obliged to refuse seeing any one on State affairs.It was quite evident that a Ministry assailed in this manner, and left almost without defenders in Parliament, while the public out of doors were so excited against them that no act of theirs could give satisfaction or inspire confidence, could not long remain in office. Accordingly, they made up their minds to retire on the first opportunity. Three important questions stood for discussion, on any one of which they were sure to be defeated. The Duke selected the question of the Civil List. In the Royal Speech his Majesty surrendered the hereditary revenues of the Crown to the disposal of Parliament. The Opposition could see no merit in that, and Lord Grey contended that those revenues were not private but public property, assigned by the State for the purpose of maintaining the dignity of the Sovereign, and that from this purpose they could not be alienated. The debate came on upon the 12th of November, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer moved that the House do resolve itself into committee on the Civil List, the scheme which he had brought forward fixing the amount to be settled at ￡970,000. Several of the details in this scheme were objected to, and on the following day Sir H. Parnell moved, as an amendment to the resolutions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that a select committee be appointed to take into consideration the estimates and accounts printed by command of his Majesty regarding the Civil List. After a short debate the House divided, when the numbers were—for the amendment, 233; and against it, 204, giving a majority of twenty-nine against the Government. Mr. Hobhouse immediately asked Sir Robert Peel whether Ministers intended to retain office after this expression of the sentiments of the House. To which he gave no answer at the time; but the next day the Duke in the Upper House, and Sir Robert in the Lower, announced that they held their offices only till their successors were appointed. The defeat was brought about, in a great measure, by the former supporters of the Ministry. The blow was struck, and none recoiled from it more immediately than the section of angry Tories who were mainly instrumental in delivering it. They had achieved their purpose, and stood aghast, for no time was lost with the Duke in placing his resignation in the hands of the king.On the 22nd of January, 1801, the first Imperial Parliament met, and Addington was re-elected Speaker. The king did not meet this Parliament till the whole of its members had been sworn; his opening of it for business took place on the 2nd of February, and his speech had no cheering topics to give spirit to its first proceedings; on the Continent there had been nothing but defeat on the part of the Allies, of triumph on that of France. Our late ally, Paul, had not only seized our merchant vessels in the ports of the Baltic, and the property of our merchants in the Russian towns, but he had entered into a league with Sweden and Denmark to close the Baltic altogether to us, and to compel us to relinquish the right of search. This confederacy, by stopping the supplies of corn from the North, threatened us with great aggravation of the distresses at home; and some members advocated the surrender of the right of search, or the acceptance of the principles of an armed neutrality, such as Catherine of Russia had endeavoured to establish. But Pitt plainly showed that to allow neutral vessels to carry arms, ammunition, and commodities of life into the ports of our enemies would render all blockades of their forts useless, and enormously increase our difficulties during war. Orders were immediately issued to send a powerful fleet into the Baltic to chastise the insane Czar.
We must now step back a little to observe the war on the Continent from the opening of the present campaign. Frederick of Prussia lay encamped during the winter in Silesia, surrounded by difficulties and enemies. His resources both in money and men appeared well nigh exhausted. The end of autumn, 1760, brought him the news of the death of George II., and, from what he could learn of the disposition of his successor and his chief advisers, it was certain that peace would be attempted by England. This depressing intelligence was confirmed in December by the British Parliament indeed voting again his usual subsidy, but reluctantly, and he found it paid with still more reluctance and delay. Whilst thus menaced with the total loss of the funds by which he carried on the war, he saw, as the spring approached, the Russians and Austrians advancing against him with more than double his own forces. Disasters soon overtook him. The capture of Schweidnitz enabled the Austrians to winter in Silesia, which they had never yet done during the war; and the Russians also found, to their great satisfaction, on arriving in Pomerania, that they could winter in Colberg. The Russian division under Romanzow had besieged Colberg both by land and sea, and, despite the attempts of the Prussians sent by Frederick to relieve it, it had been compelled to surrender. In these discouraging circumstances Frederick took up his winter quarters at Breslau. His affairs never wore a darker aspect. He was out-generaled and more discomfited this campaign than by a great battle. His enemies lay near in augmented strength of position, and his resources had ominously decreased.The general result of the elections was considered to have diminished by fifty the number of votes on which Ministers could depend, and the relation in which they now stood to the more popular part of the representation was stated to be as follows:—Of the eighty-two members returned by the forty counties of England, only twenty-eight were steady adherents of the Ministry; forty-seven were avowed adherents of the Opposition, and seven of the neutral cast did not lean much to Government. Of the thirteen popular cities and boroughs (London, Westminster, Aylesbury, etc.), returning twenty-eight members, only three seats were held by decidedly Ministerial men, and twenty-four by men in avowed opposition. There were sixty other places, more or less open, returning 126 members. Of these only forty-seven were Ministerial; all the rest were avowed Opposition men, save eight, whose leaning was rather against the Government than for it. Of the 236 men then returned by elections more or less popular in England, only seventy-nine were Ministerial votes; 141 were in avowed opposition, and sixteen of a neutral cast.Better to die than wed:详情
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