It was five o'clock—the House densely crowded; for Lord Surrey was going to make the great Opposition motion of want of confidence, and only waited for the arrival of the Minister. As North hurried up the House, there were loud cries of "Order! order! Places! places!" North no sooner reached the Treasury bench than he rose to make his important disclosure; but the Opposition called vociferously for Lord Surrey, while the Ministerial members called for Lord North. Fox then moved that "Lord Surrey do speak first," but North instantly exclaimed, "I rise to speak to that motion." Being now obliged to hear him, for he was perfectly in order, he observed, that, had they suffered him at once to proceed, he might have saved them much useless noise and confusion, for, without any disrespect to the noble lord, he was going to show that his motion was quite unnecessary, as the Ministers had resigned, and that that resignation was accepted by the king! He had only wanted to announce that fact, and to move an adjournment of a few days, in order to make the necessary arrangements for the new Administration. Never was there a more profound surprise. The House was adjourned for five days, and the members prepared to depart and spread the news. But it proved a wild, snowy evening; the carriages had not been ordered till midnight, and whilst the members were standing about in crowds waiting for their equipages, rather than walk home through the snow, Lord North, who had kept his carriage, put three or four of his friends into it, and, bowing to the other members, said, laughingly, "You see, gentlemen, the advantage of being in the secret. Good night!"In the House of Lords on the 24th of January, 1721, five directors who had been called before them were arrested and their papers seized. By what had been drawn from them, it appeared that large sums had been given to people in high places to procure the passing of the South Sea Bill. Lord Stanhope rose and expressed his indignation at such practices, and moved that any transfer of stock for the use of any person in the Administration without a proper consideration was a notorious and dangerous corruption. The motion was seconded by Lord Townshend, and carried unanimously. The examination being continued on the 4th of February, Sir John Blunt refused to answer their lordships, on the plea that he had already given his evidence before the Secret Committee. A vehement debate arose out of this difficulty, during which the Duke of Wharton, a most profligate young nobleman, and president of the Hell-fire Club, made a fierce attack on Stanhope, accused him of fomenting the dissensions between the king and his son, and compared him to Sejanus, who had sown animosities in the family of Tiberius, and rendered his reign hateful to the Romans. Stanhope, in replying to this philippic, was so transported by his rage, that the blood gushed from his nostrils. He was carried from the House, and soon afterwards expired.
Taking this view of his Continental neighbours, George was driven to the conclusion that his only safety lay in firmly engaging France to relinquish the Pretender. The means of the attainment of this desirable object lay in the peculiar position of the Regent, who was intent on his personal aims. So long as the chances of the Pretender appeared tolerable, the Regent had avoided the overtures on this subject; but the failure of the expedition to the Highlands had inclined him to give up the Pretender, and he now sent the Abbé Dubois to Hanover to treat upon the subject. He was willing also to destroy the works at Mardyk as the price of peace with England. The preliminaries were concluded, and the Dutch included in them; but the Treaty was not ratified till January, 1717.
But his great measure, at this period, was the blow aimed at the commerce of Britain, and comprised in his celebrated Berlin Decrees, promulgated on the 21st of November. He had subjugated nearly the whole of the European Continent. Spain, Portugal, Italy to the south of France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Prussia to the north, with nearly the whole seaboard of Europe, were under his hand and his armies. He had found that he could not invade England; her fleet had risen triumphant, his own fleet had disappeared like a vapour at Trafalgar. As, therefore, he could not reach her soil, he determined to destroy her by destroying her commerce, on which he imagined not merely her prosperity but her very existence depended. As he was master of nearly all Continental Europe, he supposed it as easy for him to exclude by his fiat the merchandise of Britain, as to put down old dynasties and set up new ones. He had yet to learn that commerce has a conquering power greater than that either of martial genius or of arms.FROM THE PAINTING BY CLARKSON STANFIELD, R.A., IN THE CORPORATION ART GALLERY, GUILDHALL.
Finding that there remained no other means of reinforcing his army, he drained the garrisons all over France, and drew what soldiers he could from Soult and Suchet in the south. He was busy daily drilling and reviewing, and nightly engaged in sending dispatches to urge on the provinces to send up their men. The Moniteur and other newspapers represented all France as flying to arms; but the truth was they looked with profound apathy on the progress of the Allies. These issued proclamation after proclamation, assuring the people that it was not against France that they made war, but solely against the man who would give no peace either to France or any of his neighbours; and the French had come to the conclusion that it was time that Buonaparte should be brought to submit to the dictation of force, as he was insensible to that of reason.
Parliament met on the 10th of January, 1765. The resentment of the Americans had reached the ears of the Ministry and the king, yet both continued determined to proceed. In the interviews which Franklin and the other agents had with the Ministers, Grenville begged them to point to any other tax that would be more agreeable to the colonists than the stamp-duty; but they without any real legal grounds drew the line between levying custom and imposing an inland tax. Grenville paid no attention to these representations. Fifty-five resolutions, prepared by a committee of ways and means, were laid by him on the table of the House of Commons at an early day of the Session, imposing on America nearly the same stamp-duties as were already in practical operation in England. These resolutions being adopted, were embodied in a bill; and when it was introduced to the House, it was received with an apathy which betrayed on all hands the profoundest ignorance of its importance. Burke, who was a spectator of the debates in both Houses, in a speech some years afterwards, stated that he never heard a more languid debate than that in the Commons. Only two or three persons spoke against the measure and that with great composure. There was but one division in the whole progress of the Bill, and the minority did not reach to more than thirty-nine or forty. In the Lords, he said, there was, to the best of his recollection, neither division nor debate!Still, Fox took the opportunity to sound the French Government as to the possibility of peace. In a correspondence with Talleyrand he said that Britain would be willing to treat on reasonable terms, the first condition of which was that the Emperor Alexander should be admitted to the treaty. This was at once refused; yet Fox did not give up the attempt, and at length the French Government proposed that a British ambassador should go to Paris, to endeavour to arrange the principles of an agreement. Fox complied. Before a British plenipotentiary was permitted to proceed to Paris, the great points of the negotiation should have been brought forward, and it should have been seen whether there was a probability of agreeing. It should have been understood whether Buonaparte was disposed to surrender Naples again, which Britain demanded; to require the retirement of the Prussians from Hanover, even if nothing was said of Holland and Switzerland. To send a plenipotentiary without having ascertained these points was simply to enable Buonaparte to boast that he had sought to conciliate, and that British rapacity and ambition rendered all his overtures useless. This was exactly what occurred. Lord Yarmouth, late Marquis of Hertford, who had been residing for years in France as one of Buonaparte's détenus at the Peace of Amiens, was first sent. Lord Yarmouth arrived in Paris towards the end of May, and though it had been settled that the negotiations should, for the present, remain secret, the French had taken care to make every Court in Europe well acquainted with the fact. Then one of the very first demands—having got the ambassador there—was for the recognition, not only of Buonaparte as emperor, but also of all his family as princes and princesses of the blood. Next they came to the surrender of Naples, but Talleyrand assured Lord Yarmouth that the Emperor, so far from giving up Naples, or any part of Italy, must have Sicily, which was in possession of the British, because Joseph Buonaparte, now made King of Naples, declared that it could not be held without Sicily. France, Talleyrand said, would consent to Britain holding Malta, the Cape of Good Hope, which we had taken again, and would not only restore Hanover to us, but also allow us to seize on the Hanse Towns and Hamburg! We were in fact, to be permitted to set up for marauders, like themselves, and invade neutral States, and appropriate them; but, as for Naples or Sicily being restored, that was impossible. Lord Yarmouth also demanded that Dalmatia, Istria, and Albania should be restored, the last to the Turks, whose empire should regain its entirety. These points were equally resisted. Meanwhile, Prussia had taken the alarm about Hanover, and Russia, fearful of our treating without her, sent to Paris Count d'Oubril. Talleyrand managed to excite jealousies between the British and Russian envoys, to such a degree, that d'Oubril quitted Paris hastily, and returned to St. Petersburg. Instead of peace, the elements of new heartburnings and wars every day developed themselves. Finding that Lord Yarmouth did not succeed. Fox sent over the Earl of Lauderdale, but he got on no better. Buonaparte insisted that Sicily should be given up to Naples, and a little mock monarchy should be created for Ferdinand, the ex-king, in the Balearic Isles, which were to be taken unceremoniously from Spain. Lord Lauderdale, after a month's waste of words, demanded his passports, and returned; and Fox had now had ample proof that no peace was to be effected with Napoleon, except upon the terms of leaving the Continent to his dictation.In Ireland the bulk of the population had been left to the Catholic pastors, who were maintained by their flocks, the property of the Catholic Church having been long transferred by Act of Parliament to the Church of England, or, as it was called, the sister Church of Ireland. The number of parishes in Ireland had been originally only two thousand four hundred and thirty-six, though the population at that time was half that of England; but in 1807 Mr. Wickham stated that, in 1803, these had been consolidated, and reduced to one thousand one hundred and eighty-three. In some of these parishes in the south of Ireland, Mr. Fitzgerald stated that the incomes amounted to one thousand pounds, to one thousand five hundred pounds, and even to three thousand pounds a year; yet that in a considerable number of these highly endowed parishes there was no church whatever. In others there were churches but no Protestant pastors, because there were no Protestants. The provision for religious instruction went wholly, in these cases, to support non-resident, and often very irreligious, clergymen. In fact, no truly religious clergyman ever could hold such a living. The livings were, in fact, looked upon as sinecures to be conferred by Ministers on their relatives or Parliamentary supporters. It was stated that out of one thousand one hundred and eighty-three benefices in Ireland, two hundred and thirty-three were wholly without churches; and Mr. Fitzgerald said, "that where parishes had been consolidated, the services rendered to the people by their clergyman had been diminished in proportion as his income had been augmented; for no place of religious worship was provided within the reach of the inhabitants; nor could such parishioners obtain baptism for their children, or the other rites of the Church; and the consequence was that the Protestant inhabitants, in such places, had disappeared."
AFFRAY AT BOSTON BETWEEN THE SOLDIERS AND ROPE-MAKERS. (See p. 201.)Having reported to Mr. Canning the result of his diplomatic efforts at Paris, the Duke set out on his journey to Vienna, where he arrived on the 29th of September, and where he expected the Congress to be held. But there again England's plenipotentiary, the great conqueror of Napoleon, who had restored the legitimate despots to their thrones, was treated with as little consideration as at Paris. Not till his arrival did he learn that the Congress which he was invited to attend was not to be held at Vienna at all, but at Verona. Meanwhile, in the interval between the adjournment from one city to another, the Allied Sovereigns were paying a visit of friendship to the King of Bavaria, whose system of government no doubt met with their unqualified approval. As the Duke's instructions forbade him to meddle with Italian affairs, he tarried at Vienna till he should receive further instructions from his own Government. While awaiting an answer he had opportunities of conferring personally with the Czar, who had obtained an ascendency in the councils of the Holy Alliance which rendered him the virtual master of every situation. With regard to the affairs of Turkey, the Duke succeeded in obtaining from his Imperial Majesty an assurance that, unless driven to it by some unforeseen and irresistible necessity, he would not come to an open rupture with the Sultan. He was not so successful in his exertions with regard to the Spanish question, on which the Czar was in an irritable mood. He said that Spain was the very centre and focus of revolutionary principles, and he felt it to be the duty not less than the policy of the Allied Sovereigns to trample them out at their source, and for this purpose he had proposed to contribute 150,000 men, whom he intended to march into Spain through French territory. In reply to the Duke's earnest remonstrances against this course, the Czar put a question which betrays the aggressive policy of military despots. He asked what he was to do with his army. It insisted upon being led against Turkey, and was only restrained because he had expressed his determination of employing it in putting down what he called Jacobinism in the west.
MAP OF THE UNITED STATES AT THE TIME WHEN THEY GAINED THEIR INDEPENDENCE.
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RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN. (After the Portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds.)
James Cuffe; his father made Lord Tyrawley.详情
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