The large majorities in the House of Lords were to be ascribed chiefly to the unparalleled influence of the Duke of Wellington. But the public at the time were little aware of the difficulties that great man had to deal with in overcoming the opposition of the king, who was much under the influence of the Duke of Cumberland. When the storm of Conservative violence reached its height, after the rejection of Peel in Oxford, and his return, not without a struggle, for Westbury; and when, on the 3rd of March, he gave notice that he would draw the attention of the House to the clause of the Royal Speech referring to Ireland, the king, greatly excited and alarmed, sent the same evening to desire that the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and the Chancellor should wait upon him next day. He had already seen the Chancellor once, and the Duke twice separately. The king received his three Ministers, when they presented themselves at the palace, kindly but gravely; he looked anxious and embarrassed while he requested them to make him acquainted with the details of their Bill. It was explained to him that it would relieve Roman Catholics from the necessity of making a declaration against the doctrine of transubstantiation; whilst it so far modified in their case the oath of supremacy, as to omit all notice of the king's authority in things spiritual. "What!" he exclaimed, "do you mean to alter the ancient law of supremacy?" It was to no purpose he was shown that the alteration applied only to Roman Catholics, who would be dispensed from swearing what they could not believe; but he appealed to his own coronation oath, in reference to which he could not recognise the dispensing power of his Ministers. The king was condescending in the extreme. He seemed deeply grieved at the dilemma to which they had been brought. He acknowledged that possibly he had gone too far on former occasions, though he had acted entirely through misapprehension. But now he trusted that they would see, with him, that it had become a point of conscience, and that there was no alternative left him except to withdraw his assent. In the most respectful manner they acquiesced in his Majesty's determination, allowing, without a murmur, that he had a perfect right to act as he proposed. But when he went on further to ask what they intended to do, the Duke's answer was explicit: they must retire from his Majesty's service, and explain to Parliament that unexpected obstacles had arisen to the accomplishment of the policy which they were engaged to pursue. To this Mr. Peel added, that as the Bill for the suppression of the Catholic Association had been carried on the understanding that other and more comprehensive measures would follow, it would be necessary to make Parliament generally aware of the causes which operated to prevent the bringing forward of those measures. The king heard all this to an end, without attempting to interrupt, or argue with, his Ministers. He admitted, on the contrary, that it was impossible for them to take any other course, and then bade them farewell, kissing each of them on both cheeks. They set off from Windsor immediately, and arrived at Lord Bathurst's, where their colleagues were waiting dinner for them. They made a full report of all that had occurred, and announced that the Government was at an end. The party broke up, believing themselves to be out of office; but early next morning, before any decisive steps had been taken, a special messenger arrived at Apsley House with a letter from the king. It was guardedly expressed, for it went no further than to state that his Majesty had found greater difficulties than he expected in forming a new Cabinet, and was therefore desirous that the present Ministry should go on. The moment was critical, and the position of the Government delicate and in some sense insecure. No doubt, his Majesty's letter might be read as implying an abandonment of the objections which he had taken to the policy of his Ministers overnight, but it was certainly capable of a different interpretation. It appeared, therefore, to the Duke, that before proceeding further it would be necessary to come to a clear understanding with the king as to his Majesty's real intentions, and Mr. Peel concurring in this opinion, the Duke was requested to write to the king on the subject. He did so, with all the candour and loyalty which were natural to him; and the result was an unequivocal declaration from the Sovereign that he would accept the measures of his Ministers as his own.
Besides those already mentioned as distinguished in various branches of literature, there was a host of others whom we can only name. In theology there were Warburton, South, Horsley, Jortin, Madan, Gerard, Blair, Geddes, Lardner, Priestley; in criticism and philology, Harris, Monboddo, Kames, Blair, Sir William Jones, Walpole; in antiquarian research, Hawkins, Burney, Chandler, Barrington, Stevens, Pegge, Farmer, Vallancey, Grose, Gough; in belles-lettres and general literature, Chesterfield, Hawkesworth, Brown, Jenyns, Bryant, Hurd, Melmoth, Potter, Francklin, etc.; in mathematical and physical science, Black, the discoverer of latent heat, Cavendish, the discoverer of the composition of water, Priestley, Herschel, Maskelyne, Horsley, Vince, Maseres, James Hutton, author of "The Huttonian Theory of the Earth," Charles Hutton, Cullen Brown, the founder of the Brownian theory of medicine, John and William Hunter, the anatomists, Pennant, the zoologist, etc.; discoverers of new lands, plants, and animals, Commodore Byron, Captains Wallis, Cook, Carteret, Flinders, etc., Dr. Solander, Sir Joseph Banks, Mr. Green.
The Bills were highly necessary, and, on the whole, well calculated to nip in the bud those ever-growing abuses of India and its hundred millions of people which, some seventy years later, compelled Government to take the control out of the hands of a mere trading company, whose only object was to coin as much money as possible out of the country and the folk. But it needed no sagacity to see that the means of defeat lay on the very surface of these Bills. Those whose sordid interests were attacked had only to point to the fact that Parliament, and not the Crown, was to be the governing party under these Bills, in order to secure their rejection. This was quickly done through a most ready agent. Thurlow had been removed by the Ministry from the Woolsack, where he had remained as a steady opponent of all the measures of his colleagues; and it required but a hint from the India House, and he was at the ear of the king. Nothing was easier than for Thurlow to inspire George III. with a deep jealousy of the measure, as aiming at putting the whole government of India into the hands of Parliament and of Ministers, and the effect was soon seen.On Monday night the whole city was brilliantly illuminated. The excitement of the multitude had time to cool next day, for it rained incessantly from morning till night. But the rain did not keep the Queen in-doors. She was out early through the city, visiting the Bank of Ireland, the National Model Schools, the University, and the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham. There she cheered the hearts of the brave old pensioners by saying, "I am glad indeed to see you all so comfortable." The illuminations were repeated this evening with, if possible, increased splendour, and the streets were filled with people in every direction, all behaving in the most orderly manner. Her Majesty held a levee in Dublin Castle on Wednesday, which was attended by unprecedented numbers. On Thursday she witnessed a grand review in the Ph?nix Park, and held a Drawing-room in her palace in the evening. The Queen left Dublin on Friday evening, followed to the railway station by immense multitudes, cheering and blessing as only enthusiastic Celts can cheer and bless. The scene at the embarkation in Kingstown Harbour was very touching. The whole space and the piers were crowded as when she arrived. The cheering and waving of handkerchiefs seemed to affect her Majesty as the royal yacht moved slowly out towards the extremity of the pier near the lighthouse. She left the two ladies-in-waiting with whom she was conversing on deck, ran up to the paddle-box, and, taking her place beside Prince Albert, she gazed upon the scene before her, graciously waving her hand in response to the parting salutations of her loyal Irish subjects. She appeared to give some order to the commander, the paddles immediately ceased to move, and the vessel merely floated on; the royal standard was lowered in courtesy to the cheering thousands on shore; and this stately obeisance was repeated five times. This incident produced a deep impression on the hearts of the people, and it was this picture that dwelt longest on their minds.
A debate which took place shortly afterwards was characterised by a memorable scene. In the month of January, 1843, Mr. Edward Drummond, the private secretary of Sir Robert Peel, had been shot in the street at Charing Cross, by an assassin, named M'Naughten. The unfortunate gentleman died of the wound, and the wildest rumours agitated the town as to the motive which had prompted the deed. Many asserted that it was a political one. M'Naughten had been seen loitering in Whitehall Gardens, and had followed his victim from Sir Robert Peel's residence in that locality. It was at once rumoured that the Prime Minister was the intended victim. M'Naughten had come from Glasgow, and it was said that when the Queen was in Scotland Sir Robert Peel invariably rode in the royal carriage, and Mr. Drummond in Sir Robert's own carriage. If this were true, it was remarked, the assassin's confidence would have been complete when he saw Mr. Drummond actually leave the house of Sir Robert Peel. Although the assassin was afterwards proved to be insane, the fact, coupled with the political excitement of the time, made a painful impression upon the minds of public men.The attention of the public was now again drawn to those unnatural feuds which disturbed the Royal Family. The exhibition of domestic discord and hatred in the House of Hanover had, from its first ascension of the throne, been most odious and revolting. The quarrels of the king and his son, like those of the first two Georges, had begun in Hanover, and had been imported along with them only to assume greater malignancy in foreign and richer soil. The Prince of Wales, whilst still in Germany, had formed a strong attachment to the Princess Royal of Prussia. George forbade the connection. The prince was instantly summoned to England, where he duly arrived in 1728.
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Our next great move was against the French in the Carnatic. After various actions between the French and English in India during the Seven Years' War, General Count de Lally, an officer of Irish extraction, arrived at Pondicherry in April, 1758, with a force of one thousand two hundred men. Lally attacked and took Fort St. David, considered the strongest fort belonging to the East India Company, and then, mustering all his forces, made his appearance, in December of that year, before Madras. He had with him two thousand seven hundred French and four thousand natives, whilst the English had in the town four thousand troops only, of which more than half were sepoys. But Captain Caillaud had marched with a small force from Trichinopoly, which harassed the rear of the French. After making himself master of the Black Town, and threatening to burn it down, he found it impossible to compel Fort St. George to surrender, and, after a severe siege of two months, on the appearance of Admiral Pococke's squadron, which had sailed to Bombay for more troops, he decamped in the night of the 16th of February, 1759, for Arcot, leaving behind him all his ammunition and artillery, fifty-two pieces. Fresh combats took place between Pococke and D'Aché at sea, and the forces on land. Colonel Brereton attempted to take Wandewash, but failed; and it remained for Colonel Eyre Coote to defeat Lally. Coote arrived at Madras on the 27th of October, and, under his direction, Brereton succeeded in taking Wandewash on the last of November. To recover this place, Lally marched with all his force, supported by Bussy, but sustained a signal defeat on the 22nd of January, 1760. Arcot, Trincomalee, and other places fell rapidly into the hands of Colonel Coote. The French called in to their aid the Nabob of Mysore, Hyder Ali, but to little purpose. Pondicherry was invested on the 8th of December, and, on the 16th of January, 1761, it surrendered, Lally and his troops, amounting to two thousand, remaining prisoners. This was the termination of the real power of France in India; for though Pondicherry was restored by the treaty of 1763, the French never again recovered their ground there, and their East India Company soon after was broken up. The unfortunate Lally on his return to France was thrown into the Bastille, condemned for high treason, and beheaded in the Place de Grève on the 9th of May, 1766.
Whilst the French armies had been carrying bloodshed and misery into the countries around them, their brethren at home had been equally busy in pushing forward those mutual hatreds which appeared likely to end in the extermination of the whole race of revolutionists. The Girondists being destroyed, new divisions showed themselves in those who had hitherto been allies—Robespierre and his coadjutors. Hébert, Chaumette, Clootz, Ronsin, and others, began to raise their heels against their chief, and their chief doomed every one of them to the guillotine. His most important victim was Danton, a man by no means contemptible (guillotined April 5th, 1794).The point, however, which excited the most indignation was that regarding Gibraltar. There was a strong feeling in the public mind that the Government was willing to give up this fortress to Spain. The Spanish Government was extremely urgent on the subject, declaring that there could be no peace, no truce with England, until it was surrendered. It was recollected by the English public that Stanhope had actually offered to give it up, and it was not known whether any equivalent except the signing of the Quadruple Alliance had been demanded. The Opposition in the House of Lords moved, "That effectual care be taken in any treaty that the King of Spain do renounce all claims to Gibraltar and Minorca in plain and strong terms." The Ministers, however, carried a more moderate resolution—"That the House relies on his Majesty for preserving his undoubted right to Gibraltar and Minorca." A similar discussion with a similar result took place in the Commons. The Government saw plainly that nothing would induce the British people to relinquish this important station.
After the Painting by SEYMOUR LUCAS, R.A., in the National Gallery of British Art
Still more inglorious were the proceedings of our fleet on the coasts of the Spanish-American colonies. Sir Chaloner Ogle joined Vernon in Jamaica on the 9th of January, 1741, and no time was to be lost, for the wet season set in at the end of April, which, besides the deluges of rain, is attended by a most unhealthy state of the climate. Vernon, however, did not move till towards the end of the month, and then, instead of directing his course towards the Havannah, which lay to the leeward, and could have been reached in three days, he beat up against the wind to Hispaniola, in order to watch the motions of the French fleet under D'Antin. It was the 15th of February before he learned distinctly that the French had sailed for Europe in great distress for men and provisions. Now was the time to make his way to Cuba; but, instead of that, he called a council of war—the resource of a weak commander,—which was followed by its almost invariable result, a contrariety of advice. It was at length concluded that, as Admiral Torres had now sailed for the Havannah, and thus closed the opportunity for its attack, the fleet should take in wood and water at Hispaniola, and make for the continent of New Spain. On the 4th of March the fleet came to anchor in Playa Grande, to the windward of Carthagena.详情
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