In October of this year Chatham at length resigned, and Parliament assembled on the 8th of November. The two great objects which engrossed the attention of Government in these days were North America and John Wilkes. The news of the Act imposing import duties had reawakened all the indignation of the people of Massachusetts. The Bostonians took immediate steps to realise their doctrines. In October, 1767, the chief men there met, and entered into a bond to purchase or wear no English manufacture, but to encourage domestic manufacture till these obnoxious import duties were withdrawn. The Massachusetts Assembly passed strong resolutions to the same effect, and Mr. James Otis, who had been most active in contending for them, exerted himself, through the press, to circulate them all over America. Causes were not long wanting for testing the resolution of the people of Massachusetts. The governor of that colony, Francis Bernard, was precisely the man to bring the matter to a crisis. He was able, determined, and of a hot temper. The people hated him, because they knew that he was writing home despatches full of the most unfavourable representations of their proceedings and designs. He refused to confirm the nomination of such members of the council as he knew were opposed to the new regulation; and Lord Shelburne supported him in his act. In consequence, the Assembly addressed a circular letter to all the other colonies, calling on them to unite in defeating the new duties. Bernard in vain opposed the resolution authorising this circular letter; and, on his report, Lord Hillsborough instructed him to demand from the Assembly the rescinding of the resolution. The Assembly refused, declaring that if a British Minister could control the votes of provincial Assemblies, liberty was but a mere show. Lord Hillsborough had instructed Bernard to dissolve the Assembly in case it refused to rescind the resolution. In the meantime, events took place which might have caused a more judicious man to pause ere he fulfilled these instructions.
The name of the prisoner was Edward Oxford. He was about eighteen years of age, and of an unprepossessing countenance. He was a native of Birmingham, which town he had left nine years before. He was last employed at a public-house, "The Hog in the Pond," at the corner of South Molton Street and Oxford Street. His trial for high treason was begun in the Central Criminal Court on Thursday, July 9th, and ended next day. The judges were Lord Denman, Baron Alderson, and Justice Patteson. The jury returned the following special verdict:—"We find the prisoner, Edward Oxford, guilty of discharging the contents of two pistols, but whether or not they were loaded with ball has not been satisfactorily proved to us, he being of unsound mind at the time." An argument followed between counsel as to whether this verdict amounted to an absolute acquittal, or an acquittal on the ground of insanity. Lord Denman said that the jury were in a mistake. It was necessary that they should form an opinion as to whether the pistols were loaded with bullets or not; but it appeared they had not applied their minds to that point, and therefore it would be necessary that they should again retire, and say aye or no. Did the prisoner fire a pistol loaded with ball at the Queen? After considerable discussion upon the point, the jury again retired to consider their verdict. During their absence the question was again argued, and it appeared to be the opinion of the judges that the jury were bound to return a verdict of "Guilty" or "Not Guilty" upon the evidence brought before them. After an absence of an hour they returned into court, finding the prisoner "guilty, he being at the same time insane." The sentence was that he should be imprisoned during her Majesty's pleasure, according to the Act 40 George III., providing for cases where crimes were committed by insane persons.The fear of the Russians being removed, the king was impatient to get the Treaty with France ratified both by England and Holland. As there was some delay on the part of Holland, Stanhope proposed to comply with the king's desire, that the Treaty should be signed, without further waiting for the Dutch, but with the agreement on both sides that they should be admitted to sign as soon as they were ready. Dubois was to proceed to the Hague, and there sign the Treaty in form with our plenipotentiaries at that place, Lord Cadogan and Horace Walpole. But these ministers had repeatedly assured the States that England would never sign without them, and Horace Walpole now refused to consent to any such breach of faith. He declared he would rather starve, die, do anything than thus wound his honour and conscience; that he should regard it as declaring himself villain under his own hand. He said he would rather lay his patent of reversion in the West Indies, or even his life, at his Majesty's feet, than be guilty of such an action, and he begged leave to be allowed to return home. Townshend, for a moment, gave in to the proposition for not waiting for the Dutch, but immediately recalled that opinion; and he drew the powers of the plenipotentiaries for signing so loosely, that Dubois declined signing upon them. As we have said, the ratification did not take place till January, 1717, and after great causes of difference had arisen between Townshend and Stanhope. So greatly did Stanhope resent the difference of opinion in Townshend, that he offered his resignation to the king, who refused to accept it, being himself by this time much out of humour with both Townshend and Robert Walpole, the Paymaster of the Forces.
In Ireland, the influence of the free notions of France was already become broadly manifest, and though it resulted in no unconstitutional act, it wonderfully invigorated the resentment of the Irish against corruptions of Government. These truly demanded reprehension and reform; but the Government of Pitt was strong, and set both Ireland and reform at defiance. The Marquis of Buckingham, the Lord-Lieutenant, was recalled, because he had not been able to repress the movement in the Irish Parliament on the Regency question. The Earl of Westmoreland was sent in his place; but the Parliament still showed its resentment as strongly as ever, and proceeded to delve vigorously into the sink of Government corruption, and demand numerous corrections of abuses. Direct motions on the subject were made in both Houses; in the Peers by Lord Portarlington, in the Commons by Grattan, and, in truth, the ministerial abuses of the Irish Government were disgraceful. Grattan, on the 1st of February, pointed out the increased number of commissioners of revenue, and moved that his Majesty be addressed to inquire by whose advice this had been done. Next the increase of the Pension List came under discussion; then the granting of no less than fourteen Government offices to members of the Irish Commons. Lastly was noticed the paltry withdrawal of Lord Strangford's pension of four hundred pounds, which had been granted him at the request of the Irish House of Lords, in consequence of his small income, because he had voted against Ministers on the Regency Bill, at the same time that numbers of men who were not Irishmen, and had never done anything for Ireland or any other country, were saddled on the Irish revenue in a variety of sinecure posts and pensions. All these motions, however, were rejected by large Ministerial majorities.This great debate was interrupted by a motion brought on by Mr. O'Connell, on the impending famine in Ireland, which is chiefly memorable for a speech of Mr. Bright, in which, alluding to Sir Robert Peel's last address to the House, he said, "I watched the right honourable baronet go home last night, and I confess I envied him the ennobling feelings which must have filled his breast after delivering that speech—a speech, I venture to say, more powerful and more to be admired than any speech ever heard in this House within the memory of any man in it." A further eloquent allusion to the Minister's newly acquired freedom from the enthralment of the bigoted among his party had a powerful effect upon the House, and it was observed by those who sat near Sir Robert Peel that the tears started to his eyes at this unexpected generosity from his old opponent.
No wonder that pressing entreaties for succour came from Jelalabad. The garrison had exerted themselves with the utmost diligence to fortify the place, which they expected soon to be invested by hosts of Afghans, flushed with victory and thirsting for blood and plunder. The camp-followers were organised to assist in manning the walls, and foraging parties were sent out with good effect, while there was yet time to get in provisions. In the meanwhile Sale received a letter from the Shah, demanding what were his intentions, as his people had concluded a treaty with the Afghans, consenting to leave the country. There was an army preparing for their expulsion, and there were many of their countrymen and countrywomen hostages in the hands of a fanatical and vindictive enemy, while there was little prospect of any immediate relief from the Indian Government. There was even a feeling that they had been abandoned by the Government at Calcutta, which did not wish to maintain the supremacy of the British arms in Afghanistan. A council of war was called on the 26th of January; a stormy debate ensued; the majority were for coming to terms with the enemy and withdrawing from the country, for which purpose the draft of a letter in reply to the Shah was prepared. For two days its terms were debated, the proposition to surrender being vehemently resisted by an officer named Broadfoot, who declared it impossible that the Government should leave them to their fate, and do nothing to restore the national reputation, especially as a new Governor-General was coming out, doubtless with new counsels, and the Duke of Wellington, now in power, would never sanction so inglorious a policy. He was overruled, however, by the majority, and the letter was sent to the Shah. An answer came demanding that they should put their seals to the document. Another council was held; Colonel Broadfoot renewed his remonstrances; he was joined by Colonel Dennie, Captain Abbott, and Colonel Monteith. An answer was sent which left the garrison free to act as circumstances might direct. Next day tidings came from Peshawar, that large reinforcements were moving up through the Punjab, and that all possible efforts were to be made for their relief. There was no more talk of negotiation; every one felt that it was his duty to hold out to the last.The Ministry had, as a matter of course, been much weakened by the retirement of Lord Grey; but, having got through the Session, it might have survived to the next meeting of Parliament but for the death of Earl Spencer, which occurred on the 10th of November—an event which removed Lord Althorp to the House of Peers. It was supposed that this would lead only to a fresh modification of the Cabinet, by a redistribution of places. For example, Lord John Russell was to succeed Lord Althorp as the leader of the House of Commons. Lord Melbourne's Administration seemed to be quietly acquiesced in, as sufficient for a time; the nation evidently assuming that, in any case, a Liberal Government was the necessary consequence of a reformed Parliament. The public were therefore startled when it was announced on the 15th that the king had dismissed his Ministers. It appeared that Lord Melbourne had waited upon his Majesty at Brighton, on the 14th, to take his commands as to the new arrangements he was about to make. But the king said he considered that Government dissolved by the removal of Lord Althorp; that he did not approve of the intended construction of the Cabinet; that Lord John Russell would make "a wretched figure" as leader of the House, and that Abercromby and Spring-Rice were worse than Russell; that he did not approve of their intended measure with regard to the Irish Church; and concluded by informing Lord Melbourne that he would not impose upon him the task of completing the Ministerial arrangements, but would send for the Duke of Wellington.
Even now, had the Russians and Austrians possessed the spirit which the circumstances of the time demanded of them, they were far from being in a hopeless condition. Buonaparte was at an immense distance from his country. Besides the army still remaining with the two Emperors—at least sixty thousand in number—there were the strong forces of the Archdukes Charles and John in Hungary, and of Prince Ferdinand in Bohemia. By bold and skilful man?uvres they might have cut off his communications with France and Italy, and have harassed him, without committing themselves to a decided battle, till he must have found himself in a most perilous position. But Francis of Austria gave up the struggle in despair; he sent Prince John of Lichtenstein to propose a suspension of arms. Buonaparte insisted that they should first break with the Russians, and Lichtenstein said that Francis was quite willing, and to treat with Napoleon for a separate peace, but that he must claim for the Emperor Alexander the privilege of retreating into his own country without molestation. Buonaparte granted this as a favour, and added words so complimentary to Alexander, that they betrayed a wish to complete an agreement also with him. He returned to Vienna, and again occupied the palace of Sch?nbrunn. There he and Talleyrand concerted the demands which should be made; and an armistice was signed, on these terms, with Prince John of Lichtenstein, on the 6th of December. The final treaty was signed by the Emperor Francis, at Pressburg, on the 26th of December, a fortnight after Austerlitz. By this treaty Austria surrendered to Buonaparte all her territories in Italy, as well as her Venetian provinces of Dalmatia and on the coast of Albania. She surrendered her only seaport on the Adriatic, Trieste, and thus reduced herself to a mere inland power. She was compelled to cede to her rival, Bavaria, the Tyrol—a country most faithfully attached to the House of Hapsburg,—the bishopric of Passau, and other regions. Bavaria and Würtemberg, for their hostility to their own German race, were elevated into kingdoms, and Baden, for the same unpatriotic services, into a grand duchy. Thus France and her allies, or rather subjects, were now in possession of Switzerland, Italy, and the Tyrol on one side, and of Holland and Belgium on the other, so that she had everywhere an open high road into Germany, and nations of tributary princes, which were to aid in further enslaving it. Prussia had made up her mind on hearing of the victory of Austerlitz, and Haugwitz appeared at Sch?nbrunn, not to declare war on Buonaparte, but to compliment him on his victory. Buonaparte could not conceal his contempt for this despicable conduct. He said, "Ah! this compliment was intended for others, but fortune has transferred it to me;" but as he still intended to make use of Prussia, and could humiliate George III. by her means, he concluded a treaty with Haugwitz, by which he handed over Hanover to our late ally, and claimed Anspach in lieu of it. He then strengthened the Confederation of the Rhine, of which he was Protector, and so completely broke up the old federation of Germany, that Francis of Austria soon abandoned the title of Elective Emperor of Germany, and assumed that of Hereditary Emperor of Austria.
When the Peers assembled on the 7th it became quite evident that in allowing the Bill to go into committee they were only practising a man?uvre. In the first place they wished to prevent the creation of peers, and in the second they were resolved to mutilate the Bill in committee. They were aware that they had the sympathy of the king in this plot, and that he would have been glad of their success, irritated as he was by the coercion and pressure put upon him by his Ministers. The first step was taken by Lord Lyndhurst, who proposed in committee to defer the consideration of the disfranchising clauses till the enfranchising clauses had been considered. "Begin," he said, "by conferring rights and privileges, by granting boons and favours, and not by depriving a portion of the community of the privileges which they at present enjoy." This ostentatious preference of boons and favours for the people, postponing disfranchisement to enfranchisement, ringing changes on the words, was a mere artifice, but it was at once seen through by the indignant people. Lord Grey and Lord Brougham promptly exposed the attempted imposition; the former hoped the noble lords would not deceive themselves. He would not say that the proposal was insidious, but its object was utterly to defeat the Bill. He declared that if the motion were successful it would be fatal to the whole measure. It would then be necessary for him to consider what course he should take. He dreaded the effect of the House of Lords opposing itself, as an insurmountable barrier, to what the people thought necessary for the good government of the country. The noble earl's warning was on this occasion disregarded. The House being in committee proxies could not be counted, and the amendment of Lord Lyndhurst was carried after an angry debate—contents, 151; non-contents, 116; majority, 35. This division put a sudden stop to the proceedings in committee. Lord Grey at once proposed that the chairman should report progress, and asked leave to sit again on the 10th. Lord Ellenborough endeavoured to dissuade him from this course, and proceeded to give a description of the measure which he was prepared to substitute for the Ministerial Bill, and which he presumed to hope would be satisfactory to the country. This was a critical moment in the destiny of England, and the awful nature of the crisis seemed to be felt by all present, except those who were blinded by faction. Lord Grey had now but one alternative, a large creation of peers or resignation. With a majority against him in the Lords so refractory, nothing could be done; but the king declined to create the fifty peerages which the Ministry demanded. Accordingly, on Wednesday, the 9th of May, the resignation of the Ministers (and the king's acceptance of it) was formally announced by Lord Grey in the House of Lords, and by Lord Althorp in the House of Commons. Lord Ebrington immediately rose, and gave notice that he would next day move a call of the House, and then an Address to his Majesty on the present state of public affairs. In the course of the debate which ensued, attempts were made by Mr. Baring and Sir Robert Peel to excite sympathy for the Lords, as taking a noble stand against the unconstitutional pressure upon the king for the creation of peers, but in vain. Neither the House of Commons nor the country could be got to give them credit for any but the most selfish motives. They considered their obstinacy to be nothing better than the tenacity of the monopolists in power. Mr. Macaulay indignantly denounced their inconsistency in pretending that they wished to carry a measure of Reform. The influence of the Crown, always powerful, was visible in the division on Lord Ebrington's motion. The "ayes" were only 288 instead of the 355 that carried the third reading of the Reform Bill. There were evidently many defaulters; but woe to them at the next general election! Rigid scrutiny was instituted, and a black list made out of those who had deserted their constituents on this momentous question. In the meantime the most angry remonstrances came to absent members from their constituents. The motion, however, was carried by a majority of 80. It was evidently a relief to the king to get rid of the Whigs; and he knew so little of the state of public feeling as to suppose that a modified Reform measure, a mere pretence of Reform, would satisfy the country. He therefore sent for Lord Lyndhurst in order to consult him, assigning the reason, that being now Chief Baron, he was removed from the vortex of politics, although he had led the Opposition in their successful attack upon the Ministerial measure. The first thing Lord Lyndhurst did was to wait upon the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, to both of whom he stated the views of the king. His Majesty insisted that some extensive measures of Reform should be carried. "My advice to the king," said the Duke, "was not to reappoint his late Ministry, nor was it to appoint myself. I did not look to any objects of ambition. I advised him to seek the assistance of other persons well qualified to fill the high situations of the State, expressing myself willing to give his Majesty every assistance, whether in office or out, to enable him to resist the advice which had been given him." The Premiership was offered to Sir Robert Peel, but he peremptorily declined to take such a perilous position, declaring that "no authority nor example of any man, nor any number of men, could shake his determination not to accept office, under existing circumstances, upon such conditions." On the 12th of May the Duke undertook to form an Administration, taking the post of Prime Minister himself. Mr. Manners Sutton was to be leader of the Commons, Lord Lyndhurst Chancellor, and Mr. Baring Chancellor of the Exchequer. For five days the courageous Duke was engaged in a desperate effort to form a Cabinet. But no sooner was it known throughout the country than a terrific storm of popular fury burst forth, which threatened to blow down the House of Peers and sweep away the Throne. The king, from being the popular idol, became suddenly an object of popular execration. The queen, who had also been a great favourite with the people, attracted a large share of the odium excited against the Court. It was understood that her influence had much to do in causing the king to desert Lord Grey, and to break faith with him with regard to the creation of peers. The king and queen were groaned at and hissed, and pursued with tremendous noises by the people, while passing through the town of Brentford. Dirt was hurled at the royal carriage; and if the military escort had not kept close to the windows, it is probable their majesties would have sustained personal injury. Along the road to London the people expressed their feeling in a similar manner; and when the carriage entered the Park the mob saluted their majesties with yells and execrations of every description.THE CHASE AT ARGAUM. (See p. 493.)
AMERICAN PROVINCES in 1763 AFTER THE CONTEMPORARY MAP by Peter Bell
But of all the parties which remembered their wrongs and indignities, the Roman Catholic clergy were the most uncomplying and formidable. They had seen the Pope seized in his own palace at Rome, and forced away out of Italy and brought to Fontainebleau. But there the resolute old man disdained to comply with what he deemed the sacrilegious demands of the tyrant. Numbers of bishoprics had fallen vacant, and the Pontiff refused, whilst he was held captive, to institute successors. None but the most abandoned priests would fill the vacant sees without the papal institution. At length Buonaparte declared that he would separate France altogether from the Holy See, and would set the Protestant up as a rival Church to the Papal one. "Sire," said the Count of Narbonne, who had now become one of Buonaparte's chamberlains, "I fear there is not religion enough in all France to stand a division." But in the month of June Buonaparte determined to carry into execution his scheme of instituting bishops by the sanction of an ecclesiastical council. He summoned together more than a hundred prelates and dignitaries at Paris, and they went in procession to Notre Dame, with the Archbishop Maury at their head. They took an oath of obedience to the Emperor, and then Buonaparte's Minister of Public Worship proposed to them, in a message from the Emperor, to pass an ordinance enabling the archbishop to institute prelates without reference to the Pope. A committee of bishops was found complying enough to recommend such an ordinance, but the council at large declared that it could not have the slightest value. Enraged at this defiance of his authority, Buonaparte immediately ordered the dismissal of the council and the arrest of the bishops of Tournay, Troyes, and Ghent, who had been extremely determined in their conduct. He shut them up in the Castle of Vincennes, and summoned a smaller assembly of bishops as a commission to determine the same question. But they were equally uncomplying, in defiance of the violent menaces of the man who had prostrated so many kings but could not bend a few bishops to his will. The old Pope encouraged the clergy, from his cell in Fontainebleau, to maintain the rights of the Church against his and its oppressor, and thus Buonaparte found himself completely foiled.
[See larger version]ROTTEN ROW IN 1830. (See p. 442.)详情
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