Though the Duke of Wellington defended him-self against the persevering attacks of the financial reformers, he was busy making retrenchments in every department of the Public Service. So effectually did he employ the pruning-hook, that although the income of the previous year had fallen short of the estimate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by ￡560,000, he was able to present to the House this year a surplus of ￡3,400,000 available for the reduction of taxation, still leaving an excess of income over expenditure of ￡2,667,000 applicable to the reduction of debt. There was, consequently, a large remission of taxation, the principal item of which was the beer duty, estimated at ￡3,000,000. At the same time, in order to enable the Chancellor of the Exchequer to meet these reductions, an addition of one shilling a gallon was made to the duty on English spirits and of twopence on Irish and Scottish spirits. This Budget helped to clear the political atmosphere and brought a brief gleam of popularity to the Government. The Duke got full credit for an earnest desire to economise, and it was acknowledged by the Liberal party that he had given the most important financial relief that the nation had experienced since the establishment of peace. Notwithstanding, however, the general satisfaction, and the loud popular applause, the pressure of distress was not sensibly alleviated. The burden indeed was somewhat lightened, but what the nation wanted was greater strength to bear financial burdens, a revival of its industrial energies, and facilities for putting them forth with profit to themselves and to the country. Remissions of taxation were but the weight of a feather, compared to the losses sustained by the action of the currency. For while the reductions only relieved the nation to the extent of three or four millions, it was estimated that the monetary laws, by cutting off at least fifty per cent. from the remuneration of all branches of industry, commercial and agricultural, had reduced the incomes of the industrial classes to the extent of a hundred and fifty millions yearly.[See larger version]
The Earl of Bute became more and more unpopular. The conditions of the peace were greatly disapproved, and the assurance that not only Bute, but the king's mother and the Duke of Bedford, had received French money for carrying the peace, was generally believed. The conduct of Bute in surrounding the king with his creatures, in which he was joined by the Princess of Wales, added much to the public odium. George was always of a domestic and retiring character, and he was now rarely seen, except when he went once or twice a-year to Parliament, or at levees, which were cold, formal, and unfrequent. Though, probably, the main cause of this was the natural disposition of himself and queen, yet Bute and the princess got the credit of it. Then the manner in which Bute paid his visits to the princess tended to confirm the rumours of their guilty intimacy. He used always to go in an evening in a sedan chair belonging to one of the ladies of the princess's household, with the curtains drawn, and taking every other precaution of not being seen. There were numbers of lampoons launched at the favourite and the princess. They were compared to Queen Isabella and Mortimer, and Wilkes actually wrote an ironical dedication of Ben Jonson's play of "The Fall of Mortimer," to Bute.
In the early portion of the reign the manners and customs differed little from those described in the preceding one. There was great dissipation, and even coarseness of manners, amongst the nobility and gentry. It was the custom to drink to intoxication at dinners, and swearing still garnished the language of the wealthy as well as of the low. Balls, routs, the opera, the theatre, with Vauxhall and Ranelagh, filled up the time of the fashionable, and gaming was carried to an extraordinary extent. Amongst our leading statesmen Charles Fox was famous for this habit. Duelling was equally common, and infidelity amongst fashionable people was of notorious prevalence. George III. and his queen did what they could to discourage this looseness of morals, and to set a different example; but the decorum of the Court was long in passing into the wealthy classes around it. An affluent middle class was fast mingling with the old nobility, and this brought some degree of sobriety and public decency with it. Amongst the lower classes dog-, cock-, and bull-fights were, during a great part of the reign, the chief amusements, and the rudest manners continued to prevail, because there was next to no education. Wesley, Whitefield, and their followers, were the first to break into this condition of heathenism. Robberies and murders abounded both in town and country, and the police was of a very defective character. For the most part there was none but the parish constable. The novels of Fielding and Smollett are pictures of the rudeness and profligacy of these times. The resources in the country of books and newspapers were few, and the pot-house supplied the necessary excitement. The clergy were of a very low tone, or were non-resident, and the farmers, getting rich, aped the gentlemen, followed the hounds, and ended the day with a carouse.Such was the state of Spain, though nominally conquered by the French. It was only held by a vast force, and there was no prospect that this force could ever be dispensed with. Joseph was so heartily tired of his kingdom that, on going to Paris to attend Napoleon's marriage, he declared that he would abdicate unless he were made generalissimo of all the forces in Spain, the separate generals, in their own provinces, paying but little regard to his commands, but each acting as if viceroy of his own province. To Napoleon the state of things was equally irksome. The drain of men and money was intolerable, and appeared without prospect of any end. He resolved, therefore, to make a gigantic effort to drive the British out of Portugal, when he hoped to be able to subjugate Spain. He could not yet proceed thither himself, but he sent heavy reinforcements under Drouet and Junot, and dispatched Massena, who was reckoned the greatest general next to himself, to drive Wellington into the sea. Massena had been so uniformly victorious, that Buonaparte styled him "the dear child of victory," and had made him Prince of Esslingen.
On the 3rd Parliament assembled, and the nation was full of expectation as to the measures of the Government. The great question of the day was understood to have been under their anxious consideration during the winter. It subsequently transpired that the measure of Reform contemplated by Lord Grey at the close of the year was far more moderate than the one which was brought forward by Lord John Russell. The material increase in the amount of concession was said to be chiefly owing to the growing demands of the people, enlightened by the discussions in the political unions. Lord Durham was the most advanced Liberal in the Cabinet, and most strenuously insisted on the necessity of a very liberal measure. In order that the Bill might be well matured, and might fully meet the wants of the country, Lord Grey appointed a committee to consider the whole subject, and report upon it to the Cabinet. This committee consisted of his son-in-law, Lord Durham, who was intimately acquainted with his own views; Lord John Russell, who had represented the Whig party in the House of Commons in the various proposals that he had made on the subject of Reform; Sir James Graham, who enjoyed the confidence of the advanced Liberals, and was considered something more than a Whig; and Lord Duncannon, who was supposed to be well acquainted with the Irish corporations. According to the general instructions given to the committee, they were to prepare the outlines of a measure which should be sufficiently comprehensive to meet the demands of public opinion, so as to extinguish the desire for further change. But it must rest upon property as its basis, and be connected with existing territorial divisions. He wished that the prerogative of the Crown should be in no degree diminished, that the peers should lose none of their rights or privileges; but that, saving these, the democracy should play its due part in the legislation and government of the country. The committee began to work as soon as the Administration was organised. They first discussed the principles involved in the measure, then the details were separately examined, and when a point was decided and agreed upon, it was recorded in writing by Lord Durham. Lord John Russell furnished the materials for Schedules A and B, which were supplied to him by coadjutors, who were labouring diligently out of doors facilitating the work. The first draft of the measure, as adopted by the committee, was explained by Lord Durham in the form of a report to the Cabinet, showing how the plans thus propounded would fulfil the conditions required, and, by satisfying all reasonable desires, stop the tendency to innovation. The scheme, when thus placed before the Cabinet, became the subject of their anxious deliberation, and was unanimously adopted by them, with the exception of the ballot, which was rejected owing to Lord Grey's objections. It was then submitted to the king at Brighton, a few days from the meeting of Parliament, was discussed with him from point to point, and sanctioned.The Parliament of England met on the 13th of October. Pitt, not without cause, assumed much merit from the successes of the year; and, in truth, so far as military matters went, rarely had this country reaped such fame. We had triumphed in every quarter of the world. In January came the news of the capture of Goree; in June, of Guadeloupe; in August, that of the victory of Minden; in September, of the victory off Lagos; in October, of the conquest of Quebec; in November, of Hawke's victory off Quiberon. Horace Walpole said, "victories came so thick, that every morning we were obliged to ask what victory there was, for fear of missing one." At the same time, the condition of our trade warranted the inscription afterwards placed on Chatham's monument in the Guildhall, that he caused commerce to flourish with war.
In such circumstances closed the year 1789. The intense excitement which the rapid course of these French events had produced in England had nearly superseded all other topics of interest. At first there was an almost universal jubilation over this wonderful revolution. The dreadful state of misery and oppression to which France had been reduced; the fearful exactions; the system of popular ignorance maintained by priestcraft; the abominable feudal insolence; the abuse of lettres de cachet; and the internal obstructions of customs and barriers between one province and another, made every friend of freedom desirous of seeing all these swept away. The early progress of their destruction was hailed with enthusiasm in England. Even the retired and timid poet, Cowper sang a triumphal note on the fall of the Bastille; but soon the bloody fury of the populace, and the domineering character of the Assembly, which did not deign to stop at the proper constitutional limits, began to create distrust and alarm. Amongst the first to perceive and to denounce this work of anarchy rather than of reform, was Burke. In common with Fox and Pitt, and many other statesmen, he had rejoiced in the fall of the corrupt government of France; but he soon began to perceive that the people were displaying the same ferocious character as in all their former outbreaks. "If," he wrote to M. Menonville, a moderate Member of the Assembly, "any of these horrid deeds were the acts of the rulers, what are we to think of the armed people under such rulers? But if there be no rulers in reality, and the chiefs are driven before the people rather than lead them; and if the armed corps are composed of men who have no fixed principle of obedience, and are moved only by the prevalence of some general inclination, who can repute himself safe amongst a people so furious and so senseless?" As he continued to gaze, he was compelled to confess that he saw no great and wise principles of legislation displayed by the Assembly; but that it went on destroying, without knowing how to rebuild in a manner likely to last or to work any one any good. The whole of the constitution-making, which annihilated the royal power, which erected no second chamber, but absorbed all authority into the Assembly, a mixed and heterogeneous body, he declared to be a bungling and monstrous performance. On the other hand, Dr. Price, Dr. Priestley, and numbers of equally enthusiastic men, saw nothing but what was animating in the progress of the French Revolution. "The Revolution Society," including many of the highest names of the Whig aristocracy, which was accustomed to meet on the 5th of November, to celebrate the anniversary of the landing of William III., and the English Revolution of 1688, this year presented a glowing address of congratulation to the French National Assembly, which was carried over by Lord Stanhope and Dr. Price. Of course, they and the address were received with great acclamation by the Assembly. The admiration of the French Revolution spread over Britain. Clubs were established, both in London and in the country, in sympathy with it, and the press became very Gallican and Republican in its tone, and there was much corresponding with admirers of the revolution in France, especially with Thomas Paine, who had now transferred himself from America, with a political fanatic destined to acquire considerable attention, calling himself Anacharsis Clootz, the "orator of mankind," and with many others.In these unfortunate circumstances, Charles Townshend, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed the annual rate for the land-tax. He called for the amount of four shillings in the pound, the rate at which it had stood during the war; but he promised next year to reduce it to three. The country gentlemen grumbled, representing that in years of peace it was commonly reduced to three and sometimes to two. Grenville saw his advantage—his great opponent away and the landholders ready to rebel—and he moved that, instead of next year, the reduction should take place immediately. Dowdeswell supported him, and the amendment was carried by two hundred and six votes against a hundred and eighty-eight. The Opposition was astonished at its own success, and yet it need not have been; they who had to vote were chiefly land-owners, and men who did not like taxing themselves. As Lord Chesterfield observed, "All the landed gentlemen had bribed themselves with this shilling in the pound."
The unfortunate king was obliged to submit, and retain his present incompetent Ministers. These incompetent Ministers, on their part, now believing themselves indispensable, became at once proportionably assuming, and even insolent, in their demands. Grenville and Bedford put several direct demands to the king as the conditions even of their condescending to serve him: that he would promise to have no further communications with Lord Bute, nor to allow him the slightest share in his councils; that he would dismiss Bute's brother, Mr. Mackenzie, from the office of Privy Seal of Scotland, and from the management of Scottish affairs; that he would dismiss Lord Holland from being Paymaster of the Forces, and appoint Lord Granby Commander-in-Chief. The king, after some demur, submitted to all these conditions, except the appointment of Lord Granby, and escaped that only by Granby himself declining the post. George submitted, because he could not help it, to these imperious conditions; but he inly resented them, and did not avoid showing it by his coldness towards both Bedford and Grenville. At this, the haughty Bedford took fire, and read the king a severe lecture before leaving town for Woburn. He complained of the king showing kindness to the enemies of the administration; and demanded whether the king had kept his promise not to consult Lord Bute.AFTER CULLODEN: REBEL HUNTING.
None of the princes who accepted our protection benefited more than Scindiah. He was relieved from the insolence of haughty military chieftains, who commanded his armies, and left him as little free will as they left to his subjects quiet possession of their property. He was enabled to disband his vast armies, and reduce them to thirteen thousand infantry and nine thousand horse. His disbanded soldiers returned home, and became tillers of the land lately running into jungle, by which, and other influences of peace, his revenue was nearly doubled. All the districts wrested from him by the Pindarrees were restored to him; he lost only the mischievous fortress of Aseerghur. Sir John Malcolm cleared the country of the swarms of Arabs, and of Mekranees from Beluchistan, who had acquired a most formidable ascendency in the armies of the Indian chiefs; and these chiefs were informed that again to employ these mercenary ruffians, or to allow them to remain on their territories, would be regarded as a declaration of hostility by the British Government. Similar changes were introduced into the territories of the dethroned Peishwa by the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, who resided at Poonah; and by the conquest of the Poonah territory, by the treaty of Mundissoor, made by Sir John Malcolm after his great victory at Mahidpore, and by exchanges made with the Guicowar of Baroda, and other arrangements, the British dominions were now linked together in one broad and continuous expanse, from Calcutta to Bombay, and from Bombay to Madras, as by the former Mahratta war they had been established between Madras and Calcutta.Sir Francis Head had made a somewhat dangerous experiment in denuding Upper Canada of troops, conceiving it to be his duty to lay before the American people the incontrovertible fact that, by the removal of her Majesty's forces and by the surrender of 600 stand of arms to the civil authorities, the people of Upper Canada had virtually been granted an opportunity of revolting; consequently, as the British Constitution had been protected solely by the sovereign will of the people, it became, even by the greatest of all republican maxims, the only law of the land. This was not done, however, without an attempt at revolt, made chiefly by Irish Roman Catholics. The leader of this movement was W. L. Mackenzie, the editor of a newspaper. On the night of the 3rd of December, 1837, this leader marched at the head of 500 rebels, from Montgomery's Tavern, his headquarters, upon Toronto, having initiated the war by the murder of Colonel Moodie. They were, however, driven away. Mackenzie fled in disguise to Buffalo, in New York; a large number of the rebels were taken prisoners, but almost immediately released, and sent to their homes.
There was, however, no violation of the peace, which Lord Anglesey had taken effective measures to preserve. He had placed at the disposal of Major Warburton 47 artillery, with two 6-pounders; 120 cavalry, and 415 infantry. These were at Clare Castle, close at hand; within a few miles there were 183 cavalry, and 1,313 infantry; within thirty-six miles, 28 cavalry, 1,367 infantry, and two 6-pounders; and at a farther distance there was a regiment of cavalry and above 800 infantry. There were besides, on duty at Ennis, 300 of the constabulary.
On Monday, the 18th of May, O'Connell took his seat under the gallery. Seldom, if ever before, were there in the House so many strangers, peers, or members. The adjourned debate was resumed, and it was resolved that he should be heard at the bar. To the bar he then advanced, accompanied by his solicitor, Mr. Pierce Mahony, who supplied him with the books and documents, which had been arranged and marked to facilitate reference. His speech on that occasion is said to have been one of the most remarkable for ability and argument he ever delivered. It should be observed that his claim to enter the House without taking the oaths was supported from the first by the opinion of Mr. Charles Butler, an eminent English barrister, and a Roman Catholic; but law and precedent were against him, and he could not be admitted. The House ordered the Speaker to make out a new writ for Clare.EDMUND BURKE. (After the portrait by George Romney.)The other measures of Parliament during this Session were these:—In the House of Lords Lord Holland, and in the Commons Henry Brougham, moved for addresses to his Majesty, exhorting him to persevere in his efforts to induce the Governments of other nations to co-operate in the abolition of the slave trade, and to take measures for putting a stop to the clandestine practice of British subjects yet carrying on this trade in a fraudulent manner, as well as to adopt plans for preventing other evasions of Mr. Wilberforce's Act. Mr. Bankes introduced a motion for rendering perpetual his Bill to prevent the grant of offices in reversion, and such a Bill was passed in the Commons, but rejected in the Lords.
FROM THE PAINTING BY F. X. WINTERHALTER IN THE NATIONAL GALLERY.It was not to be expected that the difficulties of Ireland would have passed away with the paroxysm of the crisis through which that nation had been working into a better state of existence. The social evils of that country were too deep-rooted and too extensive to be got rid of suddenly. The political disturbances above recorded, coming immediately after the famine, tended to retard the process of recovery. Another failure of the potato crop caused severe distress in some parts of the country, while in the poorer districts the pressure upon the rates had a crushing effect upon the owners of land, which was, perhaps, in the majority of cases, heavily encumbered. This led to the passing of a measure for the establishment of a "rate in aid," in the Session of 1849, by which the burden of supporting the poor was more equally divided, and a portion of it placed upon the shoulders most able to bear it. In anticipation of this rate the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Charles Wood, proposed an advance of ￡100,000 to meet the existing pressure. The proposed "rate in aid" was sixpence in the pound, to be levied in every union in Ireland, towards a general fund for the relief of the poor, and this was connected with a provision that the maximum rate should not exceed five shillings in the pound in any electoral division. The proposition of the Government, with the exception of the maximum rate clause, was agreed to after a good deal of discussion and various amendments. In the House of Lords the Bill was carried with difficulty, after much discussion and the moving of various amendments.详情
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