If Grenville and his Cabinet, in their ignorance of human nature, had made a gross mistake in their conduct towards Wilkes, they now made a more fatal one in regard to our American colonies. These colonies had now assumed an air of great importance, and were rapidly rising in population and wealth. The expulsion of the French from Canada, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton, the settlement of Georgia by General Oglethorpe, the acquisition of Florida from Spain, had given a compactness and strength to these vast colonies, which promised a still more accelerated and prosperous growth. At this period the inhabitants are calculated to have amounted to two millions of Europeans, and half a million of coloured people, Indians and negroes. The trade was becoming more extensive and valuable to the mother country. The imports from England, chiefly of her manufactures, amounted to three million pounds annually in value. They carried on a large trade with our West Indian islands and the Spanish American colonies, and French and Dutch West Indies. They also built ships for the French and Spaniards, in the West Indies. They had extensive iron and copper mines and works in different states. They manufactured great quantities of hats in New England. The fisheries of Massachusetts produced two hundred and thirty thousand quintals of dried fish, which they exported to Spain and Portugal, and other Catholic countries of Europe. Carolina exported its rice to these countries as well as to England; and they exported vast quantities of cured provisions, dye-woods, apples, wax, leather, tobacco from Virginia and Maryland (fifty thousand hogsheads annually to England alone) valued at three hundred and seventy-five thousand pounds. The masts from New England, sent over for the British navy, were the largest in the world.The state of parties in the House of Commons at the opening of the Session of 1837 was so evenly balanced, that Government had a very narrow majority. The number of Whigs was calculated at 150, of Liberals 100, and of Radicals 80, making the total number of Ministerialists 330. On the other side, the Tories counted 139, the Ultra-Tories 100, and the Conservatives, belonging to the new school which Sir Robert Peel had constituted, 80. Parliament was opened by commission on the last day of January. The Royal Speech announced the continuance of friendly relations with Foreign Powers, alluded to the affairs of Spain and Portugal, and directed the attention of Parliament to the state of Lower Canada. It recommended a renewal of the inquiry into the operation of joint-stock banks; also measures for the improvement of civil and criminal jurisprudence, and for giving increased stability to the Established Church. Special attention was directed to the state of Ireland, with reference to its municipal corporations and the collection of tithes, and to "the difficult and pressing question of a legal provision for the poor." Animated debates on the Address took place in both Houses. The Radicals, led on by Mr. Roebuck, strongly condemned the want of earnest purpose on the part of Ministers, whom he represented as "worse than the Tories." He accused them of pandering to popular passions on one side, and to patrician feelings on the other. But, situated as they were, what could they do? Their majority was small and uncertain in the Commons, while the Opposition in the Lords was powerful and determined. Lord Lyndhurst mutilated measure after measure, and then at the end of each Session taunted Ministers with their failure. They were trying to get on with a House of Commons elected under the influence of a Conservative Administration. Of course, Lord Melbourne could have dissolved Parliament and appealed to the country, in the hope of getting a working majority; but the king was decidedly averse from a dissolution; and it would have been an exceedingly unwise course to adopt, at a time when the precarious state of his health plainly indicated that the reign was fast drawing to a close, and its termination would necessitate another general election. It was unreasonable to expect that in consequence of weakness proceeding from such causes a Liberal Cabinet should surrender the reins of power to the Tory party, on the eve of a new reign, and with all the bright prospects that would be opened by the accession of a youthful queen to the Throne. At the close of the Session of 1836 they had, indeed, contemplated resignation, but eventually determined to go on.
Events now rushed on with accumulating force and accelerated pace. There had been a long drought, withering up the prospects of the harvest, and now, in July, came a terrible hailstorm, which extended one hundred and fifty miles round Paris, destroying the nearly ripe corn, the fruit on the trees, and leaving all that extent of country a desert, and the inhabitants the prey of famine. In such circumstances the people could not, those in other quarters would not, pay taxes; the Treasury was empty, and the king was compelled to promise to convoke the States General in the following May; Brienne endeavoured to amuse the active reformers by calling on men of intelligence to send in plans for the proper conduct of the States General, as none had been held for one hundred and seventy-two years. The public was impatient for a much earlier summons, but probably they would not have been much listened to, had Loménie de Brienne known how to keep things going. His empty exchequer, however, and the pressing demands upon him, drove him to solicit the king to recall Necker and appoint him once more Comptroller of the Finances. He imagined that the popularity of Necker would at least extend the public patience. The queen energetically opposed the reinstatement of Necker; the position of affairs was, however, too desperate, and Necker was recalled. His triumphant return was speedily followed by the meeting of the States.Murat sent continual intelligence of these things to Napoleon, and urged him to commence his retreat without another day's delay. But, as if deprived of sense and spirit, Buonaparte continued to linger on in Moscow, vainly hoping for the answer from Alexander, which never came, for the Czar not only refused to read the letter of the French Emperor, but snubbed Kutusoff for sending it to him, or receiving Lauriston for a moment. Sometimes Napoleon resolved to make an entrenched camp of Moscow, and pass the winter there, but then came the recollection that he could procure no provisions. Then, when he resolved upon retreat, he could not renounce his old habit of plundering the country that he invaded, collecting all the pictures, images, and ornaments of the churches which had escaped the fire, and loading them on wains. He had the gigantic cross on the tower of Ivan the Great, the tallest steeple of Moscow, taken down, vainly hoping to display these memorials of his visit to Moscow with the other spoils of the nations in Paris. He determined to drag away all his artillery with him, and ordered twenty thousand horses to be bought for the purpose of trailing all this encumbrance over a vast marsh, where all the Cossacks and fierce tribes of Russia would dog his heels, and where winter was sure to prostrate his hosts. But no horses were there, and the command was sheer madness.
At length the Duke of Cumberland arrived from Flanders, and foreign and English troops were assembled in the Midland counties; Marshal Wade had also ten thousand men collected at Newcastle-on-Tyne. The Duke of Cumberland was appointed Commander-in-Chief, and the brave soldiers who had fought under him at Fontenoy were ready to follow him, in the highest confidence of making short work with the Highlanders.
This speech, which was regarded as the manifesto of the Reform party, called forth a reply from the Duke of Wellington, which was pregnant with revolution, and which precipitated the downfall of his Administration. He said:—"The noble Earl has recommended us not only to put down these disturbances, but to put the country in a state to meet and overthrow the dangers which are likely to arise from the late transactions in France, by the adoption of something like Parliamentary Reform. The noble earl has stated that he is not prepared himself to come forward with any measure of the kind; and I will tell him farther, neither is the Government.... Nay, I will go yet farther, and say that if at this moment I had to form a legislature for any country, particularly for one like this, in the possession of great property of various descriptions, although perhaps I should not form one precisely such as we have, I would endeavour to produce something which would give the same result; namely, a representation of the people containing a large body of the property of the country, and in which the great landed proprietors have a preponderating influence. Further still, I beg to state that not only is the Government not prepared to bring forward any measure of this description, but, in so far as I am concerned, while I have the honour to hold the situation which I now do among his Majesty's counsellors, I shall always feel it my duty to oppose any such measures when brought forward by others." When he sat down the hum of criticism was so loud that he asked a colleague—probably Lord Lyndhurst—the cause. The answer was, "You have announced the fall of your Government, that is all."
To any one viewing the situation of Buonaparte at this moment, it can appear nothing but an act of madness to invade Russia. The British, in Spain, were now defeating his best generals, and this would at an earlier period have caused him to hasten to that country and endeavour to settle the war in person. It is remarkable that he was not desirous to cope with Wellington himself, all his ablest generals having failed. But to leave such an enemy in his rear when he proceeded to the North, impresses us with the idea that his enormous success had now turned his head, and that the term of his career had been reached. Besides Spain, too, there were Prussia and Austria, with whom it was only politic to enter into some terms of security; for assuredly, if his arms suffered a reverse in Russia, all these would rise and join his enemies.Father, with panting breast,
On the 20th of January a Bill was introduced to the House of Lords for the naturalisation of the Prince. By this Act, which passed the next day through the House of Commons, the Prince was declared already exempt, by an Act passed in the sixth year of George IV., from the obligations that had previously bound all persons to receive the Lord's Supper within one month before exhibition of a Bill for their naturalisation. And the Bill was permitted to be read the second time without his having taken the oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance, as required by an Act passed in the first year of George I. But on the second reading in the House of Lords the Duke of Wellington objected that it was not merely a Bill for naturalising the Prince, but that it also contained a clause which would enable him, "during the term of his natural life, to take precedence in rank after her Majesty in Parliament, and elsewhere as her Majesty might think fit and proper," any law, statute, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding. The Duke of Wellington stated that as the title of the Bill said nothing about precedence, the House had not received due notice of its contents; he therefore moved the adjournment of the debate. Lord Melbourne remarked that the omission was purely accidental and, in his opinion, of no importance; at the same time he admitted that this Bill did differ in form from other similar Bills, as it gave the Queen power to bestow on Prince Albert a higher rank than was assigned to Prince George of Denmark, or to Prince Leopold. But the reason for the difference was to be found in the relative situation of the parties. Lord Brougham, however, pointed out a practical difficulty that might possibly arise. According to the proposed arrangement, if the Queen should die before there was any issue from the marriage, the King of Hanover would reign in this country, and his son would be Prince of Wales. Prince Albert would thus be placed in the anomalous position of a foreign naturalised Prince, the husband of a deceased Queen, with a higher rank than the Prince of Wales. Lord Londonderry decidedly objected to giving a foreign Prince precedence over the Blood Royal. In consequence of this difference of opinion the debate was adjourned till the following week, when the Lord Chancellor stated that he would propose that power should be given to the Crown to allow the Prince to take precedence next after any Heir Apparent to the Throne. Subsequently, however, Lord Melbourne expressed himself so anxious that it should pass with all possible expedition, that he would leave out everything about precedence, and make it a simple Naturalisation Bill, in which shape it immediately passed.The King of Spain hoped, by the dismissal of Alberoni, to obtain more advantageous terms of peace from France and England; but they still stood firmly to the conditions of the Quadruple Alliance. On the 19th of January, 1720, the plenipotentiaries of England, France, and Holland signed an engagement at Paris not to admit of any conditions of peace from Spain contrary to those of the alliance. Stanhope despatched his secretary, Schaub, to Madrid, to endeavour to bring over the queen to this agreement, and Dubois sent instructions to the Marquis Scotti, Father d'Aubenton, and others in the French interest to press the same point. She stood out firmly for some time, but eventually gave way, and the mind of the king was soon influenced by her. Some difficulties which could not be overcome were referred to a congress to be held at Cambray. On the 26th of January Philip announced his accession to the Quadruple Alliance, declaring that he gave up his rights and possessions to secure the peace of Europe. He renewed his renunciation of the French Crown, and promised to evacuate Sicily and Sardinia within six months, which he faithfully performed.In fact the Ministry remained deplorably weak, despite the numerous changes in the Cabinet. The Marquis of Normanby, who had been a failure at the Home Office, changed places with Lord John Russell, who went to the Colonial Office. Mr. Francis Baring was made Chancellor of the Exchequer in the place of the most incompetent financier of modern times, Mr. Spring-Rice, who was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Monteagle, and soon afterwards appointed Comptroller of the Exchequer, with a salary of ￡2,000 a year; Sir John Newport having retired from that post on a pension. The Earl of Clarendon became Lord Privy Seal, and Mr. Macaulay Secretary at War, with a seat in the Cabinet in the room of Viscount Howick, who had quitted the Administration because he had disapproved of the political import of the changes, taken altogether, and they were unalterably fixed without seeking his concurrence. Mr. Charles Wood, the brother-in-law of Lord Howick, also resigned shortly afterwards, and Sir Charles Grey was refused promotion.
During the months of April and May Florence and all the other towns of Tuscany recovered from the revolutionary fever, and returned to their allegiance. At Bologna the Austrians met with a determined resistance. The garrison consisted of 3,000 men, including some hundreds of the Swiss Guards, who had abandoned the service of the Pope. They defied the Austrians, stating that the Madonna was all for resistance, and was actively engaged in turning aside the rockets of the enemy. But the heavy artillery did its deadly work notwithstanding; and after a short bombardment the white flag was hung out, the city capitulated, and the garrison laid down their arms, but were permitted to march out unmolested. Ancona also capitulated on the 10th, and Ferrara was occupied without resistance by Count Thurn. In fact, the counter-revolution was successful all over Central Italy, except in the Papal States, which now became the centre of universal interest. The leaders of the revolutionary party, chased from the other cities of Italy, were warmly welcomed at Rome, and gladly entered the ranks of its defenders.
Another successful expedition this year was one against the Cape of Good Hope. This settlement, so desirable for Britain, with her Indian possessions, had been yielded up by the Addington Administration, at the Peace of Amiens, most imprudently. A body of five thousand men was dispatched for its recovery, under Sir David Baird, in a fleet commanded by Sir Home Popham. They arrived in January, and the Dutch soldiers fled at the first attack. Retiring into the interior, General Beresford was dispatched after them, whereupon they surrendered, on condition that they should be sent to Holland without being deemed prisoners of war.CULLODEN HOUSE. (From a Photograph by G. W. Wilson and Co., Aberdeen.)
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This armament, with which Sir John Falstaff certainly would not have marched through Coventry, arrived off Tosa, on the coast of Catalonia, on the 1st of August. The brave Catalans, who had given the French more trouble than all the Spaniards besides, were rejoiced at the idea of a British army coming to aid them in rooting out the French; but Maitland received discouraging information from some Spaniards as to the forces and capabilities of Suchet, and refused to land there. Admiral Sir Edward Pellew and Captain Codrington in vain urged him to land, declaring that the Spaniards with whom he had conferred were traitors. Maitland called a council of war, and it agreed with him in opinion. This was precisely what Lord Wellington had complained of to Lord William Bentinck, who had propagated the most discouraging opinions amongst the officers regarding the service in Spain. He had assured him that a discouraged army was as good as no army whatever. The fleet then, much to the disappointment of the Catalans, conveyed the force to the bay of Alicante, and there landed it on the 9th of August. Suchet, who was lying within sight of that port, immediately retired, and Maitland, so long as he withdrew, marched after him, and occupied the country; but soon hearing that King Joseph was marching to reinforce Suchet, and that Soult was likely to join them, he again evacuated the country, cooped himself up in Alicante, and lay there, of no use whatever as a diversion in favour of Wellington, who was liable at Madrid to be gradually surrounded by a hundred thousand men. Wellington must proceed against one of the French armies, north or south. Had a proper force, with a bold commander, been sent to the south, he could soon have dealt with the northern enemies. A more dubious necessity now lay before him; but it required no long deliberation as to which way he should move. Clausel was expecting reinforcements from France, and he proposed to attack him before they could arrive.详情
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