Whilst Parliament was busy with the Septennial Bill, George I. was very impatient to get away to Hanover. Like William III., he was but a foreigner in England; a dull, well-meaning man, whose heart was in his native country, and who had been transplanted too late ever to take to the alien earth. The Act of Settlement provided that, after the Hanoverian accession, no reigning sovereign should quit the kingdom without permission of Parliament. George was not content to ask this permission, but insisted that the restraining clause itself should be repealed, and it was accordingly repealed without any opposition. There was one difficulty connected with George's absence from his kingdom which Council or Parliament could not so easily deal with: this was his excessive jealousy of his son. The king could not take his departure in peace if the Prince of Wales was to be made regent, according to custom, in his absence. He proposed, therefore, through his favourite, Bothmar, that the powers of the prince should be limited by rigorous provisions, and that some other persons should be joined with him in commission. Lord Townshend did not hesitate to express his sense of the impolicy of the king's leaving his dominions at all at such a crisis; but he also added that to put any other persons in commission with the Prince of Wales was contrary to the whole practice and spirit of England. Driven from this, the king insisted that, instead of regent, the prince should be named "Guardian and Lieutenant of the Realm"—an office which had never existed since the time of the Black Prince.At an early hour a crowd was assembled at the queen's residence in South Audley Street. Lady Anne Hamilton, "faithful found among the faithless, faithful only she," arrived a few minutes before five o'clock. Soon afterwards the gate was thrown open, and a shout was raised, "The queen! the queen!" She appeared in her state coach, drawn by six bays, attended by Lady Hood and Lady Anne Hamilton, Lord Hood following in his own carriage. Having arrived at Dean's Yard Gate, it was found that the entrance for persons of rank was Poet's Corner; thither the coachman went, but there he found there was no thoroughfare. After several stoppages she was conducted to the Poet's Corner, and arriving at the place where the tickets were received, Lord Hood demanded admission for the queen. The doorkeeper said that his instructions were to admit no person without a peer's ticket. Lord Hood asked, "Did you ever hear of a queen being asked for a ticket before? This is your queen. I present to you your queen. Do you refuse her admission?" She also said that she was his queen, and desired permission to pass. The doorkeeper answered that his orders were peremptory. Lord Hood then tendered one ticket which he had, and asked the queen whether she would enter alone. After a short consultation she declined, and it was resolved that, having been refused admission to the cathedral church of Westminster, she should return to her carriage. As she quitted the spot, some persons in the doorway laughed derisively, and were rebuked by Lord Hood for their unmannerly and unmanly conduct.
The meeting of Parliament was approaching, and it was necessary to come to some final decision. Sir Robert Peel had a thorough conviction that if the Duke of Wellington should fail in overcoming the king's objections, no other man could succeed. It might have been that the high and established character of Earl Grey, his great abilities, and great political experience, would have enabled him to surmount these various difficulties. In addition to these high qualifications, he had the advantage of having been the strenuous and consistent advocate of the Roman Catholic cause; the advantage also of having stood aloof from the Administrations of Mr. Canning and Lord Ripon, and of having strong claims on the esteem and respect of all parties, without being fettered by the trammels of any. Sir Robert Peel had, however, the strongest reasons for the conviction that Lord Grey could not have succeeded in an undertaking which, in the supposed case of his accession to power, would have been abandoned as hopeless by the Duke of Wellington, and abandoned on the ground that the Sovereign would not adopt the advice of his servants. The result of the whole is thus summed up by Sir Robert Peel:—"Being convinced that the Catholic question must be settled, and without delay; being resolved that no act of mine should obstruct or retard its settlement; impressed with the strongest feelings of attachment to the Duke of Wellington, of admiration of his upright conduct and intentions as Prime Minister, of deep interest in the success of an undertaking on which he had entered from the purest motives and the highest sense of public duty, I determined not to insist upon retirement from office, but to make to the Duke the voluntary offer of that official co-operation, should he consider it indispensable, which he scrupled, from the influence of kind and considerate feelings, to require from me."
The time for the last grand conflict for the recovery of their forfeited throne in Great Britain by the Stuarts was come. The Pretender had grown old and cautious, but the young prince, Charles Edward, who had been permitted by his father, and encouraged by France, to attempt this great object in 1744, had not at all abated his enthusiasm for it, though Providence had appeared to fight against him, and France, after the failure of Dunkirk, had seemed to abandon the design altogether. When he received the news of the battle of Fontenoy he was at the Chateau de Navarre, near Evreux, the seat of his attached friend, the young Duke de Bouillon. He wrote to Murray of Broughton to announce his determination to attempt the enterprise at all hazards. He had been assured by Murray himself that his friends in Scotland discountenanced any rising unless six thousand men and ten thousand stand of arms could be brought over; and that, without these, they would not even engage to join him. The announcement, therefore, that he was coming threw the friends of the old dynasty in Scotland into the greatest alarm. All but the Duke of Perth condemned the enterprise in the strongest terms, and wrote letters to induce him to postpone his voyage. But these remonstrances arrived too late; if, indeed, they would have had any effect had they reached him earlier. Charles Edward had lost no time in making his preparations.This royal denunciation of the Repeal movement greatly exasperated O'Connell. He had recently submitted a plan to the Repeal Association, recommended by a committee of which he was chairman, for the restoration of the Irish Parliament. In the document containing this plan it was declared that the people of Ireland finally insisted upon the restoration of the Irish House of Commons, consisting of 300 representatives, and claimed, in "the presence of the Creator," the right of the Irish people to such restoration, stating that they submitted to the union as being binding in law, but solemnly denied that it was founded on right, or on constitutional principle, or that it was obligatory on conscience. The franchise was to be household suffrage, and the voting by ballot. It was also provided that the monarch or regent de jure in England should be the monarch or regent de facto in Ireland. This revolutionary scheme was to be carried into effect, "according to recognised law and strict constitutional principle." The arbitration courts which O'Connell had threatened to set up, in consequence of the superseding of magistrates connected with the Repeal Association, had actually been established; and the Roman Catholic peasantry, forsaking the regular tribunals, had recourse to them for the settlement of their disputes.
[See larger version]An armistice was arranged with Piedmont, which lasted throughout the autumn and winter. The events at Rome and the flight of the Pope had meanwhile greatly altered the position of the Italian question; and the revolutionary spirit was so strong that Charles Albert found it impossible to resist the demand of his people for a renewal of hostilities. "I must restore war," he said, "or abdicate the crown and see a republic established." He opened his Parliament in person on the 1st of January, 1849, when he delivered a lengthy speech, in which he fully expounded his policy. He invited the nation to co-operate in the great struggle which was impending. In January, the Sardinian Prime Minister, M. Gioberti, addressed a protest to the foreign Powers, in which he stated that though the suspension of hostilities agreed to on the 5th of August, 1848, was productive of fatal political consequences, Sardinia had faithfully observed the agreement, while Austria had disregarded her promises, and exhibited nothing but bad faith. She had pursued an iniquitous system of spoliation. Under the name of extraordinary war contributions her fleet seized Italian vessels navigating the Adriatic. She had put to death persons whose safety was guaranteed by the law of nations. She had violated the most sacred compacts in a manner unparalleled in the annals of civilised nations. Gioberti, however, who was obnoxious to the republican party, was compelled to resign. On the 24th of February the new Ministry issued a programme of its policy, and on the 14th of March M. Ratazzi, Minister of the Interior, announced to the Chamber of Deputies the expiration of the armistice, declaring that no honourable peace with Austria could be expected unless won by arms. War would, of course, have its perils; but between those perils and the shame of an ignominious peace, which would not insure Italian independence, the king's Government could not hesitate. Consequently, he stated that, two days before, a special messenger had been sent to Radetzky, announcing the termination of the armistice. He was perhaps justified by the declaration of the Austrian envoy to London, Count Colloredo, that Austria would not enter into any sort of conference unless she was assured that no cession of territory would be required. The king, meanwhile, had joined the army as a general officer, commanding the brigade in Savoy. The nominal strength of his army at that time was 135,000 men; but the muster-roll on the 20th of March showed only about 84,000 effective troops, including 5,000 cavalry, with 150 guns. Radetzky had under his command an army equal in number, but far superior in equipment and discipline. He at once broke Charles Albert's lines; drove him to retreat upon Novara, where he utterly defeated him. Abdication only remained for the king, and his son, Victor Emmanuel, concluded peace on terms dictated by Austria. The King of Sardinia was to disband ten military corps composed of Hungarians, Poles, and Lombards. Twenty thousand Austrian troops were to occupy the territory between the Po, the Ticino, and the Sesia, and to form one half of the garrison of Alessandria, consisting of 6,000 men, a mixed military committee to provide for the maintenance of the Austrian troops. The Sardinians were to evacuate the duchies of Modena, Piacenza, and Tuscany. The Piedmontese in Venice were to return home, and the Sardinian fleet, with all the steamers, was to quit the Adriatic. In addition to these stipulations, Sardinia was to indemnify Austria for the whole cost of the war. These terms were accepted with great reluctance by the Piedmontese Government, and with even more reluctance by the Genoese, who revolted, and had to be suppressed by the royal troops.
In 1734 England was the witness of war raging in different parts of Europe without having any concern in it, generally known as the War of the Polish Succession. A sharp Parliamentary campaign had been conducted at home. The Opposition talked loudly of the lamentable and calamitous situation of England, because she was wise enough to keep out of the war. Their motions were all guided by the secret hand of Bolingbroke, whose restless and rancorous mind could not brook that partial obscurity to which he was doomed by the immovable spirit of Walpole. But the grand attack was on the Septennial Act. This was a delicate subject for the Whigs in Opposition, for they, and Pulteney especially, had, in 1716, supported this Act with many specious arguments. But Wyndham led the way again with amazing eloquence, and discharged a philippic against Walpole of such ruthless and scathing vigour, as must have annihilated a less adamantine man.
We may satisfy ourselves as to William's appreciation of poetry by the fact that Shadwell was his first poet-laureate and Nahum Tate the next. Dr. Nicholas Brady and Nahum Tate made the version of the Psalms which long disgraced the Church Service. Sir William Temple, Baxter, Sir George Mackenzie, Stillingfleet, and Evelyn, as well as some others flourishing at the end of the last period, still remained.The conclusion of the Afghan war did not end the difficulties with the countries bordering on India. In the treaty with the Ameers of Scinde it was provided that Britain should have liberty to navigate the Indus for mercantile purposes, but that she should not bring into it any armed vessels or munitions of war, and that no British merchant should, on any account, settle in the country. Permission, however, was given to a British agent to reside at Kurrachee, and in 1836, when the country was threatened by Runjeet Singh, the British Government took advantage of the occasion to secure a footing in the country, one of the most fertile in the East. Kurrachee was only at the mouth of the river, but in 1838 a great step in advance was gained by getting a British agent to reside at Hyderabad, the capital, in order that he might be at hand to negotiate with Runjeet Singh. But the agent undertook to negotiate without consulting the Ameers, and awarded the payment of a large sum claimed by the Prince whom they dreaded, for which sum they produced a full discharge. This discharge was ignored by the British Government in India, acting in the interests of Shah Sujah, its royal protégé in Afghanistan. This was not all. A British army of 10,000 men, under Sir John Keane, marched, without permission, through Scinde, in order to support the same Prince against his competitors. Bolder encroachments were now made. The British Government determined on establishing a military force at Yatah, contrary to the wishes of the people, and compelled the Ameers to contribute to its support, in consideration of the advantages which it was alleged it would confer upon them. When the draft of a treaty to this effect was presented to the Ameers, one of them took the former treaties out of a box, and said, "What is to become of all these? Since the day that Scinde has been covenanted with the English there has been always something new. Your Government is never satisfied. We are anxious for your friendship; but we cannot be continually persecuted. We have given you and your troops a passage through our territories, and now you wish to remain." But remonstrance was in vain. The treaty must be signed; and the great Christian Power, which had its headquarters at Calcutta, insisted that the British force might be located anywhere in the country west of the Indus, and that the Ameers must pay for its support three lacs of rupees.
On the 20th of May Fox moved for a Grand Committee on courts of justice, to inquire into some late decisions of the courts in cases of libel. Thomas Erskine, the eloquent advocate, had lately, in the case of the Dean of St. Asaph, delivered a most brilliant and effective speech on the right of juries to decide both on fact and on law in such cases, the duty of the judge being only to explain the law. Fox adopted this doctrine of Erskine, and framed his speech in the most glowing terms. He complained, however, that such was not the practice of the courts, and he particularly animadverted on the custom and the doctrine of Lord Mansfield on this subject. He observed that in murder, in felony, in high treason, and in every other criminal indictment, it was the admitted province of the jury to decide both on law and fact. The practice in the case of libel was an anomaly, and clearly ought not to be so. He said that the doctrine which he recommended was no innovation; it had been asserted by John Lilburne, who, when prosecuted for a libel under the Commonwealth, declared that the jury were the real judges, and the judges themselves mere cyphers, so far as the verdict was concerned; and Lilburne had been acquitted, in spite of the judge and of the influence of Cromwell. He reviewed the doctrines of the Stuarts regarding libel, and observed that these could not be wrong then and right now. He contended that the late practice had been a serious inroad on the liberty of the press, and noted the case of the printer of the Morning Herald, who had been tried for merely commenting strongly on the sending of an armament to Nootka Sound, and on the conduct of Parliament in granting supplies for this purpose. He had been condemned to a year's imprisonment and to stand in the pillory. Pitt observed that he had always, since he had had a place in the Ministry, condemned the use of the pillory, and that there could be no difficulty in remitting that part of the sentence in this particular case. He supported Fox's view of the law, and recommended him to bring in two short Bills, instead of going into committee on the subject. Fox followed this advice, and brought in two Bills—one to remove doubts respecting the rights and functions of juries in criminal cases; and the other to amend the Act of the 9th of Queen Anne for rendering the proceedings upon writs of Mandamus and informations in the nature of a Quo Warranto more speedy and effectual. The first Bill passed the Commons on the 2nd of June, but was thrown out in the Lords, through the influence of Chancellor Thurlow, who had never forgiven Pitt his contempt of his conduct on the Regency question during the king's malady. This defeated the object of Fox during this Session, but it was carried in the next, and Lord Thurlow's opposition lost him his position. The Great Seal was put into commission.
The excitement among the public, as this resolution became known, was intense, and large crowds assembled in front of the baronet's house, applauding, and shouting "Burdett for ever!" In their enthusiasm they compelled all passengers to take off their hats, and shout too. But they did not stop here. On such occasions a rabble of the lowest kind unites itself to the real Reformers—and the mob began to insult persons of opposite principles and to break the windows of their houses. The Earl of Westmoreland, Lord Privy Seal, was recognised, and, as well as others of the same political faith, pelted with mud. The windows of Mr. Yorke, as the originator of the acts of the Commons, were quickly broken, and, in rapid succession, those of Lord Chatham, amid loud shouts of "Walcheren!" of Sir Robert Peel, the Duke of Montrose, Lord Castlereagh, Lord Westmoreland, Lord Wellesley, Mr. Wellesley Pole, Sir John Anstruther, and others. The Horse Guards were called out, and dispersed the rioters. The next day the serjeant-at-arms made his way into Sir Francis Burdett's house, and presented the Speaker's warrant for his arrest; but Sir Francis put the warrant in his pocket without looking at it, and a Mr. O'Connor, who was present, led the serjeant-at-arms down stairs, and closed the door on him. A troop of Life Guards and a company of Foot Guards were then ordered to post themselves in front of Sir Francis's house, and at night it was found necessary to read the Riot Act, and then the Guards were ordered to clear the street, which they did. Whilst this was doing, Sir Francis watched the proceeding from the windows, and was repeatedly cheered by the mob. Whilst thus besieged, he was visited by Lord Cochrane, the Earl of Thanet, Whitbread, Coke of Norfolk, Lord Folkestone, Colonel Wardle, Major Cartwright, and other Radical Reformers. Some of these gentlemen thought enough had been done to establish a case for a trial of the right of the House of Commons, and advised Sir Francis to yield to the Speaker's warrant. But Sir Francis addressed a letter to the sheriffs of London, informing them that an attack was made upon his liberty, by an instrument which he held to be decidedly illegal, and calling upon them to protect both him and the other inhabitants of the bailiwick from such violence. In this dilemma, the Premier, Mr. Perceval, advised that the serjeant-at-arms should lay the case before the Attorney-General, Sir Vicary Gibbs, which he did; but the reply of Sir Vicary only created more embarrassment, for he was doubtful whether, should any person be killed in enforcing the Speaker's warrant, it would not be held to be murder, and whether if the serjeant-at-arms were killed, a charge of murder would not issue against the perpetrator. The sheriffs, who were themselves strong Reformers, laid the letter of Sir Francis before the Speaker and before Mr. Ryder, the new Home Secretary, who counselled them to give their aid in enforcing the warrant. But these gentlemen proceeded to the house of Sir Francis Burdett, and passed the night with him for his protection.The changes in, and uncertainty about, the Ministry gave great uneasiness to Lord Wellington, whose operations in Spain depended so much on earnest support at home. During the latter part of the autumn and the commencement of winter, whilst his army was in cantonments, he was actively preparing to surprise the French, and make himself master of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. With much activity, but without bustle, he made his preparations at Almeida. Pretending to be only repairing the damages to its fortifications, he got together there ample stores and a good battering train. He prepared also a portable bridge on trestles, and regulated the commissariat department of his army; he also had a great number of light, yet strong waggons constructed for the conveyance of his provisions and ammunition, to supersede the clumsy and ponderous carts of the Portuguese.
Towards the end of May Wellesley commenced his march over the Spanish frontiers; his force being about twenty thousand infantry and three thousand cavalry. He fell in with the old Spanish general, Cuesta, at Oropesa, on the 20th of July, who was at the head of thirty thousand men, but miserably equipped, discouraged by repeated defeats, and nearly famished. Sir Arthur was woefully disappointed by this first view of a Spanish army in the field, and here, indeed, all his difficulties began. The general was a regular Spanish hidalgo—proud, ignorant, and pig-headed. He received Wellesley with immense stiffness and ceremony, as if somebody immeasurably his inferior; and though he knew no English, nor Sir Arthur any Spanish, he would not condescend to speak French with him. His army collected supplies from all the country round; and though the British were come to fight for them, the Spaniards expected them to provide for themselves, and there was the greatest difficulty in inducing the people to sell the British anything except for fabulous prices. Still worse, Sir Arthur found it impossible to get Cuesta to co-operate in anything. He fancied that he knew a great deal more about military affairs than the "Sepoy general," as Wellesley was termed, and that he ought to direct in everything, though he had done nothing but get well beaten on every occasion. And yet, if we take a glance at the French forces now in Spain, against whom they had to make head, the utmost harmony and co-operation was necessary.详情
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