As to the other changes in the Ministry, Sir Dudley Ryder being advanced to the bench, Murray succeeded him as Attorney-General. Lord Chancellor Hardwicke was made an earl; Sir George Lyttelton and George Grenville, friends of Pitt, had places—one as Treasurer of the Navy, the other as cofferer. Pitt himself, who was suffering from his great enemy, the gout, at Bath, was passed over. No sooner did he meet with Fox in the House of Commons, than he said aloud, "Sir Thomas Robinson lead us! Newcastle might as well send his jack-boot to lead us!" No sooner did the unfortunate Sir Thomas open his mouth, than Pitt fell with crushing sarcasm upon him; and Fox completed his confusion by pretending to excuse him on account of his twenty years' absence abroad, and his consequent utter ignorance of all matters before the House. Soon after, Pitt made a most overwhelming speech, on the occasion of a petition against the return of a Government candidate by bribery, and called on Whigs of all sections to come forward and defend the liberties of the country, unless, he said, "you will degenerate into a little assembly, serving no other purpose than to register the arbitrary edicts of one too powerful subject!" This was a blow at Newcastle, which, coming from a colleague in office, made both him and his puppets in the Commons, Legge and Robinson, tremble. Newcastle saw clearly that he must soon dismount Robinson from his dangerous altitude, and give the place to Fox.The Conservative party had got the impression that the commercial interest in the House of Commons would swamp the landed interest, in consequence of the preponderance of the representatives of cities and boroughs. But that impression was shown to be a delusion by many votes. The number who supported a motion of Lord Chandos on the 27th of April, 1836, was, considering its nature, remarkable:—"That in the application of any surplus revenue towards the relief of the burdens of the country, either by remission of taxation or otherwise, due regard should be had to the necessity of a portion thereof being applied to the relief of the agricultural interest." That interest had been relieved to a considerable extent in a variety of ways during the recent progress of legislation, and especially by the Poor Law Amendment Act, which had been an immense boon to both landlords and tenants. The policy of the motion of Lord Chandos was so unsound that Sir Robert Peel, Lord Stanley, and Sir James Graham felt constrained to vote with Ministers for its rejection. The motion was defeated by 211 votes to 150.Pitt, though he remained determined against our continuing to send soldiers to Germany, was so elated at the success of Frederick that, on the meeting of Parliament, on the 1st of December, he supported the vote of six hundred and seventy thousand pounds as a subsidy to Prussia, George having entered into a new convention with Frederick to defend his Electorate. Pitt, on the same occasion, pronounced a glowing eulogium on Clive's proceedings in India. This great Minister had, in fact, formed the most extensive designs for the colonial aggrandisement of England, and the repulse of France in those quarters. At his suggestion, Lord Loudon had been sent to North America, and as he had failed to render any service, General Abercrombie had gone out to supersede him. Pitt already, however, had his eye on a young officer, Wolfe, whom he deemed the true hero for that service; whilst, on the opposite side of the globe, he was watching the proceedings of another young officer with immense pleasure—namely, Clive. These two remarkable men, under the fostering genius of Pitt, were destined to destroy the ascendency of France in those regions, and to lay the foundations of British power on a scale of splendour beyond all previous conception.
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In Italy nothing was done till late in the year. Towards the end of November, the French army, under Massena, commenced operations in earnest. The Austrians and Piedmontese being scattered over a wide extent of country, defending various passes, the French attacked and beat them from different points. The right and centre of the Allies were ere long routed; and the left, posted on the shores of the bay St. Pier d'Arena, near Genoa, was attacked, both from the land and from the water, by gunboats, which Nelson, who had been detached to co-operate with the Austrians, had no means of coping with, except by letting loose a far greater number of armed vessels, and was also compelled to flight. Nelson managed to keep open the Bochetta pass for them, or from eight thousand to ten thousand prisoners would have been made, including the Austrian General Devins himself, who was laid up at Novi, at the foot of the Apennines. The French were then in a position to open the campaign against Italy in the spring.The British Parliament accepted the measure without much debate, regarding it as a simple case of necessity. It passed the House of Lords with only three non-contents—Lords Derby, King, and Holland. In the Commons it was passed by a majority of two hundred and thirty-six against thirty. Mr. Grey moved an amendment, praying his Majesty to suspend the question till the sentiments of the Irish people at large could be ascertained regarding this measure. He said that twenty-seven counties had petitioned against the measure; that seven hundred and seven thousand persons had petitioned against it, and only three thousand for it. But this amendment was swept away by a vast majority; the Act was passed, and received the royal assent on the 2nd of July. This and the vote of the necessary moneys being the great business of the Session, Parliament was prorogued on the 29th of the same month.
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.Accordingly, on the morning of the 17th, he sent a flag of truce to Washington, proposing a cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours, in order that commissioners might meet and settle the terms of surrender. They were soon arranged, and articles of surrender were signed by the respective generals on the morning of the 19th of October.RETREAT OF THE ROYALISTS FROM TOULON. (See p. 423.)
(From the Painting by Sir M. A. Shee, P.R.A.)Grenville rose and defended the Stamp Act. He denied that the right of taxation depended on representation. He complained justly, that when he proposed to tax America, there was little opposition in that House. He contended that protection and obedience were reciprocal, and he exposed the fallacy of Pitt's distinction between taxes and duties. There was much justice in these remarks. The words of Grenville, so pointedly directed against him, immediately called up Pitt again. He had spoken; it was contrary to all rule, but the lion of Parliament broke recklessly through the meshes of its regulations, and when he was called to order the members supported him by cries of "Go on! go on!" He went on, severely castigating Grenville for complaining of the liberty of speech in that House; and dropping in his indignation the terms of courtesy towards the late Minister of "honourable" or "right honourable," said simply—"Sir, the gentleman tells us that America is obstinate—America is almost in open rebellion. Sir, I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest." He then exposed the cases quoted by Grenville to show that taxation in this country had been imposed without representation, showing that these very instances led to immediate representation. "I would have cited them," he continued, "to show that even under arbitrary reigns Parliaments were ashamed of taxing a people without their consent. The gentleman asks when the Americans were emancipated? But I desire to know when they were made slaves?" He then touched on the true sources of benefit from our colonies, the profits of their trade. He estimated the profits derived from the American commerce at two millions sterling, adding triumphantly, "This is the fund that carried us victoriously through the late war. This is the price America pays us for protection." He then alluded to the comparative strength of the two countries. "I know the valour," he said, "of your troops. I know the skill of your officers. In a good cause, on a sound bottom, the force of this country can crush America to atoms. But in such a cause as this your success would be hazardous. America, if she fell, would fall like the strong man. She would embrace the pillars of the state, and pull down the constitution along with her."
During this first Session of the new Parliament Ministers had carried matters with a high hand, imagining that they had a majority which would enable them to resist popular opinion, as they had done since the conclusion of the war. But the progress of the Session did not warrant this conclusion. They were defeated in several very important contests, and before the Session came to an end were made to feel that they had greatly declined in public confidence. In the severe debate of the 18th of May, on the motion of Mr. Tierney for a Committee of Inquiry into the state of the nation, they had a majority of more than two to one. But this was very different on the 3rd of June, when they only carried their Foreign Enlistment Bill by a majority of thirteen. On the question of the resumption of cash payments, the conversion of Mr. Peel to the principles of Horner was a rude shock to the Cabinet, and shrewd men prognosticated that, the entire system of Mr. Vansittart being thus overturned, he must retire. Then came not merely partial conversions, or near approaches to defeat, but actual defeats. Such were those on Sir James Mackintosh's motion for inquiry into the criminal laws, and on Lord Archibald Hamilton's for Scottish burgh Reform. The question of Catholic Emancipation had approached to a crisis, and a majority of only two against it was, in truth, a real defeat. The consequence was that the conviction of the insecurity of Ministers was not only shared by men of impartial judgment, but by themselves. Towards the end of the Session Lord Liverpool himself was found writing to a friend, that unless the measure for the return to cash payments raised the confidence of the public in them, they must soon go out:—"I am quite satisfied that, if we cannot carry what has been proposed, it is far better for the country that we should cease to be a government. After the defeats we have already experienced during this Session, our remaining in office is a positive evil. It confounds all ideas of government in the minds of men. It disgraces us personally, and renders us less capable every day of being of any real service to the country, either now or hereafter. If, therefore, things are to remain as they are, I am quite sure that there is no advantage, in any way, in our being the persons to carry on the public service. A strong and decisive effort can alone redeem our character and credit, and is as necessary for the country as it is for ourselves."
For the reasons here stated, early in the summer a powerful fleet was fitted out with the utmost dispatch and secrecy by the new Ministry, and sent to the Baltic. The fleet consisted of twenty-five sail of the line, more than forty frigates, sloops, bomb-vessels, and gun-brigs, with three hundred and seventy-seven transports to convey over twenty-seven thousand troops from Stralsund, a great part of which were Germans in British pay. Admiral Gambier commanded the fleet, and Lord Cathcart the army, having second in command Sir Arthur Wellesley. On the 1st of August the British fleet was off the entrance of Gothenburg, and Admiral Gambier sent Commodore Keats into the Great Belt to cut off any passage from Holstein for the defence of Copenhagen. Admiral Gambier himself entered the Sound, passed the castles without any attack from them, and anchored in Elsinore Roads. By the 9th of August the whole fleet and the transports were collected there, and Mr. Jackson, who had been many years British envoy in the north of Germany, and knew most of the Danish Ministers, was dispatched to Kiel, in Holstein, where the Crown Prince lay with an army of from twenty thousand to thirty thousand men, to endeavour to induce him to enter into an alliance with Great Britain, and to deliver the fleet to its keeping till the peace, stating the necessity that the British commanders would otherwise be under of taking possession of it by force. The Crown Prince, though the British had made it impossible to cross over and defend the fleet, received the overture with the utmost indignation. Mr. Jackson returned to Admiral Gambier, and the Crown Prince sent a messenger to order Copenhagen to be put into a state of defence. But there was scarcely a gun upon the walls, and the population only numbered, excluding the sailors, some thirteen thousand men, inclusive of five thousand five hundred volunteers and militia. On the 17th several Danish gunboats came out of the harbour, fired at some of our transports coming from Stralsund, burnt an English vessel, and attacked the pickets of Lord Cathcart's army. These vessels were driven back again by bombshells, and that evening Admiral Gambier took up a nearer station north-east of the Crown battery, the Trekroner. He then proceeded to surround the whole of the island of Zealand, on which Copenhagen stands, with our vessels. The division of the army landed at Wedbeck having now marched up, was joined by other divisions, and proceeded to entrench themselves in the suburbs of Copenhagen. They were attacked by the gunboats, but, on the 27th, they had covered themselves by a good battery, and they then turned their cannon on the gunboats, and soon compelled them to draw off. On the 29th Sir Arthur Wellesley marched to Ki?ge, against a body of Danish troops that had strongly fortified themselves there in order to assail the besiegers, and he quickly routed them. The Danish troops then made several dashing sorties from Copenhagen, while their gunboats and floating batteries attacked our advanced vessels, and managed, by a ball from the Trekroner, to blow up one of our transports. The French had now arrived at Stralsund, and Keats was sent to blockade that port, to hinder them from crossing over into Zealand; nothing but the extreme rapidity of the movements of the British prevented a powerful army of French from being already in Copenhagen for its defence.[See larger version]详情
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