When the news of this distractedly hopeless condition of the Council in Calcutta reached London, Lord North called upon the Court of Directors to send up to the Crown an address for the recall of Hastings, without which, according to the new Indian Act, he could not be removed till the end of his five years. The Directors put the matter to the vote, and the address was negatived by a single vote. The minority then appealed to the Court of Proprietors, at the general election in the spring of 1776, but there it was negatived by ballot by a majority of one hundred, notwithstanding that all the Court party and Parliamentary Ministerialists who had votes attended to overthrow him. This defeat so enraged Lord North that he resolved to pass a special Bill for the removal of the Governor-General. This alarmed Colonel Maclean, a friend of Hastings, to whom he had written, on the 27th of March. 1775, desiring him, in his disgust with the conduct of Francis, Clavering, and Monson, and the support of them by the Directors, to tender his resignation. Thinking better of it, however, he had, on the 18th of the following May, written to him, recalling the proposal of resignation. But Maclean, to save his friend from a Parliamentary dismissal, which he apprehended, now handed the letter containing the resignation to the Directors. Delighted to be thus liberated from their embarrassment, the Directors accepted the resignation at once, and elected Mr. Edward Wheler to the vacant place in the Council.BATTLE OF NAVARINO: THE "ASIA" ENGAGING THE SHIPS OF THE CAPITAN BEY AND MOHURREM BEY. (See p. 262.)
At this crisis, when an able diplomatist at Paris might have avoided a great war, the Earl of Albemarle, who never had been an able or attentive ambassador, but a mere man of pleasure, died; and though George II. was so well aware of the gathering storm that he sent a message to the House of Commons announcing the necessity for increased forces, and, consequently, increased supplies, nothing could induce him to forego his usual summer journey to Hanover. The Commons readily voted a million and a half, but made an energetic protest against the king quitting the country in the circumstances. Besides the state of affairs in France and Spain, those of Ireland were very disturbed. The Duke of Dorset, the Lord-Lieutenant, was recalled, and Lord Harrington sent in his place to endeavour to restore order. Lord Poulett, therefore, moved a resolution against George's journey; but it was overruled, and the infatuated king set out in April, attended by Lord Holderness.Had Sir Home Popham been satisfied with this well-executed piece of service, he would have merited honour; but, this being done, he suggested to Sir David Baird that an expedition might be made with advantage against the Spanish colonies in South America. It was reported—not truly, as it turned out—that these colonies were as poorly defended as they were wealthy. Sir David was weak enough to fall into the scheme, and, without any authority from home, as it would appear, for so important a proceeding, he permitted General Beresford to sail in Sir Home's squadron with a part of his forces. The fleet touched at St. Helena, and took in a few more soldiers, but the whole body did not then amount to more than sixteen hundred. With this contemptible handful of men, the British squadron entered the river La Plata, and landed the troops, on the 24th of June, at a short distance from Buenos Ayres. The few Spanish troops in the city were easily routed, and the place capitulated on the 27th, and Beresford entered and took up his quarters there. But he was not long left at peace. The Spaniards discovering, as a matter of course, the insignificance of the force which had thus rashly surprised the city, collected in sufficient numbers to make prisoners of them all. A French officer in the Spanish service, M. Liniers, landed with a thousand men from Monte Video and Sacramento, and, being joined by the troops of the neighbourhood which had been repulsed by Beresford, appeared before the city on the 10th of July, and summoned the British to surrender. This was the signal for the inhabitants to rise en masse and fall on them. They were prevented from escaping to their ships by the badness of the weather, and were assailed from the windows and doors, and exposed to a general attack in the great square, and were compelled to yield, on condition of being allowed to re-embark; but no sooner had they laid down their arms, than Liniers, who probably looked on them as no better than filibusters, treated them as such, and marched them up the country, where they were rigorously treated. Four hundred of them had perished in this mad attempt. Meanwhile, Sir Home Popham had sent home upwards of a million of dollars, reserving two hundred and five thousand for the pay of the army. There were great rejoicings in London at the news, and at the receipt of the specie. Popham, in his despatches, represented himself as having conquered a great colony, and opened up a wonderful mart for our manufactures; and the Ministry, delighted at the receipt of the dollars, though they had, on first hearing of the scheme, sent out orders to stop the squadron, now, on the 20th of September, issued an Order in Council declaring Buenos Ayres and its dependencies open to our trade. Long before this order could have reached America the whole scene was reversed. Sir Home Popham had, indeed, blockaded the river La Plata, and had attempted to bombard Monte Video, but his ships could not get near enough. In October reinforcements arrived from the Cape and from England, but not in sufficient strength to enable him to do anything decisive. He therefore contented himself with landing troops at Maldonado, and drove the Spaniards from the isle of Gorriti, where he lay to, and waited for greater reinforcements.
"GOD SAVE KING JAMES."RETREAT OF THE HIGHLANDERS FROM PERTH. (See p. 31.)
MRS. ARABELLA HUNT SINGING TO QUEEN MARY. (See p. 155.)In Ireland the bulk of the population had been left to the Catholic pastors, who were maintained by their flocks, the property of the Catholic Church having been long transferred by Act of Parliament to the Church of England, or, as it was called, the sister Church of Ireland. The number of parishes in Ireland had been originally only two thousand four hundred and thirty-six, though the population at that time was half that of England; but in 1807 Mr. Wickham stated that, in 1803, these had been consolidated, and reduced to one thousand one hundred and eighty-three. In some of these parishes in the south of Ireland, Mr. Fitzgerald stated that the incomes amounted to one thousand pounds, to one thousand five hundred pounds, and even to three thousand pounds a year; yet that in a considerable number of these highly endowed parishes there was no church whatever. In others there were churches but no Protestant pastors, because there were no Protestants. The provision for religious instruction went wholly, in these cases, to support non-resident, and often very irreligious, clergymen. In fact, no truly religious clergyman ever could hold such a living. The livings were, in fact, looked upon as sinecures to be conferred by Ministers on their relatives or Parliamentary supporters. It was stated that out of one thousand one hundred and eighty-three benefices in Ireland, two hundred and thirty-three were wholly without churches; and Mr. Fitzgerald said, "that where parishes had been consolidated, the services rendered to the people by their clergyman had been diminished in proportion as his income had been augmented; for no place of religious worship was provided within the reach of the inhabitants; nor could such parishioners obtain baptism for their children, or the other rites of the Church; and the consequence was that the Protestant inhabitants, in such places, had disappeared."The Georges conspiracy, as it is commonly called, was followed by a still more startling act of violence. As the Bourbons still continued to watch for the overthrow of his power, Buonaparte determined to take a deep revenge on the persons of any of that family whom he could by any means get into his hands. Could he have inveigled the Count d'Artois and the Duke of Berry, as he attempted, to leave London and land in Brittany, he would have seized them and put them to death without ceremony or mercy. But there was another member of the family, though the farthest off from succession to the throne, who was living on the French frontiers, within a tempting reach of his soldiers in Alsace, and him he determined to kidnap and kill. This proposed victim of a most lawless and wicked vengeance was Antoine-Henri de Bourbon, Duke d'Enghien, the son of the Prince of Condé. The project was so odious, so certain to cover both Napoleon and France with inextinguishable infamy, that it startled the not very sensitive mind of Talleyrand, who, it is said, gave the duke secret warning of his danger, and advised him to remove farther from the Rhine. In consequence, the duke applied to Sir Charles Stuart to get him a passport from the Austrian Minister, to enable him to cross the Austrian territory to rejoin his grandfather, then at Warsaw with Louis XVIII. Sir Charles Stuart applied to M. de Cobenzl for this purpose, and had the Austrian Court been quicker in its movements, the duke would have been safe enough from the myrmidons of Buonaparte; but, whilst lingering at Ettenheim in Baden for the necessary passport, the duke had so little suspicion of the prompt and deadly nature of the usurper's design against him, that he took no means to conceal himself, or he might still have escaped. But in the middle of the night of the 14th of March he was aroused by the sound of horses' hoofs, and, looking out, saw that the chateau was surrounded by a troop of French cavalry. Buonaparte had despatched his aide-de-camp, Caulaincourt, to Strasburg to effect this capture, and he had sent on Colonel Ordenner to bring the duke away from the heart of a neutral territory. The duke was summarily tried by a military tribunal and shot (March 21, 1804) at Vincennes. The news of this most audacious crime soon transpired, and filled Europe with horror and execration against its perpetrators.
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The aspect of affairs in Spain at the commencement of 1810 was gloomy in the extreme. Scarcely a town, fortress, or army remained to the Spaniards; yet, perhaps, never did Napoleon feel a deeper anxiety concerning it. The spirit of the people had shown that it could not be easily subdued. He might beat its regular troops, and compel the surrender of cities, after long and severe sieges, but there still remained a whole population hostile to him. Throughout all the mountain districts the inhabitants might be said to be still in arms against him, and there was a fire burning in the general Spanish heart that might at any moment blaze up into a dangerous flame, or, if not, must wear out his troops, his energies, and his resources. Napoleon had yet to discover that it is impossible to subdue the people of a mountainous country, so as to rule them in peace, if they are at heart opposed to the ruler."Such is the extraordinary power of the Association, or, rather, of the agitators, of whom there are many of high ability, of ardent mind, of great daring (and if there was no Association, these men are now too well known not to maintain their power under the existing order of exclusion), that I am quite certain they could lead on the people to open rebellion at a moment's notice; and their organisation is such that in the hands of desperate and intelligent leaders they would be extremely formidable. The hope, and indeed the probability, of present tranquillity rests upon the forbearance and the not very determined courage of O'Connell, and on his belief, as well as that of the principal men amongst them, that they will carry their cause by unceasing agitation, and by intimidation, without coming to blows. I believe their success inevitable; that no power under heaven can arrest its progress. There may be rebellion—you may put to death thousands—you may suppress it, but it will only be to put off the day of compromise; and, in the meantime, the country is still more impoverished, and the minds of the people are, if possible, still more alienated, and ruinous expense is entailed upon the empire. But supposing that the whole evil was concentred in the Association, and that, if that was suppressed, all would go smoothly, where is the man who can tell me how to suppress it? Many cry out that the nuisance must be abated—that the Government is supine—that the insolence of the demagogues is intolerable; but I have not yet found one person capable of pointing out a remedy. All are mute when you ask them to define their proposition. All that even the most determined opposers to Emancipation say is, that it is better to leave things as they are than to risk any change. But will things remain as they are? Certainly not. They are bad; they must get worse; and I see no possible means of improving them but by depriving the demagogues of the power of directing the people; and by taking Messrs. O'Connell, Sheil, and the rest of them, from the Association, and placing them in the House of Commons, this desirable object would be at once accomplished.
The danger of civil war was felt to be so great that earnest attempts were made to conciliate the queen, and to effect a compromise. Mr. Wilberforce was very zealous in this matter. He wrote to the king, entreating him to restore the queen's name to the liturgy. This was a vital point. The Ministry had expressed their intention to resign if this must be done. Mr. Wilberforce headed a deputation from the House of Commons, who proceeded to her residence, in full court costume. He describes her manner as "extremely dignified, but very stern and haughty." He got no thanks from either party for his attempts at negotiation. He was very much abused by Cobbett and other writers on the popular side. Mr. Brougham and Mr. Denman met the Duke of Wellington and Lord Castlereagh on the 15th of June to discuss an adjustment; when it was laid down, as a preliminary, that the queen must not be understood to admit, nor the king to retract, anything; and that the questions to be examined were—the future residence of the queen; her title, when travelling on the Continent; the non-exercise of certain rights of patronage in England; and the income to be assigned to her for life. This fourth topic the queen desired might be altogether laid aside in these conferences; and the differences which arose upon the first proposition prevented any discussion on the second and third. They suggested that her Majesty should be officially introduced by the king's Ministers abroad to foreign Courts, or, at least, to the Court of some one state which she might select for her residence; and that her name should be restored to the liturgy, or something conceded by way of equivalent, the nature of which, however, was not specified by her negotiators. It was answered that, on the subject of the liturgy, there could be no change of what had been resolved; that, with respect to her residence in any foreign state, the king, although he could not properly require of any foreign Power to receive at its Court any person not received at the Court of England, would, however, cause official notification to be made of her legal character as queen; and that a king's yacht, or a ship of war, should be provided to convey her to the port she might select. These conditions were wholly declined by the queen, and on the 19th of June the negotiations were broken off. On the 22nd two resolutions were passed by the House of Commons, declaring their opinion that, when such large advances had been made toward an adjustment, her Majesty, by yielding to the wishes of the House, and forbearing to press further the propositions on which a material difference yet remained, would not be understood as shrinking from inquiry, but only as proving her desire to acquiesce in the authority of Parliament.Where shall she lay her head?
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