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During the whole of these scenes the attitude of Government was not merely indifferent, but absolutely repulsive. At no time had so cold and narrow-spirited a Ministry existed. The names of Castlereagh, Liverpool, Sidmouth, and Lord Eldon as Lord Chancellor, recall the memory of a callous Cabinet. They were still dreaming of additional taxation when, on the 17th of March, they were thunderstruck by seeing the property-tax repealed by a majority of forty. The Prince Regent had become utterly odious by his reckless extravagance and sensual life. The abolition of the property-tax was immediately followed by other resistance. On the 20th of March a motion of disapprobation of the advance of the salary of the Secretary to the Admiralty, at such a time, from three to four thousand pounds a-year was made, but lost. On this occasion Henry Brougham pronounced a most terrible philippic against the Prince Regent, describing him as devoted, in the secret recesses of his palace, to the most vicious pleasures, and callous to the distresses and sufferings of others! Mr. Wellesley Pole described it as "language such as he had never heard in that House before."
The measure, which was founded on the recommendations of the report, was advocated principally by Lord John Russell, Lord Melbourne, and Mr. C. Hobhouse. The plan was intended to provide for 183 corporations, extending to a population of at least 2,000,000. Many of these corporations governed large and important towns, of which they did not sufficiently represent the property, intelligence, and population. In Bedford the corporation composed only one in seventy of the people, and one-fortieth of the property. In Oxford there were only 1,400 electors, and seldom more than 500 voted at an election. In Norwich 315 of the electors were paupers. In Cambridge there were only 118 freemen, out of a population of 20,000; and while the annual rental was more than ￡25,000, the property of freemen amounted to little more than ￡2,000. These were only samples of the strange anomalies that everywhere prevailed. It was obvious to every one that corporations so constituted were altogether unfitted for the objects which they were originally designed to answer. On the contrary, they tended directly to frustrate those objects, and to render the proper government of towns impracticable. They engendered jealousy and distrust between the small governing power and the body of the people. A few persons carrying on the government for their own benefit were connected with a portion of the lower classes, whose votes they purchased and whose habits they demoralised. With such a monopoly the grossest abuses were inevitable. Charitable funds, often large in amount, which had been left for the benefit of the whole people, were either lavishly distributed among the venal dependents of the governing body, squandered on civic feasts, or spent in bribing the freemen in order to secure their votes. In short, the general if not the universal practice had been to use the powers of municipal corporations, not for the good government or benefit of the towns over which they presided—not in order that they might be well and quietly governed in the terms of the charters, but for the sole purpose of establishing an interest which might be useful in the election of members of Parliament.Rodney takes St. Eustatia—Destruction of Dutch Commerce—Loss of Minorca—Naval Actions—Meeting of Parliament—Vehemence of the Opposition—Losses in the West Indies—Breaking up of the Ministry—Their Defeat on Conway's Motion—Lord North's Resignation—Shelburne refuses the Premiership—New Whig Government—Agitation in Ireland—Grattan's Motion for Legislative Independence—The Volunteer Meeting at Dungannon—Grattan's Motion carried—Demands of the Irish Parliament conceded—Flood's Agitation—Economic Reforms—Pitt's Motion for Parliamentary Reform—Unsuccessful Negotiations for Peace—Rodney's Victory over De Grasse—Lord Howe's Exploits—The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar—Negotiations for Peace—Folly of Oswald and Duplicity of Shelburne—The Negotiations continued—Franklin throws over Vergennes—Conclusion of a Secret Treaty between England and America—Fate of the American Royalists—Announcement of the Peace in Parliament—Terms of Peace with France, Spain, and Holland—Opposition to the Peace—Coalition of Fox and North—Fall of Shelburne—Pitt's Attempt to form a Ministry—The Coalition in Office—Reform and the Prince of Wales—Fox's India Bill—Its Introduction—Progress of the Measure—The King's Letter to Temple—Reception of the News in the Commons—Dismissal of the Ministry—Pitt forms a Cabinet—Factious Opposition of Fox—Pitt's India Bill—He refuses to divulge his Intentions—The Tide begins to Turn—Attempt at a Coalition—Increasing Popularity of Pitt—Fox's Resolution—The Dissolution—"Fox's Martyrs."
[See larger version]Leinster 1,973,731 4,624,542 450,606 308,068
It was now expected by the Whigs, and by a great part of the public, that they should come into office. At first the conduct of the Prince Regent favoured this supposition. He applied to Grey and Grenville to draw up the answer that he should return to the two Houses on their addresses on his appointment. But he did not quite like this answer, and got Sheridan to make some alterations in it. He then returned the paper to Grey and Grenville, as in the form that he approved. But these noblemen declared that they would have nothing more to do with the paper so altered; and Sheridan, on his part, suggested to the prince that he would find such men as Ministers very domineering and impracticable. Nor was this all—Lord Grenville and his family held enormous patronage. Like all the Whigs, the Grenvilles, however they might study the interests of the country, studied emphatically their own. Grenville had long held, by a patent for life, the office of Auditor to the Exchequer; and in accepting office in "All the Talents" Ministry, he managed to obtain also the office of First Lord of the Treasury. The Auditorship of the Exchequer was instituted as a check on the Treasury, but neither Lord Grenville nor his friends saw any impropriety in destroying this check by putting both offices into the same hands. They declared this union was very safe and compatible, and a Bill was brought in for the purpose. But when the King had become both blind and insane, and no Regent was yet appointed, Lord Grenville, being no longer First Lord of the Treasury, but Perceval, he suddenly discovered that he could not obey the order of the Treasury for the issues of money to the different services. It was strictly necessary that the Great Seal, or the Privy Seal, or the Sign Manual, should be attached to the Treasury orders, or, failing these, that they should be sanctioned by an express Act of Parliament. As neither Great nor Privy Seal, nor Sign Manual was possible until a regent was appointed, Lord Grenville's conscience would not let him pass the orders of the Treasury, and all payments of army, navy, and civil service were brought to a stand. Perceval, after in vain striving hard to overcome the scruples, or rather the party obstinacy of Grenville, was compelled to go to the House of Parliament, and get the obstacle removed by a resolution of both Houses. The notice of the public being thus turned by Grenville to his holding of this office, and his readiness to unite the two offices in his own person, which his pretended scruples of conscience now invested with so much danger, produced a prejudice against him and his party, which was hostile to their coming into power. Besides this, the Opposition were greatly divided in their notions of foreign policy. Grey and his immediate section of the party felt bound, by their advocacy of Fox's principles, to oppose the war; Grenville and his friends were for a merely defensive war, and for leaving Portugal and Spain, and the other Continental nations, to fight their own battles; whilst Lord Holland, who had travelled in Spain, and was deeply interested in its language and literature, was enthusiastic for the cause of the Peninsula, and the progress which Wellington was making there. It was utterly impossible that, with such divided views, they could make an energetic Ministry at this moment, and it was equally certain that they could not again form an "All the Talents" by coalition with the Conservatives. And, beyond all this, it does not appear that the Regent was anxious to try them. Like all heirs-apparent of the house of Hanover, he had united with the Opposition during his youth, but his friendship appeared now anything but ardent. Sheridan still possessed something of his favour, and the Earl of Moira was high in it; but for the rest, the prince seemed quite as much disposed to take the Tories into his favour; and he, as well as the royal dukes, his brothers, was as much bent on the vigorous prosecution of the war as the Tories themselves. No Ministry which would have carried that on languidly, still less which would have opposed it, would have suited him any more than it would have done his father. The King, too, was not so deeply sunk in his unhappy condition but that he had intervals lucid enough to leave him alive to these questions, and he showed so much anxiety respecting the possible change of the Ministry, and fresh measures regarding the war, that his physicians declared that such a change would plunge him into hopeless madness and probably end his life. The Queen wrote to the prince, saying how much satisfaction his conduct in regard to these matters had given to his father, and he wrote to Mr. Perceval, declaring that this consideration determined him not to change the Ministry at all. At the same time he expressed to the Minister his dissatisfaction with the restrictions which had been imposed upon him. Perceval, even at the risk of offending the prince, justified the conduct of Ministers and Parliament. In this he might be the more bold, as it was clear that there was no longer any danger of a Whig Government.
"Rochefort, July 13th, 1815.[See larger version]
Quippe ferant rapidi secum verrantque per auras.'
For some time after the revival of true poetry the old forms still hung about what in spirit was new. The last of the old school of any note may be said to have been Dr. Johnson and Dr. Darwin. Johnson was too thoroughly drilled into the dry, didactic fashion of the artificial past, he was too bigotedly self-willed to be capable of participating in the renovation. In fact, he never was more than a good versifier, one of that class who can win prizes for University themes on the true line and square system of metrical composition. His "London," a mere paraphrase of the third book of "Juvenal," and "The Vanity of Human Wishes" are precisely of that stamp. Johnson lived at the time of Chatterton's appearance, but he completely ignored him, and he ridiculed the simplicity of the poems introduced by Bishop Percy by absurd parodies on them, as—In America, all at the opening of the campaign seemed to favour the English cause. The army of Washington, still suffering the utmost extremities of cold and starvation, began in earnest to mutiny. A Pennsylvanian division of one thousand three hundred men marched out of their camp at Morristown, and proceeded to Princeton, carrying with them six field-pieces and their stores, and their demands were granted by Congress. The success of this revolt encouraged others to repeat the man?uvre. On the night of the 20th of January a part of the Jersey brigade, stationed at Pompton, marched to Chatham, and made precisely the same demands. But now seeing that, if this were suffered, the whole army would quickly go to pieces, Washington sent General Howe after them, with orders to surround them, and shoot them down, if they did not surrender; and if they did surrender, immediately to seize the most active ringleaders, and execute them. Howe readily accomplished his mission; he reduced the mutinous, and shot their leaders.
The General Congress met at Philadelphia on the 4th of September, when all the delegates, except those of North Carolina, who did not arrive till the 14th, were found to represent twelve States, namely, the four New England States, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and the two Carolinas. It was settled, however, that, whatever the number of delegates, each colony should have one vote. The next day they assembled in Carpenters' Hall for business, and elected Peyton Randolph, late Speaker of the Virginian House of Burgesses, president. It was soon found that so much diversity of opinion prevailed, it was deemed prudent, in order to preserve the air of unanimity, to deliberate with closed doors. It was clear that Massachusetts and Virginia were ready for war; but it became equally clear that other States yet clung with all the attachment of blood and old connection to the fatherland. Strong and long-continued, according to Mr. Joseph Galloway, one of their own members, were the debates; and though they finally, and, from their system of secrecy, with an air of unanimity, drew up strong resolutions, they were more moderately expressed than the instructions of many of the delegates. They agreed to a Declaration of Rights, in which they asserted that they had neither lost the rights of nature, nor the privileges of Englishmen, by emigration; consequently, that the late Acts of Parliament had been gross violations of those rights, especially as affecting Massachusetts. They therefore passed resolutions to suspend all imports, or use of imported goods, until harmony was restored between Great Britain and her colonies. An association was formed to carry these resolutions out, to which every member subscribed. Having adjourned till the 10th of May of the next year, the Congress dissolved itself on the 26th of October, and the delegates then hastened home to keep alive the flame of their revived zeal in every quarter of the continent.On the 9th of January, a month after their arrival, Lord Derwentwater was impeached of high treason by Mr. Lechmere in a bitter speech in the Commons. Other members, with equal acrimony, followed with impeachments against the Lords Widdrington, Nithsdale, Wintoun, Carnwath, Kenmure, and Nairn. The impeachments were carried up to the House of Lords on the same day, and on the 19th the accused noblemen were brought before the Peers, where they knelt at the bar until they were desired to rise by the Lord Chancellor, when, with the exception of Lord Wintoun, they confessed their guilt, and threw themselves on the mercy of the king. Sentence of death was immediately pronounced on those who had pleaded guilty; and Lord Wintoun was condemned after trial, but several months later he effected his escape from the Tower. Every effort was made to save the prisoners, and they were all reprieved, with the exception of Derwentwater, Kenmure, and Nithsdale. The first two were executed; but the Countess of Nithsdale, being about to take her leave of her husband, contrived, by introducing some friends, to secure his escape in female attire.详情
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