The Russians began their retreat, but some of them not till daylight, and then marched close past Eylau, in the very face of the French, who were, probably, as much astonished as pleased at the spectacle. Benningsen could scarcely have known the extent of the French losses, when he decided to retire. But Buonaparte, notwithstanding that he claimed the victory, was glad now to offer a suspension of hostilities to the King of Prussia, with a view to a separate peace, hinting that he might be induced to waive most of the advantages derived from the fields of Jena and Auerst?dt, and restore the bulk of his dominions. Frederick William, however great the temptation, refused to treat independently of his ally, the Czar. On this, Buonaparte, so far from pursuing the Russians, as he would have done had he been in a capacity for it, remained eight days inactive at Eylau, and then retreated on the Vistula, followed and harassed all the way by swarms of Cossacks. On this Benningsen advanced, and occupied the country as fast as the French evacuated it. The Emperor Alexander could soon have raised another host of men, but he was destitute of money and arms. He therefore applied to Britain for a loan, which the Talents thought fit to decline. This, at such a crisis, was unwise. It is certain that it filled Alexander with disgust and resentment, and led to his negotiations with Buonaparte at Tilsit. Soon after this the Conservative or Portland Ministry came in, and supplies of muskets and five hundred thousand pounds were sent, but these were, in fact, thrown away, for they did not arrive till the Czar had made up his mind to treat with Napoleon.Accession of George II.—Characters of the King and Queen—Adroit Tactics of Walpole—Rise and Fall of Compton—Attitude of the Opposition—Congress of Soissons—Causes of Dispute with Spain—Stanhope's successful Negotiations with King Philip—Retirement of Townshend—Walpole Supreme—Peace Abroad and at Home—Walpole's System of Wholesale Bribery and Corruption—The Public Prisons—Duel between Pulteney and Lord Hervey—The Excise Scheme—Great Outcry—Withdrawal of the Bill—Walpole's Vengeance—Attack on the Septennial Act—Wyndham's Speech—Depression of the Opposition—Definitive Peace of Vienna—Gin Act—The Porteous Riots—The Prince of Wales and the Opposition—Application for an Increase of his Allowance—Birth of George III.—Death of Queen Caroline—Attempt to Reduce the Army—Disputes with Spain—"Jenkins' Ear"—Walpole's Negotiations—Secession of the Opposition—Further Difficulties with Spain—Declaration of War—Privateers and Reprisals—Vernon's Victory—Frederick invades Silesia—Assistance of England—Parliament Meets—Sandys' Motion—Walpole's Defence—Disasters of Maria Theresa—She throws herself on the Magyars—Misfortunes of the English Fleets—Vernon Repulsed from Carthagena—Power slips from the Hands of Walpole—His Last Battles—The Chippenham Election Petition—His Fall.
BRITISH LINE-OF-BATTLE SHIPS (1836).
Although the division took no one by surprise, as the rejection of the Bill by the Lords was expected, yet the shock to society was very violent. The Funds suddenly fell, and there was that feeling of vague anxiety in the public mind which often portends some great calamity. At Derby they broke open the gaol and demolished the property of the anti-Reformers of the place. At Nottingham there was serious rioting, which ended in the utter destruction by fire of the ancient castle, once the property of the Duke of Newcastle, who had given violent offence by his rash declaration with regard to his voters at Newark, "that he had a right to do what he pleased with his own." The popular fury, however, soon subsided, and the public mind regained tranquillity, in the full assurance that the carrying of the Bill was only a question of time, and that the popular cause must ultimately triumph. What most materially contributed to the restoration of public confidence was the fact that the king, alarmed at the prospect of a revolution, implored the Ministers to retain their places, and to shape their Bill so as to disarm their opponents; and on the following Monday, in the House of Commons, Lord Ebrington moved a vote of confidence in the Government, to the effect that, while the House lamented the present state of a measure in favour of which the opinion of the country had been so unequivocally expressed, and which had been matured after the most anxious and laborious discussions, they felt imperatively called upon to reassert their firm adherence to its principles and leading provisions, and their unabated confidence in the integrity, perseverance, and ability of the Ministers, who, in introducing it and conducting it so well, had consulted the best interests of the country. This motion was carried by the large majority of 131; the numbers being 329 to 198. Thus supported by the Commons, the Ministers retained their places; and the king, on the 20th of October, prorogued Parliament in person, in a Speech which the Lords might take as the king's answer to their vote, telling them in effect that by their obstinate bigotry they were setting themselves in antagonism to the two other estates of the realm, and that in their conduct and position lay the real danger to the Constitution. His Majesty said: "To the consideration of the important question of the Reform of the House of Commons the attention of Parliament must necessarily again be called at the opening of the ensuing Session; and you may be assured of my unaltered desire to promote its settlement by such improvements in the representation as may be found necessary for securing to my people the full enjoyment of their rights, which, in combination with those of the other orders of the State, are essential to the support of our free Constitution."
From the Painting by Andrew C. Gow, R.A.With Lord Eldon, however, he held different language, complaining bitterly of the difficulties in which the Ministers had involved him. He is represented as struggling desperately in meshes from which he found it impossible to extricate himself; and, as usual with weak minds, he threw all the blame of his misery on others. In reference to an interview, Lord Eldon remarks: "I was not sent for afterwards, but went on Thursday, the 9th of April, with more addresses. In the second interview, which began a little before two o'clock, the king repeatedly—and with some minutes intervening between his repeated declarations, musing in silence in the interim—expressed his anguish, pain, and misery that the measure had ever been thought of, and as often declared that he had been most harshly and cruelly treated—that he had been treated as a man whose consent had been asked with a pistol pointed to his breast, or as obliged, if he did not give it, to leap down from a five-pair-of-stairs window. What could he do? What had he to fall back upon?" After relating much more in the same strain, Lord Eldon adds: "Little more passed, except occasional bursts of expression, 'What can I do? What can I now fall back upon? What can I fall back upon? I am miserable, wretched. My situation is dreadful; nobody about me to advise with. If I do give my consent, I will go to the baths after all, and from thence to Hanover. I'll return no more to England. I'll make no Roman Catholic peers; I will not do what this Bill will enable me to do. I'll return no more. Let them get a Catholic king in Clarence! [I think he also mentioned Sussex.] The people will see that I did not wish this.' There were the strongest appearances, certainly, of misery. He more than once stopped my leaving him. When the time came that I was to go, he threw his arms around my neck, and expressed great misery. I left him at about twenty minutes or a quarter before five. I certainly thought when I left him that he would express great difficulty, when the Bill was prepared for the Royal Assent, about giving it." The writer adds, sarcastically:—"I fear that it seemed to be given as a matter of course." Next day, Lord Eldon wrote to his daughter: "The fatal Bill received the Royal Assent yesterday afternoon. After all I had heard in my visits, not a day's delay. God bless us and His Church." At Windsor, on the 13th of April, the king pronounced over the Bill that he so hated the words—"Le Roy le veult."
This fleet had enough to do to cope with Rodney in the West Indian waters. Rodney, as we have hinted, with twenty sail of the line, came up with De Guichen's fleet of twenty-three sail of the line, besides smaller vessels, on the evening of the 16th of April, off St. Lucia. He came into action with it on the 17th, and succeeded in breaking its line, and might have obtained a most complete victory, but that several of his captains behaved very badly, paying no attention to his signals. The Sandwich, the Admiral's ship, was much damaged in the action, and the French sailed away. Rodney wrote most indignantly home concerning the conduct of the captains, and one of them was tried and broken, and some of the others were censured; but they were protected by the spirit of faction, and escaped their due punishment. Rodney, finding he could not bring the French again to engage, put into St. Lucia to refit, and land his wounded men, of whom he had three hundred and fifty; besides one hundred and twenty killed. De Guichen had suffered far more severely. Rodney again got sight of the French fleet on the 10th of May, between St. Lucia and Martinique; but they avoided him, and made their escape into the harbour of Fort Royal. Hearing of the approach of a Spanish fleet of twelve sail of the line, and a great number of lesser vessels and transports, bringing from ten thousand to twelve thousand men, Rodney went in quest of it, to prevent its junction with the French; but Solano, the Spanish admiral, took care not to go near Rodney, but, reaching Guadeloupe, sent word of his arrival there to De Guichen, who managed to sail thither and join him. This now most overwhelming united fleet of France and Spain left Rodney no alternative but to avoid an engagement on his part. He felt that not only our West India Islands, but the coasts of North America, were at its mercy; but it turned out otherwise.The main subject for consideration at that moment was the policy of continuing the Act for the suppression of the Catholic Association, which was to expire at the end of the Session of 1828. In connection with this subject a letter from Lord Anglesey came under the Ministry's consideration. "Do keep matters quiet in Parliament," he said, "if possible. The less that is said of Catholic and Protestant the better. It would be presumptuous to form an opinion, or even a sanguine hope, in so short a time, yet I cannot but think there is much reciprocal inclination to get rid of the bugbear, and soften down asperities. I am by no means sure that even the most violent would not be glad of an excuse for being less violent. Even at the Association they are at a loss to keep up the extreme irritation they had accomplished; and if they find they are not violently opposed, and that there is no disposition on the part of Government to coercion, I do believe they will dwindle into moderation. If, however, we have a mind to have a good blaze again, we may at once command it by re-enacting the expiring Bill, and when we have improved it and rendered it perfect, we shall find that it will not be acted upon. In short, I shall back Messrs. O'Connell's and Sheil's, and others' evasions against the Crown lawyers' laws."
But we have far overshot the contemporary history of Bengal. The Presidency thought it had greatly benefited by the reforms of Clive; yet it had since been called upon to furnish large supplies of men and money to support the unprincipled transactions at Madras, which we have briefly detailed, and the India House, instead of paying the usual dividends, was compelled to reduce them. Further, a terrible famine devastated Bengal, and more than half the population are said to have been swept away. This state of things compelled Parliament to turn its attention to India. General Burgoyne, now active in the Opposition, moved and carried, on the 13th of April, 1772, a resolution for the appointment of a select Committee of thirteen members to inquire into Indian affairs; and Burgoyne, who was extremely hostile to Clive, was appointed chairman. The committee went actively to work, and presented two reports during the Session. After Parliament met again in November, Lord North, who had conversed with Clive during the recess, called for and carried a resolution for another and this time a secret committee. As the Company was in still deeper difficulties, and came to Lord North to borrow a million and a half, he lent them one million four hundred thousand pounds, on condition that they should keep their dividends at six per cent. until this debt was repaid, and afterwards at eight per cent. He at the same time relieved them from the payment of the four hundred thousand pounds per annum, imposed by Lord Chatham, for the same period. This was done in February, 1773, and in April he brought in a Bill at the suggestion of Clive, who represented the Court of Proprietors at the India House as a regular bear-garden, on account of men of small capital and smaller intelligence being enabled to vote. By North's Bill it was provided that the Court of Directors should, in future, instead of being annually elected, remain in office four years; instead of five hundred pounds stock qualifying for a vote in the Court of Proprietors, one thousand pounds should alone give a vote; three thousand pounds, two votes; and six thousand pounds, three votes. The Mayor's Court in Calcutta was restricted to petty cases of trade; and a Supreme Court was established, to consist of a Chief Justice and three puisne judges, appointed by the Crown. The Governor-General of Bengal was made Governor-General of India. These nominations were to continue for five years, and then to return to the Directors, but subject to the approval of the Crown. Whilst the Bill was in progress, the members of the new Council were named. Warren Hastings was appointed the first Governor-General; and in his Council were Richard Barwell, who was already out there, General Clavering, the Honourable Colonel Monson, and Philip Francis. Another clause of Lord North's Bill remitted the drawback on the Company's teas for export to America, an act little thought of at the time, but pregnant with the loss of the Transatlantic colonies. By these "regulating acts," too, as they were called, the Governor-General, members of Council, and judges, were prohibited from trading, and no person in the service of the king or Company was to be allowed to receive presents from native princes, nabobs, or their ministers or agents. Violent and rude, even, was the opposition raised by the India House and all its partisans to these two Bills.
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In the eyes of the Conservatives the League was now the great cause of the political ferment that had spread throughout the land. In the Quarterly Review for December a long and elaborate indictment had been published against that body, and all who were in any way connected with them, in which it was attempted to show that the means by which the League sought to attain their objects were of the worst kind. The writer of the article hinted that the League's system of levying money for the avowed purpose of forcing Parliament to alter the law of the land was criminally punishable. A Mr. Bailey had stated, at one of the League meetings, that he had heard of a gentleman who, in private company, had said that if one hundred persons cast lots, and the lot should fall upon him, he would take the lot to deprive Sir Robert Peel of life. The teller of this injudicious anecdote added, that "he felt convinced that no such attempt ought to be made under any pretence whatever; but he was persuaded of this, that when Sir Robert Peel went to his grave there would be but few to shed one tear over it." The speaker was a minister of the Gospel, and there could be no doubt that he intended his anecdote only as an illustration of the frenzy to which some persons had been wrought by the political circumstances of the time; but this fact circulated by the great Tory organs, together with all the most violent and excited passages which could be found in the innumerable speeches delivered at League meetings, and in the pamphlets and other publications of that body, tended to create a vague horror of the Leaguers in the minds of that large class who read only writers on that side which accords with their own views.On the arrival of this news the French Court complained bitterly of the violation of the peace, to which the Court of St. James's replied that the French had too prominently set the example, and the ambassadors on both sides were recalled—an equivalent to a declaration of war, though none on either side yet followed. We had soon a severe reverse instead of a victory to record. General Braddock had been despatched against Fort Duquesne, and had reached Great Meadows, the scene of Washington's defeat in the preceding summer. Braddock was a general of the Hawley school—brave enough, but, like him, brutal and careless. His soldiers hated him for his severity. The Indians resented so much the haughtiness with which he treated them, that they had most of them deserted him; and, as was the fatal habit of English commanders then and long afterwards, he had the utmost contempt for what were called "Provincials" (that is, Colonists), supposing that all sense and knowledge existed in England, and that the English, just arrived, knew more about America than natives who had spent their lives in it. He therefore marched on into the woods, utterly despising all warnings against the Indians in alliance with the French. At Great Meadows he found it necessary, from the nature of the woods and the want of roads, to leave behind him all his heavy baggage, and part of his troops to guard it, and he proceeded with only one thousand two hundred men and ten pieces of artillery. On the 9th of July, 1755, having arrived within ten miles of Fort Duqnesne, he still neglected to send out scouts, and thus rashly entering the mouth of a deep woody defile, he found himself assaulted by a murderous fire in front and on both flanks. His enemies were Indians assisted by a few French, who, accustomed to that mode of fighting, aimed from the thickets and behind trees, and picked off his officers, whom they recognised by their dress, without themselves being visible. Without attempting to draw out of the ambush, and advance with proper precautions, Braddock rushed deeper into it, and displayed a desperate but useless courage. Now was the time for his Indians to have encountered his enemies in their own mode of battle, had his pride not driven them away. After having three horses killed under him, in the vain endeavour to come at his foes, he was shot, and his troops retreated in all haste, leaving behind them their artillery and seven hundred of their comrades on the ground. Their retreat was protected by the "provincial" George Washington—whose advice had been unheeded—or the slaughter would have been greater.详情
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