Notwithstanding the constant wars of this time, British shipping, commerce, colonies, and manufactures made considerable progress. At the commencement of this period the amount of shipping employed in our commerce was altogether 244,788 tons, being 144,264 tons English, and 100,524 foreign; in 1701 the amount of shipping employed was 337,328 tons, of which alone 293,703 were English. In 1702, the end of William's reign, the number of English mercantile vessels was about 3,281, employing 27,196 seamen. The royal navy, at the end of William's reign, amounted to about 159,000 tons, employing some 50,000 sailors, so that the seamen of England must have amounted at that period to nearly 80,000.[See larger version]
James Bradley (b. 1692), who succeeded Halley as the third Astronomer Royal, held that post till 1762, when he died. He had in 1728 distinguished himself by his discovery of an unanswerable proof of the motion of the earth by his observations on the apparent alteration in the place of a fixed star. His second great discovery was that of the mutation of the earth's axis, showing that the pole of the equator moves round the pole of the elliptic, not in a straight but in a waving line. Bradley gave important assistance to the Ministry in their alteration of the calendar in 1751, and the vast mass of his observations was published after his death, by the University of Oxford, in two volumes, in 1798.
It was during Lord Cornwallis's campaign in Mysore that Lord Macartney made his celebrated embassy to China, to endeavour to induce the Chinese to open their ports to trade with Britain; but his lordship succeeded in very little beyond making the Chinese and their country better known in the work written by his secretary, afterwards Sir John Barrow.
The year 1810 opened with violent debates on the conduct of the late Ministry, and the miserable management of the Walcheren Expedition. The King's Speech, read by commission, passed over the disasters in Belgium entirely, and spoke only of Wellesley's glorious victory at Talavera. But the Opposition did not pass over Walcheren; in both Houses the whole business was strongly condemned by amendments which, however, the Ministry managed to get negatived by considerable majorities. Both Castlereagh and Canning defended their concern in the expedition. They declared that the orders were to push forward and secure Antwerp, and destroy the docks and shipping there, not to coop up the troops in an unhealthy island swamp; and that they were not responsible for the mismanagement of the affair. This threw the onus on Lord Chatham, the commander, but did not exonerate Ministers for choosing such a commander; and though they were able to defeat the amendments on the Address, they were not able to prevent the appointment of a secret committee to inquire into the conduct and policy of the expedition. The committee was secret, because Buonaparte carefully read the English newspapers, and Parliament was desirous of keeping from his knowledge the wretched blunders of our commanders. This object, however, was not achieved, for the evidence given before the committee oozed out and appeared in our newspapers, and was duly set forth in the Moniteur for the edification of France and the Continent. Notwithstanding the frightful details laid before the committee, and the gross proof of dilatoriness and neglect, Ministers succeeded in negativing every condemnatory motion; and though General Craufurd actually carried resolutions affirming the propriety of taking and keeping the island of Walcheren, awfully fatal as it was, still Lord Chatham, though exculpated by the Court and Parliament, was by no means acquitted by the country, and he found it necessary to surrender his post of Master-General of the Ordnance.The restrictions, however, if not to any great extent a practical grievance, were felt to be a stigma utterly undeserved, and the necessity for an annual Indemnity Act continually reminded a large, influential, intelligent, energetic portion of the nation of their inferiority to the rest of the king's subjects. The Government felt that public opinion was against them. They therefore allowed the Bill to go into committee without opposition, and there they adopted it as their own by carrying certain amendments. It passed the Commons by a majority of 44, the numbers being 237 to 193. From the tone of the debate in the Commons it was evident that the Government was not sorry to be left in a minority. In the House of Lords the measure encountered more opposition. Lord Eldon, exasperated with the treatment he had received from the Ministers, denounced it with the utmost vehemence. When he heard of its success in the Lower House, he was in a state of consternation.
Some of the writers of the last period were still existing in this. Dryden was living, and wrote some of his most perfect works, as his "Fables," and his "Alexander's Feast," as well as translated Virgil after the Revolution. He was still hampered by his miserable but far more successful dramatic rivals, Shadwell and Elkanah Settle. Nathaniel Lee produced in William's time his tragedies, "The Princess of Cleves," and his "Massacre of Paris." Etherege was yet alive; Wycherley still poured out his licentious poems; and Southern wrote the greater part of his plays. His "Oronooko" and his "Fatal Marriage" were produced now, and he received such prices as astonished Dryden. Whilst "Glorious John" never obtained more than a hundred pounds for a play, Southern obtained his six or seven hundred.The change of Ministers and some additions to the peerage caused several elections. Mr. Littleton was raised to the Upper House with the title of Lord Hatherton, and Mr. Charles Grant as Lord Glenelg. They were promptly replaced by Conservatives. Lord John Russell having lost his election for South Devon, Colonel Fox made way for him at Stroud, which borough continued to furnish a seat for the noble lord during many years. Lord Palmerston had been defeated in Hampshire at the general election; but Mr. Kennedy retired to make way for him at Tiverton, which had the honour of being represented by the Foreign Secretary until his death. Lord Morpeth had to stand a severe contest in Yorkshire, but he was returned by a large majority.
GREAT SEAL OF GEORGE II.
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When Buonaparte heard that Ferdinand had arrived, he is said to have exclaimed—"What! is the fool really come?" He received him, however, with courtesy, invited him to dinner, and treated him with all the deference of a crowned head; but the same evening he sent Savary to inform him that he had determined that the Bourbons should cease to reign, and the crown should be transferred to his own family. Possessed of the Prince of Asturias, Buonaparte proceeded to complete his kidnapping, and make himself master of the king and queen. He was sure that if he brought Godoy to Bayonne he should draw the infatuated queen after him, and that she would bring the king with her. He therefore ordered Murat to send on Godoy under a strong guard. This was executed with such rapidity that he was conveyed from Aranjuez to the banks of the Bidassoa in a couple of days. Buonaparte received Godoy in the most flattering manner, told him that he regarded the abdication of Charles as most unjustifiable, and that he would be glad to see the king and queen at Bayonne, to arrange the best mode of securing them on the throne. Godoy communicated this intelligence with alacrity, and Napoleon very soon had the two remaining royal fools in his safe keeping. On the 30th of April a train of old, lumbering carriages, the first drawn by eight Biscayan mules, was seen crossing the drawbridge at Bayonne. The arrival consisted of the King and Queen of Spain, with three or four unimportant grandees. Godoy welcomed Charles and his queen, and assured them of the friendly disposition and intentions of Buonaparte. Having the family in his clutches, Napoleon had little difficulty in compelling Ferdinand to restore the crown to his father, who abdicated a second time, and placed his crown in the hands of the Emperor.With the war the manufacture of guns and arms of all kinds was greatly increased, and several important improvements were made in the construction of gun-barrels and their breeches. All kinds of cutlery were improved, but, at the same time, both Government, by contractors, and foreign countries, by merchants, were imposed on by articles that had more show than use, to the serious injury of the British reputation. Knives and razors were sent out of mere iron, and our pioneers and sappers and miners were often supplied with axes, picks, and shovels more resembling lead than iron.详情
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