The year 1797 was opened by the suspension of cash payments. The Bank of England had repeatedly represented to Pitt, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, that his enormous demands upon it for specie, as well as paper money, had nearly exhausted its coffers and could not long be continued. The payment of our armies abroad, and the advances to foreign kings, were necessarily made in cash. The Government, in spite of enormous taxation, had already overdrawn its account eleven million six hundred and sixty-eight thousand eight hundred pounds, and the sole balance in the hands of the Bank was reduced to three million eight hundred and twenty-six thousand eight hundred and ninety pounds. Pitt was demanding a fresh loan for Ireland, when a message came from the Bank to say that, in existing circumstances, it could not be complied with. Thus suddenly pulled up, the Privy Council was summoned, and it was concluded to issue an order for stopping all further issue of cash, except to the Government, and except one hundred thousand pounds for the accommodation of private bankers and traders. Paper money was made a legal tender to all other parties, and the Bank was empowered to issue small notes for the accommodation of the public instead of guineas. A Bill was passed for the purpose, and that it might not be considered more than a temporary measure, it was made operative only till June; but it was renewed from time to time by fresh Acts of Parliament. The system was not abolished again till 1819, when Sir Robert Peel brought in his Bill for the resumption of cash payments, and during the whole of that time the depreciation of paper money was comparatively slight.THE FRENCH REVOLUTION: COSTUME OF 1790.Lord Oxford's case was brought at length to a termination also in his favour. His friends having complained of the hardship of keeping him without a hearing for nearly two years, the 24th of June was appointed for the trial to take place in Westminster Hall. The Commons again met in committee to complete the evidence against him; but it was now found that Walpole, who was the chairman, and who had formerly pursued the inquiry with all eagerness, had suddenly cooled, and seldom came near the Committee; and they therefore appointed a new one. In fact, he and Townshend, out of opposition, were doing that secretly which they could not do openly without loss of character—they were exerting themselves in favour of their old antagonist, and they soon hit on a scheme for bringing him off without any trial at all. The Lords were persuaded to listen to any evidence in support of the charge of misdemeanour before they heard that on the grave charge of treason, and the result foreseen by the Opposition took place when the resolution was reported to the Commons. They immediately determined that it was an infringement of their privileges, and declined compliance with it. This was what Walpole and the then partisans, secret or open, of Lord Oxford, had foreseen. The Commons refusing to attend in Westminster Hall on the day fixed, the Lords returned to their own House, and passed a resolution declaring the Earl of Oxford acquitted, an announcement received by the people with acclamation. The Commons then demanded that Oxford should be excepted from the Act of Grace; but, notwithstanding, he was released from the Tower, and the Commons never renewed the impeachment.
Meanwhile the Convention determined to proceed to the abolition of the Constitution of '93, and to the establishment of one more accordant with their own tendencies. In 1793 the Revolutionists were as violent against aristocracy as against monarchy, and had allowed only one legislative body. The precipitate acts of the last three years had now persuaded them that at least a second, if not an aristocratic, chamber might be useful, as a balance against legislation under violent impulses. They proposed, then, to have two chambers—one called the Council of Five Hundred, composed of that number of members of at least thirty years of age, having exclusively the right of proposing laws, of whom one-third should be renewed every year; the second, called the Council of the Ancients, to consist of two hundred and fifty members, of at least forty years of age, all either widowers or married, having the sanctioning of the law, and also to be annually renewed by one-third. No sooner were these decrees passed than there was a violent outburst of discontent. On April 1st, and again on May 20th, the Parisian mob rose in insurrection, but were completely suppressed. This was the death-blow of the Democratic party. Then came the turn of the Royalists. A meeting took place in the Odéon theatre, on the 3rd of October, under protection of some battalions of National Guard. The Duke of Nivernois presided. The Committees of Public Safety and Welfare gave the alarm to the Convention, and the Convention sent a force to disperse the meeting, but it had already dissolved itself. The Sections had committed the mistake of refusing to allow the ultra-Jacobins to vote, and the Convention now embodied and armed one thousand eight hundred of these, ready, in their indignation, to do anything. On the 4th, the Section Lepelletier beat to arms, and the committee held its meeting in the convent of Filles St. Thomas, in the Rue Vivienne. General Menou was summoned from the camp at Sablons, and ordered to disperse the meeting. He proceeded to the convent, found the committee of the Section armed, and, instead of dispersing them, agreed to retire on a promise that they would withdraw of themselves. The Convention immediately arrested Menou as a traitor, and deprived him of his command. They forthwith appointed Barras general of the interior in the place of Menou, and ordered him to clear the streets, and place troops in a position to insure the safety of the Convention. Barras was a general of brigade, but he was not too fond of exposing himself and, fortunately for him and for another, he had his eye on one who would execute the orders of the Convention without shrinking. This was Napoleon Buonaparte. The Convention had about five thousand troops; but the decision of the conflict must depend on the cannon. These were in the camp at Sablons. Buonaparte instantly dispatched Murat to secure them, and received the insurrectionists with such a shower of grape that after a short resistance they were completely defeated.Arnold had meanwhile arranged everything with Washington, at Cambridge, for his expedition. He marched away from Cambridge with twelve hundred men, and on reaching the Kennebec River, one hundred and thirty miles north of Boston, embarked upon it, carrying with him one thousand pounds in money, and a whole cargo of manifestoes for distribution among the Canadians. Thence he had to traverse a terrible wilderness of woods, swamps, streams, and rugged heights, where the men had to carry their boats and provisions on their shoulders, and where, for two-and-thirty days, they saw no house, wigwam, or sign of human life. So extreme were their distresses, that for the last several days they had to live on their own dogs. It was the 3rd of November before they reached the first Canadian settlement on the river Chaudière, which flows into the St. Lawrence opposite to Quebec. They emerged on the river St. Lawrence, at Point Levi, immediately over against Quebec. Could Arnold have crossed immediately, such was the suddenness of the surprise, he probably would have taken the city. But a rough gale was blowing at the time, and for five days he was detained on the right bank of the river by that circumstance and the want of boats. Arnold, nevertheless, managed to cross the river in the night, about a mile and a half above the place where Wolfe had crossed. Finding the cliffs there too high to scale, he followed the shore down to Wolfe's Cove, and ascended the heights just where Wolfe had done so. Like Wolfe, Arnold formed his band on the Heights of Abraham, and, trusting to the belief that the Canadians were in favour of the Americans, proposed to make a dash up to the gates of the city before day broke; but his followers protested against this design. When day dawned, Arnold saw so many men on the walls and batteries that he knew the assault was hopeless, and retired to Point aux Trembles, where he was joined by Montgomery, who took the chief command.
This was wormwood to the Government; and Wilkes did not leave them many days in quiet. He had declared that, on returning to England, he would surrender himself under his outlawry on the first day of the next term. Accordingly, on the 20th of April, he presented himself to the Court of King's Bench, attended by his counsel, Mr. Glynn, and avowed himself ready to surrender to the laws. Lord Mansfield declared that he was not there by any legal process, and that the court could not take notice of him; but in a few days he was taken on another writ, and on the 8th of June he was again brought before Lord Mansfield, who declared the outlawry void through a flaw in the indictment; but the original verdict against him was confirmed, and he was sentenced to imprisonment for twenty-two calender months, and two fines of five hundred pounds each—one for the North Briton, and the other for the "Essay on Woman."The next morning, Wednesday, the 7th of June, the consternation was universal. The shops continued closed, and people barricaded their houses as well as they could, many of them chalking "No Popery!" on their doors, or hanging blue silk, the Protestant Association colour, from their windows. Dr. Johnson, in a walk from Fleet Street to see the ruins of the Old Bailey, describes the coolness and composure with which "the Protestants," men and boys, were employed in plundering and stripping houses, unmolested by soldiers, constables, or any one. Great numbers of the mob were going about, armed with iron bars torn from the railings in front of Lord Mansfield's, to levy contributions on the householders. Some went singly; three mere boys were observed thus engaged in company; and one man, mounted on horseback, refused to receive anything less than gold.
Far above all other English artists of this period, however, stood William Hogarth (b. 1697). There is no artist of that or any former age who is so thoroughly English. He is a John Bull from head to foot—sturdy, somewhat headstrong, opinionated, and satirical. He is, indeed, the great satirist of the brush; but his satire, keen as it is, is employed as the instrument of the moralist; the things which he denounces and derides are crimes, follies, and perverted tastes. In his own conduct, as on his canvas, he displayed the same spirit, often knocking down his own interests rather than not express his indignant feeling of what was spurious in art, or unjust towards himself. Hogarth was the first English painter who attracted much notice amongst foreigners, and he still remains one of the most original in genius of the British school. His subjects are not chosen from the loftier regions of life and imagination, but from the very lowest or the most corrupted ones of the life of his country and time. "The Harlot's Progress," "The Rake's Progress," "Marriage à la Mode," "The March to Finchley," "Gín Lane," "Beer Lane," etc., present a series of subjects from which the delicate and sensitive will always revolt, and which have necessarily an air of vulgarity about them, but the purpose consecrates them; for they are not selected to pander to vice and folly, but to expose, to brand, to extirpate them.There is in all this much of the splenetic jealousy of an aged invalid towards a vigorous competitor, who has outstripped him in the race. O'Connell excited much hostility amongst the friends of Emancipation by his opposition to the veto which they were willing to give to the British Crown on the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops by the Court of Rome. But the more antagonists he had, and the more battles he fought, the greater was his hold on the Roman Catholic priests and people. His power had arrived at its greatest height when the Canningites left the Ministry, and Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald came to Ireland to seek the suffrages of the Clare electors as an influential member of the Government. At first, no one had the least doubt of his triumphant return. He had been popular as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland; he was a steady friend of Catholic Emancipation, for which he had always voted; he was personally popular; the gentry of the county were almost to a man devoted to him. It appears that O'Connell had at first no idea of starting against him. The proposal is said to have originated with Sir David Roose, who, having accidentally met Mr. P. V. Fitzpatrick on the 22nd of June, remarked that O'Connell ought to offer himself for Clare. Mr. Fitzpatrick then recollected having often heard Mr. John Keogh, of Mount Jerome, who had been the Catholic leader for many years, express his conviction that Emancipation would never be granted till a Catholic was elected a member of Parliament. If, when returned by a constituency, he was not permitted to take his seat because he would not violate his conscience by swearing what he did not believe, John Bull, who is jealous of constitutional rights, would resent this wrong, and would require the oath to be altered for the sake of the constituency. The moment this thought occurred to Mr. Fitzpatrick, he ran to O'Connell and begged of him to stand for Clare. They went to the office of the Dublin Evening Post, and there, in presence of Mr. F. W. Conway, the address to the electors was written. Still O'Connell shrank from the contest on account of the enormous cost. "You know," he said, "that, so far from being in circumstances to meet that outlay from my own resources, I am encumbered with heavy liabilities beyond my power of discharging. You are the only person with whom I am acquainted who knows intimately the Catholic aristocracy and men of wealth. Would you undertake to sound them as to funds for the contest?" Fitzpatrick answered, "I will undertake it, and I am confident of success." Within an hour he got three men of wealth to put down their names for ￡100 each. The four then went round to the principal Catholics of Dublin, and during the day they got ￡1,600 from sixteen persons. The country followed the example of the metropolis so liberally that ￡14,000 was raised within a week, and money continued to flow in during the contest. The supplies, however, were not sufficient for the enormous demand, and in the heat of the contest a messenger was sent posthaste to Cork, and in an incredibly short space of time returned with ￡1,000 from Mr. Jerry Murphy, who himself subscribed ￡300, and got the remainder from its patriotic inhabitants. The sum of ￡5,000 had been voted by the Association for the expenses of the election. They had been very anxious to get a candidate to oppose Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald, and a popular Protestant, Major Macnamara, had been requested to come forward, but he declined on the ground of his personal obligations to the Ministerial candidate. Indeed, there were few of the smaller gentry in the county on whom he had not conferred favours by the liberal distribution of places among their sons. The Roman Catholic gentry were quite as much indebted to him as the Protestants, and they were not ungrateful, for they stood by him on the hustings almost to a man. Mr. O'Connell was preceded by two friends, Tom Steel and O'Gorman Mahon; the former a Protestant, the other a Roman Catholic: both men remarkable for their chivalrous bearing, and a dashing, reckless spirit, which takes with the Irish peasantry. A third agitator entered the field in the person of honest Jack Lawless, another leading member of the Association, and one of its most effective speakers. This band was soon joined by Father Tom Maguire, a famous controversialist, from the county of Leitrim, who had just been engaged in a discussion with the Rev. Mr. Pope, and was hailed by the peasantry as the triumphant champion of their faith. There was also a barrister, Mr. Dominick Ronayne, who spoke the Irish language, and who, throwing an educated mind into the powerful idiom of the country, produced great effects upon the passions of the people. Mr. Sheil, second only to O'Connell in energy and influence, and superior to him in the higher attributes of the orator, in the fiery temperament and imaginative faculty which constitute genius, flung himself into the arena with the greatest ardour. On the Sunday previous to the election each of these agitators was dispatched to a chapel situated in a district which was the stronghold of one or other of the most popular landlords, for the purpose of haranguing the people after mass, and rousing their enthusiasm to the highest pitch. Mr. Sheil went to a place called Corrofin, situated in a mountainous district, the property of Sir Edward O'Brien, father of Mr. Smith O'Brien, who drove to the place in his carriage, drawn by four horses. There he saw the whole population congregated, having advanced from the rocky hills in large bands, waving green boughs, and preceded by fifes and pipers. The hitherto popular landlord was received in solemn silence, while his antagonist, Mr. Sheil, was hailed with rapturous applause. Sir Edward O'Brien consequently lost heart, and, leaving his phaeton opposite the chapel-door, went to church. Mr. Sheil gives a graphic description of Father Murphy, the priest of this rudely constructed mountain chapel. His form was tall, slender, and emaciated; "his ample hand was worn to a skinny meagretude; his face was long, sunken, and cadaverous, but was illuminated by eyes blazing with all the fire of genius and the enthusiasm of religion; his lank black hair fell down in straight lines along a lofty forehead. The sun was shining with brilliancy, and rendered his figure, attired as it was in white garments, more conspicuous. The scenery about was in harmony—it was wild and desolate." This priest met the envoy of the Association on the threshold of his mountain temple, and hailed him with a solemn greeting. After mass the priest delivered an impassioned harangue. The spirit of sarcasm gleamed over his features, and shouts of laughter attended his description of a miserable Catholic who should prove recreant to the great cause by making a sacrifice of his country to his landlord. "The close of his speech," says Mr. Sheil, "was peculiarly effective. He became inflamed by the power of his emotions, and, while he raised himself into the loftiest attitude to which he could ascend, he laid one hand on the altar and shook the other in the spirit of almost prophetic admonition, and, while his eyes blazed and seemed to start from his forehead, thick drops fell down his face, and his voice rolled through lips livid with passion and covered with foam. It is almost unnecessary to say that such an appeal was irresistible. The multitude burst into shouts of acclamation, and would have been ready to mount a battery roaring with cannon at his command. Two days afterwards the results were felt at the hustings, and while Sir Edward O'Brien stood aghast, Father Murphy marched into Ennis at the head of his tenantry, and polled them to a man in favour of Daniel O'Connell."
The elections for the new Parliament were carried on with much vigour, and there were upwards of a hundred contested ones. In some cases the contest was extremely violent, considering the death of the king was almost daily expected, and that the term of the Parliament must necessarily be a short one. In Westminster there were no less than six candidates. Lord Cochrane was about to depart for Chili to take the command of the naval forces of that state, and therefore did not offer himself again. There were Sir Francis Burdett again, the Honourable Douglas Kinnaird, Sir Murray Maxwell, Sir Samuel Romilly, Major Cartwright, and Mr. Henry Hunt, commonly called Orator Hunt. Of these Sir Murray Maxwell was a Tory, and received severe treatment. Major Cartwright and Hunt obtained very little support, and soon withdrew from the contest. The members returned were Romilly and Burdett, a Whig and a Radical. For London were returned four new members, all Whigs, Wood, Wilson, Waithman, and Thorpe. Brougham patriotically stood for Westmoreland, to break, if possible, the influence of the Lowther family; but he was compelled to retire on the fourth day, and two of the Lowther family were returned. A hundred and ninety new members were returned, and the Opposition gained considerably by the election. An acute observer, well accustomed to party battles, remarked that Government did not appear much beloved, and that they had almost spent all their war popularity; and they were not destined to recover it in the coming year.THE QUEEN'S FIRST COUNCIL.
No sooner was the conquest of Scinde completed than the Governor-General began to discern another cloud looming in the distance. In the Punjab, Runjeet Singh had organised a regular and well-disciplined army of 73,000 men. He died in 1839. His heir died the next year, it was supposed of poison. The next heir was killed a few days afterwards by accident. The third, who succeeded, was an effeminate prince, who left the government in the hands of his Minister, a wicked man, who, conspiring with others, caused to be murdered several members of the Royal Family. They were, in their turn, punished by having their heads cut off, and the only surviving son of Runjeet Singh, a boy only ten years of age, was proclaimed Maharajah. This was the work of the Sikh army, now virtually masters of the country. Lord Ellenborough and his Council suspected that this army, still 40,000 strong, and very brave, was unfriendly to the British, and might some day give trouble to the Indian Government—possibly invade its territories and cut off its communications. In order to guard against such contingencies, it was necessary, they thought, to take possession of Gwalior, a powerful Mahratta State in Central India. This country lay on the flank of our line of communications with Allahabad, Benares, and Calcutta. In this country also there were, fortunately for the British, a disputed succession, royal murders, civil dissensions, and military disorganisation. A boy, adopted by the queen, was proclaimed Sovereign by the chiefs, with a regency, over which the British Government extended its protecting wing. The young Sovereign died in 1843, leaving no child; but his widow, then thirteen years of age, adopted a boy of eight, who became king under another regency. The regent Nana Sahib was deposed, notwithstanding the support of the British Government. This was an offence which Lord Ellenborough would not allow to go unpunished; and besides, the disorganised army of Gwalior was said to be committing depredations along the British frontier. Here, then, in the estimation of the Governor-General, was a clear case for military intervention, to put down disorder, and secure a good position for future defence against the possible aggressions of the warlike Sikhs of the Punjab. Lord Ellenborough explained his policy to the Company, stating that the Indian Government could not descend from its high position as the paramount authority in India.
HENRY FIELDING. (The Portrait by Hogarth; the Border by James Basire.)The spring of 1720 was a period of remarkable national prosperity. But "the grand money schemes projected of late," which appeared to the Jacobite Atterbury and others calculated to cement the royal peace and strengthen the foundation of the Government and nation, were destined to produce a very different effect. For the South Sea Bubble was about to burst. In 1711, Harley, being at his wits' end to maintain the public credit, established a fund to provide for the National Debt, which amounted to ten millions of pounds. To defray the interest he made permanent the duties on wine, vinegar, and tobacco, etc. To induce the purchase of the Government stock, he gave to the shareholders the exclusive privilege of trading to the Spanish settlements in South America, and procured them an Act of Parliament and a royal charter, under the name of the South Sea Company. The idea, hollow and groundless as it was, seized on the imagination of the most staid and experienced traders. All the dreams of boundless gold which haunted the heads of the followers of Drake and Raleigh were revived. The mania spread through the nation, and was industriously encouraged by the partisans of Harley. But this stupendous dream of wealth was based on the promises of Ministers, who at the Peace of Utrecht were to secure from the Government of Spain this right to trade to its colonies. The right was never granted by that haughty and jealous Power, further than for the settlement of some few factories, and the sending of one small ship annually of less than five hundred tons. This, and the Assiento, or privilege of supplying those colonies with African slaves, were the sole advantages obtained, and these were soon disturbed by the war with Spain, which broke out under Alberoni. The South Sea Company, however, from its general resources, remained a flourishing corporation, and was deemed the rival of the Bank of England.
The difficulty which Buonaparte had created for himself by the usurpation of the thrones of Spain and Portugal, had the direct result which his wisest counsellors foresaw. Austria immediately began to watch the progress of the Peninsular struggle, and the resistance of the Spanish people; and the stepping of Great Britain into that field induced her to believe that the opportunity was come for throwing off the French yoke, and avenging her past injuries and humiliations. She had made arrangements by which she could call out an immense population, and convert them into soldiers. But in determining to declare open war against Buonaparte, Austria displayed a woful want of sagacity. To compete with a general like Buonaparte, and a power like France, it needed not only that her armies should be numerous but thoroughly disciplined. Nothing could have been lost by a little delay, but much might be gained. If Buonaparte succeeded in putting down the insurrection in Spain, he would then fall on Austria with all his victorious forces; if he did not succeed, but his difficulties increased, then every day that Austria waited was a day of strength to her. Russia, which was nominally at peace with Buonaparte, but which at heart was already determined on breaking the connection, saw, with just alarm, this precipitate movement of Austria. If she rose at once, Alexander was bound by treaty to co-operate in putting her down; if she deferred her enterprise for awhile, there was every probability that they could issue forth together against the common disturber. If Austria made a rash blow and were prostrated, Russia would then be left alone; and Alexander knew well, notwithstanding Napoleon's professions, that he would lose little time in demanding some concession from him.详情
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