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The king attended the theatre one evening, and by his desire the drama of Rob Roy was performed. The theatre was of course crowded to excess, the boxes presenting a dazzling galaxy of rank and beauty. When the approach of the king was announced, there was a pause of deathlike stillness; then an outburst of deep, honest enthusiasm never to be forgotten. "A prolonged and heartfelt shout, which for more than a minute rent the house," a waving of handkerchiefs, tartan scarfs, and plumed bonnets, testified the joy of the assembly and delighted the ears and eyes of the "chief of chiefs." Sir Walter Scott in a letter to his son gives a vivid description of this royal visit. For a fortnight Edinburgh had been a scene of giddy tumult, and considering all that he had to do, he wondered that he had not caught fever in the midst of it. All, however, went off most happily. The Edinburgh populace behaved themselves like so many princes, all in their Sunday clothes; nothing like a mob—no jostling or crowding. "They shouted with great emphasis, but without any running or roaring, each standing as still in his place as if the honour of Scotland had depended on the propriety of his behaviour. This made the scene quite new to all who had witnessed the Irish reception." The king's stay in Scotland was protracted till the 29th of August. On the day before his departure, Mr. Peel, who accompanied him as Home Secretary, wrote the following letter to Sir Walter Scott:—"My dear sir,—The king has commanded me to acquaint you that he cannot bid adieu to Scotland without conveying to you individually his warm personal acknowledgments for the deep interest you have taken in every ceremony and arrangement connected with his Majesty's visit, and for your ample contributions to their complete success. His Majesty well knows how many difficulties have been smoothed, and how much has been effected by your unremitting activity, by your knowledge of your countrymen, and by the just estimation in which they hold you. The king wishes to make you the channel of conveying to the Highland chiefs and their followers, who have given to the varied scenes which we have witnessed so peculiar and romantic a character, his particular thanks for their attendance, and his warm approbation of their uniform deportment. He does justice to the ardent spirit of loyalty by which they are animated, and is convinced that he could offer no recompense for their services so gratifying to them as the assurance which I now convey of the esteem and approbation of their Sovereign."

In the meantime the nation began to form itself rapidly into two parties—Reformers and Anti-Reformers. The Tories were all reunited, driven together by the sense of a common danger; divisions occasioned by the currency and agricultural distress were all forgotten—all merged in one mighty current of Conservative feeling. The whole strength of that party rallied under the leadership of Sir Robert Peel. His bitterest opponents, such as Lord Winchilsea and Sir Edward Knatchbull, were among the most ardent and cordial of his allies. On the other hand, the Reformers were in transports of joy and exultation. "I honestly confess," said Mr. John Smith, "that when I first heard the Ministerial proposal, it had the effect of taking away my breath, so surprised and delighted was I to find the Ministers so much in earnest." This was the almost universal feeling among Reformers, who comprised the mass of the middle and working classes. No Bill in the Parliamentary annals of Britain was ever honoured like this. It was accepted by universal suffrage as the Charter of Reform. Every clause, every sentence, every word in it was held sacred; and the watchword at every meeting was, "The Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill." Petitions were got up in every town, and almost every parish, some of them bearing twenty thousand or thirty thousand signatures, demanding the passing of the Bill untouched and unimpaired.Lord Howe, when he had collected his ships after the storm which separated him from D'Estaing, again made for Boston, in the hope of being able to attack the French Admiral in the harbour; but he found him too well protected by the batteries to be able to reach him. He therefore returned to New York, and, as his leave of absence had arrived, he surrendered the command to Admiral Byron, and took his leave of America on the 26th of September, and reached Portsmouth on the 25th of October. Byron now had a very good fleet, consisting of ships of one size or other to the number of ninety-one sail. Such a fleet assembled on the American coast at a proper time would have intercepted and destroyed the fleet of D'Estaing, and have cleared all those waters of French and American privateers. Byron no sooner came into command than he also made a voyage to Boston, to see whether he could not come at D'Estaing's fleet; but his usual weather attended him, his ships were scattered by a tempest, and D'Estaing took the opportunity of sailing to the West Indies, according to his orders. Notwithstanding the agreement of the French to assist America, they were thinking much more of recovering Canada or seizing on the British West India islands for themselves.The new Premier, however, was resolute, and persevered with his arrangements. He found an excellent successor to Lord Eldon, as Chancellor, in Sir John Copley, the Master of the Rolls, who was created Lord Lyndhurst. Mr. Peel, as Home Secretary, was succeeded by Mr. Sturges Bourne, who retired after a few weeks to make way for the Marquis of Lansdowne. He represented a section of the Whigs, prominent among whom were Brougham, Tierney and Burdett, who gave[259] their support to the Ministry. The Duke of Clarence succeeded Lord Melville as First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Marquis of Anglesey the Duke of Wellington as Master-General of the Ordnance. Viscount Palmerston was appointed the Secretary at War, with which office he commenced his long, brilliant, and popular career as a Cabinet Minister. The new Master of the Rolls was Sir John Leech, the Attorney-General Sir James Scarlett, and the Solicitor-General Sir N. Tindal. Mr. Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne, succeeded Mr. Goulburn as Chief Secretary of Ireland.

In such very discouraging circumstances the American campaign began. Whilst insurrection was in their camp, Sir Henry Clinton dispatched General Arnold to make a descent upon the coast of Virginia. That general had been dispatched into that quarter, at the close of the year, with one thousand six hundred men, in ships so bad, that they were obliged to fling overboard some of their horses. Arnold, however, first sailed up the river James, and landed at Westover, only twenty-five miles from Richmond, the capital of Virginia. Jefferson, who was Governor of Virginia, was seized with great alarm; for, though the militia of the State were nominally fifty thousand, he could muster only a few hundreds. He therefore hastily collected what property he could, and fled up the country, dreading to fall into the hands of a man so embittered against the Americans as Arnold was, who was himself well aware that they had determined to hang him without mercy if they caught him. Arnold did not allow much time to elapse without action. The next day he was in Richmond, and sent word to Jefferson that, provided British vessels might come up the river to take away the tobacco, he would spare the town. Jefferson rejected the proposal, and Arnold burnt all the tobacco stores and the public buildings, both there and at Westham. After committing other ravages, he returned to Portsmouth, on Elizabeth River, where he entrenched himself. On the 26th of March, General Phillips, having assumed the command, in company with Arnold ascended James River with two thousand five hundred men, took and destroyed much property in Williamsburg and York Town, ravaged the country around, and then sailed to the mouth of the Appomattox, and burnt all the shipping and tobacco in Petersburg. After other depredations, and forcing the Americans to destroy their own flotilla between Warwick and Richmond, Phillips and Arnold descended the James River to Manchester, and proposed to cross over to Richmond. But Lafayette having just reached that place before them with upwards of two thousand men, they re-embarked, and, after destroying much other property, especially shipping and stores, at Warwick and other places, they fell down to Hog Island, where they awaited further orders.On the 16th of August a party of English soldiers, sent by the Governor of Fort Augustus to reinforce the garrison at Fort William, were assailed by a number of Keppoch's Highlanders in the narrow pass of High Bridge. They attempted to retreat when they found they could not reach their antagonists in their ambush, but they were stopped by a fresh detachment of the followers of Lochiel, and compelled to lay down their arms. Five or six of them were killed, and their leader, Captain Scott, was wounded. They received the kindest treatment from the conquerors, and as the Governor of Fort Augustus refused to trust a surgeon amongst them to dress the wounds of Captain Scott, Lochiel immediately allowed Scott to return to the fort on his parole, and received the rest of the wounded into his house at Auchnacarrie.

[See larger version]The Emigrants had continued to flock to Coblenz, and their number, with their families, now amounted to nearly one hundred thousand of the most wealthy and influential class in France. They continued to make preparations for war, and it is no wonder that the people of France beheld their menacing attitude with uneasiness. Though the king publicly wrote letters to the Emigrants, desiring them to return to their country, and employ themselves as good citizens under the Constitution, there was a strong suspicion that he privately gave them different advice. That the king did maintain a secret correspondence with some of the insurgents is certain; but it is neither proved, nor does it appear probable, that he sanctioned their intention of making war on the country. But their obstinate absence drove the Assembly now to such severe measures against them as compelled Louis to exercise his veto in their favour, and he thus destroyed his popularity with the public, and caused himself to be considered as really in league with the Emigrants. Nevertheless, it was the advice of all the king's Ministers, as well as it appears to have been his own feeling, that they should return, for they[388] might have added immensely to the influence in favour of the throne. Louis, therefore, again exhorted the Emigrants to return; but they continued inflexible. He next wrote to the officers of the army and navy, deploring the information that he had received that they were quitting the service, and that he could not consider those his friends who did not, like himself, remain at their posts; but this was equally ineffectual, and the Minister of War reported to the Assembly that one thousand nine hundred officers had deserted. The Assembly was greatly incensed; the Girondists deemed it a good opportunity to force the king to deal a blow at the nobility and at his own brothers. On the 20th of October Brissot ascended the tribune, and demanded measures of severity against the Emigrants. At the close of the debate a decree was passed requiring the king's brothers to return to France within three months, on pain of forfeiting all their rights as citizens, and their claims as princes on the succession to the Crown. On the 9th of November a second decree was passed, declaring that all Frenchmen assembled on the frontiers were suspected of conspiracy against the country; that all such as should continue there till the 1st of January should be treated as traitors; that princes and public functionaries should become amenable to the same punishments; that the incomes of all such Emigrants, from lands, moneys, or offices, should from the present moment be sequestrated; that a court should be appointed in January to try them; and that any Frenchman, after this, crossing the frontiers, or found guilty of endeavouring to seduce the people from their allegiance, should be put to death.

Mr. Grey seized the professed desire of peace by Government, so soon as Parliament met after the Christmas recess, to bind them to it by a resolution. He complained that, so far from any intentions of peace, Ministers were making fresh preparations for the prosecution of the war. Pitt denied this, and asserted that the Government was really anxious for peace, but could not consent to it unless France agreed to yield up its conquests of Belgium, Holland, Savoy, and Nice. On the 10th of March Mr. Grey moved for an inquiry into the state of the kingdom. He showed that this contest, so unsuccessful, had[450] already, in three years, added seventy-seven millions to the national debt; more than the whole expense of the American war, which had cost sixty-three millions. He commented severely on the wasteful manner in which this money had been thrown away on monarchs who had badly served the cause, or had perfidiously betrayed it; and on the plunder of the country by jobbers, contractors, commissaries, and other vampires, who had left the poor soldiers to neglect, starvation, and death, amid the horrors of winter, and inhospitable, pretended friends, for whom they had been sent to fight. Grey and Fox followed this up by fresh resolutions and motions condemning Ministers for their misconduct of the war, and enormous waste of the public money; but all these were triumphantly got rid of by overwhelming majorities; and in the face of this ineffectual assault, Pitt introduced his Budget, calling for fresh loans, amounting to no less than twenty-five million five hundred thousand pounds, and for supplies to the amount of upwards of forty-five millions. Some of the items of this sum were—navy, seven million five hundred and twenty-two thousand five hundred and fifty-two pounds; army, eleven million nine hundred and eleven thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine pounds; ordnance, one million nine hundred and fifty-four thousand six hundred and sixty-five pounds; miscellaneous and extraordinary, thirteen million eight hundred and twenty-one thousand, four hundred and thirty pounds. The last item alone amounted to more than the whole national expenditure before the commencement of this war, yet the whole of these startling sums were readily voted away by the Ministerial majority; and with these funds in hand for renewed prosecution of the war, the Session ended, on the 19th of May.[See larger version][See larger version]

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[137] 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 triumph of the Whigs was complete. Whilst Oxford, who had been making great efforts at the last to retrieve himself with his party by assisting them to seize the reins of power on the queen's illness, was admitted in absolute silence to kiss the king's hand, and that not without many difficulties, Marlborough, Somers, Halifax, and the rest were received with the most cordial welcome. Yet, on appointing the new cabinet, the king showed that he did not forget the double-dealing of Marlborough. He smiled on him, but did not place him where he hoped to be, at the head of affairs. He made Lord Townshend Secretary of State and Prime Minister; Stanhope, the second Secretary; the Earl of Mar was removed from the Secretaryship of Scotland to make way for the Duke of Montrose; Lord Halifax was made First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, and was raised to an earldom, and was allowed to confer on his nephew the sinecure of Auditor of the Exchequer; Lord Cowper became Lord Chancellor; Lord Wharton was made Privy Seal, and created a marquis; the Earl of Nottingham became President of the Council; Mr. Pulteney was appointed Secretary-at-War; the Duke of Argyll, Commander-in-Chief for Scotland; Shrewsbury, Lord Chamberlain and Groom of the Stole; the Duke of Devonshire became Lord Steward of the Household; the Duke of Somerset, Master of the Horse; Sunderland, Lord-lieutenant of Ireland; Walpole was at first made simply Paymaster of the Forces, without a place in the cabinet, but his ability in debate and as a financier soon raised him to higher employment; Lord Orford was made First Lord of the Admiralty; and Marlborough, Commander-in-Chief and Master of the Ordnance. His power, however, was gone. In the whole new cabinet Nottingham was the only member who belonged to the Tory party, and of late he had been acting more in common with the Whigs. The Tories complained vehemently of their exclusion, as if their dealings with the Pretender had been a recommendation to the House of Hanover. They contended that the king should have shown himself the king of the whole people, and aimed at a junction of the two parties.Fox and his party still maintained a vigorous and persevering endeavour to remain at peace; but he weakened his efforts by professing to believe that we might yet enter into substantial engagements with the French, who had at this moment no permanent settled Government at all, but a set of puppet Ministers, ruled by a Convention, and the Convention ruled by a mob flaming with the ideas of universal conquest and universal plunder. If Fox had advocated the wisdom of maintaining the defensive as much as possible, and confining ourselves to defending our Dutch allies, as we were bound, his words would have had more weight; but his assurance that we might maintain a full and friendly connection with a people that were butchering each other at home, and belying all their most solemn professions of[416] equity and fraternity towards their dupes abroad, only enabled Pitt to ask him with whom he would negotiate—Was it with Robespierre, or the monster Marat, then in the ascendant? "But," added Pitt, "it is not merely to the character of Marat, with whom we would now have to treat, that I object; it is not to the horror of those crimes which have stained their legislators—crimes in every stage rising above one another in enormity,—but I object to the consequences of that character, and to the effect of those crimes. They are such as render a negotiation useless, and must entirely deprive of stability any peace which could be concluded in such circumstances. The moment that the mob of Paris comes under a new leader, mature deliberations are reversed, the most solemn engagements are retracted, or free will is altogether controlled by force. All the crimes which disgrace history have occurred in one country, in a space so short, and with circumstances so aggravated, as to outrun thought and exceed imagination." In fact, to have made an alliance with France at that moment, and for long afterwards, would have been to sanction her crimes, and to share the infamy of her violence and lawlessness abroad.

Byng went in pursuit of the Spanish fleet, which was assisting in the conquest of Sicily, and came in sight of twenty-seven sail of the line,[41] with fire-ships, ketches, bombs, and seven galleys, drawn up in line of battle between him and Cape Passaro. So soon as they were clear of the straits, a council was held to determine whether they should fight or retreat. They came to no resolution, but continued to linger about in indecision till Byng was down upon them. Whereupon he utterly destroyed them (August 11, 1718).When the subsidy to Hesse-Cassel was sent home to receive the signatures of the Cabinet, it was found to amount to an annual payment by England of one hundred and fifty thousand crowns, besides eighty crowns to every horseman, and thirty crowns to every foot soldier, when they were really called out to service. That to Russia was immensely greater; then came in prospective that to Saxony, to Bavaria, etc. These latter States had been fed all through the last few years for doing nothing, and now demanded vastly higher terms. Yet when the Hessian Treaty was laid on the Council table by the compliant Newcastle, Ministers signed it without reading it. Pitt and Fox, however, protested against it; and when the Treasury warrants for carrying the treaty into execution were sent down to Legge, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he refused to sign them.

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In much the same way the silk industry had been protected by prohibitory legislation, of which the only effect was to convert smuggling into an important trade. Again, the manufacturers petitioned for the removal of the duties upon spun silk, but were eager to exclude foreign manufactured silks. On the other hand, the silk spinners were opposed to the introduction of spun silk, but desired the removal of duties upon raw silk, while the journeymen believed that ruin stared them in the face if foreign manufactured silks were introduced. Robinson, with Huskisson's assistance, decided to admit foreign silk on an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent. At the same time he largely reduced the duties on the raw material. The duty on Indian silk was reduced from 4s. to 3d., that on Chinese and Italian silks from 5s. 6d. to 6d., that on organzine from 14s. 10d. to 7s. 6d. a pound. The manufacturers vowed and protested that they were ruined; in ten years' time they were exporting to France, their former rival, £60,000 worth of manufactured silk.The meeting of Parliament was approaching, and it was necessary to come to some final decision. Sir Robert Peel had a thorough conviction that if the Duke of Wellington should fail in overcoming the king's objections, no other man could succeed. It might have been that the high[294] and established character of Earl Grey, his great abilities, and great political experience, would have enabled him to surmount these various difficulties. In addition to these high qualifications, he had the advantage of having been the strenuous and consistent advocate of the Roman Catholic cause; the advantage also of having stood aloof from the Administrations of Mr. Canning and Lord Ripon, and of having strong claims on the esteem and respect of all parties, without being fettered by the trammels of any. Sir Robert Peel had, however, the strongest reasons for the conviction that Lord Grey could not have succeeded in an undertaking which, in the supposed case of his accession to power, would have been abandoned as hopeless by the Duke of Wellington, and abandoned on the ground that the Sovereign would not adopt the advice of his servants. The result of the whole is thus summed up by Sir Robert Peel:—"Being convinced that the Catholic question must be settled, and without delay; being resolved that no act of mine should obstruct or retard its settlement; impressed with the strongest feelings of attachment to the Duke of Wellington, of admiration of his upright conduct and intentions as Prime Minister, of deep interest in the success of an undertaking on which he had entered from the purest motives and the highest sense of public duty, I determined not to insist upon retirement from office, but to make to the Duke the voluntary offer of that official co-operation, should he consider it indispensable, which he scrupled, from the influence of kind and considerate feelings, to require from me."

The deaths of monarchs, however, were peculiarly fatal to this ambitious man; that of Queen Anne had precipitated him from power, and rescued his country from the ruin he prepared for it; that of George now came as opportunely to prevent the national calamity of his ministry. George set out for Hanover on the 3rd of June, accompanied, as usual, by Townshend and the Duchess of Kendal. Just before his departure the youthful Horace Walpole saw him for the first and last time. When the king was come down to supper, Lady Walsingham took Walpole into the Duchess's ante-room, where George and his favourite were alone. Walpole knelt and[57] kissed the king's hand. George appeared in his usual health.This destruction accomplished, the mob marched away to the house of Priestley, which was at Fair Hill, where they utterly burned and destroyed all the invaluable library, philosophical instruments, and manuscripts, containing notes of the doctor's further chemical experiments and discoveries. Fire-engines were called out to prevent the flames of the meeting-houses from spreading to the adjoining houses, but they were not suffered to play on the meeting-houses themselves, nor does any effort appear to have been made to save Priestley's house. The doctor and his family had made a timely retreat. He himself passed the first two nights in a post-chaise, and the two succeeding on horseback, but less owing to his own apprehensions of danger than to those of others. An eye-witness said that the high road for fully half a mile from his house was strewed with books, and that, on entering the library, there were not a dozen volumes on the shelves; while the floor was covered several inches deep with torn manuscripts. This was the work of the night of the 14th of July, and the riots continued from Thursday to Sunday; among the buildings destroyed being the paper warehouse of William Hutton, the historian of the place, and the author of several antiquarian treatises. Hutton was a man who had raised himself from the deepest poverty, for his father was a poor stocking-weaver of Derby. He had found Birmingham without a paper warehouse; had opened one, and, by that[385] shrewdness and carefulness in business, which are so conspicuous in his "Autobiography," and afford a valuable study for young men, had acquired a competence. He was not only an honour to the town by his upright character, and reputation as a self-taught author, but he had been an active benefactor to it. He had been the first to establish a circulating library in the town; was always an advocate and co-operator in works and institutions of improvement, and was the most active and able commissioner of the Court of Requests. His only crime was that of being a Nonconformist, and an advocate of advanced principles.

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