OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Reign of George I page 26

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 <26> 27 28 29

But the Scots were not thus to be coerced. There was a general commotion against the demand throughout the country, and this at Glasgow broke out into open riot. The mob cried "Down with Walpole!" and "Up with Sea- forth!" They sacked the house of Mr. Campbell, of Shaw- field, member for the city, who had voted for the obnoxious tax. General Wade, the commander of the forces in Scotland, sent captain Bushell, with two companies of foot, to quell the disturbance, but the soldiers were pelted with stones and hooted by the rabble, and Bushell ordered his men to fire on them. Nine were killed, and many more wounded; but the mob, only the more enraged, fell upon the soldiers, drove them out of the town, and compelled them to take refuge in Dumbarton castle. Wade then sent superior forces, seized some of the rioters, apprehended the magistrates, and sent them prisoners to Edinburgh, On being brought before the lords justiciary, however, on a charge of timidly or treacherously conniving at the riots, they were declared innocent and set at liberty. On the contrary, Bushell was brought to trial on a charge of murder for firing on the people, and was convicted. The government rescued him only by a pardon, and afterwards rewarded him by promotion in the service.

Walpole suspected that the duke of Roxburgh, who was secretary of state for Scotland, and who was a partisan of Carteret's, had secretly encouraged these commotions, as he adroitly affected to believe, in order to get rid of the office of secretary for Scotland altogether. He therefore obtained the dismissal of Roxburgh, abolished the office, and sent down the earl of Isla, the brother of the duke of Argyll, and a zealous adherent of his own, to pacify the country. Isla behaved with equai prudence and firmness. He found the powerful combination of brewers assaying to make a stand against and then attempting to make terms with him. But he let them know that nothing but unconditional surrender to the laws would be accepted, and they at length held a meeting, where the chairman put the question, "To brew, or not to brew? " The members were to vote seriatim; but neither the man on his right nor the one on his left would venture to begin. In the long pause that ensued, one Gray declared that he thought there was nothing for them but to return to their trades; that he would not be bound by the majority, but would vote independently, and he voted to brew. Some of the company proposed to hold out till their brethren were set at liberty; but Gray had set the ball in movement; more voted to brew, the meeting broke up, and that night a number of breweries were set to work, and the next day, at noon, above forty brew-houses were in full action in Edinburgh, and ten in Leith. Lord Isla was greatly complimented by Walpole for his skilful settlement of the question, adding, "and now we have once got Ireland and Scotland quiet, we will take care to keep them so."

Parliament met on the 12th of November. The king in his speech congratulated the country on its prosperous condition. At the same time, he was in reality very anxious regarding continental politics, and especially in consequence of the news of an alliance betwixt Russia and Sweden, He was anxious to keep up the amount of the army, and it was accordingly continued in the same force for another year. In fact, Walpole had so far inaugurated that system of parliamentary corruption which was afterwards perfected, that he could readily carry any such measures.

One of the first acts of the parliament was to punish the peculations and abuses of the lord chancellor, Parker, earl of Macclesfield. The court of chancery, in all ages a sink of corruption, was at this time in its worst condition. The offices of masters were regularly sold, and the masters as regularly took care to indemnify themselves by all manner of peculation. The estates of widows and orphans and the money of suitors were unscrupulously plundered. There was a loud outcry against these legal robberies, and especially against the lord chancellor, for his not only tolerating but partaking in them. He endeavoured to escape the storm of public indignation by resigning in January, but this did not avail him. He was impeached by Sir George Oxenden in the commons, and tried in the lords, and fined thirty thousand pounds. A motion for disabling him from ever again sitting in parliament or holding any office was lost only by a very few votes. The king struck his name out of the list of privy counsellors, and Sir Peter King was made chancellor in his stead, with the title of baron.

The next matter of much importance was a bill to restore Bolingbroke to his honours and estates. Early in this year an attempt to deprive his wife of fifty thousand pounds invested in the English funds brought her over to London. She had invested this sum as Madame de Villette, but Sir Matthew Decker now represented to the government that this lady was married to lord Bolingbroke, and that, consequently, this money was a forfeit to the crown. Lord Townshend, however, was so much disgusted by this dishonest reasoning that he opposed the idea of confiscating the stock. Lady Bolingbroke came over to protect her property, and having secured it, next adroitly made use of her presence at court to endeavour to obtain the reversal of her husband's attainder. She did not succeed in making a favourable impression on the king, who said she talked too much, and without respect; but she found a more facile channel of success through the ever-bribable duchess of Kendal. A present of fourteen thousand pounds smoothened things wonderfully at court; and Walpole, though abhorring the very idea of seeing Bolingbroke once more in parliament, was compelled to give way. A bill was brought into the commons to put him in possession of his forfeited estates, but without removing the attainder. There was a violent opposition even to this favour both by the stanch whigs and the Jacobites, who never could forgive Bolingbroke's desertion of the pretender's cause. The bill passed by a majority of two hundred and thirty-one to one hundred and thirteen, and was afterwards accepted by the lords, though not without a strong protest by five peers. Methuen, the comptroller of the household, spoke very determinedly against the bill. He declared that Bolingbroke's crimes were of so deep a dye as not to admit of any atonement, especially his traitorous attempt, when minister of queen Anne, to defeat the protestant succession, and thus ruin the foundation of our present and future happiness.

Bolingbroke came over and took possession of his property; but he never forgave those who had opposed him, and especially Walpole, notwithstanding his having seconded the bill. "Here I am," he wrote to Swift, "two-thirds restored - my person safe, and my estate, with all other property I have acquired or may acquire, secured to me; but the attainder is kept carefully and prudently in force, lest so corrupt a member should come again into the house of lords, and his bad leaven should sour that sweet, untainted mass."

Besides Methuen, lord William Powlet, Onslow - afterwards speaker - the duke of Wharton, and others, took a prominent part in opposition to the bill. Bolingbroke, concealing his resentment, made a fresh attempt to gain the good will of Walpole, in the hope of obtaining through him the reversal of his attainder, but in this he failed. Walpole invited him to dine with him at Chelsea, but it appeared to Bolingbroke rather to show him his power and prosperity than for any other reason; and Horace Walpole, the celebrated son of the minister, says in his "Reminiscences," that "whether tortured at witnessing Walpole's serene frankness and felicity, or suffocated with indignation and confusion at being forced to be obliged to one whom he hated and envied, the first morsel he put into his mouth was near choking him, and he was reduced to rise from table and leave the room for some minutes." He was never seen there again.

In his chagrin, Bolingbroke endeavoured to create a new species of opposition in parliament. He retained his influence with the duchess of Kendal, and cultivated that of the ultra tories. Still more, he soon discovered that William Pulteney» the most eloquent man in the house, had grown disgusted with Walpole, who could never bear any man of pre-eminent ability near the throne except himself. Pulteney had been one of the steadiest friends of the late queen's government, and of the protestant succession. Under George he had been made secretary at war. He had adhered to Walpole when he was sent to the Tower for corruption, and in the great schism of 1717. Yet Walpole had carefully excluded him from any high post in the cabinet, and had endeavoured to veil his jealousy of him by offering to procure him a peerage, by which he would have removed him from the active sphere of the house of commons. Pulteney saw the object, and rejected the specious favour. Instead of conferring on Pulteney some office worthy of his talents, Walpole then put him into that of cofferer of the household. In the state of indignation which this paltry appointment raised in him Bolingbroke found him, and soon induced him to put himself at the head of a large body of oppositionists, under the title of "Patriots." In this character he made some smart attacks on Walpole and his heavy drafts on the civil list for his friends, for which he was dismissed, and joined Bolingbroke in a bold attempt to write down the minister. Betwixt them the celebrated paper "The Craftsman" was planned and established, and they became the bitterest and most persevering assailants of Walpole.

The session continuing into 1725, did not close without an attempt to curb the free action of the common council of London. A bill was brought in and carried, giving a veto to the lord mayor and aldermen on the proceedings of the council. It was intended to punish and restrain the opposition of the council to government measures, not unfrequently shown; but it raised such an outcry that it lay dormant for fourteen years.

Soon after the close of the session in June, the king proceeded to Hanover, accompanied, as usual, by Townshend and the duchess of Kendal. The state of his foreign relations demanded the utmost attention, and very soon underwent the most extraordinary changes. In the early part of the preceding year the sickly king of Spain had resolved to imitate the emperor Charles V., and retire from the throne. He announced to his council his intention of abdicating in favour of his son, Don Louis. He declared that his son was of age, married, and capable of governing justly and wisely; whilst for himself, the twenty-three years of wars, infirmities, and troubles had convinced him of the vanity of this life, and of the desirableness of cultivating in quiet the service of God and the preparations for a future life, in which seclusion his queen had cordially agreed to bear him company. The act of abdication was accordingly prepared, and, on the 15th of January, Don Louis accepted the crown, expressing his astonishment at his royal father's self-denial, and praying

God that, after treading awhile in his steps, he might also arrive at the same conviction of the vain greatness of this world.

The whole was well got up, and the act of abdication provided that in case of the death of the new king Louis, the other sons of Philip should succeed in their order. But it was more than suspected that Philip, so far from abandoning the vanities of earthly thrones, was only looking the more earnestly towards that of France. Louis XV. of France was in very critical health, and in case of his death Philip still hoped to ascend the throne. But the union of the kingdoms of France and Spain under one crown was a circumstance which Europe was not likely to tolerate, and therefore Philip, by divesting himself of the diadem of Spain, hoped to get rid of that objection. At the same time, his abdication was little more than in appearance. He and his queen had retired to the country palace of St. Ildefonso, whence they continued to direct affairs pretty much as they had done at Madrid. Philip's prime minister, Grimaldo, was still at the head of affairs, and still prosecuted with the same ardour the favourite scheme of the old queen to secure a considerable part of Italy for her son Don Carlos. Don Louis, the new king, was only seventeen years of age, and was married to the third daughter of the duke of Orleans, regent of France. The new queen was said to be of a dissolute character, and to be disliked by her husband to such a degree that he meant to divorce her. His death prevented this, and on his death Philip again ascended the throne, having in the meantime become doubtful of ever reaching that of France, Louis XV. having recovered his health. He might have children, and the only reason why he might not have legitimate issue soon, was that he was affianced to the infanta, Mary Ann, Philip's daughter, then a mere child. Should he not have children, the young duke of Orleans, the son of the late regent, would succeed him. To prevent this contingency, the duke of Bourbon, now at the head of affairs, who had a violent hatred of Orleans, prevailed on Louis to dismiss the infanta, and choose as queen some princess of mature age. He turned his eye for this purpose on the princess Anne of England, but George declined the alliance, because the queen of France was bound to become catholic. The princess Mary of Leczinska was next fixed upon, daughter of the exiled Stanislaus of Poland, and the duke of Bourbon then sent back to Spain the infanta.

This insult roused the fiery blood of Spain. The king and queen were excited to paroxysms of rage, and the queen said in her wrath to the French envoy, "All the Bourbons are a race of devils!" but suddenly recollecting that her husband was of that house, she turned to him and said, "except your majesty." They declared that they would never forgive the insult till the duke of Bourbon came to their court and implored pardon on his knees. They told Mr. William Stanhope that, in future, they would put confidence in no prince except his master, nor admit any one else to mediate for them in their negotiations. But George refused to break with France on their account, and ventured to remind Philip that he himself stood greatly in need of the alliance with France. Blinded, however, by their wounded pride, the king and queen of Spain now turned their anger against England. They recalled their plenipotentiaries from the congress of Cam- bray, which was still sitting, and professed their readiness to abandon all their hostility to the emperor of Germany, to concede all that they had so long demanded from him, on condition that he entered into a close alliance with him against France and England. They sent off back to France the widow of the late Don Louis, and also Mademoiselle Beaujolais, another daughter of the late regent Orleans, who had been contracted to Don Carlos.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 <26> 27 28 29

Pictures for Reign of George I page 26

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About