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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 3


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This was the true view of the conduct of Hastings. The report was agreed to, the remainder of the charges were rapidly passed, the impeachment was voted, and Burke, attended by the majority of the house, on the 10th of May, carried it up to the lords. On the motion of Burke, Warren Hastings was then taken into custody, and delivered over to the lords, who bound him to appear to take his trial, when called upon, in a bond of twenty thousand pounds himself, and Messrs. Sullivan and Sumner as his sureties in ten thousand pounds each. Hastings named as his counsel Messrs. Pionier, Law, and Dallas; and Messrs. Wallis and Inward were engaged to act as solicitors for the impeachment. The charge against Impey was postponed till the next session, and parliament was prorogued on the 30th of May.

The king's speech at the prorogation alluded to the dissensions in Holland. These dissensions had been brought to a crisis by a gross insult offered by the democratic party to the Princess of Orange, the sister of the king of Prussia. The princess, who far exceeded her husband in spirit, was on her way to the Hague in order to promote the interests of her husband with the States General. At Schoonhoven, on the borders of Holland, she was surrounded by a party of the democratic force, and, after being very rudely treated, she was compelled to turn back. The princess sent a most indignant account of the transaction to her brother, the king of Prussia, who addressed a letter demanding the most complete satisfaction, or menacing invasion. The States of Holland replied in an insolent tone, but the States General, to which the king had also appealed, sent a very different answer, but regretting that they had no power to compel the States of Holland to do what was right, and must leave them to their punishment. The king of Prussia forthwith marched thirty thousand eight hundred men under the duke of Brunswick into Guelderland. The democratic party fled at the approach of the Prussians. They had relied on assistance from the French, but they were disappointed, for the French, already in the throes of the revolution, had enough to do at home. On the other hand, the king of England had expressed the warmest interest in the cause of the prince of Orange, and his resolve to resent any interference on the part of the French.

On the 17th of September the duke of Brunswick stormed and took Gorcum, and the army advanced, burning villages and plundering the country, in revenge of the insult offered to their princess. The democrats attempted to break the dykes and lay the country under water, but they were interrupted by the Prussians. The inundation failed, and Brunswick took, in rapid succession, Nieuport, Schoonhoven, Dort, Leyden, Haarlem, and the people of the Hague threw open their gates to him. Amsterdam attempted to make conditions - namely, that the people should be allowed to elect the magistrates; should not be disarmed; should receive no garrison; that no magistrate should be displaced on account of their opposition to the Orange party; and that no Orange ribbons should be worn in the city. The duke of Brunswick rejected these lofty terms as totally inadmissible, and, by the assistance of an English army, was enabled to make such an attack on the city, that it was very glad to surrender, even for lower ones. The Prussians kept possession of the Leyden gate, and of the suburbs of Overtoom, but the prince of Orange's brave guards and a Swiss regiment maintained order in the city. The magistrates who had been dismissed for their adhesion to the house of Orange were restored, and a list of persons, named by the princess of Orange, were, in satisfaction for the insult offered to her, rendered incapable of again holding office. At the head of these was Van Berkel, the minister who had been so active against the stadtholder, and who had been equally so in promoting the war against us. The power of the stadtholder was fully restored, and France, on the strong declaration of England, that she would oppose any attempt to restore the democratic party in Holland, protested that there was no such intention on her part.

The neighbouring country - the Netherlands - had been equally agitated. The emperor Joseph II., with that impetuosity of reform which ruined most of his designs of advancement- among his subjects, had ordered the removal of many of the old catholic customs and institutions, to which the Flemish were deeply attached. It was enough for Joseph himself to perceive the mischief or inutility of certain things; he did not wait to convince the public of the advantage of removing them, but ordered it to be done. But the very tenacity with which the Flemings clung to ideas and practices which other nations had long abandoned, might have convinced Joseph, a priori, that they would not yield them up without a struggle. He commenced with suppressing a number of what he deemed useless monasteries, and turning out the monks. This not only alarmed the rest of the clergy, who feared their turn next, but created great discontent amongst the people at large. Perhaps, at this day, no people of the same numbers maintain so many priests. But, at that time, Joseph was in very ill odour with the Flemings, on account of his attempts upon the navigation of the Scheldt. The popular feeling next received a rude shock by his striking a great number of feasts and holidays off the calendar, and amongst them the favourite one of the Keremesse, which was the great annual festival of the people, when they gave themselves up to dancing, jollity, and getting married. Whilst the whole was in a state of indignant defiance on this head, the emperor, on the 1st of January, 1787, published several sweeping edicts, annihilating the most ancient municipal privileges, remodelling the courts of justice, and introducing a totally new system of judicature, in direct violation of a celebrated compact made by Charles V., called " The Joyous Entry." To complete the resentment of every class, he commenced a reform of the great university of Louvain. There was, in truth, much need of this reform, for no university of Europe lagged more behind the times. It still continued to teach the dogmas, and adhere to the forms of the middle ages. He commenced with the schools of theology, dismissed their monkish professors, and sent thither German ones far more enlightened, but, for that very reason, unwelcome to a community unprepared for them. Such reforms cannot be promulgated by imperial decree: they must be the result of continued and gradual enlightenment.

By this combination of innovations, the whole country was in a state of the highest indignation. The new university remainded empty. It was in vain that the heads of the different religious orders were commanded to send their students there. An example was therefore made of the reverend father Godfrey Alost, the minister of the Capuchins of Brussels. As he disobeyed the command, he was ordered to quit both the city and the country. He at once became a martyr, and a most dangerous sympathy was excited on his behalf. Whilst this was at its height, a M. Hondt - an eminent citizen of Brussels, charged with not duly fulfilling some government contracts - was sent, under a military escort, to Vienna, to take his trial there, though the suit against him was already in progress in Brussels. This put the climax to the public ferment. There appeared a resolve, on the part of the emperor, to sweep away every trace of ancient right and privilege. The people flew to arms; volunteers assembled all over the country, and drilled diligently. The public voice pronounced a determination to stand or fall with the ancient institutions. Joseph was at Cherson, on the Black Sea, concerting with Catherine of Russia an invasion of Turkey; and count Belgioiso, the governor, alarmed, issued a proclamation, declaring that the edict contrary to "' The Joyous Entry"' should be revoked, with all the other innovations. He recalled Alost, the Capuchin, and promised to exert himself for the return of

M. Hondt from Vienna. These assurances calmed the people, and the arms of the volunteers were laid aside; but when Joseph returned to Vienna, in July, he expressed his surprise and anger at the concessions of the governor. He summoned Belgioiso to Vienna to explain his conduct, and ordered that deputies should be sent to give an account of their proceedings. Joseph, who did not yet see how impossible it was to enforce his reforms, or how completely he was sinking his own authority, received the deputation sternly, and informed them that everything which he had ordered should be carried out. Troops at the same time were ordered to march into the Netherlands, and the Flemings, on receiving this intelligence, again resumed their arms and their hostile attitude. The populace and the imperial troops in Brussels actually came into collision; blood was shed, and the inhabitants of the country, arming themselves, were flocking from all quarters into the city. The consequences must have been dreadful, but for the prudence of count Murray, a gentleman of Scotch descent, who was acting as deputy-governor in the absence of Belgioiso, who calmed down the popular fury by assurances that all should be made right.

This had taken place towards the end of September. The emperor's army of one hundred thousand men was now in full march for the Danube, to join Russia in her designs on Turkey, and therefore, for the present, his rash plans were suffered to slumber, and tranquillity for a time was restored.

Parliament met, after the recess, on the 27th of November. The topics during the remainder of the year were of little importance. There was some dissatisfaction expressed at the treaty which had been made with Hesse Cassel to furnish a certain number of troops during the expectation of the interference of France in the affairs of Holland. That danger was now over; yet it appeared that the treaty had not been made contingent, but, to a certain extent, permanent, and we were under engagements to pay thirty- six thousand pounds a-year to the landgrave of Hesse for troops, for which we had no real occasion. There was also considerable murmuring at the promotions which had been made in the navy. It appeared that lord Howe, as head of the admiralty, had passed over a certain number of post captains, and placed them on the superannuated list, in making promotions to the rank of admiral. He had made sixteen new admirals during the year, and forty post captains complained that they had been unfairly passed over.

Soon after the meeting of parliament, after the Christmas recess, the business of the year 1788 was opened by lord Rawdon reverting to this subject. He complained that many valuable officers had been passed over, and, indeed, the friends of these disappointed officers endeavoured to make it appear that every one of these forty captains was just as brave and able as any of the sixteen promoted. Lord Howe replied that he had acted according to the best of his judgment; that he left it to the house to consider whether it was for the service of the country that every man should be taken in such a promotion according to his seniority; whether the qualifications for effective command were not to be the first requisite. Many captains, he said, were brave men, amply capable of commanding a single vessel, but by no means capable of commanding a fleet. That such as were not made admirals, according to their seniority, were placed on the half-pay of rear-admirals. He assured the house that he should be most thankful to be exempt from the unpopularity of his position, for that the promotion of one captain out of every twenty was certain to wound and offend the nineteen, and not so certain of pleasing the twentieth.

Lord Sandwich, who had held for a long time the same post, supported lord Howe, and suggested the idea, in raillery, of the patronage being vested in the house of lords. If the house of lords, he said, were to take upon themselves the promotion of admirals, one noble lord would rise in his place and say, " Pray don't pass over my brother; make him an admiral!" another would intercede for another relation. The lords, when at home, would be besieged to use their influence, and the house knew the fascination of the ladies; they would catch hold of a peer's hand, clasp it with ardour, and say, " My dear lord, you must get my cousin made an admiral!" As for the house of commons, he saw nearly equal inconveniences, were the patronage shifted there. They had their relations too, and constituents to please into the bargain. In short, the delicate function must be placed somewhere, and it seemed to him that an officer of the well- known naval knowledge and distinction, both for moral and professional character, of lord Howe, was the best to discharge it. The motion was rejected in the lords, but immediately taken up in the commons by Mr. Bastard. He declared that the so-called yellow, or superannuated list, was not intended for such officers as were capable of active service, yet such names as he mentioned were to be found there, while men more really superannuated, but who had friends in the right quarter, were put over their heads. He was supported by Fox, who, though he did not suppose any man passed over was capable of doing more service, was of opinion that some of the promotions had been most scandalously unjust. Several officers of the navy, amongst them Sir Peter Parker and Sir George Osborne, took the same side. But both this motion and a second by the same individual were rejected. Lord Howe, disgusted with his treatment, soon after resigned his office; and he complained amongst his friends that he did not find Pitt himself so importunate for the promotion of his supporters, but that Dundas never could be satisfied with obtaining places for any number of his Scotch relations and connections, and was continually carrying his murmurs of disappointment at the conscientious resistance of Howe to his demands. Pitt's elder brother, the earl of Chatham, a most unfit person, was, however, put into the place of lord Howe, a proof that Pitt himself, though probably much more disinterested than Dundas, looked also to the interests of his kin.

The business of India was resumed in the commons. The ministers had proposed to send four additional regiments to India, when there appeared a probability of hostility with France, and the court of directors were quite agreeable to the measure; but that danger being over, the India House declared it unnecessary to send the troops, for which they were expected to pay. But Pitt was desirous of establishing a royal army in India, as a control over the company, and yet that the company should pay this force. On this the court of directors and ministers came to issue, and Pitt, on the 25th of February, asked leave to bring in a bill declaratory of the meaning of that of 1784, which he contended gave such a discretion to the government. This measure was strongly resisted by all the influence of the India House, both in the lords and commons, but was carried through both houses. This was, in fact, conferring on the government the very powers which Pitt and his party had so strongly objected to in Fox's proposed bill in 1783.

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