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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 22

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Under such circumstances closed the year 1789. The intense excitement which the rapid course of these French events had produced in England had nearly superseded all other topics of interest. At first, there was an almost universal jubilation over this wonderful revolution. The" dreadful state of misery and oppression to which France had been reduced; the fearful exactions; the system of popular ignorance maintained by priestcraft; the abominable feudal insolence; the abuse of lettres de cachet; and the internal obstructions of customs and barriers betwixt one province and another, made every friend of freedom desirous of seeing 1 all these swept away. The early progress of their destruction was hailed with enthusiasm in England. Even the retired and timid poet, Cowper, sang a triumphal note on the fall of the Bastille; but soon the bloody fury of the populace, and the domineering character of the assembly, which did not deign to stop at the proper constitutional limits, began to create distrust and alarm. Amongst the first to perceive and to denounce this work of anarchy rather than of reform, was Burke. In common with Fox, and Pitt, and many other statesmen, he had rejoiced in the fall of the corrupt government of France; but he soon began to perceive that the people were displaying the same ferocious character as in all their former outbreaks. u If," he wrote to M. Menonville, a moderate member of the assembly, " any of these horrid deeds were the acts of the rulers, what are we to think of the armed people under such rulers? But if there be no rulers in reality, and the chiefs are driven before the people rather than lead them; and if the armed corps are composed of men who have no fixed principle of obedience, and are moved only by the prevalence of some general inclination, who can repute himself safe amongst a people so furious and so senseless? " As he continued to gaze, he was compelled to confess that he saw no great and wise principles of legislation displayed by the assembly; but that it went on destroying without knowing how to rebuild in a manner likely to last, or to work any one any good. The whole of the constitution-making, which annihilated the royal power, which erected no second chamber, but absorbed all authority into the assembly, a mixed and heterogeneous body, he declared to be a bungling and monstrous performance. On the other hand, Dr. Price, Dr. Priestley, and numbers of equally enthusiastic men, saw nothing but what was animating in the progress of the French revolution. " The Revolution Society," including many of the highest names of the whig aristocracy, which was accustomed to meet on the 4th of November, to celebrate the anniversary of the landing of William III., and the English revolution of 1688, this year presented a glowing address of congratulation to the French national assembly, which was carried over by lord Stanhope and Dr. Price. Of course, they and the address were received with great acclamation by the assembly. The admiration of the French revolution spread over this country. Clubs were established, both in London and in the country, in sympathy with it, and the press became very Gallican and republican in its tone, and there was much corresponding with admirers of the revolution in France, especially with Thomas Paine, who had now transferred himself from America to this new scene of the proclaimed " Rights of Man," with a political fanatic destined to acquire considerable attention, calling himself Anacharsis Clootz, the orator of mankind, a Mr. Christie, and others.

We must open the year 1790 by reverting to the affairs of England, and of other countries having an influence on English interests. The parliament met on the 21st of January; and, in the course of the debate on the address in the commons, Fox took the opportunity to laud the French revolution, and especially the soldiers for destroying the government which had raised them, and which they had sworn to obey. Burke, in reply, whilst paying the highest compliments to the genius of Fox, and expressing the value which he placed on his friendship, endeavoured to guard the house and country against the pernicious consequences of such an admiration as had been expressed by Fox. He declared the conduct of the troops disgraceful; for, instead of betraying the government, they ought to have defended it so far as to allow of its yielding the necessary reforms. But the so- called reforms in France, he said, were a disgrace to the nation. They had, instead of limiting each branch of the government for the general good, and for rational liberty, destroyed all the balances and counterpoises which gave the state steadiness and security. They had pulled down all things into an incongruous and ill-digested mass; they had concocted a digest of anarchy called the Rights of Man, which would disgrace a schoolboy; and had laid the axe to the root of all property by confiscating that of the church. To compare that revolution with our glorious one of 1688, he said was next to blasphemy. They were diametrically opposed. Ours preserved the constitution and got rid of an arbitrary monarch; theirs destroyed the constitution, and kept a monarch who was willing to concede reforms, but who was left helpless. Fox replied that he had been mistaken by his most venerated and estimable friend; that he was no friend to anarchy, and lamented the cruelties that had been practised in France, but he considered them the natural result of the long and terrible despotism which had produced the convulsion, and that he had the firmest hopes that the French would yet complete their constitution with wisdom and moderation. Here the matter might have ended, but Sheridan rose and uttered a grand but ill- considered euloguim on the French revolution, and charged Burke with being an advocate of despotism. Burke highly resented this; he made a severe reply to Sheridan; and, instead of the benefits which he prognosticated, Burke, with a deeper sagacity, declared that the issue of that revolution would be not only civil war, but many other wars.

The whig party were in the greatest consternation at this sudden disruption of the union of the heads of their party. A meeting was held on the night of the 11th, at Burlington House, which did not separate till three o'clock in the morning. The result did not appear to have been very satisfactory, and the fears of the whigs were greatly augmented by finding Pitt, who had hitherto praised the revolution, now express the great obligations of the country to Mr. Burke, for the able warning which he had given against revolutionary principles. The king made no secret of his abhorrence of those principles. He considered the French revolution as the direct result of the American one; and, having come to the conclusion that he had himself erred by too much concession, he now censured the concessions of Louis XVI., as fraught with certain calamity. All this boded a decided resistance to the spirit of reform at home. There was a new schism amongst the organs of the press. Many of the newspapers still fostered in their columns the wildest hopes of universal advantage to the cause of liberty from the French revolution; but others adopted the opinions and views of Burke - and no few of the whig and Foxite papers were of this class. The effect of the alarm at the wild conduct of the French was speedily seen in the refusal to consider the repeal of the test and corporation act, which was brought forward by Fox, on behalf of the dissenters, and a motion for parliamentary reform, introduced by Mr. Flood. Both were strongly opposed, on the ground that this was not the time to make any changes whilst so riotous a spirit of change was near us, and was so warmly admired by many of our own people. Both motions were rejected by large majorities.

On the 10th of March, by a majority of one hundred and fifty-four against twenty-eight, the salary of the speaker of the house of commons was raised from about three thousand pounds, which it had hitherto been, through allowance and fees, to six thousand pounds - a very handsome income for sitting on a chair, and crying "order! order!" occasionally; especially as, besides this, the speaker, was, as a matter of custom, presented, on the commencement of a new parliament, with one thousand pounds for equipment-money, two thousand ounces of plate, and also annually one hundred pounds for stationery, and two hogsheads of claret. Adding- ton, the son of Chatham's physician, who was now speaker, expressed himself as particularly gratified, as well he might.

On the 31st of March Dundas introduced the Indian budget, and drew one of those incessant rose-hued pictures of Indian finance and Indian prosperity which this country continued to receive, spite of all warnings and all demonstrations to the contrary, till it was at length compelled to take the government from the company, and with it a tremendous insurrection, and a debt of seventy millions sterling!

Dundas declared that we had now no rival in India, native or foreign, that we need in the least fear, though at the very time Tippoo Saib was forming a fresh league with the French, and was determined, if possible, to root the English out of India. He described the finances as in the most flourishing condition, and referred to a letter of Lord Cornwallis, the governor, lying on the table, for a promise of the utmost peace and prosperity. Rising in his imaginative flight, he declared that England had, according to every appearance, a long career of peace and prosperity before her. Never were prophecies of peace, either in India or in Europe, ever more empty and false. Francis rose and told a different story. He declared that the statements of Dundas were a most impudent imposture; that there was, in fact, no money return from India; that the company was increasing its debt rapidly, which, ultimately, would fall upon England - a great truth; that the letter of Cornwallis spoke only of hopes of the future; but described the present state of Bengal as most ruinous.

This flourish of trumpets by the chief commissioner of the board of control was succeeded by a similar one from Pitt, as it regarded the general affairs of the kingdom. He congratulated the country on the fact that, so far from the American war having injured the trade or the power of England, the fact was, that our shipping had increased considerably more than one-third since 1773, and we had been continually gaining strength even during the American war, and had relieved ourselves of a load of expense always incurred by the government of the states. This was an admirable argument for declaring all our colonies independent, if it meant anything; but Pitt went on seconding, and even surpassing Dundas in the prognostications of a long peace. What such ministerial speeches are worth, was shown on the 5th of May, only a month and five days since the prophecy of Dundas, and not three weeks since his own prophecy, by Pitt announcing that the peace was already disturbed with Spain. It appeared that the high prices obtained by the crews of captain Cook's ships, the Discovery and Resolution, at Canton, on his exploring voyages in the south seas, for the ill-selected, half-worn furs brought from the north-west coast of America, had attracted the attention of adventurers under the direct protection of the East India company. Mr. Mears, who had been a lieutenant in the royal navy, and a Mr. Tippin, were sent out in command each of a vessel. Tippin was wrecked on the coast of Kamtschatka; but Mears reached Prince William's Sound, and wintered there, opening a good trade with the natives. In the spring of 1788, he discovered Nootka Sound, a fine bay on the west side of a small island on the west coast of Vancouver's Island. There he formed a settlement, making a bargain with the chief for it. He went to Canton with furs, and was opening a fine trade, when the Spaniards came down on the settlement, seized four British vessels, but permitted two

United States' vessels to remain unmolested. The English crew were partly shipped in one of the American vessels to China, and partly suffered to depart in one of their own ships, after it had been plundered. The Spanish commander then settled himself in the new colony, and Spain set up a general claim to all coasts and islands, and the whole Pacific as far as China.

Pitt, on the day mentioned, announced these facts, and declared that his majesty had demanded satisfaction from the court of Spain for the insult to our flag, and for the usurpation of our settlement; but that considerable armaments were making in the ports of Spain. He called upon the house to address his majesty, imploring him to take all necessary measures for the vindication of our honour and our rights. Fox naturally expressed his surprise at this announcement, after the high assurances of such profound prospects of peace little more than a fortnight before. He, moreover, asserted, that not only were the ministers fully aware of all these circumstances at the very moment when the premier made these statements, but that he had himself been aware of them a considerable time before that. Pitt endeavoured to explain that all the circumstances were not known when he professed such confidence in peace; but these assertions were clearly as little true as the former, for the English government had received information from the Spanish government itself, so early as the 10th of the previous February. Notwithstanding, the house supported the government warmly in its determination to resist the enormous claims of Spain, and to compel her to make satisfaction. Lord Howe was desired to have a fleet in readiness, and the Spanish court having taken a high tone to Mr. Merry, our minister at Madrid, Mr. Fitzherbert was dispatched thither as our plenipotentiary. He arrived at Madrid in the beginning of June. At first, the Spanish court were very high, and applied to France for co-operation, according to treaty; but France, in the throes of the revolution, had no money to spend in such armaments, and, on second thoughts, Spain dreaded introducing French revolutionary sailors amongst their own. They soon, therefore, lowered their tone; agreed to surrender Nootka Sound, make full compensation for all damages, and consented that British subjects should continue their fisheries in the South Seas, and make settlements on any coasts not already occupied. Captain Vancouver, who had been with Cook as a midshipman in his second, and third, and last voyages, being present at his tragical death, was sent out in the following year, to see that the settlement of Nootka Sound was duly surrendered to England. He saw this done, the Spanish commander, Quadra, behaving in a very friendly manner; and he proceeded then, during the years 1792 and 1793, to make many and accurate surveys of the western coasts of North and South America, in which the Spaniards gave him every assistance. The English took formal possession not only of Nootka Sound, but of the fine island called after Vancouver, which is of equal extent with Ireland, and now become of such importance from the discovery of gold in the neighbouring territory of New Columbia. Pitt was highly complimented for his firmness and ability in the management of this business, though both the ministers and the people at large regarded the assertion of our rights rather as a matter of national honour than of territorial and mercantile advantage. Time has shown that it is far more important in these latter respects than any of the actors in the dispute knew.

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