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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 23

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Whilst the negotiations on this subject were in progress, the house of commons passed a bill, confirming the grant made by the king of a pension of one thousand pounds a-year, for twenty-one years, on Dr. Willis, for his attendance on the king during his derangement. During the same period, too, Wilberforce, on the 27th of January, had obtained a committee of inquiry into the slave trade. Wilberforce, Clarkson, and the anti-slavery committees, both in London and the provinces, were labouring with indefatigable industry in collecting and diffusing information on this subject. The committee of the commons found strong opposition even in the house, and, on the 23rd of April, lord Penrhyn moved that no further evidence should be heard by the committee; but this was overruled, and the hearing of evidence continued through the session, though no further debate took place on the question.

The trial of Warren Hastings was still dragging its slow length along in Westminster Hall. On the 16th of February, which was the fifty-fifth sitting of the court, Mr. Anstruther went through the charge respecting the corrupt receipt of presents. Disputes immediately arose about the evidence proper to be admitted; the lords, as usual, retired to consult, and the counsel for Hastings threw in all the obstructions that they could, reading, at full length, enormous documents, and cavilling at every step. Burke, who saw, as everybody else did, that they were resolved on tiring everybody out, and quashing the trial, complained, on the 11th of May, to the house of commons. He " proposed that the house should take into its consideration the interruptions occasioned by the lords; and should also authorise the managers to insist only on such charges as should bring the trial speedily to an end." Major Scott, Hastings' unblushing champion, published a letter in a newspaper, charging all the delays on the managers. This was taken up as a breach of the privileges of the commons, and Scott was called to stand up in his place, and receive a reprimand from Pitt; which was done. Burke complained of the bribery, both of the press and of individuals, by Hastings, to blacken the characters of the managers, and get rid of the prosecution. He declared that not less than twenty thousand pounds had been spent on the press by Hastings for these purposes; and it was well known that major Scott himself had received from him another twenty thousand pounds for his bullying the managers, both in parliament and in the newspapers. Such were the infamous means by which Hastings sought to avoid a fair verdict on his crimes, and so effectual were they, that the court never got, this session, farther than the charge by Anstruther, and its summing up by Fox on the 7th and 9th of June. There were only thirteen days occupied in the trial during this session of parliament, and the court then adjourned to the first Tuesday in the next session. On Thursday, the 10th of June, parliament was adjourned by a speech from the throne, in which no mention whatever was made of the state of affairs in France.

In Ireland, the influence of the free notions of France was already become broadly manifest, and though it proceeded to no unconstitutional act, it wonderfully invigorated the resentment of the Irish against corruptions of government. These truly demanded reprehension and reform; but the government of Pitt was strong, and set both Ireland and reform at defiance. The marquis of Buckingham, the lord-lieutenant, was recalled, because he had not been able to repress the movement in the Irish parliament on the regency question. The earl of Westmoreland was sent in his place; but the parliament still showed its resentment as strongly as ever, and proceeded to delve vigorously into the sink of government corruption, and demand numerous corrections of abuses. Direct motions on the subject were made in both houses; in the peers by lord Portarlington, in the commons by Grattan, and, in truth, the ministerial abuses of the Irish government were disgraceful. Grattan, on the 1st of February, pointed out the increased number of commissioners of revenue, and moved that his majesty be addressed to inquire by whose advice this was. Next the increase of the pension-list came under discussion; then the granting of no less than fourteen government offices recently to members of the Irish commons. Lastly, was noticed the paltry withdrawal of lord Strangford's pension of four hundred pounds, which had been granted him at the request of the Irish house of lords, in consequence of his small income, because he had voted against ministers on the regency bill, at the same time that there were numbers of men who were not Irishmen, and had never done anything for Ireland or any other country, saddled on the Irish revenue in a variety of sinecure posts and pensions. All these motions, however, were rejected by large ministerial majorities.

Before returning to the progress of the French revolution - the most momentous of all modern events - we must pass a hasty glance over the affairs of the Netherlands and the north of Europe. On the accession of Leopold, the brother of Joseph, a sweeping change was made in Austrian policy. Leopold had ruled his dominions, as grand duke of Tuscany, with remarkable wisdom and benevolence. He had introduced many admirable reforms, and had abolished the punishment of death - a grand example to the other nations of Europe, and proved to be as sound as it was striking by its results. He now made haste to assure the Netherlanders that all their grievances should be redressed, and their old charters and constitution restored. There had always been a considerable party in favour of the imperial government, and this party was now greatly increased by these wise assurances, which were relied on from the known magnanimous character of the emperor. A congress met at Reichenbach to endeavour to make a peace betwixt Austria and the sultan, and this was accomplished by the mediation of England, Prussia, and Holland. The ministers of the three powers who had brought about this peace of Reichenbach, next guaranteed to Leopold all the possessions of Austria in the Netherlands, on condition that he should restore all the ancient privileges and constitution. On the other hand, the democratic party had a congress of the United Belgic States, and this congress, infected by the French republican principles, declared still for independence. They were for having a strange monstrosity of a government, combining all the political licence of France with the most thorough priestcraft of Rome, for there Was, and probably is now, no country in Europe where the populace was, and is, so much under the spell of the catholic priests. Another party proposed to have the duke of Orleans as the grand duke of Flanders and Brabant, and Montmorin, the French minister, appeared to favour this scheme, from a desire to rid Paris of his presence. When the duke was banished, and came to England, this scheme fell to pieces, and La Fayette and Montmorin reverted to the idea of a republic in the Netherlands, which should form a barrier betwixt Austria and France, in case that Austria should attempt to invade France and crush the revolution, as appeared probable. Dumouriez was sent to Brussels to inquire into the real state of the Netherlands, as the Belgians had sent deputies to Paris to make certain overtures. The result of Dumouriez's inquiries was so extremely unfavourable that the French government gave up all idea of meddling in Netherland affairs. To Dumouriez, Vandernoot and Vaneupen, the leaders of the revolutionary party appeared regular adventurers and impostors, most grossly imposing on the people; the people I to be most grossly ignorant and bigoted; and the army, though full of courage, yet destitute of good officers, money, clothing, and discipline. Dumouriez, therefore, shrewdly concluded that France had better make no present engagements with the Belgian reformers, but leave the destinies of the country to be decided by the congress at Reichenbach, where the English, Dutch, and Prussian ministers had guaranteed the restoration of the government to Leopold, on the renewal of the ancient institutions.

The Pitt ministry continued to display a most blind and selfish policy as regarded the encroachments of Russia on the Turkish empire. The undisguised policy of Catherine was to press on her operations against Turkey till she had planted herself in Constantinople. No man having the least pretence to a statesmanlike sagacity could be ignorant of the calamitous consequences of having this semi-barbarous and ambitious power thus aggrandised and extended from the Baltic to the Mediterranean - from Siberia to Greece; yet Pitt continued as selfishly inactive as if there were no danger at all, and the same blind policy actuated Holland and Prussia. The least support given by these powers at this time to Gustavus of Sweden would have effectually checked the Russian designs on the east, and have raised Sweden into a power capable of always acting as a dead weight on Russian aggression. By very little aid Gustavus would have been able to recover all the territories on the eastern side of the Baltic which had been wrested from Sweden by Russia, and would thus have kept a formidable power always, as it were, at the very gates of Petersburg. But Gustavus was left, with his brave heart but very circumscribed forces, to contend with Russia alone. He kept down his disaffected nobles by cultivating the interests of the people at large, and maintained a determined struggle with Russia. He sent over the prince of Anhalt with a small army of about three thousand men at so early a season this year that the ground was covered with ice and snow. The prince pushed on boldly towards Petersburg, and made himself master of the strong forts and defences at Karnomkoski, on the lake Saima, within two days' march of that capital. In April, they were encountered by ten thousand Russians under the command of general Ingelstrom, whom they defeated after a desperate battle, leaving two thousand Russians deal on the field. But the prince of Anhalt was killed, and the Swedes were not able, with such a handful of men, to advance on Petersburg, which was in fearful panic. But Gustavus was more successful at sea. He and his brother, 'he duke of Sudermania, fought the Russians with a very inferior force of ships off Revel, and afterwards off Svenskasund. A considerable number of English officers were serving in the Swedish fleet, amongst them one destined to rise to high distinction, Sydney, afterwards Sir Sydney Smith. After two days' sanguinary fight at the latter place, Gustavus beat the Russian admiral Chitschakoff so completely that he took four thousand prisoners, destroyed several of the largest Russian ships, and took or sunk forty-five galleys. Catherine was now glad to make peace, which was concluded at Warela, near the river Kyinen, but with very different results to what would have been obtained had Gustavus found that support which it was the obvious interest of the whole civilised world to afford him. He agreed that each power should retain what it possessed before the war, thus conferring on Russia the provinces torn from Sweden. Gustavus complained bitterly of his treatment, and with great cause.

During this campaign, Catherine had made great progress in her road to Constantinople. Suvaroff had reduced Ismael, a remarkably strong place, which was the key of the lower Danube, and the only obstruction of any importance to the Russian advance to the Balkan mountains and to Constantinople. This city had been taken by storm, after a most desperate defence, on the 25th of December, and when, with a little more resistance, the Russians would have been compelled to quit the field by the severity of the season. The carnage on this occasion was of the most frightful kind. The Russians themselves lost nearly ten thousand men, and the Turks thirty thousand people - men, women, and children, who were indiscriminately butchered by the orders of Suvaroff, who said to his soldiers - " Brothers, no quarter to-day, for bread is scarce." Every horror possible in war, especially between barbarians, was perpetrated by the Russian hordes in Ismael, who were guilty of the most diabolical atrocities, such as burning of whole streets, mosques, and serais. Suvaroff sate down and wrote in Russian rhyme the words quoted by lord Byron in " Don Juan," " Glory to God and the Empress, Ismael is ours." When Sir Charles Whitworth, the British ambassador, next saw Catherine, she said, in allusion to some strong remonstrances from England and Prussia, which took care not to go beyond remonstrances, which were cheap - " Since the king, your master, wishes to drive me out of Petersburg, I hope he will permit me to retire to Constantinople." That was a bitter and an ominous speech, could Pitt, the so much-lauded minister of England, have felt or perceived the real force of it.

Since the commencement of the year 1790, the agitation in Paris had become greater than ever. The soldiers of the national guard mutinied for pay. They assembled in the Champs Elysées to the number of a thousand, but La Fayette, so far from yielding to them, hastened to the spot with better-affected troops, dispersed them, bayoneted others on the spot, and took about two hundred prisoners. This spirited conduct had the effect of cowing the mutineers and their allies of the rabble, who on various occasions of late had appeared with arms concealed under their coats, and had thus compelled the municipal authorities to raise the red flag as the symbol of martial law. There were, at the same time, many rumours of plots against the assembly and the municipality, the supposed ringleader of which was the marquis de Favras. This marquis de Favras had served in the army in the Netherlands, and in Holland, at the time of the insurrection against the stadtholder. He was a man of dissipated habits, a gambler, and full of intrigues. The revolution had stopped his income, as it had done that of thousands of his order. He married the only daughter of the prince of Anhalt-Schaumburg; but his wife, it would seem, was a natural child, for he had been in Germany endeavouring to get her legitimatised, by which she would acquire a handsome fortune. He had been first lieutenant of Monsieur's guards, which gave him the rank of colonel. It was now communicated to La Fayette and Bailly, by a spy of the name of Houdart, that Favras was plotting to have them both assassinated, to carry off the king to Veronne, for which he had twelve hundred horse ready. The mayor ordered his arrest, and he was consigned to the Chatelet for trial. The Chatelet had been erected into a court for the trial of all causes arising out of the revolution. This court was conducted on more liberal principles than the old ones. The accused were allowed counsel for their defence, and it was proposed soon to introduce juries. The baron de Besenval had been tried at the Chatelet for his conduct at the time of the assault on the Bastille, and had been acquitted. Favras was said to be the secret agent in this plot of high personages, and it was stated that he had received money from Monsieur. A letter, indeed, was found on Favras which favoured that belief. La Fayette showed this letter to Monsieur, who was so greatly affected by it, that he determined to go to the Chatelet and clear himself. Accordingly, he appeared there, and read a very able defence, supposed to have been written by Mirabeau for him. In this Monsieur declared that he had been always a friend of the revolution, and referred the judges to his conduct throughout it; and these allegations were apparently quite true. The gist of the whole speech is couched in one remarkable passage: "As to my private sentiments, I shall speak of them with confidence to my fellow-citizens. Ever since the day that, in the second assembly of notables, I declared my views respecting the fundamental question which divided people's minds, I have not ceased to believe that a great revolution was at hand; that the king, by his intentions, his virtues, and his supreme rank, ought to be the head of it, since it could not be beneficial to the nation without being equally so to the monarch. In short, that the royal authority ought to be the rampart of the national liberty, and the national liberty the basis of the royal authority. I challenge you to produce a single one of my actions, a single one of my expressions, which has contradicted these principles, which has shown that, in what circumstances soever I have been placed, the happiness of the king and that of the people have ceased to be the sole objects of my thoughts and my views. I have, therefore, a right to be believed on my word. I have never changed my sentiments and principles, and I never will change them." Monsieur's speech was received with enthusiastic applause, and he was escorted back to his residence.

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