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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.)


Parliamentary Debates on the British Policy in India, and towards Russia and France - Great Schism betwixt Burke and Fox on the French Revolution - Burke's Detestation and Fox's Admiration of it - Question of a new Constitution for Canada - Proposal by Pitt to divide that Colony into two Provinces, the Upper and Lower - To allot an amount of Land for the Clergy of each, &c. - Passes unopposed the first and second Reading - Violent Contentions introduced into the Debates on this Bill by Fox and Burke on the French Revolution - Break-up of the Whig Party through it - Further violent Debates on the re-commitment of the Bill - Lord Sheffield moves that Discussions on French Affairs are irrelevant in a Canada Bill - Fox supports the Motion - Fresh Debates on France - Burke disclaims the Friendship of Fox - Lord Sheffield's Motion withdrawn - Fox proposes an Aristocracy for Canada - Fresh Contest betwixt Burke and Fox on the French Question - The Canada Bill passes both Houses - Wilberforce introduces a Bill to prevent further importation of Slaves into the West Indies, which is defeated - Bill for founding the Settlement of Sierra Leone passed - Bills introduced for Relief of Catholics and Members of the Church of Scotland - Fox's Bill on the Law of Libel defeated - Trial of Warren Hastings resumed and continued till 1795, when he is acquitted - Effects of the French Revolution in England - Thomas Paine - Dr. Priestley - Dr. Price - Riots at Birmingham - Tory Instigations - Burning of Meeting-houses in Birmingham, and of Dr. Priestley's House and Library, with the Houses of other Dissenters - Destruction of the House and Property of William Hutton - Trials of the Rioters - Progress of the French Revolution - Resistance of the Clergy to the Serment Civique and the new Bishoprics - Flight of the King's two Aunts - Debate on the Emigration Law - Marat denounces the Gambling-houses - The Attack on Vincennes - Supposed Royalist Plot at the Tuileries - Death of Mirabeau - Charge against the King of harbouring non-juring Priests - The Mob refuse to allow him to go to St. Cloud - The Assembly afraid to support him against the Mob - La Fayette resigns his Command of the National Guard, but resumes it again - The Workmen of Paris form Trades-unions on levelling principles - Fauchet made Bishop of Calvados - The Pope excommunicates the elected Bishops, and is burnt in effigy - Robespierre votes the dissolution of the Assembly - Flight of the King and Royal Family - They are arrested at Varennes, and brought back to Paris - Bouille resigns the Command of the Army - Thomas Paine and the Jacobins recommend a Republic, and that the King be deposed - La Fayette fires on the Populace in the Champ de Mars, who demand the Abolition of Royalty - The Bones of Voltaire deposited in the Pantheon - A Host of Tutors appointed for the Dauphin - The Constitution finished, and the Assembly dissolves itself - The National Legislative Assembly - Doumouriez sent against the Royalists in La Vendee - The Party of the Gironde - Measures against the refractory Priests - Decrees against the Emigrants - Attacks on the King's Ministers - La Fayette and Bailly resign - Petion elected Mayor of Paris - The King is compelled by the Assembly to menace the Elector of Treves with War if he does not expel the Emigrants from his State - The Elector throws himself under the Protection of the Emperor Leopold, who dispatches an Army into the Territory of Treves - Change of Ministry - Delessart succeeds Montmorin, and Narbonne as Minister of War - Three Generals are appointed, Luckner, Rochambeau, and La Fayette - The Kingdom is put into a State of Defence at the Close of 1791.
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The parliamentary session of 1791 was opened, after the Christmas recess, by Sir Philip Francis denouncing the war against Tippoo Sahib, in India, and eulogising greatly that prince. He moved thirteen resolutions condemnatory of the war; but they were all rejected, and Dundas, as head of the board of control, moved three counter-resolutions declaring that Tippoo had voluntarily broken the treaty made with him in 1784, and that faith must be kept with the rajah of Travancore, whom he had attacked, as well as with the Nizam and the Mahrattas, and these resolutions were carried without a division.

The English ministry was at length becoming aware of the mischief of allowing the empress of Russia to make continual inroads on the Turkish empire. The British ambassador, Mr. Fawkener, had been instructed to inform Catherine that England could not quietly acquiesce in these usurpations, which were seriously disturbing the balance of power in Europe. Catherine replied, haughtily, that she did not recognise the right of England to interfere, and that she should keep possession of Oczakoff, and all her conquests betwixt the Bog and the Dniester. On the 28th of March Pitt communicated this answer to the house, in a message from his majesty, and that he had deemed it necessary to come to an understanding with his allies, Prussia and Austria, on the subject, and to maintain the fleet in its augmented condition. He moved, the next day, an address to his majesty, thanking him for his care in these respects. The whigs, almost to a man, condemned this policy. Coke of Norfolk, afterwards earl of Leicester, lord Wycombe, Mr. Lambton, afterwards earl of Durham, and others, stoutly opposed it. Fox treated the idea of Russia having become a power formidable to the peace of Europe, as ludicrous. Both he and Burke either entertained ideas on this subject which did no credit to their political sagacity, or they professed such out of mere party opposition. They contended that there was nothing in the aggressions of Russia to occasion any alarm; that Turkey was a decaying nation, which it was useless to attempt to support; and that to bolster it up, was only to maintain a barbarous people in domination over Christian populations. These latter statements had much truth in them, but they did not remove the formidable fact, that, if Russia was allowed to drive out the Turks and take their place at Constantinople, we should have a semi-abrbarous power stretching from north to east of Europe, capable, ere long, of giving laws to it. It would have been much more statesmanlike for these distinguished men to have recommended the colonisation of Turkey with Christian emigrants from all parts of Europe, and that Turkey, thus Christianised, should be raised to an independent power, under the united guardianship of the great powers of Europe; an ultimate scheme to which Europe will yet, probably, have to come. Fox, however, upbraided the government with their folly and inconsistency, if such were their fears of Russia, in having, till recently, encouraged her in her plan of aggressions in that direction. He reminded them that, twenty years ago, this country, on war breaking out betwixt Russia and the Porte, had aided Catherine in sending a fleet to the Mediterranean, and in thus enabling her to acquire a maritime force in the Black Sea. The truth, however, was, that it was not the present ministry who had committed this folly, but a whig ministry, of whom Fox was one. He confessed to this, and also to the fact that in 1782, when Catherine seized more completely on the Crimea and Kuban Tartary, France and Spain had urged us to unite with them in preventing this, but that we had declined, and these countries had become permanently united to Russia.

Now all this was, in truth, a simple confession of the incapacity of the whigs, and of Fox himself included, for, seeing the dangerous tendency of the Russian policy, and the only circumstances on which he could justly condemn the ministry of Pitt, was, for not strenuously supporting Turkey and Sweden, the ally of Turkey against Russia, when they did see this tendency. By a mean and parsimonious conduct, they had allowed Sweden to be driven out of her territories on the eastern shore of the Baltic by Russia, when, had they given her but moderate support, that power would have become a permanent check on the aggressive spirit of Russia. The motion of Pitt was carried by a large majority.

A few days after, Mr. Grey - afterwards lord Howiek - renewed the subject by a series of eight resolutions, condemning all interference on behalf of Turkey, and contending that Russia was only weakening instead of strengthening herself by extending her dominions. But Pitt, in reply, showed the very obvious facts that the retention of Oczakoff opened the way to Constantinople, and that the possession of Constantinople prepared the way for the seizure of Egypt, and the supremacy of the Mediterranean, with the most formidable consequences to our commerce. The resolutions of Grey were negatived; but twice again during the session the whigs returned to the charge - on the 15th of April and in the 25th of May - but with no better success. The armament was maintained, and Catherine was compelled to surrender Oczakoff, which it had cost her so much money and so many thousand men to obtain.

On the opening of the session, the king called the attention of parliament to the state of Canada. That colony had flourished greatly since it had come into the possession of England, and especially since the passing of the bill of 1774, which had given freedom to the catholic church there, the church of the French inhabitants. But one part of the colony was still inhabited by the descendants of the French, and another by those of the English and Americans. It was, therefore, found desirable to put an end to the competition which still existed, from differences of faith and of national sentiments and customs, betwixt the two races, by dividing the colony into two provinces, the one inhabited by the French to be called Lower Canada, and the other, inhabited by the English, to be called Upper Canada. On the 25th of February the king sent a message to parliament, proposing to carry out this division; and, on the 4th of March, Pitt moved to bring in a bill for that purpose, and stated the intended plan of arrangement. Besides an elective assembly, each province was to have a council, the members of which were to be appointed for life, with hereditary succession to the descendants of such as should be honoured with hereditary titles, which titles were to confer on an inhabitant of either province the dignity of a member of the council. Landed property was to be held according to English law, in soccagetenure; the habeas corpus to be established in both provinces. An allotment of lands was to be made for the protestant clergy; but, as the majority of the inhabitants in the lower provinces would be catholic, the council and assembly were empowered to allot lands also to their clergy, which allotment, on sanction of the crown, was to be valid without intervention of parliament. No taxes were to be imposed by the British government except such as were necessary for the regulation of commerce, and these were to be levied by the provincial legislature to prevent any heart-burnings like those which had occurred in the American states.

This bill made it obvious that a great light had broken on the English government from the American revolution; it was discovered that the best way to govern and retain our colonies, was to allow them to govern themselves. This knowledge was worth all the loss and annoyance of the American revolution. Fox expressed his approbation of the principle, and all appeared favourable to the passing of the measure. It was allowed to proceed, without opposition, through its first and second reading, and through the committee; but when it was reported, then came a scene of violent contention, arising not so much from the bill itself, as from the state of parties, and the making a peg of this question on which to hang the conflicting opinions of different members on a very different question - that of the French revolution. Not only had Fox, and Burke, and Sheridan broken up their old friendship on this question, Sheridan being as enthusiastic about the revolution as Fox, but it had split up the whole whig party. Burke had published his able and eloquent " Reflections on the Revolution," and subsequently, in February of this year, a " Letter to a Member of the National Assembly," in which he had repeated and extended his decided opinions upon it. The duke of Portland and Mr. Wyndham took Burke's view of the pernicious nature of the French principles. But it was not merely in parliament; throughout the country opinions were divided on the subject. Societies were formed to recommend the introduction of French revolutionary principles into this country, and many eminent men, especially amongst the dissenters, took the lead in them, as we shall presently see. The tendency to despotic government in this country, and a spreading conviction that parliament was not truly elected by the people, rendered large numbers favourable to these views. In parliament, however, the great shock of battle took place betwixt the so-long united friends and fellow-labourers in reform, Fox and Burke, and because the Canada bill affected a French people, it was thought a proper occasion by these statesmen to indulge in a long and violent discussion of their clashing views, in which the proper question before parliament, the Quebec bill, was soon lost sight of.

On the motion for taking this bill into further consideration, on the 8th of April, Mr. Hussey presented various petitions from merchants regarding the measure, and moved that the bill required recommittal. He was seconded by Fox, who now, though approving of the main principles of the bill, took occasion to contend for the development of the advanced doctrines of political liberty inculcated by the French revolutionists, and to urge the insertion of clauses in the bill, in accordance with them. He complained that the number of members in the assemblies was too small; that from sixteen to thirty persons could not fully represent the amount of Canadian population. He called for annual instead of septennial elections, and for a franchise founded on a forty shillings freehold, and not on one of five pounds, as proposed. He condemned the introduction of hereditary distinctions, which might be tolerated in England, where there were so many ancient associations with a noblesse; but that in a new state, it was much better to avoid such artificial and invidious ranks; that it was peculiarly absurd to introduce them amongst the French of Canada, when, in their mother country, they were abolishing them; and equally mischievous to introduce them in a country contiguous to the United States, where titles stunk in the nostrils of the inhabitants. He condemned the setting apart so large a portion of the public lands for the church, foreseeing great inconvenience from it; and, in this respect, time has proved the correctness of his fears. He avowed that the constitution of the United States was better adapted to the benefit of the public than any other in the ancient or the modern world, and that it was exceedingly- unwise to leave the Canadas any cause to envy the advantages of their neighbours. Burke was not present, and Pitt replied, " that he was not called upon to discuss which might be the best constitution for France, America, or any other country; nor did he choose to comment on those superior advantages said to be introduced by France, in consequence of the alleged progress of learning and light: he believed the British constitution was much better for u& than any founded on republican principles."

On the 15th of April, when the question of the Russian armament was before the house, Fox again introduced the topic of the French revolution, as arising out of the question of the balance of power. He declared that the balance of power had formerly been of great importance, for then France was an intriguing, restless nation; but that now France had promulgated different principles. It abjured all aggressions against its neighbours, and advocated that every people should enjoy the utmost freedom without molestation. Those who detested the principles of the French revolution had reason to rejoice in its effects. The new government aimed at making its subjects happy, and at seeing the same generous ideas diffused throughout the world. He knew that different opinions were entertained by different men on the changes introduced in France, but that, for his part, he looked upon the new French constitution as "the most stupendous and glorious edifice of liberty which had been erected on the foundation of human integrity in any time or country."

This was so decided a challenge to Burke, and so completely did Fox endeavour to confute Burke's avowed sentiments on the French revolution, that it was impossible for Burke to remain silent. The hour was late; Pitt, Wynd- ham, and others, had spoken on the Russian armament, and Burke had also discussed that question, without a single allusion to the French revolution, reserving the answer to Fox for the next debate on the Canada bill, but he felt now compelled to rise and reply to what appeared so unfair an introduction of the subject. But cries of " Question!" were raised, and the adherents of Fox prevented his being heard. No doubt could now be entertained that there must be a final breach betwixt these old political friends - a breach utter and irreconcilable. Burke published an appeal from the new whigs to the old, and h$ applied to some friends of the ministry, entreating their protection against any attempts to drown his voice by mere clamour.

When the day for the debate on the Quebec bill arrived, Fox called on Burke, though he had not done so for some time, and, in the presence of a mutual friend, entered into some explanations which appeared satisfactory. Fox then proposed that the answer of Burke should not take place on the discussion of the Quebec bill, though this was the bill on which this topic had been introduced. Burke refused to comply; but the two old friends walked to the house together, displaying the last show of friendship which was to take place between them. When they entered the house, they found that many members were absent, as it was the day preceding the Easter recess, and that Sheridan had proposed that the question should be postponed, on the plea that the papers were not printed. Mr. Michael Angelo

Taylor, moreover, complained of the irregular manner in which the constitutions of other countries had been introduced, and declared his intention of calling any one to order who thus transgressed again. Fox admitted that he had, in the course of the session, taken various opportunities of referring to the French revolution, and had expressed his admiration of it, perhaps, too often; that he had uttered one levity, perhaps silly enough, regarding the extinction of nobility in France, and its introduction into Canada; but that he had never uttered any republican opinions as it regarded this country; that, though he should deeply regret differing from friends whom he greatly respected, yet, when the question was next discussed, he should boldly maintain his opinions. Mr. Powys wished that Mr. Fox would imitate Mr. Burke, and publish his opinions on these subjects, instead of uttering them in parliament- Burke rose, and, with much emotion, declared how greatly it affected and depressed him to have to meet his friend as an adversary. He paid the highest compliments to Fox's eloquence and abilities; but said that, however dear was that gentleman's friendship, there was something yet dearer to him - the discharge of his duty, and the love of his country. He treated the menace of Michael Angelo Taylor with contempt and declared that the irregularity complained of had not originated with him; that though, in the proceeding session, he had been compelled to allude to the foreign subject, in this he had carefully, and under all provocation, abstained from it. But the time had come when he must, after what had taken place, speak out.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.)

Russian sledge driver
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Russian peasants
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Montreal
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St. Jons
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Water-seller
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Pagoda of Chillenbaum
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Groups of Hindoos
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East India House
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Fontenay Vendee
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Taking the civic Oath
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Death of Mirabeau
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Porte St. Denis
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View of Notre Dame
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Robespierre
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Arrest of the Royal family
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Merchants counting-house
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Royal family of France
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Tuileries and Louver
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St. Jacques De La Boucherie
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Forest of the Gironde
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Danton
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National Assembly
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Lighthouse of Cordovan
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Madame Roland
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La Vendee
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Priest of the Gironde
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Coblentz
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Madame de Stael
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Tippoo Sahibs sons
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Plan of Seringapatam
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Marriage of Duke of York
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William Wilberforce
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Assassination of Gustavus III
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Sans Culottes
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