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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 4

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As for Spain, she abandoned all designs on Portugal, and restored the colony of Sacramento; and she surrendered every point on which her declaration of war against England was based - namely, the right to fish on the coast of Newfoundland; the refusal to allow us to cut logwood in Honduras; and to admit the settlement of questions of capture by our courts of law.

These certainly were large concessions, but it was to be remembered that we had not received these gratis; they had cost enormous sums, and the national debt had been doubled by this war, and now amounted to one hundred and twenty-two million six hundred thousand pounds. These territories had then, in fact, cost us upwards of sixty million pounds; and it is certain that Pitt would have exacted a more complete renunciation from France of the conquered countries. There was a clause inserted which Pitt would never have permitted - namely, that any conquests that should, after the signing of these conditions, be made, should be restored by all parties. Now, Bute and the ministry knew that we had expeditions out against Cuba and the Philippines, and that the only conquests likely to be made were in those quarters. To throw away without equivalent the blood and money expended in these important enterprises was a most unpatriotic act. Still, there was opportunity for more rational terms, for Grimaldi, the Spanish ambassador at Paris, held back from signing, in hope that we should be defeated at the Havanna, and that then he could raise his terms. When the news of the loss of both Havanna and Manilla arrived, Grimaldi was in great haste to sign, and Mr. Granville and lord Egremont very properly insisted that we should demand an equivalent for the conquest in Cuba. Pitt would have stood firm for the retention of that conquest as by far the most important to us, and as justly secured to us, by the refusal of the Spanish ambassador to sign at the proper time. But Bute would have signed without any equivalent at all. Fortunately, there was too strong an opposition to this in the cabinet, and the duke of Bedford was instructed to demand Florida or Porto Rico in lieu of the Havanna. Florida was yielded - a fatal, though at the moment it appeared a valuable concession, for it only added to the compactness of the American colonies, hastening the day of independence, whilst Cuba would have remained under the protection of our fleet, one of the most valuable possessions of the British empire.

This point settled, the preliminaries of peace were signed at Fontainebleau on the 3rd of November. To console Spain for her losses by her unlucky alliance with France, Louis XV. ceded Louisiana to that country by a private convention.

Besides the blame which Bute incurred by his unstates-manlike hurry to conclude the peace, aggravated by the general opinion that he might with ease have secured Goree, Porto Rico, as well as Florida, and some other of the French West Indian Islands, he did not escape the violent suspicion of having so readily sacrificed the interests of the country to a weighty bribe from France. This charge for years was loudly made without satisfactory refutation. In 1770 it was again brought forward in the house of commons, but was got rid of; but we still find in Wilberforce's Diary of 1789 this entry: - "I dined with lord Camden. He is sure that lord Bute got money from the peace of Paris. He can account for his sinking near three hundred thousand pounds in land and houses; and his paternal estate in the island which bears his name is not above one thousand five hundred pounds a year, and he is a life tenant only of Wortley, which may be eight thousand or ten thousand pounds." When we recollect the short tenure of office by lord Bute, and his previous poverty, there certainly were great grounds for the suspicion.

The violent discontent with the conduct of Bute and his ministry gave considerable strength to the opposition, at the head of which now stood Pitt, supported by lord Temple and the duke of Newcastle. Bubb Dodington, who had begun his career as the son of an apothecary, and made his way, by many wriggling manoeuvres, to a peerage, died about this time. Lord Anson, who had rendered more real services to his country, also died in the course of the summer, and the earl of Halifax succeeded him at the board of admiralty. George Grenville, not satisfied with the terms of the peace, resigned the post of secretary to Halifax, and took his new one at the head of the admiralty; and Mr. Fox, paymaster of the forces, became the leader of the commons. The duke of Devonshire and the marquis of Rockingham also resigned their places in the royal household; and the king, in his vexation, striking Devonshire's name out of the list of privy councillors, his kinsmen, lords George Cavendish and Bessborough, also resigned.

Such was the formidable opposition with which parliament came to the consideration of this peace. It met on the 25th of November, and the tone of the public out of doors was then seen. The king, as he went to the house of lords, was very coolly received by the crowds in the streets, and Bute was saluted with hisses, groans, and the flinging of mud and stones. On the 19th of December he moved in the lords an address in approbation of the terms of the peace. Lord Hardwicke opposed the motion with great warmth and ability, but there was no division. Very different was the reception of a similar address in the commons the same day, moved by Fox. There Pitt, who was suffering with the gout, denounced the whole treaty, as shamefully sacrificing the honour and interests of the country. When he rose he was obliged to be supported by two of his friends, and was at length compelled to beg to be allowed to address the house sitting. He yet made a vehement speech of three hours and a half against the conditions accepted. The ministry, however, had a large majority, three hundred and nineteen voting for them against sixty-five. With this brief triumph of Bute's unpopular party closed the year 1762.

The year 1763 opened with the signing of the definitive treaty at Paris on the 19th of February, whence it was called the Peace of Paris. Five days after, a peace was signed betwixt Prussia and Austria at Hubertsburg, in Saxony, to which Saxony, as the ally of Austria, was a party. Indeed, when England and France, Russia and Sweden, had withdrawn from the contest, there was little prospect of the continuance of the war. Both parties were exhausted, and yet, of the two, Frederick, in his dogged firmness, and in the almost unparalleled endurance of his people, was more than a match for Austria. If Maria Theresa could not cope with him when she had France, Russia, Saxony, and Poland, all united with her to put him down, the case was now hopeless. The English had stipulated that France should evacuate all the places in Germany and Flanders that belonged to those countries, and Frederick had easily induced the German states, under these circumstances, to a maintenance of neutrality. Austria, therefore, consented to this peace. She stood out the longest for the retention of Glatz, the only place won from Frederick, still in her hands, but she was compelled to yield that, too. Both parties returned to the same situations as before the commencement of this fatal Seven Years' War. It must be confessed that Frederick had made a brilliant resistance to the powerful combination against him to strip him of all his territories; but it must not be forgotten that through the greater part of the war he was vastly indebted to the subsidies and troops of England. These had enabled Ferdinand of Brunswick to maintain so brave a stand against France in Westphalia, Hanover, and Cassel, who would otherwise have borne down on that side unresistedly on Prussia. Neither need it be forgotten that the war was the direct consequence of Frederick's previous unprovoked and unwarrantable aggressions on Austria, his invasion and seizure of Silesia, which he still retained.

During the war Frederick had shown the powers of a great general. Of ten pitched battles which he had fought, he had conquered in seven of them, and had repeatedly rescued himself from positions which appeared hopeless; but at what an awful cost of blood, and treasure, and popular misery had this success been purchased! According to Frederick's own calculation, he had lost in this seven years' war one hundred and eighty thousand soldiers; the Russians, one hundred and twenty thousand; the Austrians, one hundred and forty thousand; and France, two hundred thousand. Spackman's calculation is that England lost no less, in one quarter of the world or another, than two hundred and fifty thousand! - altogether, the massacre of eight hundred and ninety thousand men! For what? - To enable Frederick of Prussia to retain the territory which he had plundered Austria of in the former war! Nor was this all: the Russians, in their invasions of Prussia, are said to have destroyed thirty thousand of the unarmed inhabitants. Pestilence had followed, and swept away many thousands more. Thus, little less than a million of people had perished in this war. In Hesse and Westphalia whole villages stood depopulated. An officer relates that he rode through seven villages in Hesse, and found only one human being there - a clergyman, who was boiling horsebeans for his dinner! In Pomerania and Neumark the country was a desert, the towns heaps of ashes. There was no seed, even to sow, no cattle or horses to plough the ground. The most fertile regions were horrid wildernesses; and there were in vast districts only women left to cultivate the soil!

Such were the fruits of a war which historians call just and necessary; and which they call so only because they refuse to trace consequences to their original causes. Had Frederick of Prussia abstained from the seizure of Silesia, there would have been no seven years' war. In this war France, Spain, and Sweden became bankrupt; England acquired vast territories, but increased its national debt a hundred and twelve million pounds; Saxony, though she recovered her lands, was exhausted by the expenditure, and reckoned her losses at eighty million dollars. Everywhere, but especially in Germany and France, the people were subjected to the most frightful miseries.

Frederick entered Berlin, having with him Ferdinand of Brunswick; but he entered it only in the evening, and escaped by obscure ways to his palace to avoid the cheers of the assembled people. This suffering population of Berlin, which, in 1747 - that is, just before the commencement of the war - numbered a hundred and seven thousand souls, now numbered only ninety-eight thousand, of whom thirty thousand were reduced to subsistence on alms! Yet, as the Prussians generally had most stanchly supported the king through the war, so these poor people were still ready, forgetting their misery, to receive with acclamation the man who had brought ail their calamities upon them, but had done it bravely and unflinchingly himself - so wonderful are the fascinations of military enterprise!

Whilst the seven years war was raging in Europe, and carrying its ramifications to the most distant regions of the world, Clive and Eyre Coote were extending our empire in India, and, in the case of Clive himself, with as much ability and as little principle as Frederick of Prussia in Europe. Clive, in 1757, put down Surajah Dowlah, the nabob of Bengal, and in June of that year defeated him at Plassy with a mere handful of men against his enormous host. He set up Dowlah's general-in-chief, Meer Jaffier, and hailed him nabob of Bengal, Orissa, and Bahar. So far, the punishment of Dowlah for the atrocity committed on our countrymen in the Black Hole would have had an air of justice, had not this Black Hole been the English prison, where our countrymen in that hot climate had been in the habit of confining their prisoners. As Mr. Mill, their own historian, of the India House, very justly asks, "What had they to do with a Black Hole? Had no Black Hole existed, as none ought to exist anywhere, least of all in the sultry and unwholesome climate of Bengal, those who perished in the Black Hole of Calcutta would have experienced a different fate."

This was bad enough; but the means of accomplishing this whole treason were of the most infamous kind. Clive engaged one Omichund, a wealthy merchant, to betray Dowlah, for a reward of three hundred thousand pounds. Never intending to pay this reward, Clive had two treaties drawn up with Meer Jaffier - one on white paper, intended to be real, in which no mention was made of Omichund; and another on red paper, stating the reward to Omichund. All the members of the committee of the council of Calcutta, with Clive, signed both treaties, except admiral Watson, who, with an Englishman's proper sense of honour, signed only the real one. But, lest the absence of the admiral's signature should excite Omichund's suspicion, the signature of the admiral was attached to the document without his consent. When the plot had succeeded, when the battle of Plassy was won, and Meer Jaffier acknowledged as nabob, or subadah, of Bengal, Omichund was coolly informed that the treaty which he had seen was a sham, and that he would not receive a single rupee! No more diabolical transaction ever took place in any country or in any age of the world, however dark and abandoned. Omichund, confounded at this example of monstrous treachery, sank down into idiotcy, and soon after expired.

Clive and his associates took care of themselves. They claimed from their tool, Meer Jaffier, two million seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds as the claim of the company, the fleet, the army, and themselves for their services. Clive's own share was two hundred and fifty-four thousand pounds, and the shares of the members of the committee from twenty thousand to one hundred thousand pounds each. They and the officers of the army and navy shared amongst them for this job one million two hundred and sixty-one thousand and seventy-five pounds. Besides this, it was stipulated that the French factories and effects should be given up to the English, and the French never again allowed to enter Bengal. The territory surrounding Calcutta, to the distance of six hundred yards beyond the Mahratta ditch, and all the land lying south of Calcutta as far as Calpee, should be granted them on zemindary tenure, the company paying the rent, like the other zemindars. Thus the English, who were before merely the tenants of a factory, became, in reality, the rulers of Bengal, for Meer Jaffier was a mere tool in their hands, as they, ere long, showed by deposing him.

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