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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 5


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The scheme of wholesale aggression and aggrandisement thus boldly sketched out by a man who had talent and daring for anything, and not a single restraining principle to impede him, soon grew busy, vast, and amazing. The great mogul, the territories of Oudeand Arcot, Mysore, Travancore, Berars, Tanjore, the Mahrattas, the whole peninsula, in fact, speedily felt the influence of this man's views; and the future history of Indian conquest is but the filling up of them.

Our next great move was against the French in the Carnatic. After various actions betwixt £he French and English in India during the seven years' war, general count de Lally, an officer of Irish extraction, arrived at Pondicherry in April, 1758, with a force of one thousand two hundred men. The admiral count d'Ache was engaged by admiral Pococke, who, however, could not prevent him landing the troops. Lally attacked and took Fort St. David, considered the strongest fort belonging to the East India Company, and then, mustering all his forces, made his appearance, in December of that year, before Madras. He had with him two thousand seven hundred French and four thousand natives, whilst the English had in the town four thousand troops only, of which more than half were sepoys. But captain Caillaud had marched with a small force from Trichinopoly, which harassed the rear of the French. After making himself master of the Black Town, and threatening to burn it down, he found it impossible to compel Fort St. George to surrender, and, after a severe siege of two months, on the appearance of admiral Pococke's squadron, which had sailed to Bombay for more troops, he decamped in the night of the 16th of February, 1759, for Arcot, leaving behind him all his ammunition and artillery, fifty-two pieces. Fresh combats took place betwixt Pococke and D'Achd at sea, and the forces on land. Colonel Brereton attempted to take Wandewash, but failed; and it remained for colonel Eyre Coote to defeat Lally. Coote arrived at Madras on the 27th of October, and, under his direction, Brereton succeeded in taking Wandewash on the last of November. To recover this place, Lally marched with all his force, supported by Bussey, but sustained a signal defeat on the 22nd of January, 1760. In this battle colonel Brereton was killed, and general Bussey taken prisoner. Arcot, Trincomalee, Devi-Cottah, Cuddalore, and other places fell rapidly into the hands of colonel Coote. The French called in to their aid the nabob of Mysore, Hyder Ali, but to little purpose. Pondicherry was invested on the 8th of December, and, on the 16th of January, 1761, it surrendered, Lally and his troops, amounting to two thousand, remaining prisoners. This was the termination of the real power of France in India; for though Pondicherry was restored by the treaty of 1763, the French never again recovered their ground there, and their East India Company soon after was broken up. The unfortunate Lally - called also "Lally-Tollendal," from a corruption of his Irish name, Lally of Tullydale - on his return to France was thrown into the Bastille, condemned for high treason, and beheaded in the Place de Greve on the 9th of May, 1766.

As we proceed, we shall from time to time have to narrate a series of the most marvellous deeds of bravery, and equally marvellous crimes, done by our country in the conquest of the great peninsula of India, with its one hundred and fifty millions of people. We shall have to unfold a system of the most unparalleled conquests, oppressions, and extortions perpetrated by us, a Christian people, the pioneers of civilisation; and these mingled details of glory and darkness we shall draw, not from the testimony of the enemies, but from the friends and members of the East India Company itself - from Sir Thomas Munro, the marquis of Wellesley, Sir John Shore - afterwards lord Teignmouth - the Hon. Frederick Shore, his brother, an Indian judge, from Forbes, Orme, Scott Waring, Strachey, Vansittart, and others, actors and narrators of these facts - men covered with Indian honours, enriched with Indian spoils; from Warren Hastings himself; but, above all, from Mill, the secretary of the East India Company, and its own historian, drawing his materials from their own archives. Following these authorities, there can be no mistake; and, when our readers have had these details before them, they will see that when England intrusted the destinies of India - which has been so emphatically called the Ireland of the East - to a mere trading company, she assumed the responsibility of a monstrous load of crime and oppression; and having now made the first righteous step of setting aside that company, she has a vast work of recompense before her - a work of wise reform and humane wisdom towards that immense, that beautiful, and populous empire.

The earl of Bute became more and more unpopular. The conditions of the peace were greatly disapproved, and the assurance that not only Bute, but the king's mother and the duke of Bedford, had received French money for carrying the peace, was generally believed. The conduct of Bute in surrounding the king with his creatures, in which he was joined by the princess of Wales added, greatly to the public odium. George was always of a domestic and retiring character, and he was now rarely seen, except when he went once or twice a-year to parliament, or at levees, which were cold, formal, and unfrequent. Though, probably, the main cause of this was the natural disposition of himself and queen, yet Bute and the princess got the credit of it. Then the manner in which Bute paid his visits to the princess tended to confirm all the belief of their guilty intimacy. He used always to go in an evening in a sedan chair belonging to one of the ladies of the princess's household, with the curtains closely drawn, and taking every other precaution of not being seen. There were numbers of lampoons launched at the favourite and the princess. They were compared to queen Isabella and Mortimer, and Wilkes actually wrote an ironical dedication of Ben Jonson's play of "The Fall of Mortimer," to Bute. It was declared that he was cramming all the public offices with Scotchmen, whilst it was notorious that only one Englishman, Mr. Chauncey Townshend, had ever been elected to any public office in Scotland since the union.

All these causes of unpopularity were rendered more effective by the powerful political party which now assailed him. Pitt led the way, and the dukes of Devonshire, Bolton, and Portland, the marquis of Rockingham, the earls Temple, Cornwallis, Albemarle, Ashburton, Hardwicke, and Besborough, lords Spencer, Sondes, Grantham, and Villiers, James Grenville, Sir George Saville, and other whigs, presented a formidable phalanx of opponents in both houses. The measures, too, which he was obliged to bring forward, were certain to augment his discredit. The funded debt had grown to upwards of a hundred millions, and there were three millions and a half besides unfunded. It was necessary to raise a new loan, and, moreover, to raise a new tax, for the income was unequal to the expenditure, even in time of peace. The chancellor of the exchequer recently chosen was not a man likely to make these new burdens go down easily. Dashwood was a man of taste, who had travelled in Italy, and acquired a fondness of the fine arts, but he by no means was a man of business. On the contrary, he was a man of known dissolute character, afterwards described by Wilkes as all his life puzzling over tavern bills, and therefore chosen by Bute to be chancellor of a kingdom a hundred millions in debt. He had had himself painted, in the habit of a Franciscan friar, a play on his own name, kneeling in adoration of a Venus de Medici. Wilkes could well describe him, for he had been with him one of a set of licentious and irreligious rakes, who had formed themselves into a company of so-called "New Franciscans." Amongst these were Paul Whitehead, lord Sandwich, and others, twelve in all. They had taken Medenham, near Marlow, a beautiful place on the banks of the Thames, amid hanging woods and green meadows. The abbey belonged to the Cistertian monks, and these so-called New Franciscans now used to meet there, to put on the habits of that order, and practice all kinds of profligacy and obscenity to burlesque the rites and processions of a catholic brotherhood. Over the portal they inscribed the motto pretended by Rabelais to have been over the portal of Theleme Abbey, Fay ce que voudras - "Do as you like." There were other inscriptions over other doors, or in other parts of the grounds, equally profligate, and still more lewd. There these scandalous associates rivalled the " Hell-Fire Club " in their orgies.

This unique chancellor - "my chancellor," as Wilkes says Bute used to call him - issued the new loan to the public with so little advertisement, that the friends of the ministers secured the greater part of the shares, and they soon rose to eleven per cent, premium, by which they were enabled, at the public cost, to make heavy sums. The tax which Sir Francis proposed was one on cider and perry, besides some additional duties on wines. There was at once an outcry in the city against this tax, led on by the lord mayor, alderman Beckford, a great friend of Pitt. The cry was only too sure to find a loud echo from the cider-growing districts. Bute and his chancellor were quickly compelled to reduce the proposed impost from ten shillings a hogshead, to be paid by the first buyer, that is, by the merchant, to four shillings, to be paid by the grower. The tax thus cut down was calculated to produce only seventy-five thousand pounds - a sum scarcely worth the while to incur so much odium for. But it was still equally declaimed against, because this sum was to be levied on all qualities alike. The City of London still petitioned against it as a tax levied especially on the most loyal counties in the kingdom, and as being a strange first-fruits of peace. Pitt denounced it as introducing the exciseman into private dwellings, thus violating the old maxim, of every Englishman's house being his castle.

George Grenville stood forward and declared that the tax was necessary, from the profuse war expenditures of the former ministry - a blow at Pitt, which was scarcely dealt, when it recoiled on the speaker. He said, if Pitt objected to this tax, ministers would be glad to hear from him where they should lay another. "Let him tell me where?" he exclaimed, "I say, sir, let him tell me where?" On which Pitt, who sate opposite, sang out, in a tone admirably mimicking the querulous one of Grenville, the well-known line of a popular song, "Gentle Shepherd, tell me where?" The house was thrown into convulsions of laughter, amid which Pitt rose and walked out of it. The name of "Gentle Shepherd" stuck by Grenville, who, in his stiff manner and countenance, was anything but the ideal of a gentle shepherd.

The cider tax passed, opposed by thirty-nine peers and a hundred and twenty commoners; but it left a very sore feeling in the western counties, that cider, worth only five shillings a hogshead, the poor man's meagre beverage, should have a tax levied on it nearly doubling the price; whilst that of fifty shillings a hogshead, the rich man's luxury, only paid the same. The growers even threatened to let the apples fall and rot under the trees, rather than make them into cider, subject to so partial a tax. No imposition had excited so much indignation since Sir Robert Walpole's excise bill, in 1733. In the cider counties bonfires were made in many places, and Bute was burnt emblematically as a jack-boot - Jack Bute - and his supposed royal mistress under that of a petticoat, which two articles, after being carried about on poles, were hurled into the flames.

Instead of taking means to conciliate the public, Bute, stung by these testimonies of dislike, and by the pamphlets and lampoons which issued like swarms of wasps, revenged himself by others, which only intensified the hatred against him.

A well-deserved pension was granted to Dr. Johnson; but the merit of that was more than neutralised by a similar pension being conferred on Dr. Shebbeare, a mere hackney pamphleteer, who had recently been convicted of fraudulent practices at Oxford, when employed to arrange the Clarendon papers; and who, in the reign of George I., had been set in the pillory for a libel on the king. Bute refused the professorship of modern languages to Gray, the poet, and gave it to the tutor of Sir James Lowther, a man of no note, and evidently only because Sir James had lately married his daughter. Still worse for him, he had caused the dukes of Newcastle and Grafton, and the marquis of Rockingham, to be dismissed from the lord lieutenancies of their respective counties, because they voted against the peace on Bute's terms. With a still more petty rancour he had visited the sins of these noblemen on the persons in small clerkships and other posts who had been recommended by them, turning them all out. Sir Henry Fox joined him relentlessly in these pitiful revenges, and would have carried them further had he not been checked by others.

For a time, Bute and his colleagues appeared to brave the load of hatred and ignominy which was now piled everywhere upon them, but it was telling; and suddenly, on the 7th of April, it was announced that the obnoxious minister had resigned. Many were the speculations on this abrupt act, some attributing it to the influence of Wilkes, and his remorseless attacks in the "North Briton;" others to the king and queen having at length become sensitive on the assumed relations of Bute and the king's mother; but Bute himself clearly stated the real and obvious cause - no support, either in parliament or out of doors. "The ground," he wrote to a friend, "on which I tread is so hollow, that I am afraid not only of falling myself, but of involving my royal master in my ruin. It is time for me to retire."

With Bute retired his two stanchest supporters, Dash- wood and Fox; but they were both raised to the peerage, Dashwood to become lord' le Despencer, and Fox, lord Holland. Fox, who had by no means acquired a pleasant reputation, retired, for the most part, from public life. He built himself a villa, in a fanciful style, at Kingsgate, on the coast of Thanet; and where Gray, who had been so scurvily served by him and his colleagues, did not forget, in some caustic stanzas, to tell him that it was the most congenial place for him: -

Old and abandoned by each venal friend,

Here Holland took the pious resolution,

To smuggle a few years, and strive to mend

A broken character and constitution.

On this congenial spot he fixed his choice;

Earl Goodwin trembled for his neighbouring sands:

Here sea-gulls scream, and cormorants rejoice,

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 5

Great seal of England
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Queen Charlotte
Queen Charlotte >>>>
Catherine II
Catherine II >>>>
Storming the fortress of Moro
Storming the fortress of Moro >>>>
View in the Island of Cuba
View in the Island of Cuba >>>>
Monument erected to the memory of the sufferers in the Black Hole, Calcutta
Monument erected to the memory of the sufferers in the Black Hole, Calcutta >>>>
Medal struck in commemoration of the battle of Plassy
Medal struck in commemoration of the battle of Plassy >>>>
Threatened arrest of Wilkes
Threatened arrest of Wilkes >>>>
Duel between Wilkes and Martin
Duel between Wilkes and Martin >>>>
North Briton
North Briton >>>>

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