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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 29


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On the 1st of January, 1801, a proclamation was issued announcing the new style, titles, and armorial insignia henceforward to be borne by the crown of Great Britain and Ireland. The absurd title of " king of France," which had been retained from the time of Henry V., was properly abandoned, and the king was now designated George III., by the grace of God, king of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith. A new great seal was engraved, displaying the imperial arms quarterly - England first and fourth, Scotland second, Ireland third. In honour of the union, besides the commoners made Irish peers for their purchased services in voting the union, some Irish peers were created peers of the United Kingdom.

On the 22nd of January the first imperial parliament met, and Addington was re-elected speaker. The king did not meet this parliament till the whole of its members had been sworn 5 his opening of it for business took place on the 2nd of February, and his speech had no cheering topics to give spirit to its first proceedings; on the continent there had been nothing but defeat on the part of the allies, of triumph on that of France. Austria, to whom we had paid so much of our children's money to fight her own battles, had been compelled to make peace, and, what was worse, our late ally, Paul of Russia, had employed the subsidy money - what we had paid him in building and equipping ships - to seize our merchantmen in the Baltic. Never was there a finer commentary on the folly of subsidising foreign nations, to induce them to defend themselves, than was now given in the king's speech. Paul had not only seized our merchant vessels in the ports of the Baltic, and the property of our merchants in the Russian towns, but he had entered into a league with Sweden and Denmark to close the Baltic altogether to us, and to compel us to relinquish the right of search. This confederacy, by stopping the supplies of corn from the north, threatened us with great aggravation of the distresses at home; and some members advocated the surrender of the right of search, or the acceptance of the principles of an armed neutrality, such as Catherine of Russia had endeavoured to establish. But Pitt plainly showed, that to allow neutral vessels to carry arms, ammunition, and commodities of life into the ports of our enemies, would render all blockades of their forts useless, and enormously increase our difficulties during war. Orders were immediately issued to send a powerful fleet into the Baltic to chastise the insane czar, which we shall soon see was very rapid in its effect.

But there was another topic started in this first imperial parliament, which was as odious to George III. as the perfidious conduct of his late Russian ally. As one means of bringing about the union with Ireland, Pitt had been weak enough to hold out to the Irish Catholics the argument that, by having Irishmen in the united parliament, they would be most likely to obtain a repeal of the catholic disabilities. Both he and lord Cornwallis had sent circulars to this effect, anonymous, it is true, but with a secret avowal of their authorship, amongst the leading Catholics, which were supposed to have had a great effect in procuring their assent to the union. Lord Castlereagh, who had, as secretary of state for Ireland, so liberally distributed the corruption-money for effecting the union, had been elected as a member of the imperial parliament, and immediately claimed the redemption of this pledge. Pitt - who ought to have known the steadfast prejudice of the king on this head, who deemed catholic emancipation a violation of his coronation oath to maintain the supremacy of the church, before he promised this enfranchisement - introduced the subject, about the middle of January, in the privy council. George was indignant, and almost furious. At the levee on the 28th of January, when lord Castlereagh was presented, he said to Dundas, " What is this which this young lord (Castlereagh) has brought over to fling at my head?" He alluded to a plan for catholic emancipation, and added, " I shall reckon every man my personal enemy who proposes any such measure! This is the most jacobinical thing I ever heard of.'' Dundas replied that his majesty would find amongst those friendly to the measure some whom he had never supposed to be his enemies.

On the 31st of January Pitt wrote to the king, assuring him that the union with Ireland would render it absolutely necessary that important questions regarding the catholics and dissenters should be discussed; but, as he found how extremely such topics were disliked by his majesty, and yet how just it was that catholics should be admitted to parliament as well as protestant dissenters, who were already admitted, he begged to be permitted to resign. At the same time, not to inconvenience his majesty, he was willing to hold office till his majesty had reconstructed a cabinet wholly to his mind. George replied, the very next day, that Mr. Pitt's letter had occasioned him the liveliest concern; that, so far from exposing him to the agitation of this question, he had flattered himself that the union, by uniting the protestants of both kingdoms, would for ever have excluded the question of catholic emancipation. He expressed his ardent wish that Pitt should continue to be his minister as long as he lived; and he only required, as a condition, that he should stave off this question. Pitt replied, on the 3rd of February, that his majesty's determined tone on the subject of catholic emancipation left him no alternative but to resign, in compliance with his duty; and that, as his majesty's resolve was taken, it would certainly be best for the country that his retirement should be as early as possible. On the 5th the king wrote, accepting Pitt's resignation, though with expressions of deep regret.

Five days after this. February 10th, the matter was made public, by lord Darnley rising in the upper house, and moving for an inquiry into the conduct of the ministry. This roused up lord Grenville, who candidly avowed that, in consequence of their failure to introduce the question of catholic emancipation, the ministers had resigned, and only held office till a new cabinet was formed. On this, lord Darnley postponed his motion. On the same day, in the commons, a letter from Addington, the speaker, was read, announcing his resignation of the speakership in consequence of the king's proposal to nominate him to a situation incompatible with that post. Pitt then rose, and confirmed this, and proposed an adjournment till the next day, in order to prepare for the nomination of the new speaker. Sir William Pulteney seconded the motion, and used these true and very striking words: - " I am now an old man, and have seen many changes without a change of' principle. I wish to see that kind of change which I never yet saw - a change in which public men of all descriptions shall act from no other motive than the good of the public, without any view to their own personal interests."

The house, adjourning accordingly, the next day, the 11th of February, elected Sir John Mitford, the attorney- general, as speaker. Before the house could resume business, it was announced that the king was ill - confined to the house by a severe cold; but it was soon known that it was a return of the king's old malady, lunacy, in consequence of his extreme agitation on the proposal of the catholic question and the resignation of Pitt. The report was soon augmented into the starting rumour that the king was dangerously ill, and that a regency must take place - if not superseded by his death. At this news, Fox, who had for some time absented himself from parliament, on the plea that all endeavours to carry sound and prudent measures were hopeless with Pitt's great, martial majority, hastened up to town from St. Anne's Hill; and the whig body was in a flutter of expectation that he would soon be the minister of the prince regent or of George IV. But all these hopes were speedily overthrown by the news of the rapid improvement of the king, and, on the 12th of March, the royal physicians pronounced him perfectly recovered.

Meantime, before retiring, Pitt had moved and carried the usual vast supplies and the usual annual addition to the debt. The amount voted for the supplies was forty-two millions one hundred and ninety-seven thousand pounds; and the additional robbery of the unborn generations was twenty-five millions five hundred thousand pounds. Pitt, indeed, declared, with his usual assurance, that the sinking fund would speedily clear off all the debt at the close of the war - the fallacy of which we are now, more than half a century after, only too sensible of. He retired, passing over the melancholy prospect of defeats by our enemies, and desertion by our allies, but boasting that our commerce had never been more prosperous. And this was true, for the whole continent was disabled from commerce by trampling and pillaging armies, and by our blockading fleets. What commerce there was we had almost a monopoly of. The enemies of Pitt refused to give him credit for his assumed ground of retirement - the refusal of the king to consent to catholic emancipation. They said that he had never shown so sensitive a regard to questions of mere right, and that it was the labyrinth of difficulties into which he had plunged the nation, and from which he saw no honourable escape, which caused him to slip out of office, and leave the burden of embarrassment to others. And, so far as the catholic question was concerned, probably, they were right. It very likely did not weigh much with Pitt whether the catholics were relieved from their penalties or not; but what touched him was, that he was pledged to the question in order to achieve the union; and diplomatists, like duellists, have always been far more firm on the point of honour than on the point of principle. We shall see Pitt, having cut the Gordian knot of his pledge by his resignation, return to office, in 1804, without one stipulation regarding the catholic claims. But, as to the difficulties of the war, we must give Pitt credit in our belief that he was not the man to shrink from difficulties. Differing as we do from him totally on the soundness of his war policy, we believe it to have been in him and his colleagues, "Windham and lord first lord Grenville, an honest though mistaken policy. Pitt was the political quixote of the close of the eighteenth and the opening of the nineteenth Century. He had a fatal mono-mania that this country was the proper champion of all the world; that with its five-and-twenty millions of people it was bound to ruin itself for the defence of nations comprising some hundreds of millions of people; and that the representatives in parliament of the living had a right to usurp the office of the unborn representatives of the unborn generations, and vote away the wealth of those generations for the helpless and hopeless nations of the continent. However lunatic the fancy, it was the fancy of Pitt and his coadjutors, and, moreover, of no one more than the king. The fault lay in our representative constitution, which allowed such men and principles to predominate.

The new ministry consisted of Addington, son of Chat- ham's old physician, Dr. Addington, as first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer; the duke of Portland, president of the council; lord Eldon, the very embodiment of conservatism, chancellor; earl St. Vincent, of the admiralty; the earl of Chatham, master-general of the ordnance; lord Pelham, secretary of the home department; lord Hawkesbury, the eldest son of the earl of Liverpool, secretary for foreign affairs; lord Hobart, secretary for the colonies; viscount Lewisham, president of the board of control; Charles York, secretary at war; lord Hardwick, lord-lieutenant of Ireland; the earl of Clare, a violent anti-emancipationist, lord chancellor of Ireland; and Castlereagh, still secretary of state for Ireland, but soon after called to succeed lord Lewisham, as président of the board of control in England. Besides these, the earl of Liverpool was made chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster; Dudley Rider, treasurer of the navy; Thomas Hall and lord Glenbervie, joint paymasters of the forces; lord Auckland and lord Charles Spencer, joint postmasters general; John H. Addington and Nicholas Vansittart, secretaries of the treasury; Sir William Grant, master of the rolls; Sir Edward Law (afterwards lord Ellenborough), attorney- general; and the Hon. Spencer Perceval, solicitor-general The appointments were numerous enough; for not only were all the possible offices filled, but some of them doubly filled. It was soon seen, however, that though Pitt was out of office, his principles dominated in it, and that there was no chance of a change of system. Addington professed to be peaceably inclined, but Pitt had launched him into the midst of a war system, and victories, the result of his measures, came speedily to confirm him in his views. The suspension of the habeas corpus acts, for both England, Scotland, and Ireland, was renewed, and various motions for inquiring into the state of the nation, into the miscarriage of different expeditions, and into the conduct of lord Keith, in breaking the convention of El Arish, were negatived by large majorities, for the Pittite party, out of office, supported the measures they had originated when in office. Parliament was prorogued by commission on the 2nd of July.

But long before this - as early, indeed, as the 15th of April - news had reached London of the death of the erratic emperor Paul, and of the bombardment of Copenhagen by the English fleet. Paul had been won over by Buonaparte to his views, and had been flattered by him by being elected - though irregularly and illegally - grand-master of the Knights of Malta. He had been persuaded that the con- quest of Malta by the English was an invasion of his rights, and, by these and other flatteries, Buonaparte had influenced his weak mind to become the agent of his plans in destroying the English ships in the Baltic, and in closing that sea to British commerce.

Paul pretended that we had captured Danish convoys, these same convoys being engaged in guarding vessels loaded with materials of war for France, and that thus the independence of the north was menaced by us. On this ground, and on that of the invasion of Malta, he immediately laid an embargo on all English vessels in Russian ports; and, as two vessels in the harbour of Narva resisted the attempts to seize them, in consequence of the embargo, he ordered all the English vessels in that port to be burned. In consequence of this sudden and unwarrantable order, contrary to all the laws of nations, about three hundred English vessels were seized, and the officers and crews dragged on shore, put into irons, and sent up the country, under menaces of Siberia. Paul next ordered all property of Englishmen in Russia to be seized and sold; and this was our late beloved and highly- subsidised ally. Denmark - with whom we had various rencontres, on account of its men-of-war convoying vessels laden -with stores for French ports - soon joined Russia. We sent lord Whitworth to Copenhagen to endeavour to come to some understanding on these matters in 1800, but, though a convention was signed, it was not satisfactory. Sweden followed the example of Denmark, and the three northern powers entered into a treaty of armed neutrality to resist our search of their vessels under any circumstances. As this was well known to be promoted by the influence of Buonaparte, and that the consequence would be to shut us out of all trade with the ports and countries of the Baltic, as well as to dispute our supremacy at sea, it was resolved to send an armed fleet to chastise these powers, and, if possible, to break up their co-operation with France. The Hon. Mr. Vansittart was dispatched to Copenhagen, accompanied by a fleet of eighteen sail of the line, with a number of frigates and smaller vessels, under command of admiral Sir Hyde Parker, with vice-admiral Nelson as second. The fleet left the Yarmouth Roads on the 12th of March, 1801, and, arriving at the mouth of the Sound, Nelson recommended that they should sail directly up to Copenhagen, and be prepared, on the refusal of our proposals, to bombard the place, as this would not allow them time to get ready their batteries, and thus do all the more damage to our ships and men. But this was deemed too offensive before any attempt at negotiation, and accordingly Mr. Vansittart was sent forward in a frigate, with a flag of truce, leaving the fleet at the Scaw. He returned without effecting anything more than what Nelson anticipated - that is, putting the Danes into a bustle to receive us destructively. Sir Hyde Parker wasted time in making the needless inquiry by a flag of truce of the governor of Elsineur, whether the passage of the Sound would be disputed, who replied that it would. It was then proposed to enter by the Belt. Nelson said: - " Let it be by the Sound, or the Belt, or anyhow, - only, don't let us lose an hour." At last, it was determined to sail direct into the Sound, keeping as distant as possible from the castle of Cronenburg. The passage there was about three miles wide; our fleet kept close in by the Swedish shore, whence no shot was fired; but the castle of Cronenburg opened on the fleet with one hundred cannon, but without effect. On the 30th of March the English cast anchor before Copenhagen, between it and the island of Huen.

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