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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 7

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The year 1804 opened by an announcement that his majesty was suffering under a return of his old malady. On the 14th of February an official bulletin was issued at St. James's Palace, informing the public of the royal indisposition; and the repetition of it from day to day, without specifying the nature of the illness, left no doubt of its true character. Still, on the 29th, Addington assured the house that there was no necessary suspension of the royal functions, and the bulletins grew more favourable; but it was well known that he was not really in a condition to transact business till the following September, though at times, as on the 9th, 10th, and 11th of May, he drove about in public, in company with the queen and princesses. Probably, it might be thought that the hearty cheers with which he was received might have a rallying effect on his mind, which had been cruelly harassed by the separation of the prince of Wales from his wife, the king's niece, amid many public scandals. Such a circumstance was exactly calculated to throw the royal mind off the balance; but, besides this, the unsatisfactory state of his cabinet, and of parties in parliament, was such as greatly to aggravate his anxiety. The ministry of Addington was felt to be utterly inadequate to the difficulties of the times. The peace of Amiens was a sufficient specimen of his diplomatic imbecility. The country felt that Pitt or Fox must soon be called to the helm; but the grand difficulty, in regard to both these statesmen, was the question of catholic emancipation, to which they alike were pledged, and to which the king was immovably hostile. Addington had shown a desire to strengthen his administration by bringing into it George Tierney, whom he had appointed treasurer of the navy and a privy councillor. Pitt, who had an intense dislike to Tierney - with whom he had, in 1798, fought a duel - showed increasing determination, from the introduction of Tierney to the cabinet, to oppose the ministry of Addington with all his vigour. An opportunity was given him on the 27th of February. The hon. Sir Charles Yorke, the secretary-at-war, had introduced a bill for consolidating all the existing laws respecting the volunteers. In the debate on the second reading of this bill on this day, a question was incidentally introduced by Sir Robert Lawley, as to the exact state of the king's health, which, he said, concerned the safety of the country as much as the affairs of the volunteers. Fox followed up this idea, and demanded more perfect information on this subject from ministers. He declared that the house had no information on this important subject, and he asked whether the chancellor of the exchequer really had any. He supported the motion for an adjournment, which Sir Robert Lawley had made, in order that the house might be put in possession of the truth. Fox made it felt that he was looking forward to the fact of a regency. Addington, on this, declared that there was no necessity for any serious measures, that he was persuaded that the king's indisposition would be of short duration. Pitt made some strong observations on the conduct of ministers in keeping parliament in the dark on this head, though he opposed the adjournment.

On the 15th of March he took a more decided position of hostility to the cabinet, by moving for an inquiry into the state of the navy. The earl St. Vincent was now first lord of the admiralty, instead of lord Spencer, who occupied that post in Pitt's time; but Tierney was secretary to the admiralty, and there might be as much satisfaction to Pitt in damaging Tierney by this inquiry as in damaging Addington. He contended that the navy had not been maintained in that state of efficiency in which he had left it, although it was obvious that never was an efficient navy so essential. Many sharp words passed betwixt Pitt and Tierney, and Pitt and Sheridan, in the course of the debate. Tierney taunted Pitt with his active concurrence with the volunteer movement since his retirement, and thought he might very well satisfy himself on land, without troubling himself about the sea; and Pitt, alluding to Sheridan's change of politics, and to his inflaming his complexion by hard drinking, called him a wandering meteor, now appearing on one side of the house and now on the other, but not terrifying him anywhere with his flaming visage. Pitt declared that only twenty-three gun-boats had been built since January, 1803, and that the whole management of the navy was inert and indolent. On the contrary, naval men sitting in the house proved very satisfactorily that, counting sloops, smaller vessels, block-ships, the flotillas of gun-boats, &c., one thousand five hundred and thirty-six vessels had been equipped by the present admiralty, and were now fit for service, while other ships were building in the king's yards; and, upon a division, Pitt's motion was negatived by two hundred and one against a hundred and thirty.

After accepting an offer from the Irish militia serving in England during the war, and agreeing that ten thousand should be the number, and that this number should be reinstated in Ireland by a new levy, the he use adjourned, on the 29th of March, for the Easter recess. But, during the recess, Pitt was planning fresh measures of opposition, and, in fact, driving out Addington, and taking his place. On the reassembling of the house on the 23rd of April, Fox moved that it should resolve itself into a committee of inquiry regarding the measures of defence necessary for the country. Addington opposed the inquiry, as unnecessary; but Pitt declared that it was never more necessary; that, though there were a hundred and eighty-four thousand troops of the line and four hundred thousand volunteers, the measures of government were not of that vigorous character which the times demanded. Yorke, the secretary- at-war, and Spencer Perceval defended Addington; but the latter asserted that great exertions had been made to bring up members to vote for Mr. Pitt's views, and that he did not see how the present ministry could remain in office if this measure was carried against them. It was not carried; but Addington's majority had sunk to only fifty-two, the numbers being - for Fox's motion, two hundred and four; against it, two hundred and fifty-six. Wilberforce, who had a great respect for Addington, as he had a great admiration for Pitt, exerted himself to reconcile the two, and to get Pitt into the cabinet with Addington. He consulted with lord chancellor Eldon on the plan for bringing in Pitt to join Addington. Such a scheme must appear the very height of folly to any one who has studied the domineering character of Pitt. He could only be the head and mainspring of whatever administration he was a member of, and, unless Addington could submit to come down from his place and serve under Pitt, no such union could possibly take place. But Pitt was already doing his own work, and paving his own way. He wrote to the king on the 25th of April, informing him of the determined opposition he felt himself called upon to make to Adding- ton's mode of administration, but assuring him that he would never attempt to force Fox upon him. This was saying, as plainly as he could speak to the king, that he was ready to resume the helm himself, and that, with the opposition that he could exert, the government of Addington could not go on. Accordingly, Pitt received a notice that his majesty would soon call for him to attend on him.

On the 30th of April the marquis of Stafford, in the house of lords, gave notice of a motion, identical with that of Fox in the commons - namely, for inquiry into the national defences. Lord Hawkesbury immediately entreated the marquis to postpone his motion, for reasons which, he assured the house, it would deem fully satisfactory, if he were at liberty to State them. It was at once understood that there were negotiations on foot for a change of administration. Lord Grenville, who was a relative of Pitt, but, at the same time, pledged to include Fox in any offers to himself of entering the ministry, called upon lord Hawkesbury to be more explicit, but he declined; and, after some discussion, the motion was postponed.

Pitt, in fact, had received a message from the king, and on the 2nd of May, through chancellor Eldon, presented a letter, sketching a plan of a new cabinet, in which he included not only lord Grenville but Fox also. On the 7th he had, for the first time, an interview with the king, which lasted three hours, and Pitt then more fully stated his views, and recommended a mixed cabinet, on the ground that there was every prospect of a long war, and that it was desirable that they should have a strong administration. Whether such a coalition would have been strong is more than doubtful, opposed as the views and tempers of Fox and Pitt were. But the king would not allow the name of Fox to be in the list, and probably Pitt was very well aware of this beforehand, and only included Fox in order to keep faith with Grenville. Having done this, we cannot suppose that he pressed that point further. On the other hand, lord Grenville refused to become part of an administration from which Fox was excluded. He said he could not accept office in a cabinet formed on a basis of exclusion, being convinced that an effective government could only be attained by uniting in it as large a proportion as possible of the weight, talents, and character to be found in public men of all descriptions. The way, therefore, was every day becoming more clearly open for the return of Pitt, unfettered by any such anomalous alliances. On the 11th of May the marquis of Stafford said, in the house of lords, that he understood that a certain right honourable gentleman, who had turned his great abilities to the subject of the national defences, was about to take the management of public affairs, and that he, therefore, withdrew his motion. The next day the public announcement was made that Addington had resigned, and that Pitt had accepted the chancellorship of the exchequer. Pitt retained of the Addington ministry - lord-chancellor Eldon; the duke of Portland, president of the council; the earl of Westmoreland, lord privy seal; his own brother, the earl of Chatham, master-general of the ordnance; and lord Castlereagh, president of the board of control. To these he added Dundas, now lord Melville, as first lord of the admiralty; lord Harrowby, as secretary of foreign affairs, in the place of lord Hawkesbury; and lord Camden, as secretary of the colonies, in the place of lord Hobart. Lord Mulgrave became chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, in place of lord Pelham. George Canning, now becoming a marked man, was made treasurer of the navy, in place of Tierney, but this gave him no seat in the cabinet. Lord Hardwicke remained lord-lieutenant of Ireland, with Sir Evan Nepean as his chief secretary, in place of Mr. Wickham, who retired on account of ill health; George Rose and lord Charles Somerset were made joint paymasters of the forces, in place of Hiley Addington and Steele; lord Melville's brother, W. Dundas, became secretary at war, in place of Charles Yorke; the duke of Montrose, postmaster-general, in place of lord Auckland; Huskisson and Sturges Bourne in place of Vansittart and Sargent. Few changes were made in the household besides the marquis of Hertford being appointed master of the horse.

Pitt was once more the uncontrolled head of affairs. There have been many and vehement discussions amongst political men, whether a union with Fox would not have been more beneficial to the country, and whether Pitt could not have brought him in, had he really desired it. We believe that nothing could have prevailed on the king to admit Fox at this moment, nor, had this been possible, could two such men have worked long harmoniously together. The only choice really lay betwixt the imbecility of Addington and the dangerous war tendencies of Pitt. It was on this latter quality that his party the most strongly advocated his return to office. Canning especially pointed to Buonaparte now ruling the destinies of France, and declared that there was but one man here capable of coping with him. Pitt had shown that he would exhaust not only the whole resources of the time but those of all posterity to make universal war on France, instead of standing on that strong, and comparatively uncostly system of naval defence, which, at this moment, paralysed all the power of Napoleon in every quarter of the world, except on the mainland of Europe. Pitt had a party holding similar ideas - a party strong enough to maintain him in his position - and the country, therefore, was unavoidably committed to a career of still deeper involvement in carnage and debt. Pitt made no mention now of catholic emancipation - he knew that it was useless; that resistance on that point would have been the utter defeat of his resolve to again hold office.

The first measure of importance, after the appearance of Pitt in the house of commons as prime minister, was the annual motion of Wilberforce, for leave to bring in a bill for the abolition of the slave trade. Pitt and Fox both supported it, and it was carried by seventy-five against forty- nine. The second reading was carried by a still larger majority - one hundred against forty-two - but, on going into committee upon it, it was postponed to the next session, on account of the pressure of other business. In fact, war, and the preparations for war, were the all-absorbing business of these times.

On the 5th of June, the day after the king's birthday, Pitt introduced his plan of military defence. It was to leave the militia what it was, but to increase the regular army, by making it compulsory on parishes to furnish each a certain number of men to what was called the army of reserve - a body called out for five years, and only to be employed within the United Kingdom. He desired to break down the distinctions betwixt this and the regular army by attaching the reserve to the regulars as second battalions, and encouraging volunteering thence into the regulars. It was, in fact, an ill-concealed mode of raising a regular army by conscription, and was sharply attacked on that ground by Fox and Windham, but was carried, after considerable opposition from the Fox and Grenville party, to whom Sheridan was now added. Pitt no longer professed what lie had hitherto professed, though he had always gone beyond it, that his object was simply security; he advocated the increase of the army as a direct means of interfering on the continent whenever we should see favourable occasion. Thus, from the moment of his return to power, he openly pledged his party to the prosecution of those continental wars by which he had already so greatly increased our national debt.

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