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The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 11


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These treaties were regarded by lord Lake, Sir John Malcolm - who had to negotiate them - and many men of eminence in Indian affairs, as based on a policy which could not last; that there could be no quiet in Hindustan, so long as the restless Mahrattas and Pindarries were not broken up; nor till the Indus was made the boundary of our Indian empire towards the north-west. We shall see that a few more years justified their foresight. These treaties, however, having, for the present, restored peace to the north, lord Lake, after giving a grand review of the army on the banks of the Hyphasis, to impress the Sikhs with a sense of our military superiority, commenced his march back to Delhi, and, in February, 1807, quitted his command in India, few Commanders having rendered more brilliant services in that part of our empire, or left behind him more sincere esteem and admiration.

Parliament opened gloomily on the 21st of January, 1806. The total failure of Pitt's new continental coalition, the surrender o£ Ulm, the battle of Austerlitz, the retreat of Austria into place with Napoleon, and of Russia into her northern snows, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, and Belgium nearly all continuing prostrate at the feet of Buonaparte, notwithstanding all the money spent afresh to stimulate the continental nations to do their own business, and take care of themselves - were killing Pitt, and had driven the king again to the verge of madness. Pitt had sought for renovation, in the autumn, at Bath; but its salutary waters and atmosphere had failed to repair the ravages in a constitution destroyed by rich dinners, late hours, hard drinking, and the mortification to a proud spirit which the utter failure of his great and absurd continental system had produced. He was dying at Putney as the house met, and the king was not in a condition to open the session personally. The royal speech, read by a commissioner, referred, with just pride, to the great victory of Trafalgar, and had but little to say on the defeat of all our endeavours on the continent. The opposition determined to move an amendment on the address on the point of this false and ruinous continental policy; but this was prevented by the announcement of the death of Pitt on the 24th, two days after the opening of parliament. Mr. Lascelles gave notice of a motion for a public funeral in Westminster Abbey. Fox moved that this question should be postponed till after the discussion on the address, which was considered by Pitt's friends as a great want of generosity in Fox; but it must be remembered that Fox and his party had, from first to last, protested against Pitt's policy as erroneous in theory, and mischievous in ail its tendencies; as ruinous to this country, by its boundless interference with the affairs of the continental nations. The discussion on the amendment was therefore, in truth, a discussion on the real merits of Pitt - on his real services or diservices to this country. It might not be generous, but, in a national point of view - the only view in which parliament had a right to entertain it - it was a just one, which, in government, is the more lagitimate. The amendment was, of course, overruled, and it was voted, on the 27th of January, by a majority of two hundred and fifty-eight against eighty-nine, that Pitt should be buried in Westminster Abbey; which accordingly took place, the royal dukes, the archbishop of Canterbury, eight bishops, a great number of peers, and about a hundred members of the house of commons attending.

A second question regarding the late minister became immediately necessary. He had died greatly in debt. It was one of the best qualities of Pitt, that he never had a love of money, or an ambition to create a great estate at the expense of the country, like too many statesmen. On the other band, he was perfectly incapable of managing his own affairs, whilst he thought himself capable of managing those of the whole world. In both cases, the only result of his plans was huge debt, and nothing more. At an early period of Pitt's ministerial career, though a bachelor, he was so hopelessly in debt, that his friend, Robert Smith, afterwards baron Carrington, had looked into his affairs, and declared that, of all scenes of domestic robbery by servants, and wild charges by tradesmen, he had never witnessed anything to compare with it. The financial management of his own income and that of the nation were just on a par in Pitt's case. He let his own money go like water, and he would have flung any quantity of the nation's property away on his quixotic scheme of propping up the thoroughly rotten and hopeless condition of the Continental governments. A strong push was now made by such of Pitt's creditors as had advanced money to him, to be repaid by the nation. In this endeavour, none were more eager than his great friends and relatives, who had been enabled by him to draw a hundred-fold from the nation what they had lent him. Wilberforce, however, proposed that they should not only forego their individual Claims, but should contribute each a moderate sum towards the raising of forty thousand pounds, which would pay his tradesmen; but here the great relatives and friends became dumb and motionless. Spencer Perceval offered a thousand pounds, and one or two others made some offers; but the appeal was vain, and a motion was made by Mr. Cartwright, on the 3rd of February, that the nation should pay this sum. This was carried at once.

The genius and services of Pitt to this country have been greatly overrated. That he was a man of great and persevering energies, and of a large amount of talent and eloquence, is certain; but lie was of a cold, proud, self-deifying, imperious temperament-, without either the deep insight or the comprehensive grasp of genius. He did not perceive that there was a movement going on in society; the nascent progress of more genuine ideas of national government, and therefore all his efforts were bent to maintain things as they were; to keep up the old notions of the balance of power, and to bolster on the worm-eaten theories of corrupt old dynasties those persons and principles that both God and man had condemned, and which, therefore, no minister, however able, no nation, however wealthy or warlike, could uphold. The whole mass of social and political life were in a state of transition, but Pitt and his colleagues were too superficial to perceive this; and they went on pledging the whole power of the nation, and the property of posterity, to arrest a movement as irresistible as that of the earth and the planets around her. Never was there so unfortunate a phrase as that long be praised one of George Canning - " The heaven-born minister, who weathered the storm." If ever there was a minister particularly earth-born, of the earth, earthy, it was Pitt. Of that glance and spirit of heaven, which penetrate to the heart of things, and perceive the real and the eternal under the dying forms of the transitory and merely conventional, lie was entirely destitute. His whole political theory was a mistake; his whole strenuous contest against that tempest from on high, which was shaking out of the nations their carious components, as a whirlwind rends from the forest its dead boughs, was a battle against nature and the on ward doctrines of man, as hopeless as that of the Titans against Olympus. The system of prince Metternich, in our time, was long eulogised as the system of a profound statesman. It was the shallowest of all shallow systems - a system of obstruction, like that of damming up a river which, in its ever-accumulating monument, will ultimately sweep all obstacles before it. We behold the results in the condition of Austria at this moment. Pitt's system was equally as false, and bas been swept from the face of Europe, leaving only one monument of its folly - the National Debt of England. As to weathering the storm, he perished in the very fury of it. He saw all his costly plans thrown to the ground, and dashed into minutest fragments, and those simple, obvious, comparatively inexpensive means of that security, which lie declared himself labouring for, alone triumphant. Our navy had saved the country, and nothing else was saved. We stood triumphant amid our waters, and should thus have stood, had we let France contend with the continental despots till she had scourged them into the real mood of successful resistance, with all our finances unmortgaged, ready to contribute to the final triumph by our fleets and our counsels; or, if we must have fought on land, it would have been at the right moment and with the right means - as we did at last - a real British army, of sufficient amount, and of practical discipline, before which no enemy can stand. One of the greatest delusions of Pitt was to put money and arms into hands that were too effeminate to use them effectually, and which often dropped those arms for the French to pick up and enslave them with. Yet the whole of the blame does Hot rest on the shoulders of Pitt - it originated in the defective political vision and spirit of the time; but it is our business, whilst recognising this, to leave the men of that day to worship their own idol; to assign to him and them their true place in the scale of national estimation.

Pitt dead, there remained a difficulty of no ordinary kind in the construction of a new cabinet. Various persons were applied to to take the dangerous and arduous post, who all declined, knowing the powerful opposition which would be arrayed against them by coalescing parties. Amongst these were lord Hawkesbury, Sidmouth, and the marquis Wellesley, who had just returned from India. There was nothing for it, then, but to endeavour to diminish the opposition of all parties by bringing in some of all parties, and hence the construction of what was called " All the Talents." Grenville assumed the helm as first lord of the treasury, and, of course, brought in Fox, notwithstanding the repugnance of the king. Fox became secretary of foreign affairs - -Fox, who had so long and so vehemently condemned the whole of Pitt's foreign policy. Sidmouth, though refusing the responsibility of the premiership, accepted the office of privy seal; lord Fitzwilliam became lord président of the council; Grey, now lord Howick, first lord of the admiralty; lord Moira, master-general of the ordnance; lord Spencer, secretary of state for the home department; Windham, secretary for the colonies; lord Henry Petty, chancellor of the exchequer; Erskine, lord chancellor; and Sir Gilbert Elliot, now made lord Minto, apparently in reward of his loss of Corsica, président of the board of control. Sheridan was not trusted with a place in the cabinet, because he had been found to be not stanch to any party, and because, in his daily drunken fits, lie had let out state or any other secrets. As to drunkenness, there were others, and those high in the cabinet, who could pretty well match Sheridan, Fox amongst them, but then they were more reticent in their cups, and were also more indispensable on account of their party position. Lord Auckland was made président of the board of trade, and lord Temple vice-president. Temple, also, was made joint pay- master of the forces with lord John Townshend, and general Fitzgerald secretary at war. In the law departments, lord Ellenborough, the chief justice of the king's bench, had, though quite out of rule, a seat in the cabinet; Pigott became attorney-general, Sir Samuel Romilly solicitor- general. The duke of Bedford was enabled to gratify his dependents by being appointed lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Such was " All the Talents," amongst whom, however, did not appear Canning, who had more talent than three-fourths of them.

It was clear to every one that such a ministry could not long hold together. There were scarcely two of them who did not hold the most opposite and irreconcilable views. Fox, at the instigation of Francis, was desirous to call in question the proceedings of lord Wellesley in India, and lord Grenville was as resolute against it; Windham, Grenville, Fox, and Sidmouth, held, every one of them, différent notions of foreign policy. Fox and some others were advocates of catholic emancipation; Sidmouth was utterly averse to it. Then, how were so many heads to find comfortable patronage for their swarms of followers?

Fox had now to attempt that accommodation with Buonaparte which, he had so long contended, was by no means difficult. An opportunity was immediately offered him for opening communications with the French government. A Frenchman, calling himself Guillet de la Gevrillière, made his way secretly into England, and solicited an interview with Fox on a matter of high importance. Fox granted it, and was indignant at discovering that it was a proposal to assassinate Napoleon. Fox ordered the man to be detained, and wrote at once to Talleyrand, informing him of the fact, and expressing his abhorrence of it. Talleyrand replied, complimenting Fox on the nobleness of his principles, and expressing the admiration of the emperor of it. " Tell him," said Buonaparte, as reported by Talleyrand, " that in this act I recognise the principles of honour and virtue in Mr. Fox; " and he added that the emperor desired him to say, that whatever turn affairs might now take, whether this useless war, as he termed it, might be put an end to or not, he was perfectly confident that there was a new spirit in the British cabinet, and that Fox would alone follow principles of beauty and true greatness. Those empty compliments made no way towards such a negotiation as a real burst of gratitude might have introduced, especially when accompanied by such confidence as Buonaparte avowed in Fox's sentiments; and shrewd men suspected that Gevrillière had most likely been dispatched by Napoleon himself, through Fouché, to test the reality of Fox's formerly asserted indignation, that Pitt, or any British minister, could be suspected of plans of assassination against the French emperor.

Still, Fox took the opportunity to sound the French government as to the possibility of peace. In a correspondence with Talleyrand, he said that England would be willing to treat on reasonable terms, the first condition of which was, that the emperor Alexander should be admitted to the treaty. This was at once refused; yet Fox did not give up the attempt, and, at length, the French government proposed that an English ambassador should go to Paris, to endeavour to arrange the principles of an agreement. Fox complied, and committed a diplomatic repetition of the error of the Addington ministry, in sending over lord Malmesbury.

Before an English plenipotentiary was permitted to proceed to Paris, the great points of the negotiation should have been brought forward, and it should have been seen whether there was a probability of according. It should have been understood whether Buonaparte was disposed to surrender Naples again, which England demanded; to require the retirement of the Prussians from Hanover, even if nothing was said of Holland and Switzerland. To send a plenipotentiary without having ascertained these points was simply to enable Buonaparte to boast that he had sought to conciliate, and that British rapacity and ambition rendered all his overtures useless. This was what exactly occurred. Lord Yarmouth, late marquis of Hertford, who had been residing for years in France as one of Buonaparte's detenues at the peace of Amiens, was first sent. Lord Yarmouth arrived in Paris towards the end of May, and though it had been settled that the negotiations should, for the present, remain secret, the French had taken care to make every court in Europe well acquainted with the fact. Then one of the very first demands - having got the ambassador there - was for the recognition, not only of Buonaparte as emperor, but also of all his family as princes and princesses of the blood. Next they came to the surrender of Naples, but Talleyrand assured lord Yarmouth that the emperor, so far from giving up Naples, or any part of Italy, must have Sicily, which was in possession of the English, because Joseph Buonaparte, now made king of Naples, declared that it could not be held without Sicily. France, Talleyrand said, would consent to England holding Malta, the Cape of Good Hope, which we had taken again, and would not only restore Hanover to us, but also allow us to seize on the Hanse Towns and Hamburg! We were, in fact, to be permitted to set up for marauders, like themselves, and invade neutral states, and appropriate them; but, as for Naples or Sicily being restored, that was impossible. Lord Yarmouth also demanded that Dalmatia, Istria, and Albania should be restored, the latter to the Turks, whose empire should regain its entirety. These points were equally resisted. Meantime, Prussia had taken the alarm about Hanover, and Russia, fearful of our treating without her, sent to Paris count d'Oubril. Talleyrand managed to excite jealousies betwixt the English and Russian envoys, to such a degree, that d'Oubril quitted Paris hastily, and returned to St. Petersburg. Instead of peace, the elements of new heartburnings and wars every day developed themselves. Finding that lord Yarmouth did not succeed, Fox sent over the earl of Lauderdale, but he succeeded no better. Buonaparte insisted that Sicily should be given up to Naples, and a little mock monarchy should be created for Ferdinand, the ex-king, in the Balearic Isles, which were to be taken unceremoniously from Spain. Lord Lauderdale, after a month's useless waste of words, demanded his passports, and returned; and Fox had now had ample proof that no peace was to be effected with Napoleon, except upon the terms of leaving the continent to his dictation.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 11

Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII >>>>
Lord Sidmouth
Lord Sidmouth >>>>
Coronation of Napoleon the First
Coronation of Napoleon the First >>>>
Conscript
Conscript >>>>
Napoleon entering Milan
Napoleon entering Milan >>>>
City of Trieste
City of Trieste >>>>
The Battle of Austerlitz
The Battle of Austerlitz >>>>
French soldier
French soldier >>>>
Birth-place of Lord Nelson
Birth-place of Lord Nelson >>>>
Plan of the Battle of Trafalgar
Plan of the Battle of Trafalgar >>>>
Lord Nelson mortally wounded
Lord Nelson mortally wounded >>>>
View of Peschiera.
View of Peschiera. >>>>
All the Talents
All the Talents >>>>
A Brazilian forest
A Brazilian forest >>>>
Statue of Napoleon
Statue of Napoleon >>>>
Jerome Buonaparte
Jerome Buonaparte >>>>
Sir John Duckworth
Sir John Duckworth >>>>
Trial of Palm
Trial of Palm >>>>

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