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The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 19


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On the 13th of September Charles James Fox died at Chiswick House, the residence of the duke of Devonshire. He had been for a considerable time suffering from dropsy, and had got as far as Chiswick, in the hope of gathering strength enough to reach St. Anne's Hill, near Chertsey, his own house. But his days were numbered; free living had shortened these, as it had done those of Pitt. He was only fifty-eight years of age. During his illness his colleagues and so-called friends, with that strange coldness and selfishness which have always distinguished the whigs, with very few exceptions, never went near him. Those honourable exceptions were the duke of Devonshire, who had offered him his house, the prince of Wales, his nephew, lord Holland, his niece, Miss Fox, and his old friend, general Fitzpatrick. Still, Fox was not deserted by humbler and less known friends. Lords Grenville and Howick, his colleagues, rarely went near him, and all the ministry were too busy anticipating and preparing for the changes which his decease must make. When this event took place, there was a great changing about, but only one new member of the cabinet was admitted, lord Holland, and only one resigned, the earl Fitzwilliam. Lord Howick took Fox's department, that of foreign affairs; lord Holland became privy seal; Grenville, first lord of the admiralty; and Tierney, president of the board of control. Sidmouth, afterwards so prominent in tory cabinets, still sate in this medley one as president of the council, and lord Minto was gratified by the governor-generalship of India. At the same time, Philip Francis was invested with the order of the Bath. As parliament was not sitting at the time of Fox's death, ministers ordered his interment in Westminster Abbey, and he was carried thither on the 10th of October, the twenty- sixth anniversary of his election for Westminster, and laid almost close to the monument of Chatham, and within eighteen inches of the grave of his old rival, Pitt. Never were two men of more opposite natures: Pitt, all coldness and pride; Fox, all warmth and good nature. Pitt, an apostate to liberty; Fox, always its steady though not always prudent friend. Could Fox have swayed the counsels of this country as long as Pitt did, he would not, perhaps, have been able to preserve peace, but we believe he would have confined war, as far as this country was concerned, to a defensive and a maritime one, and would have extended his efforts to obtain terms for the continental nations, rather than to stimulate them into an opposition to France which they were too demoralised and effeminate to succeed in. The ease with which Prussia was defeated, and its boasted army scattered to the winds, almost immediately after Fox's death, showed how completely these nations required shaking out of their rottenness, and reconstructing.

Parliament was suddenly dissolved by the All the Talents ministry, in the hope of acquiring a better majority, but this hope was not brilliantly realised. The new parliament assembled on the 19th of December, and one of its first topics was the situation of Prussia, now, after all its waverings and shiftings, plunged into a war with France. In the royal speech, which was read by commission, it was stated that, notwithstanding the conduct of Prussia in seizing on Hanover, no sooner was the rupture with France made known, than his majesty had endeavoured to accommodate differences, and to offer aid to Prussia. The almost instant prostration of that power had, however, prevented this. The speech then noted, with satisfaction, the determined resistance to France of Sweden and Russia. According to the theory of Pitt, a liberal subsidy ought to have been sent to these powers, to enable them to take the field against Buonaparte - for it was the idea of his party that no nation could carry on war without the money of England; but when Alexander of Russia applied for such support, the present ministry sent him only eighty thousand pounds. Lord Hawkesbury, in the lords, and Canning, in the commons, censured the ministry severely for not having acted as Pitt would have done, by furnishing funds to both Prussia and Russia. Canning, moreover, complained that, whilst the French never failed to make the most of their victories, we seemed to be ashamed of ours, and had not even passed a vote of thanks to Sir John Stuart and his officers for their gallant conduct at Maida, in Calabria. Canning, more unluckily, blamed ministers for not giving praise enough to Sir Home Popham and general Beresford for their seizure of Buenos Ayres; but lord Ho wick informed him of the real facts of that unlucky enterprise, and endeavoured to exempt himself from blame by saying that he had advised the recall of the expedition - forgetting, however, to add that, after the first news of success, he had joined in sending out fresh forces to reinforce Beresford, and that the disastrous choice of general Whitelocke had been approved by him.

On the 22nd of December lord Grenville presented to the house of lords the papers relative to the late negotiations with Napoleon, and the same day the votes of thanks which Canning had called for were passed, in both houses, to Sir John Stuart, brigadier-general Lowry Cole, brigadier- general Ackland, and the other officers engaged in the brilliant affair of Calabria. Windham declared that the battle of Maida was on a par with those of Crecy, Agincourt, and Poictiers; that it had broken the spell of French superiority in war, and proved that Ave could beat them, even under great disadvantage of numbers. Canning cordially assented to this, but censured ministers for not sending sufficient forces to Calabria, so as to enable us to drive the French completely out, instead of leaving the brave Calabrians to their vengeance after we had promised to secure them from their domination. At the close of this debate parliament adjourned for the Christmas recess, and thus terminated the eventful year of 1806.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 19

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