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The Reign of George III - (Continued.)

Parliamentary Discussions on the War - Enormous Frauds in the Military Department - Prosecution of Davison, Treasurer of the Ordnance - Abolition of the Slave Trade - All the Talents resign - Ministry of the Duke of Portland - Dissolution of Parliament - Immense purchase of Seats by Ministers - Restrictions on Ireland - Popular Education opposed - Failure of General Whitelocke at Buenos Ayres - Failure of Sir John Duckworth before Constantinople - Abortive Attempt on Egypt, under General Frazer - War declared by Turkey against England, and Alliance made with the French - Deposition of the Sultan Selim by Mustapha - Triumph of French Diplomacy in Turkey - Capture of Curaçoa by the English - Bombardment of Copenhagen - Declaration of War by Denmarlz - Seizure of Heligoland by England - Also of the Danish West India Islands - Terrible Repulse of the French by the Russians and Prussians at Mohringhen and Eylau - Battle of Friedland - Treaty of Tilsit, betwixt Buonaparte, Alexander of Russia, and the King of Prussia - Buonaparte's Treatment of Poland - Retreat of the Swedes from Stralsund - Seizure of Portugal by Buonaparte - Seizure of Rome by him - Tuscany annexed to France - Charges against the Marquis of Wellesley's Indian Administration set aside - The Royal Family of Spain kidnapped by Buonaparte, and the Crown of Spain conferred by him on Iiis Brother Joseph - ğMurat made King of Naples - Terrible Excitement of the Spanish People - Massacre by them of French Soldiers - The People fly to Arms, and seek 4id from the English - Five Thousand Men sent to Spain - General Custanos commences the War against the French - The Spaniards swear Fealty to Ferdinand VII. - General Cuesta beaten by the French at Rio Seco - Dupont and Vedel surrender to the Spaniards in Andalusia - King Joseph Buonaparte flies from Madrid - The Siege of Zaragossa abandoned - General Dubesme driven from Gerona - Marshal Moncey from Valencia - Like Spain, Portugal rises on the French - Sir Arthur Wellesley lands at Oporto with Ten Thousand Men, and is joined by General Spencer, with Four Thousand more - Wellesley defeats the French at Roriga, but is superseded by Sir Hugh Dalrymple - Wellesley defeats Junot at Vimiera - Junot capitulates with the British at the Convention of Cintra - Sir John Moore appointed to the Command in Portugal - Advances to Salamanca, in Spain - Buonaparte hastens to Spain - Defeats the Spaniards, and recovers Madrid - Retreat of the English - Battle of Corunna - Death of Sir John Moore - Evacuation of Portugal by the British.
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Parliament assembled for business, after the Christmas recess, on the 2nd of January, 1807. Addresses were moved in the lords by lord Grenville, and in the commons by lord Howiek, to the king, expressing approbation of his majesty's endeavours to procure peace, and, seeing that these had failed, promising him cordial support in prosecuting the war. In both houses the ministers made long explanations of the principles on which they had proposed to settle the peace. They had been willing to treat on the basis of the uti possidetis, or actual possession, with some few exceptions. They demanded the restoration of Hanover, and of Naples to the king of Naples. This would have left Buonaparte the enjoyment of almost everything that lie had made himself master of, and would have made a most humiliating termination of a struggle in which we had aimed at such mighty things, and for which we had covered ourselves and posterity so heavily with debts. The more truly dignified conduct would have been to have stood firm, and waited for the arrival of those reactions which must always come after such a violent and mushroom growth as that of the power of Buonaparte. It was certain that he must exhaust France, or the patience of the nations on which he was now treading. When once the spirit of the nations was aroused in earnest, then they would combine, and fight effectually for their liberties. Till then - till they were trodden on and insulted out of their effeminacy - all help to them was useless; but, when this temper once arose, then would be the time for England to lend a really helping hand, as she had already committed herself to such interference. At present, her attitude was one of mere self-defence, which she could maintain with ease, and at little cost. The endeavours of ministers, therefore, to treat with Buonaparte in the height of his insolence and power, could only, as it did, end in our humiliation. These sentiments were freely expressed in the house of commons by Mr. Montagu and others, who properly blamed Fox fqr subscribing himself in writing to Talleyrand " with perfect attachment," and ministers for selecting lord Yarmouth and lord Lauderdale as ambassadors, the former of whom, being a prisoner in France, was naturally too anxious for peace, as it would liberate him, and the latter, because he had been formerly in close intimacy with the Girondists, and had actually sate in the national assembly, and calmly listened to proposals for the destruction of England. Whitbread only was simple enough to believe that, had Fox lived, a satisfactory peace would have been accomplished.

But, as all now saw that war must go on, both houses prepared themselves for the usual large votes of supply. According to Windham's statement, we had 125,631 regulars in the army, of whom 79,158 were employed in defending our West India islands, 25,000 in India, and upwards of 21,000 foreigners in our pay. Besides this, for home defence, we had 94,000 militia and fencibles, and 200,000 volunteers; go that altogether we had 419,000 men under arms. It was, therefore, contended, and with reason, that, as we had so deeply engaged ourselves in fighting for our allies on the continent with such a force, we might have sent 20,000, with good effect, to unite with Alexander of Russia against Buonaparte, and not have let him be repulsed for want of both men and money. This, indeed, was the disgrace of All the Talents, that they put the country to the expense of an enormous war establishment, and did no real service with it. The supplies, however, were as freely voted as ever. There were granted, for the navy, £17,400,337; for the regular army, £11,305,387; for militia, fencibles, volunteers, &c., £4,203,327; ordnance, £3,321,216. The number of sailors, including 32,000 marines, was fixed at 130,000.

The manner in which a great deal of these vast sums, so freely voted, was spent, was, at this very moment, staring the public most fully in the face, through the military inquiry set on foot under the administration of Pitt, and continued under the present ministry. It appeared that amongst Pitt's supporters was one Alexander Davison, a banker, and colonel of a regiment of volunteers. At his election at Ilchester, he and two others had been convicted of gross bribery in 1804, and condemned to twelve months' confinement in the Marshalsea prison; but no sooner was his sentence expired, than Pitt, as a reward for his sufferings in his service - for this bribery, like a great deal more, was perpetrated in order to bring in Pitt's men, for of such was his great standing majority composed - made this man treasurer of the ordnance! When we hear the tory party and the tory historians lauding the patriotism of Pitt, we should bear these things in mind. This was one out of numbers of such appointments; this was the way in which the country was robbed by wholesale to keep up the power of Pitt, to maintain him in his place. We are told that Pitt died poor, and in debt; yes, and he made his country poor too, and loaded it with debts that will remain at a heavy charge of interest for ages. The vice of Pitt was not avarice, nor the ambition of making himself a millionaire - it was the love of power and distinction. He enjoyed, above all things, the exercise of the national rule, for that lay in him, and not in the king. For this, the most corrupt practices were employed throughout the whole system of government; the most corrupt harpies were elected by bribery for parliament, and placed in the most responsible situations. Whilst, therefore, he threw the money of England by handfuls to helpless kings and princes on the continent, he allowed it to be embezzled with equal license at home. Villanous officials, villanous contractors - this Davison was a contractor as well as official - villanous colonels, called clothing colonels, fleeced the country and the unfortunate troops in every direction. Whilst the best food and decent clothes were paid for, the very worst were furnished, and the difference pocketed by these scoundrel officials and agents. If the national debt could be sifted of all the amount thus fraudulently imposed upon it by these means, its portentous bulk would be wonderfully diminished; and how little is our satisfaction to think how large a proportion of our taxes are yet paid by us for the rascality of these dishonest agents of dishonest governments.

Davison, it now came out, through the researches of the committee, being made treasurer of the ordnance by Pitt, with the full knowledge of his character as a contractor and corruptionist, had been in the habit of drawing large sums from the treasury long before they were wanted, and had generally from three million to four million pounds of the national funds in his hands to trade with, of which the country lost the interest! Nor was this all: there had been an understanding betwixt himself, Delauny, the bar- rackmaster-general, and Greenwood, the army agent. All these gentlemen helped themselves largely to the public money, and their accounts were full of misstatements and overcharges. Those of Delauny were yet only partly gone through, but there was a charge of ninety thousand pounds already against him for fraudulent entries and impositions. As for Davison, there was found to be an arrangement betwixt him and Delauny, by which, as a contractor, he was to receive of Delauny two-and-a-half per cent, on beds, sheets, blankets, towels, candles, beer, forage, &c., which he furnished for barrack use. Besides this, he was to supply the coals as a merchant. Having always several millions of the country's money in hand, he bought up the articles, got his profit, and then his commission, without any outlay of his own. But he had managed so, that, as far as regarded these articles, the committee could arrive at no precise idea of the amount of his frauds; but in coals they obtained the most perfect statement. He was bound to purchase and send in the coals during the summer or autumn, when they were cheapest, and at the regular wholesale price. He had, indeed, bought them at the cheapest season; but, as he had the country's money to pay with, he kept them till the dearest season before delivering them in. According to contract, he was bound to produce certificates of the coals being of a proper quality and price, signed by persons or the hignest respectability; but Davison had paid no attention to this - probably, he had his own good reasons for it - and the certificates were from men of the very worst characters - the chief of them, one George Richard Walker, who had been a coal-dealer himself, and who had furnished candles to Davison - a man so thoroughly bad, that he was afterwards hanged for forgery. Thus rolling in riches at the expense of the country, and still more at that of the poor soldiers, Davison spent his evenings in voting for Pitt and his days in purchasing large estates, the most valuable pictures, and the most splendid furniture and houses. He gave the most superb dinners, and invited, not only his patron Pitt, but the prince of Wales and numbers of the nobility.

Lord Archibald Hamilton gave notice of a motion for the prosecution of Davison at common law, but ministers said they had put the matter into the proper hands, and that Davison had been summoned to deliver up all his accounts, that they might be examined, and measures taken to recover any amount due by him to the treasury. But lord Henry Petty talked as though it was not certain that there were sufficient proofs of his guilt to convict him. The attorney general, however, was ordered to prosecute in the court of king's bench, but the decision did not take place till April, 1809, more than two years afterwards, and then only the miserable sum of eighteen thousand one hundred and eighty-three pounds had been recovered, and Davison was condemned to twenty-one months' imprisonment in Newgate. Such are always the miserable results of inquiries into peculations on government. There are so many concerned in the same practices, that the probing into the sore is very tenderly made. In the course of the session still further frauds were discovered, not only in the barrack department, but in the naval department; but no effectual measures were taken to prevent their recurrence. A modern historian has very justly said on this occasion: - " As in other departments, the capital fault lay in appointing to the superior offices men of rank and fashion, who, being above their duties, and ignorant of details, trusted to contractors and underlings, who robbed the country and disgraced their principals. There was most rarely, if ever, any connivance between the heads of departments and the plunderers; but there was shameful negligence, and, very often, a total incompetence in the chiefs."

But the great glory of this session was not the exposure of Davison and his fellow-thieves, but the stop put to the operations of a much greater class of thieves. The death of Fox had been a sad blow to Wilberforce and the abolitionists, who had calculated on his carrying the prohibition of the slave trade; but lord Grenville and his cabinet, who were pledged to the question of catholic emancipation, and felt that it would be certain to turn them out, from the king's inveterate opposition to it, seemed to have made up their minds to have the glory of achieving the grand object of so many years' exertion for the suppression of the African slave trade. Wilberforce, to his inconceivable joy, discovered that Spencer Perceval, the proposed new minister, and his party were equally willing to co-operate for this purpose. The king and royal family alone remained as adverse to the abolition of slavery as they were to the' emancipation of the catholics. The abolitionists, however, had so imbued the country at large with the sense of the barbarity and iniquity of the traffic, that royal prejudice could no longer swamp the measure, nor aristocratic apathy delay it. Lord Grenville brought in a bill for the purpose into the peers on the 2nd of January: the 12th was fixed for the second reading. Before this took place, counsel was heard, as usual, at the bar of the house, against the measure,, who repeated all the terrible prognostics of ruin to the West Indies and to this country from the abolition, with which the planters and proprietors of the West Indies, the merchants and slave-captains of Liverpool and Bristol, had so often endeavoured to alarm the nation. The emptiness of these bugbears had, however, been now too fully exposed to the nation by the lectures, speeches, and pamphlets of the abolition society, and Wilberforce had all along merely to use the arguments in parliament with which they had abundantly furnished him. Lord Grenville now introduced the second reading by an elaborate speech, in which he condemned and summed up these arguments. Ile was warmly supported by the duke of Gloucester - a liberal exception to his family - by lords King, Selkirk, Rosslyn, Northesk, Holland, Suffolk, Moira, and the bishops of Durham, London, and others. The dukes of Clarence and Sussex as zealously opposed him, as well as lords Sidmouth, Eldon, Ellenborough, Hawkesbury, St. Vincent, and many others. The second reading was carried, after a debate, which continued till five o'clock in the morning, by one hundred against thirty-six. The third reading was also carried with equal ease, and the bill was carried down to the commons on the 10th of February. Lord Howiek proposed its reading in an eloquent speech, and it was opposed, with the usual prognostics of ruin, by Mr. George Hibbert, captain Herbert, and general Gascoyne, who said the nation was carried away by sentimental cant, the result of an enormous agitation by the quakers and saints. The first reading, however, passed without a division, and the second on the 24th of February, by two hundred and eighty-three against sixteen. The house gave three cheers. Seeing the great majority, and that the bill was safe, lord Grenville recommended Wilberforce to strengthen it by inserting the penalties, which he did; but they left a great advantage to the slave merchants by allowing them to clear out their vessels from this country by the 1st of May, and gave them time to deliver their human cargoes in the West Indies till the 1st of January, 1808 - a liberty which was sure to create a great sending out of vessels for the last occasion, and as great a crowding of them. However, the accursed trade was now doomed, as far as English merchants could go, though it was found by experience that it was not so easy to suppress it in reality. It lias constantly entailed on England the cost of the employment of a fleet to endeavour to arrest the traffic, and, after all, in vain; for Spain continues to this day to prosecute this infernal trade, and North Americans indulge in it. When it was seen that it must be carried, lords Eldon, Hawkesbury, and Castlereagh, who had hitherto opposed it, declared themselves in favour of it. It was carried in both houses by large majorities, and received the royal sanction on the 25th of March. So easily was the bill passed, at last, that lord Percy, the day after it had passed the commons, moved in that house for leave to bring in a bill for the gradual emancipation of the slaves; but this being deemed premature, and calculated to injure the operation of the bill for the abolition of the trade, and to create dangerous excitement in the West Indies, the motion was discouraged, and so was dropped.

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