Such being the state of our relations with America, Sir Robert Peel's Government determined to send to Washington a special ambassador who should be clothed with full powers to effect an amicable adjustment of all the causes of dispute. The gentleman selected for this purpose was Lord Ashburton. A more judicious selection could not possibly have been made. Mr. Alexander Baring, who had been raised to the peerage in 1835, having been previously President of the Board of Trade and Master of the Mint, was known throughout the world as one of our merchant princes, and was the husband of an American lady, the daughter of Mr. William Bingham, of Philadelphia, a senator of the United States. The hopes which his mission excited were not disappointed. He sailed from England in February, 1842, and after a tedious and stormy passage, arrived at New York on the 1st of April. He immediately entered upon negotiations with Mr. Webster. They continued till the month of August, when a treaty was agreed upon and signed at Washington by the two plenipotentiaries, the mutual exchange of ratifications to take place in London within six months of that date. By that treaty the line of the north-eastern boundary was settled, concession on the St. John being purchased by the surrender of a strip of land to the States of New York and Vermont. It was stipulated that Great Britain and America should each maintain a sufficient squadron or naval force, carrying not less than eighty guns, for the purpose of enforcing, separately and respectively, the laws, rights, and obligations of each of the two countries for the suppression of the slave trade, and should use their joint influence for suppressing the slave markets. It also provided for the mutual delivery to justice of all persons charged with murder, or assault with intent to murder, or with piracy, robbery, forgery, and arson committed within the jurisdiction of either country, should they be found within the territories of the other; but the evidence of criminality should be sufficient to warrant the committal for trial of the fugitive according to the laws of the country in which he was apprehended. This was a distinct withdrawal of Lord Palmerston's pretensions with regard to the McLeod affair. The mission was thus eminently successful, but Lord Palmerston was of another opinion, and declaimed in the House of Commons against the "Ashburton surrender." But the Commons were unprepared to condemn the work, and the debate ended in a count-out. The House of Lords, on the motion of Brougham, passed a vote of thanks to Lord Ashburton.
Having, for the third time, expelled the French from Portugal, with the exception of the single fortress of Almeida, Wellington proceeded to reconnoitre the situation of affairs in Spain. Whilst on his march after Massena he had sent word to General Menacho to maintain possession of Badajoz, promising him early assistance. Unfortunately, Menacho was killed, and was succeeded in his command by General Imaz, who appears to have been a regular traitor. Wellington, on the 9th of March, had managed to convey to him the intelligence that Massena was in full retreat, and that he should himself very soon be able to send or bring him ample assistance. Imaz had a force of nine thousand Spaniards, and the place was strong. He was besieged by about the same number of French infantry and two thousand cavalry, yet the very next day he informed Soult of Wellington's news, and offered to capitulate. Soult must have been astonished at this proceeding, if he had not himself prepaid it in French money—the surrender of Badajoz, under the imminent approach of Wellington, being of the very highest importance. On the 11th the Spaniards were allowed to march out with what were called the "honours of war," but which, in this case, were the infamies of treachery, and Soult marched in. He then gave up the command of the garrison to Mortier, and himself marched towards Seville.
And, for some time, events seemed to justify these apprehensions by the old governing class. Not a plan of Pitt's but failed. His first enterprise was one of that species that has almost universally failed—a descent on the coast of France. Early in September a fleet of sixteen ships of the line, attended by transports and frigates, was despatched to Rochefort, carrying ten regiments of foot, under the command of Sir John Mordaunt. Sir Edward Hawke commanded the fleet, and the troops were landed on a small fortified island named Aix, at the mouth of the Charente. There, in spite of strict orders, the English soldiers and sailors became awfully drunk, and committed shocking excesses and cruelties on the inhabitants. The rumour of this made the forces in Rochefort furious for vengeance; and when the army was to be landed within a few miles of the place in order to its attack, as usual in such cases, the admiral and general came to an open quarrel. Mordaunt betrayed great timidity, and demanded of Hawke how the troops, in case of failure, were to be brought off again. Hawke replied, that must depend on wind and tide—an answer which by no means reassured Mordaunt. General Conway, next in command to Mordaunt, was eager for advancing to the attack; and Colonel Wolfe—afterwards the conqueror of Quebec—offered to make himself master of Rochefort with three ships of war and five hundred men at his disposal. The brave offer was rejected, but the report of it at once pointed out Wolfe to Pitt as one of the men whom he was on the look-out to work with. Howe, the next in command to Hawke, proposed to batter down the fort of Fouras before advancing on Rochefort; but Mordaunt adopted the resort of all timid commanders—a council of war—which wasted the time in which the assault should have been made, and then it was declared useless to attempt it; the fortifications of Aix were destroyed, and the fleet put back. Mordaunt, like Byng, was brought before a court-martial, but with very different results. He was honourably acquitted—perhaps, under the atrocious 12th Article of War, the Court feared even to censure; and it was said by the people that Byng was shot for not doing enough, and Mordaunt acquitted for doing nothing at all.
Before there was any declaration of war, the King of France, on the 18th of March, issued an order to seize all British ships in the ports of that kingdom; and, nine days afterwards, a similar order was issued by the British Government as to all French ships in their harbours. The first act of hostility was perpetrated by Admiral Keppel. He had been appointed first Admiral on the earliest news of the treaty of France with America; and, being now in the Channel with twenty ships of the line, he discovered two French frigates, La Licorne and La Belle Poule, reconnoitring his fleet. Not troubling himself that there had been no declaration of war, Keppel ordered some of his vessels to give chase; and, on coming up with the Licorne, a gun was fired over her, to call her to surrender; and the Frenchman struck his colours, but not before he had poured a broadside into the America, commanded by Lord Longford, and wounded four of his men. The "saucy" Arethusa, famed in song and story, in the meantime, had come up with the Belle Poule, and, after a desperate action, drove her in amongst the rocks, whilst the Arethusa herself was so disabled as to require towing back to the fleet. A schooner and a French frigate were soon afterwards taken; and, finding on board these vessels papers stating that the fleet in Brest harbour consisted of thirty-two sail of the line and ten or twelve frigates, Keppel returned to Portsmouth for reinforcements.
On the 22nd the Commons went into committee on this subject, and Mr. Tierney then proposed that both the establishment at Windsor and the salary to the Duke of York should be paid out of the Privy Purse or other private funds of the Crown. There was a private property belonging to the Crown of one hundred and forty thousand pounds a year, and surely this was sufficient to defray the charge of the necessary care of the king's person. He reminded the House also of the sums which had been voted for the royal family since 1811. Besides fifty thousand pounds a year set apart for the debts of the Prince Regent, he had a privy purse of sixty thousand pounds a year, besides an additional grant of ten thousand pounds a year made since. The king had also a privy purse of sixty thousand pounds a year, with an additional revenue of ten thousand pounds from the Duchy of Lancaster. Surely, out of all these sums, there must be ample means of taking care of the king's person. To all these second statements Mr. Peel—afterwards the Sir Robert who began his political career in the ranks of high Toryism—replied that the Duke of York would accept no salary which came from the Privy Purse, and he quoted Sheridan and Adam, old friends of the Prince Regent, and staunch Whigs, who had zealously advocated the sacredness of the Privy Purse. When the vote was taken for the disposal of the sum for the Windsor establishment, it was carried by two hundred and eighty against one hundred and eighty-six, a sufficient proof that in the new Parliament the Government possessed a strong majority. On the 25th the proposal to confer on the Duke of York ten thousand pounds per annum, for this charge of his own father's person, was also carried by a still larger majority—two hundred and forty-seven against one hundred and thirty-seven. In the debate, Denman and Brougham opposed the vote, and Canning supported it. In the House of Peers Lords Grey, Lansdowne, and other Whig peers opposed the vote of the ten thousand pounds to the Duke of York. And truly, in private life, it would not have seemed very filial conduct for a man, already possessing a large income, to require a great annual payment for discharging the simple duty of seeing that his aged father, a gentleman also of ample means, was well looked after.The winter of 1836-7 was marked by great commercial activity, and a strong tendency to over-trading, chiefly on the part of the banks. The result was a reaction, and considerable monetary embarrassment. In the reckless spirit of enterprise which led to these consequences, the American houses took the lead. The American speculators indulged an inordinate thirst for gain by land jobs, and over-trading in British produce. The most remarkable examples of this were afforded by three great American houses in London, called "the three W.'s." From an account of these firms, published in June, 1837, it appeared that the amount of bills payable by them from June to December, was as follows: Wilson and Co., ￡936,300; Wigan and Co., ￡674,700; Wildes and Co., ￡505,000; total acceptances, ￡2,116,000. This was upwards of one-sixth of the aggregate circulation of the private and joint-stock banks of England and Wales, and about one-eighth of the average circulation of the Bank of England. The shipments to America by Wigan and Co. amounted to ￡1,118,900. The number of joint-stock banks that started into existence at this time was remarkable. From 1825 to 1833 only thirty joint-stock banks had been established. In that year the Charter of the Bank of England being renewed, without many of the exclusive privileges it formerly enjoyed, and the spirit of commercial enterprise being active, joint-stock banks began to increase rapidly. There was an average of ten new companies annually, till 1836, when forty-five of these establishments came into existence in the course of ten months. In Ireland there were ten started in the course of two years. The consequence of this greatly increased banking accommodation produced a wild spirit of commercial adventure, which collapsed first in America, where the monetary confusion was unexampled—bankers, importers, merchants, traders, and the Government having been all flung into a chaos of bankruptcy and insolvency. This state of things in America had an immediate effect in England. Discounts were abruptly refused to the largest and hitherto most respectable houses of Liverpool and London. Trade, in consequence, became paralysed; prices suddenly dropped from thirty to forty per cent.; and the numerous share bubbles—the railway projects, the insurance companies, the distillery companies, the cemetery companies, the sperm oil, the cotton twist, zoological gardens, and other speculations—which had floated on the pecuniary tide, all suddenly collapsed, and there was an end to the career of unprincipled adventurers. It is satisfactory, however, to observe that the sound commerce of the country soon recovered the shock thus given; and in less than two years the pecuniary difficulties had passed away. Commerce had resumed its wonted activity, and flowed steadily in legitimate channels. The American banks resumed payment, and the three great American houses, which had involved themselves to such an enormous extent, were enabled to meet all their liabilities.
During the discussion of this question, Sir George Savile brought forward another. This was a Bill for relieving Catholics, by repealing the penalties and disabilities imposed by the 10th and 11th of King William III. The hardships sought to be removed were these:—The prohibition of Catholic priests or Jesuits teaching their own doctrines in their own churches, such an act being high treason in natives and felony in foreigners; the forfeitures by Popish heirs of their property who received their education abroad, in such cases the estates going to the nearest Protestant heir; the power given to a Protestant to take the estate of his father, or next kinsman, who was a Catholic, during his lifetime; and the debarring all Catholics from acquiring legal property by any other means than descent. Dunning declared the restrictions a disgrace to humanity, and perfectly useless, as they were never enforced; but Sir George Savile said that was not really the fact, for that he himself knew Catholics who lived in daily terror of informers and of the infliction of the law. Thurlow, still Attorney-General, but about to ascend the woolsack, promptly supported the Bill; and Henry Dundas, the Lord Advocate of Scotland, lamented that it would afford no relief to his own country. These Acts did not affect Scotland, as they had been passed before the union; but Scotland had a similar Act passed by its own Parliament, and he promised to move for the repeal of this Scottish Act in the next Session. In the Commons there was an almost total unanimity on the subject; and in the Lords, the Bishop of Peterborough was nearly the only person who strongly opposed it. He asked that if, as it was argued, these Acts were a dead letter, why disturb the dead?In 1823 we behold the starting-point of the liberal system of commercial policy, for which not only England, but all the world, is so much indebted—the rivulet which gradually expanded into a mighty river bearing incalculable blessings upon its bosom to every nation under heaven. The appointment of Mr. Huskisson as a member of the Government was an immense advantage to the nation. He was a man of great abilities, which he had perseveringly devoted to the study of political economy. He was a complete master of all subjects in which statistics were involved, and was universally looked up to as the highest authority on all financial and commercial questions. As President of the Board of Trade he had ample opportunities of turning his knowledge to account, and to him is mainly due the initiation and direction of the course of commercial policy which a quarter of a century later issued in the complete triumph of Free Trade. Mr. Huskisson was not only intimately acquainted with the whole range of economic, financial, and mercantile subjects, in their details as well as in their principles, he was also a powerful debater, a sound reasoner, and was animated in all he did by a spirit of generous philanthropy. At the same time it is only just to point out that he did but carry out the policy of Mr. Wallace, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, a statesman whose name is almost forgotten.Accession of George IV.—Meeting of Parliament—General Election—Opening of the New Session—Dulness of Affairs—Brougham on Education—Queen Caroline—Omission of her Name from the Liturgy—She rejects the King's Proposals, and arrives in England—Attempts at a Compromise—The King orders an Inquiry—The Secret Committee—The Bill of Pains and Penalties—Arrival of the Queen in the House of Lords—Discussions on the Form of Procedure—Speeches of Denman and the Attorney-General—Evidence for the Prosecution—Brougham's Speech—Abandonment of the Bill—General Rejoicings—Violence of Party Feeling—Popularity of the Queen—Her Claim to be crowned refused—The Queen's Attempt to enter the Abbey—Indiscretion of the Act—The Coronation and the Banquet—The subsequent Scramble—Death of the Queen—Departure of her Body—The King's Visit to Ireland—A Royal Oration and its enthusiastic Reception—The King and Lady Conyngham—Changes in the Government—Discontent of Eldon—Wellesley in Ireland—Alarming State of the Country—Canning's Speech on Catholic Emancipation—Parliamentary Reform—Agricultural Distress and Finance—Eldon's Outbreak on the Marriage Bill—Suicide of Lord Londonderry—Scene at his Funeral—Visit of George IV. to Scotland—Loyalty of Sir Walter Scott—Account of the Festivities—Peel's Letter to Scott—Return of the King—Canning takes the Foreign Office and Leadership of the House of Commons—Huskisson joins the Cabinet—The Duke of Wellington sent to Verona—His Instructions—Principles of the Holy Alliance—The Spanish Colonies—French Intervention in Spain—The Duke's Remonstrances with the French King—His Interview with the Czar—The Congress of Verona—Failure of Wellington to prevent Intervention in Spain—Vindication of Canning's Policy in the Commons—He calls the New World into Existence.
On the 21st of October the British fleet sailed from Copenhagen Roads; at Helsingfors the fleet was saluted by the King of Sweden, who invited the admirals to breakfast; and, by the end of the month, was anchored in Yarmouth Roads safely, with all its captives. Fresh offers of alliance with Denmark were made before leaving, accompanied with promises of restoration, but were indignantly refused by the Crown Prince; and no sooner were the British gone, than the Danes converted their trading-vessels into armed ones, and commenced a raid amongst the British merchants, now in the Baltic, for the protection of which some men-of-war ought to have been left. The Crown Prince, now thrown completely into the arms of the French, made a declaration of war against Britain, and the British Government issued an order for reprisals on the ships, colonies, and property of the Danes. They also seized on the island of Heligoland, a mere desolate rock, but, lying at the mouth of the Elbe, and only twenty-five miles from the mouths of the Weser and the Eider, it was of the greatest importance, during the war, as a safe rendezvous for our men-of-war, and as a dep?t for our merchandise, ready to slip into any of the neighbouring rivers, and thus, by smugglers, to be circulated all over the Continent, in spite of Buonaparte's embargo. It served also to remind the people of those regions, that, though Buonaparte ruled paramount on land, there was a power on the sea that yet set him and all his endeavours at defiance.
Before these discussions took place, an attempt had been made by similar means to lead the people of Scotland into insurrection. Emissaries appeared in the towns and villages informing the people that there were preparations made for a general rising, and they were ordered to cease all work and betake themselves to certain places of rendezvous. On the morning of Sunday, the 2nd of April, the walls of Glasgow were found placarded everywhere by a proclamation, ordering all persons to cease labour and turn out for a general revolution. The next morning the magistrates called out the military, and they were drawn up in the streets in readiness for the appearance of an insurrection, but none took place. The people were all in wonder, and assembled to see what would happen; but there appeared not the slightest disposition to make any disorder, and some of the cotton mills were at work as though nothing was expected to take place. But still, the mischief had not altogether failed. Some fifty poor ignorant men had been decoyed out of Glasgow to near Kilsyth, on the assurance that four or five thousand men would there join them, and proceed to take the Carron Ironworks and thus supply themselves with artillery. These poor dupes were met on the road, on some high ground on Bonnymuir, by a detachment of armed men sent out against them, and, after some resistance, during which some of them were wounded, nineteen were made prisoners and the rest fled. Other arrests were made in different parts of Scotland, and they were tried in the following July and August; but so little interest was felt in this attempt, or in the details of what was called "the Battle of Bonnymuir," that three only were punished and the rest discharged.On the 9th of June a bulletin was published, which fixed public attention on the precarious state of the king's health. It announced that his Majesty had suffered for some time from an affection of the chest, which had produced considerable weakness. The burden of regal state, assumed at so late a period of life, seemed to have been too much for his strength, and to have caused too great a change in his habits. In the preceding month of April his eldest natural daughter, Lady De Lisle, died, and also the queen's mother, the Dowager Duchess of Meiningen. These events made a deep impression upon his mind, which acted upon his enfeebled constitution and aggravated the symptoms of his disease. From the 9th of June, when the first bulletin was issued, he grew daily worse; the circulation became more languid, and the general decay more apparent. On the 20th of June he expired, in the seventy-third year of his age, having reigned nearly seven years. His kindness of heart and simplicity of character, which had endeared him greatly to all classes of his subjects, caused him to be generally and sincerely lamented. In the House of Peers Lord Melbourne referred to his death as a loss which had deprived the nation of a monarch always anxious for the interest and welfare of his subjects; and added, "which has deprived me of a most generous master, and the world of a man—I would say one of the best of men—a monarch of the strictest integrity that it has ever pleased Divine Providence to place over these realms. The knowledge which he had acquired in the course of his professional education of the colonial service and of civil matters, was found by him exceedingly valuable, and he dealt with the details of practical business in the most familiar and most advantageous manner. A more fair or more just man I have never met with in my intercourse with the world. He gave the most patient attention, even when his own opinion was opposed to what was stated, being most willing to hear what could be urged in opposition to it. These were great and striking qualities in any man, but more striking in a monarch." The declaration doubtless came from the heart, and was the more creditable, because the king's opposition to the Ministry had been most pronounced. He looked upon the second Melbourne Cabinet as forced upon him, and, though he had regard for one or two of them—particularly Lord Melbourne and Lord Palmerston—he made no secret of his dislike to the whole, and never invited them to Windsor. We have already given an instance of one of his discreditable outbursts, and his conduct during his later years was in other respects eccentric in the extreme. Besides, his zeal for reform had long passed away; and he was in complete sympathy with the factious proceedings of the majority of the House of Lords when each Ministerial measure was proposed—for instance, the Church Rates Bill he met with a long and ably argued list of objections which it required all Lord Melbourne's tact and firmness to overcome. But, with all his oddities and faults, William IV. was a thoroughly honourable man, and his opposition to his Ministers entirely aboveboard.In such very discouraging circumstances the American campaign began. Whilst insurrection was in their camp, Sir Henry Clinton dispatched General Arnold to make a descent upon the coast of Virginia. That general had been dispatched into that quarter, at the close of the year, with one thousand six hundred men, in ships so bad, that they were obliged to fling overboard some of their horses. Arnold, however, first sailed up the river James, and landed at Westover, only twenty-five miles from Richmond, the capital of Virginia. Jefferson, who was Governor of Virginia, was seized with great alarm; for, though the militia of the State were nominally fifty thousand, he could muster only a few hundreds. He therefore hastily collected what property he could, and fled up the country, dreading to fall into the hands of a man so embittered against the Americans as Arnold was, who was himself well aware that they had determined to hang him without mercy if they caught him. Arnold did not allow much time to elapse without action. The next day he was in Richmond, and sent word to Jefferson that, provided British vessels might come up the river to take away the tobacco, he would spare the town. Jefferson rejected the proposal, and Arnold burnt all the tobacco stores and the public buildings, both there and at Westham. After committing other ravages, he returned to Portsmouth, on Elizabeth River, where he entrenched himself. On the 26th of March, General Phillips, having assumed the command, in company with Arnold ascended James River with two thousand five hundred men, took and destroyed much property in Williamsburg and York Town, ravaged the country around, and then sailed to the mouth of the Appomattox, and burnt all the shipping and tobacco in Petersburg. After other depredations, and forcing the Americans to destroy their own flotilla between Warwick and Richmond, Phillips and Arnold descended the James River to Manchester, and proposed to cross over to Richmond. But Lafayette having just reached that place before them with upwards of two thousand men, they re-embarked, and, after destroying much other property, especially shipping and stores, at Warwick and other places, they fell down to Hog Island, where they awaited further orders.
The introduction of the steam-engine, railroads, and canals enabled the coal-miners during this reign to extend the supply of coals enormously. In 1792 the coal-mines of Durham and Northumberland alone maintained twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty persons, and employed a capital of three million one hundred and thirty thousand pounds—a very small amount of both people and money as compared with the workers and capital engaged in the trade since the expansion of the manufacturing and steam systems. The coal-fields of Durham and Northumberland extend to nearly eight hundred square miles, but the beds in Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, the Midland Counties, South of Scotland, and Ireland, are still immense and not yet fully explored. Fresh strata are discovered as steam power enables us to go deeper. In 1817 Sir Humphry Davy perfected his safety-lamp, which, by means of a simple wire gauze, enabled the miner to work amid the most explosive gases. These lamps, however, were not able to protect the colliers from their own carelessness, and most horrible destruction, from time to time, took place amongst them from neglect.But the conquered Sikhs did not very easily acquiesce in the terms proposed by the conquerors, in spite of the wise administration of the great brothers John and Henry Lawrence, who organised a thoroughly efficient government in the new territories. Gholab Singh was chased from the territory the British had given him, and it became necessary that British arms should reinstate him, and that a British force should permanently garrison Lahore, at a cost to the Sikh Government of ￡220,000 a year. The intriguing and restless Ranee was sent off from the capital to Sharpoora, where she was kept under surveillance. Sir Charles Napier was obliged to resign his government in Scinde from ill-health, and he returned home in 1847. The Governor-General, after making a progress through various parts of the empire, in order to inaugurate and encourage works of social improvement, was also obliged to retire from his post, in consequence of the failure of his health owing to the fatigues and hardships he had endured in the campaign, and Henry Lawrence accompanied him. On his return home Hardinge was made Master-General of the Ordnance and Commander-in-Chief, being succeeded in India by Lord Dalhousie, who arrived there on the 10th of January, 1848. He, too, found disturbances to be quelled and treachery to be punished among our allies and tributaries. Troubles occurred at Lahore, where the hostility of the inhabitants to the British broke out with terrible effect. Mr. Vans Agnew, the British Resident, and Lieutenant Anderson were treacherously murdered at Mooltan, apparently by the orders of Moolraj, who had been ordered to pay a large sum as succession duty to the Sikh Government. Their death was avenged by Lieutenant Edwardes and General Courtland, who, at the head of a small force, attacked and defeated the revolted Sikhs, 3,000 strong. At length 26,000 troops under General Whish invested the place. But his troops went over to the enemy, and he was compelled to raise the siege and retire. At the same time an insurrection broke out in the Punjab, headed by the governor of the North-West Provinces; in fact, there was a general revolt of the Sikhs against British rule.详情
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