After the coronation, the queen resided at Brandenburgh House, determined to lead a life of dignified retirement. But the violent agitation and excitement, and the terribly painful mortification to which she was subjected in her ill-advised attempt to form part of the coronation pageant, were too much for her constitution. As soon as it was evident that her end was approaching, much public sympathy was excited, and the vicinity of her residence was incessantly thronged with persons of all classes making anxious inquiries about her health, and solicitous for her restoration. On the 4th of August, when her professional advisers were receiving instructions about the disposition of her property, one of them suggested the propriety of sending a messenger to Italy to seal up her papers, in order to prevent them from falling into the hands of her enemies. "And what if they do?" she exclaimed; "I have no papers that they may not see. They can find nothing, because there is nothing, nor ever has been, to impeach my character." One of them said that he was aware of that, but her enemies might put there what they did not find. She replied, "I have always defied their malice, and I defy it still." Nevertheless, it was her conscious failure in her efforts to make the public believe this, coupled with the public humiliation to which she had been subjected, that bowed down her spirit at last, and gave the victory to her enemies. She had painted their characters in vivid colours in her private diary, and might have transmitted their punishment to posterity had she ordered it to be preserved and published; but she gave directions to have it destroyed, and it was burnt in her presence by one of her foreign maids. After suffering intensely for four or five days, she sank into a stupor, from which she never woke, and on the 7th of August, after an entire absence of sense and faculty for more than two hours, expired Caroline of Brunswick, Queen Consort of George IV., in the fifty-fourth year of her age. She had by her bedside in her last hours her faithful friends and constant attendants, Lord and Lady Hood, and Lady Anne Hamilton; Alderman Wood, who had been devoted to her interests from the first, was also present, as well as her legal and medical advisers.A question was opened in the House of Commons, on a motion of Mr. Western, which often subsequently occupied its attention. It referred to the effect on prices of Mr. Peel's Act of 1819 for the resumption of cash payments. According to the views of Mr. Western and Mr. Attwood, the value of money had been enormously increased by the resumption of payments in specie by the Bank, and its necessary preliminary, a diminution of the circulation. Prices had in consequence fallen; rents, taxes, annuities, and all fixed payments become more onerous. These views were opposed by Huskisson, Peel, and Ricardo, and, on the motion of the first-named, a resolution was carried, by one hundred and ninety-four to thirty, "That this House will not alter the standard of gold or silver in fineness, weight, or denomination."After a lengthened and toilsome Session Parliament was at length prorogued by the king in person on the 10th of September. Several important measures which had passed the Commons were rejected by the Lords. Their resistance had caused great difficulty in carrying through the imperatively demanded measures of Municipal Reform; and they had deprived the Irish Church Temporalities Act of one of its principal features. But their obstructive action was not confined to great political measures of that kind. They rejected the Dublin Police Bill, and other measures of practical reform. The consequence was that the Liberal party began to ask seriously whether the absolute veto which the Lords possessed, and which they sometimes used perversely and even factiously, was compatible with the healthful action of the legislature and the well-being of the country. It was roundly asserted that the experience of the last two years had demonstrated the necessity of reform in the House of Lords. The question was extensively agitated, it was constantly discussed in the press, public meetings were held throughout the country upon it, and numerous petitions were presented to Parliament with the same object. On the 2nd of September Mr. Roebuck, while presenting one of these petitions, announced his intention of introducing early in the next Session a Bill to deprive the House of Lords of its veto upon all measures of legislation, and to substitute for it a suspense of power, so that if a Bill thrown out by the Lords should pass the Commons a second time, and receive the Royal Assent, it might become law without the concurrence of the Peers. Mr. Ripon also gave notice of a motion to remove the bishops from the House of Peers; while Mr. Hume indignantly denounced the humiliating ceremonials observed in the intercourse between the Commons and the Lords. Although the whole proceeding at a conference between the two Houses consists of the exchange of two pieces of paper, oral discussions not being permitted, the members of the House of Commons are obliged to wait upon the Lords, standing with their hats off, the members of the Upper House, as if they were masters, remaining seated with their hats on. The state of feeling among the working classes on this subject was expressed in the strongest language in an address to Mr. O'Connell from the "non-franchised inhabitants of Glasgow." They warmly deprecated the unmanly and submissive manner in which the Ministers and the Commons had bowed bare-headed to the refractory Lords. They demanded that responsibility should be established in every department of the State; and they said, "As the House of Lords has hitherto displayed a most astounding anomaly in this enlightened age by retaining the right to legislate by birth or Court favour, and being thereby rendered irresponsible, it follows it must be cut down as a rotten encumbrance, or be so cured as to be made of some service to the State, as well as amenable to the people."
This coalition was considered a matter of great importance, not as giving strength to the Administration of Lord Liverpool, to which it brought only a few votes in the House of Commons, but as indicating a radical change of policy towards Ireland. Lord Eldon was by no means satisfied with the changes. "This coalition," he writes, "I think, will have consequences very different from those expected by the members of administration who have brought it about. I hate coalitions." No doubt they ill suited his uncompromising spirit; and any connection with Liberal opinions must have been in the highest degree repugnant to the feelings of one who believed that the granting of Catholic Emancipation would involve the ruin of the Constitution.Notwithstanding that Hyder had established his camp soon after in a strong position near the village of Pollilore, he was attacked on the 27th of August by Eyre Coote. On this occasion Sir Hector Munro warned Coote of the disadvantages of ground under which he was going to engage, and the inevitable sacrifice of life. Coote replied angrily, "You talk to me, sir, when you should be doing your duty!" His warning, however, was just. Coote did not succeed in driving Hyder from his post without severe loss. But again, on the 27th of September, another battle was fought between them in the pass of Sholinghur, near Bellore, in which Coote defeated Hyder with terrible loss. This battle relieved the English garrison in Bellore, and the rainy season put an end to operations, but the Carnatic was saved.
The next day the debate was resumed. It appeared that the Prince had been hooted at, and a stone, or other missile, flung through the window of the carriage. The Ministerial party endeavoured to raise the occurrence into an attempt on the Prince's life; the Opposition hinted at the expression of public disgust with the tone which Government was assuming towards the distresses of the people, called zealously for stringent reductions of expense, and moved an amendment to that very effect. But the Government had yet much to learn on this head; and Lord Sidmouth announced that the Prince Regent in three days would send down a message on the disaffection of the people. It would have been wise to have added to this measure a recommendation of serious inquiry into the causes of this disaffection, for disaffection towards a Government never exists without a cause; but the Government had carried on matters so easily whilst they had nothing to do but to vote large sums of money for foreign war that they had grown callous, and had been so much in co-operation with arbitrary monarchs that they had acquired too much of the same spirit; and they now set about to put down the people of England as they, by means of the people of England, had put down Buonaparte. It was their plan to create alarm, and under the influence of that alarm to pass severe measures for the crippling of the Constitution and the suppression of all complaints of political evil.On the 26th of August Massena arrived before Almeida, a strongly fortified town not thirty miles from Ciudad Rodrigo. Wellington hoped that it would detain him at least a month, for it had a good Portuguese garrison, commanded by Colonel Cox, an English officer: and he himself drew near, to be able to seize any opportunity of damaging the besiegers. But in the night of the 27th there was a terrible explosion of a powder magazine, which threw down part of the wall, and made the place untenable. Treachery was immediately suspected, and what followed was sufficient proof of it; for the Portuguese major, whom Colonel Cox sent to settle the terms of the capitulation, went over to the French, and was followed by a whole Portuguese regiment with the exception of its British officers. This was a great disappointment to Lord Wellington, whose plan was to detain Massena till the rainy season set in, when he would at once find himself embarrassed by bridgeless floods and in intolerable roads, and, as he hoped and had ordered, in a country without people and without provisions.Now, much of this at the moment was true; the manufacturers were naturally anxious to resume their business, and a fall in the price of corn, after the plentiful harvest of 1817, to seventy-four shillings and sixpence, relieved a little the pressure on the working classes. Could cheap bread have been secured, the condition of the people might soon have become easy; but the fatal Corn Law came immediately into operation. By the end of 1817 corn had risen in price again to eighty-five shillings and fourpence; and then the ports were opened, but the supplies did not bring down the markets. The spring of 1818 proved wet, and then about the middle of May a drought set in, and continued till September, so that the apprehension of a deficient harvest kept up the price of all articles of life, notwithstanding that a million and a half quarters of wheat had been imported during the year. So long as bread was tolerably cheap, and work more abundant, political agitation in the manufacturing districts subsided; but it was soon proved that the apparent increase of activity in manufacturing and commercial exports was but a feverish desire on the part of manufacturers and merchants to force a trade for which the exhausted Continent was not yet prepared. Nothing but a free importation of corn could have carried the country comfortably through the crisis; and this was denied by the measures of Government, except at a rate of price that put the proper consumption of bread beyond the means of the working classes.
The year 1732 was distinguished by little of importance. The Opposition, led on by Pulteney, attacked the Treaty of Vienna, concluded on March 16th, 1731, by which the Pragmatic Sanction had been approved of, and which, they contended, might lead us into a Continental war some day, or into a breach of the public faith, of which, they asserted, this Ministry had perpetrated too many already. They assailed the standing army, but were answered that there was yet a Pretender, and many men capable of plotting and caballing against the Crown. The King was so incensed at Pulteney for his strictures on the army, that he struck his name out of the list of Privy Councillors, and ordered that all commissions of the peace which he held in different counties should be revoked. Amongst the staunchest supporters of the Government was Lord Hervey, a young man of ability who is now best remembered because, having offended Pope, he was, according to custom, pilloried by the contentious poet, as Sporus in the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. Pope nicknamed him Lord Fanny, in derision of his dainty and effeminate manners. Hervey contended that the writers who attacked Government ought to be put down by force, and in his own person he attempted to put this in practice; for Pulteney being suspected by him of having written a scarifying article on him in The Craftsman, he challenged him, and both combatants were wounded. Plumer very justly contended that scribblers ought to be left to other scribblers.The British Ministry adopted the advice most cordially. Lord Liverpool, in the House of Lords, and Lord Castlereagh, in the Commons, on the 6th of April, announced the astounding fact of the escape of Buonaparte, and proposed addresses from both Houses to the Prince Regent, recommending the most energetic measures of co-operation with the Allies now finally to crush this lawless man. Whitbread vehemently opposed this measure, declaring that it was not our business "to commence a new crusade to determine who should fill the throne of France." This was true enough; but it was a truth, in the then temper of the Government or public, which was not likely to be attended to. The addresses were carried in both Houses without any division, and Lord Wellington was nominated to command the forces which should take the field for Great Britain; and these were to amount to no fewer than one hundred and fifty thousand, and to consist of a moderate number of British soldiers, and the rest to be paid Hanoverians, Belgians, Dutch, and Germans. Parliament immediately voted the enormous sum of ninety million pounds for supplies, knowing the vast subsidies which would be required by the Allied monarchs, besides the large sum necessary to pay our own quota of troops.
[See larger version]Soon after the close of the Session in June, the king proceeded to Hanover, accompanied, as usual, by Townshend and the Duchess of Kendal. The state of his foreign relations demanded the utmost attention, and very soon underwent the most extraordinary changes. These were precipitated by the Duke of Bourbon, and were caused by the state of the French succession. The young king might have children, and the only reason why he might not have legitimate issue soon was that he was affianced to the Infanta, Mary Ann, Philip's daughter, then a mere child. Should he not have children, the young Duke of Orleans, the son of the late Regent, would succeed him. To prevent this contingency, the Duke of Bourbon, who had a violent hatred of Orleans, prevailed on Louis to dismiss the Infanta, and choose as queen some princess of mature age. He turned his eye for this purpose on the Princess Anne of England, but George declined the alliance, because the Queen of France was bound to become Catholic. The Princess Mary Leczinska was next fixed upon, daughter of the exiled Stanislaus of Poland, and the Duke of Bourbon then sent the Infanta back to Spain.
Charles, accompanied by O'Sullivan, Sheridan, and other gentlemen, rode away to a seat of Lord Lovat's. The wild gallop of horsemen startled that wily old fox in his lair; and when he heard the news the Master began to tremble for his own safety. There are different accounts of his reception of the fugitive prince. One says that he was so occupied with thinking of making his own escape, that he hardly showed common courtesy to the prince and his companions, and that they parted in mutual displeasure. Another states that Lovat urged the same advice as Lord George Murray had done, still to get up into the mountains, and make a bold face, by which time might be gained for fresh reinforcements, or at least for making some terms for the unhappy people. But it is clear that Charles had now lost all spirit, if he had ever retained much after he had been forced to retreat from Derby. He and his party rode away again at ten o'clock at night, and reached Invergarry, the castle of Glengarry, about two hours before daybreak. Lord George still entertained the idea of keeping together a large body of Highlanders. He had already with him one thousand two hundred. Charles had stolen away from Invergarry to Arkaig, in Lochaber, and thence to Glenboisdale, where the messengers of Lord George found him, accompanied only by O'Sullivan, O'Neil, and Burke, his servant, who knew the country and acted as guide. All the rest of his train had shifted for themselves. Lord George entreated the prince not to quit the country, but to continue to gather a force in the mountains, and thus resist and harass their enemies till they received reinforcements; but Charles sent him word that the only chance was for himself to hasten over to France, and use all his interest to bring over an efficient force. He therefore sent Lord George a written plan of his intentions, which was not, however, to be opened till he had sailed; and he desired Lord George to request the different chiefs and their men to seek their own safety as best they might. That act terminated the Rebellion.
There was a number of lady dramatists of this period. Mrs. Cowley wrote "The Runaway," "The Belle's Stratagem," "More Ways than One," etc.; Mrs. Brooke, Miss Marshall, Mrs. Lennox, and Miss Sophia Lee, all wrote successful plays; Mrs. Sheridan, the author of the Eastern story, "Nourjahad," was the writer of the successful comedies of "The Discovery" and "The Dupe." But the chief dramatist of this period was Richard Brinsley Sheridan, her son (b. 1751; d. 1816). He was equally distinguished as a politician, an orator, and a critic. Like Murphy, Macklin, and Cumberland, he was an Irishman. His dramas placed him at the head of all the writers for the stage of his time. They abounded with humour, wit, the smartest action, and knowledge of life and human nature. His splendid comedy of "The Rivals," written when he was not twenty-five, did not at first augur much success; but "The Duenna," which appeared the same year, carried with it at once the highest public favour; and his "School for Scandal," acted in 1777, raised his reputation to the utmost. He also wrote the farces of "The Critic," "The Trip to Scarborough," and "St. Patrick's Day." All these were issued before 1780, and after that he was too much involved in political affairs to renew this style of writing. Amongst his other labours for the theatre was the adaptation of "Pizarro," one of Kotzebue's numerous plays. Sheridan first appeared before the world as the translator of "Arist?netus."详情
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