Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

nothing but the bill. Pitt boasted that I bound themselves, not in express words, England was victorious at once in but by the clearest implication, to make America, in India, and in Germany, war on England in common. Spain the umpire of the Continent, the mis- postponed the declaration of hostilities tress of the sea. Grenville cast up the only till her fleet, laden with the treasubsidies, sighed over the army extra- sures of America, should have arrived. ordinaries, and groaned in spirit to The existence of the treaty could not think that the nation had borrowed be kept a secret from Pitt. He acted eight millions in one year.

as a man of his capacity and energy With a ministry thus divided it was might be expected to act. He at once not difficult for Bute to deal. Legge proposed to declare war against Spain, was the first who fell. He had given and to intercept the American fleet. offence to the young King in the late He had determined, it is said, to attack reign, by refusing to support a creature without delay both Havanna and the of Bute at a Hampshire election. He Philippines. was now not only turned out, but in His wise and resolute counsel was the closet, when he delivered up his rejected. Bute was foremost in opposeal of office, was treated with gross in- sing it, and was supported by almost civility.

the whole cabinet. Some of the minisPitt, who did not love Legge, saw ters doubted, or affected to doubt, the this event with indifference. But the correctness of Pitt's intelligence; some danger was now fast approaching him- shrank from the responsibility of adself. Charles the Third of Spain had vising a course so bold and decided as early conceived a deadly hatred of that which he proposed ; some were England. Twenty years before, when weary of his ascendency, and were he was King of the Two Sicilies, he had glad to be rid of him on any pretext. been eager to join the coalition against One only of his colleagues agreed with Maria Theresa. But an English fleet him, his brother-in-law, Earl Temple. had suddenly appeared in the Bay of Pitt and Temple resigned their Naples. An English Captain had offices. To Pitt the young King belanded, had proceeded to the palace, haved at parting in the most gracious had laid a watch on the table, and had manner. Pitt, who, proud and fiery told his majesty that, within an hour, every where else, was always meek a treaty of neutrality must be signed, and humble in the closet, was moved or a bombardment would commence. even to tears. The King and the faThe treaty was signed ; the squadron vourite urged him to accept some subsailed out of the bay twenty-four hours stantial mark of royal gratitude. after it had sailed in; and from that Would he like to be appointed governor day the ruling passion of the humbled of Canada? A salary of five thousand Prince was aversion to the English pounds a year should be annexed to name. He was at length in a situation the office. Residence would not be rein which he might hope to gratify that quired. It was true that the governor passion. He had recently become King of Canada, as the law then stood, could of Spain and the Indies. He saw, not be a member of the House of Comwith envy and apprehension, the mons. But a bill should be brought triumphs of our navy, and the rapid in, authorising Pitt to hold his governextension of our colonial Empire. He ment together with a seat in Parliawas a Bourbon, and sympathized with ment, and in the preamble should be the distress of the house from which he set forth his claims to the gratitude of sprang. He was a Spaniard ; and no his country. Pitt answered, with all Spaniard could bear to see Gibraltar delicacy, that his anxieties were rather and Minorca in the possession of a for his wife and family than for himself, foreign power. Impelled by such feel- and that nothing would be so acceptaings, Charles concluded a secret treaty ble to him as a inark of royal goodness with France. By this treaty, known which might be beneficial to those who as the Family Compact, the two powers were dearest to him. The hint was taken. The same Gazette which an- | body guard of boxers. Many persons nounced the retirement of the Secretary blamed the conduct of Pitt on this ocof State announced also that, in consi-casion as disrespectful to the King. deration of his great public services, Indeed, Pitt himself afterwards owned his wife had been created a peeress in that he had done wrong. He was led her own right, and that a pension of into this error, as he was afterwards led three thousand pounds a year, for three into more serious errors, by the inlives, had been bestowed on himself. fluence of his turbulent and mischieIt was doubtless thought that the re- vous brother-in-law, Temple. wards and honours conferred on the The events which immediately fol. great minister would have a concilia- lowed Pitt's retireinent raised his fame tory effect on the public mind. Perhaps, higher than ever. War with Spain too, it was thought that his popularity, proved to be, as he had predicted, inwhich had partly arisen from the con- evitable. News came from the West tempt which he had always shown for Indies that Martinique had been taken money, would be damaged by a pen- by an expedition which he had sent sion; and, indeed, a crowd of libels forth. Havanna fell; and it was known instantly appeared, in which he was that he had planned an attack on accused of having sold his country. Havanna. Manilla capitulated; and it Many of his true friends thought that was believed that he had meditated a he would have best consulted the dig- blow against Manilla. The American nity of his character by refusing to fleet, which he had proposed to interaccept any pecuniary reward from the cept, had unloaded an immense cargo court. Nevertheless, the general opinion of bullion in the haven of Cadiz, before of his talents, virtues, and services, re-Bute could be convinced that the Court mained unaltered. Addresses were pre- of Madrid really entertained hostile insented to him from several large towns. tentions. London showed its admiration and The session of Parliament which affection in a still more marked man- followed Pitt's retirement passed over ner. Soon after his resignation came without any violent storm." Lord Bute the Lord Mayor's day. The King and took on himself the most prominent the royal family dined at Guildhall. part in the House of Lords. He had Pitt was one of the guests. The young become Secretary of State, and indeed Sovereign, seated by his bride in his prime minister, without having once state coach, received a remarkable les-opened his lips in public except as an son. He was scarcely noticed. All actor. There was, therefore, no small eyes were fixed on the fallen minister; curiosity to know how he would acquit all acclamations directed to him. The himself. Members of the House of streets, the balconies, the chimney tops, Commons crowded the bar of the burst into a roar of delight as his cha- Lords, and covered the steps of the riot passed by. The ladies waved their throne. It was generally expected handkerchiefs from the windows. The that the orator would break down; but common people clung to the wheels, his most malicious hearers were forced shook hands with the footmen, and ever to own that he had made a better kissed the horses. Cries of “No Bute!” figure than they expected. They, in“No Newcastle salmon !” were mingled deed, ridiculed his action as theatrical, with the shouts of “Pitt for ever!” and his style as tumid. They were When Pitt entered Guildhall, he was especially amused by the long pauses welcomed by loud huzzas and clapping which, not from hesitation, but from of hands, in which the very magistrates affectation, he made at all the emphatic of the city joined. Lord Bute, in the words, and Charles Townshend cried mean time, was hooted and pelted out, “Minute guns !” The general through Cheapside, and would, it was opinion however was, that, if Bute had thought, have been in some danger, if | been early practised in debate, he he had not taken the precaution of sur- might have become an impressive rounding his carriage with a strong I speaker.

In the Commons, George Grenville with so pure an effulgence as during had been intrusted with the lead. The the session of 1762. task was not, as yet, a very difficult The session drew towards the close ; one: for Pitt did not think fit to raise and Bute, emboldened by the acquiesthe standard of opposition. Hiscence of the Houses, resolved to strike speeches at this time were distin- another great blow, and to become guished, not only by that eloquence in first minister in name as well as in which he excelled all his rivals, but reality. That coalition, which a few also by a temperance and a modesty months before had seemed all powerwhich had too often been wanting to ful, had been dissolved. The retreat his character. When war was declared of Pitt had deprived the government against Spain, he justly laid claim to of popularity. Newcastle had exulted the merit of having foreseen what had in the fall of the illustrious colleague at length become manifest to all, but whom he envied and dreaded, and had he carefully abstained from arrogant not foreseen that his own doom was at and acrimonious expressions; and this hand. He still tried to flatter himself abstinence was the more honourable to that he was at the head of the governhim, because his temper, never veryment; but insults heaped on insults placid, was now severely tried, both by at length undeceived him. Places gout and by calumny. The courtiers which had always been considered as had adopted a mode of warfare, which in his gift, were bestowed without any was soon turned with far more formi- reference to him. His expostulations dable effect against themselves. Half only called forth significant hints that the inhabitants of the Grub Street it was time for him to retire. One day garrets paid their milk scores, and got he pressed on Bute the claims of a their shirts out of pawn, by abusing Whig Prelate to the archbishopric of Pitt. His German war, his subsidies, York. “ If your grace thinks so highly his pension, his wife's peerage, were of him," answered Bute, “I wonder shin of beef and gin, blankets and that you did not promote him when baskets of small coal, to the starving you had the power.” Still the old poetasters of the Fleet. Even in the man clung with a desperate grasp to House of Commons, he was, on one the wreck. Seldom, indeed, have Chrisoccasion during this session, assailed tian meekness and Christian humility with an insolence and malice which equalled the meekness and humility of called forth the indignation of men of his patient and abject ambition. At all parties; but he endured the out- length he was forced to understand rage with majestic patience. In his that all was over. He quitted that younger days he had been but too Court where he had held high office prompt to retaliate on those who at-during forty-five years, and hid his tacked him ; but now, conscious of his shame and regret among the cedars of great services, and of the space which Claremont. Bute became first lord of he filled in the eyes of all mankind, he the treasury. would not stoop to personal squabbles. The favourite had undoubtedly comThis is no season," he said, in the mitted a great error. It is impossible debate on the Spanish war, “ for alter- to imagine a tool better suited to his cation and recrimination. A day has purposes than that which he thus threw arrived when every Englishman should away, or rather put into the hands of stand forth for his country. Arm the his enemies. If Newcastle had been whole ; be one people ; forget every suffered to play at being first minister, thing but the public. I set you the Bute might securely and quietly have example. Harassed by slanderers, enjoyed the substance of power. The sinking under pain and disease, for the gradual introduction of Tories into all public I forget both my wrongs and the departments of the government my infirmities !” On a general review might have been effected without any of his life, we are inclined to think violent clamour, if the chief of the that his genius and virtue never shone great Whig connection had been ostensibly at the head of affairs. This was in the Pretender's service; the other strongly represented to Bute by Lord three were fully believed to be in Mansfield, a man who may justly be secret correspondence with the exiled called the father of modern Toryism, family. Cambridge had therefore been of Toryism modified to suit an order especially favoured by the Hanoverian of things under which the House of Princes, and had shown herself grateful Commons is the most powerful body for their patronage. George the First in the state. The theories which had had enriched her library; George the dazzled Bute could not impose on the Second had contributed munificently fine intellect of Mansfield. The teme- to her Senate House. Bishoprics and rity with which Bute provoked the deaneries were showered on her chilhostility of powerful and deeply rooted dren. Her Chancellor was Newcastle, interests, was displeasing to Mansfield's the chief of the Whig aristocracy; her cold and timid nature. Expostulation, High Steward was Hardwicke, the however, was vain. Bute was impa- Whig head of the law. Both her burtient of advice, drunk with success, gesses had held office under the Whig eager to be, in show as well as in rea- ministry. Times had now changed. lity, the head of the government. He | The University of Cambridge was rehad engaged in an undertaking in ceived at St. James's with comparative which a screen was absolutely necessary coldness. The answers to the addresses to his success, and even to his safety. of Oxford were all graciousness and He found an excellent screen ready in warmth. the very place where it was most needed; The watchwords of the new governand he rudely pushed it away.

ment were prerogative and purity. And now the new system of govern- The sovereign was no longer to be a ment came into full operation. For puppet in the hands of any subject, the first time since the accession of the or of any combination of subjects. House of Hanover, the Tory party was George the Third would not be forced in the ascendant. The prime minister to take ministers whom he disliked, as himself was a Tory. Lord Egremont, his grandfather had been forced to who had succeeded Pitt as Secretary take Pitt. George the Third would of State, was a Tory, and the son of a not be forced to part with any whom Tory. Sir Francis Dashwood, a man he delighted to honour, as his grandof slender parts, of small experience, father had been forced to part with and of notoriously immoral character, Carteret. At the same time, the syswas made Chancellor of the Exchequer, tem of bribery which had grown up for no reason that could be imagined, during the late reigns was to cease. It except that he was a Tory, and had was ostentatiously proclaimed that, been a Jacobite. The royal household since the accession of the young King, was filled with men whose favourite neither constituents nor representatives toast, a few years before, had been the had been bought with the secret service King over the water. The relative money. To free Britain from corrupposition of the two great national seats tion and oligarchical cabals, to detach of learning was suddenly changed. her from continental connections, to The University of Oxford had long bring the bloody and expensive war been the chief seat of disaffection. In with France and Spain to a close, such troubled times the High Street had were the specious objects which Bute been lined with bayonets; the colleges professed to procure. had been searched by the King's mes- Some of these objects he attained. sengers. Grave doctors were in the England withdrew, at the cost of a habit of talking very Ciceronian trea- deep stain on her faith, from her Gerson in the theatre ; and the under-man connections. The war with France graduates drank bumpers to Jacobite and Spain was terminated by a peace, toasts, and chanted Jacobite airs. Of honourable indeed and advantageous four successive Chancellors of the to our country, yet less honourable and University, one had notoriously been less advantageous than might have been expected from a long and almost ment, over the heads of a crowd of unbroken series of victories, by land eminent orators, financiers, diplomaand sea, in every part of the world. tists. From a private gentleman, this But the only effect of Bute's domestic fortunate minion had at once been administration was to make faction turned into a Secretary of State. He wilder, and corruption fouler than ever. had made his maiden speech when at

The mutual animosity of the Whig the head of the administration. The and Tory parties had begun to lan- vulgar resorted to a simple explanaguish after the fall of Walpole, and had tion of the phenomenon, and the seemed to be almost extinct at the close coarsest ribaldry against the Princess of the reign of George the Second. It Mother was scrawled on every wall and now revived in all its force. Many sung in every alley. Whigs, it is true, were still in office. This was not all. The spirit of party, The Duke of Bedford had signed the roused by impolitic provocation from treaty with France. The Duke of its long sleep, roused in turn a still Devonshire, though much out of hu- fiercer and more malignant Fury, the mour, still continued to be Lord Cham-spirit of national animosity. The berlain. Grenville, who led the House grudge of Whig against Tory was of Commons, and Fox, who still en- mingled with the grudge of Englishjoyed in silence the immense gains of man against Scot. The two sections the Pay Office, had always been re- of the great British people had not yet garded as strong Whigs. But the bulk | been indissolubly blended together. of the party throughout the country The events of 1715 and of 1745 had regarded the new minister with abhor- left painful and enduring traces. The rence. There was, indeed, no want of tradesmen of Cornhill had been in popular themes for invective against dread of seeing their tills and warehis character. He was a favourite; houses plundered by barelegged mounand favourites have always been odious taineers from the Grampians. They in this country. No mere favourite had still recollected that Black Friday, been at the head of the government when the news came that the rebels since the dagger of Felton had reached were at Derby, when all the shops in the heart of the Duke of Buckingham. the city were closed, and when the After that event the most arbitrary and Bank of England began to pay in sixthe most frivolous of the Stuarts had pences. The Scots, on the other hand, felt the necessity of confiding the chief remembered, with natural resentment, direction of affairs to men who had given the severity with which the insurgents some proof of parliamentary or official had been chastised, the military outtalent. Strafford, Falkland, Clarendon, rages, the humiliating laws, the heads Clifford, Shaftesbury, Lauderdale, fixed on Temple Bar, the fires and Danby, Temple, Halifax, Rochester, quartering blocks on Kennington ComSunderland, whatever their faults might mon. The favourite did not suffer the be, were all men of acknowledged ability. English to forget from what part of They did not owe their eminence inerely the island he came. The cry of all the to the favour of the sovereign. On the south was that the public offices, the contrary, they owed the favour of the army, the navy, were filled with highsovereign to their eminence. Most of cheeked Drummonds and Erskines, them, indeed, had first attracted the Macdonalds and Macgillivrays, who notice of the court by the capacity and could not talk a Christian tongue, and vigour which they had shown in oppo- some of whom had but lately begin to sition. The Revolution seemed to have wear Christian breeches. All the old for ever secured the state against the jokes on hills without trees, girls withdomination of a Carr or a Villiers. out stockings, men eating the food of Now, however, the personal regard of horses, pails emptied from the fourteenth the King had at once raised a man who story, were pointed against these lucky had seen nothing of public business, adventurers. To the honour of the Scots who had never opened his lips in Parlia- it must be said, that their prudence and

« ElőzőTovább »