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The third topic discussed at these conferences was the nature of the relations then subsisting between France and Spain, and the projects of the former power in reference to the latter. These were explained by the Minister without any reserve, and with no symptoms of apprehension that they would be disagreeable to Britain, or of anxiety as to the result, whether they were so or not. He frankly avowed that, under cover of the sanitary cordon, 100,000 French troops were assembled; that it was proposed to throw them in two columns into Spain; that one column, of 40,000 men, was to pass into Catalonia, while the other, of 60,000, was to march by the great road through Irun upon Madrid. He stated that the sole object of this invasion was to insure the personal safety of the king, to afford him the opportunity to collect a native force strong enough to enable him to protect himself against the schemes of the Revolutioniststhat is, to put down the Constitution. Of course, France said she entertained no views of conquest or aggrandisement, or even of prolonged occupation. She would withdraw her troops whenever the King of Spain said he could do without them, and yield up every inch of territory. In reference to this matter the Duke of Wellington wrote home for instructions, and in reply Canning said:"If there be a determined project to interfere by force or by menace in the present struggle in Spain, so convinced are his Majesty's Government of the uselessness and danger of any such interferenceso objectionable does it appear to them in principle, as well as utterly impracticable in executionthat when the necessity arisesor, I would rather say, when the opportunity offersI am to instruct your grace at once frankly and peremptorily to declare that to any such interference, come what may, his Majesty will not be a party." To say that England peremptorily declined "to be a party" to the invasion of an independent state, in order to force upon the people a government contrary to their will, was not saying very much, nor putting the objection very strongly. We are assured, however, that the Duke steadily set his face against the project, pointing out that the step would be not only unjust, but impolitic; that it would precipitate the catastrophe which the French Government feared; that the Revolutionists would probably remove Ferdinand from Madrid as soon as they heard of the passing of the frontier by the French troops, and that, even if these troops should reach the capital, the Spaniards would not therefore submit, nor would the king be set at liberty. He argued that a war between France and Spain for such a purpose would be pronounced a war to put down free institutions, and that if France sought the support of her allies, the only one amongst them that had free institutions would feel it her duty to meet such a request with a refusal. Europe would be ranged into two hostile camps, that of absolutism on the one side and of revolution on the other; amid which not thrones only, but settled governments in every form, might be overthrown. In reply to these arguments, both the king and his Minister stated that whatever France might do in the matter she would do single-handed, and that she would not only not apply for assistance from without, but that, if such assistance were offered, she would refuse it. The Duke could not, however, prevail upon the French Government to refrain from bringing the question between France[234] and Spain before the Congress. The king and his Minister both contended that vast moral good would accrue from a joint remonstrance on the part of the Allies against the treatment to which the King of Spain was subjected, and a joint threat that if any violence were offered to his person or family all would unite to avenge the outrage.As soon as this news reached France the Pretender hastened to St. Malo in order to embark for Scotland, and Ormonde hastened over from Normandy to Devonshire to join the insurgents, whom he now expected to meet in arms. He took with him only twenty officers and as many troopers from Nugent's regiment. This was the force with which Ormonde landed in England to conquer it for the Pretender. There was, however, no need of even these forty men. The English Government had been beforehand with him; they had arrested all his chief coadjutors, and when he reached the appointed rendezvous there was not a man to meet him. On reaching St. Malo, Ormonde there found the Pretender not yet embarked. After some conference together, Ormonde once more went on board ship to reach the English coast and make one more attempt in the hopeless expedition, but he was soon driven back by a tempest. By this time the port of St. Malo was blockaded by the English, and the Pretender was compelled to travel on land to Dunkirk, where, in the middle of December, he sailed with only a single ship for the conquest of Scotland, and attended only by half a dozen gentlemen, disguised, like himself, as French naval officers.On the 8th of May, 1777, Ministers moved for more money for the insatiable Landgrave of Hesse, whose troops were at this very time exhibiting the most scandalous state of defiance of discipline, of consequent inefficiency, and of plunder of the inhabitants of America. This grant, though violently opposed, was carried, but only by a majority of eight. All parties now began to denounce the shameless rapacity of these German princes. Nor did Chatham, ill as he was, allow the Session to pass without making one more energetic protest against the continuance of the war with America. On the 30th of May he moved an address to his Majesty for the immediate cessation of hostilities. Notwithstanding all that had been said on our successes over the Americans, Chatham contended as positively as ever that we could never conquer them. "You have," he said, "ransacked every corner of Lower Saxony, but forty thousand German boors never can conquer ten times the number of British freemen. You may ravage, you cannot conquerit is impossibleyou cannot conquer America. You talk of your numerous funds to annihilate the Congress, and your powerful forces to disperse their army; I might as well talk of driving them before me with my crutch! But what would you conquer? The map of America? I am ready to meet any general officer on the subject" (looking at Lord Amherst)"What will you do out of the protection of your fleet? In the winter, if together, they are starved; and if dispersed, they are taken off in detail. I am experienced in spring hopes and vernal promises. I know what Ministers throw out; but at last will come your equinoctial disappointment. You have got nothing in America but stations. You have been three years teaching them the art of war. They are apt scholars; and I will venture to tell your lordships that the American gentry will make officers enough fit to command the troops of all the European Powers." Chatham's motion was rejected by ninety-nine votes against twenty-eight. Parliament was prorogued by the king on the 6th of June, in a speech in which he indulged the fallacious hope that the American insurrection would be terminated in the present campaign. But Chatham's prophecies were at the very time realising themselves. Had the Howes had the necessary qualities of commanders in such an important causehad they pursued and dispersed[235] the American army, as they ought to have done on defeating it, and as they might readily have done; and had the British Government instantly, whilst in this favourable position, repealed all the obnoxious statutes, they would have thrown Congress and Washington so completely into the wrong, that it would have been impossible for them to have made head again. But neither the Generals nor the Government of that day had the capacity for such strategic and statesmanlike policy. The Generals went comfortably into winter quarters, leaving the embers of war to rekindle and spread; and Government, deaf to the warnings of Chatham, still stolidly refused justice whilst rigorously enforcing their injustice. And, indeed, when Chatham gave his last Cassandra-like remonstrance, it was already too late. We had indeed taught the Americans the art of war. Washington was no longer contented to stand on the defensive, happy if he could preserve his soldiers from running off without fighting at all. His circumstances were desperate, and the energy which springs from despair now urged him to measures of daring and wakefulness just as the English Generals, like northern bears, were entering on their winter's sleep. Benedict Arnold had paid him a visit in his wretched camp beyond the Delaware, and probably from their united counsels sprang a new style of movement, which confounded his unsuspecting enemies.

This was not the only bitter pill that poor Lord Eldon was compelled to swallow. Without one word of intimation from the king or the Prime Minister, he learnt for the first time from the Courier that Mr. Huskisson had been introduced into the Cabinet. Mr. Huskisson was made President of the Board of Trade, and in his stead Mr. Arbuthnot became First Commissioner of the Land Revenues. Mr. Vansittart, who had proved a very inefficient Chancellor of the Exchequer,[231] was raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Bexley, and got the quiet office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He was succeeded in the more important office by a much abler financier, Mr. Robinson.

Grey and Fox then made an equally brisk attack on the support of Turkey by Ministers. They greatly applauded the Czarina, and Fox affirmed that so far from Turkey soliciting our interference, it had objected to it. On the same day, in the Lords, Lord Fitzwilliam opened the same question. He contended that we had fitted out an expensive armament to prevent the conquest by Russia of Oczakoff, and yet had not done it, but had ended in accepting the very terms that the Czarina had offered in 1790. Ministers replied that, though we had not saved Oczakoff, we had prevented still more extensive attempts by Russia. Though the Opposition, in both cases, was defeated, the attack was renewed on the 27th of February, when the Earl Stanhopean enthusiastic worshipper of the French Revolutionrecommended, as the best means of preventing aggression by Continental monarchs, a close alliance on our part with France. Two days afterwards Mr. Whitbread introduced a string of resolutions in the Commons, condemning the interference of Ministers between Russia and Turkey, and the needless expenditure thus incurred, in fact, going over[390] much the same ground. A strenuous debate followed, in which Grey, Fox, Windham, Francis, Sheridan, and the whole Whig phalanx, took part. On this occasion, Mr. Jenkinson, afterwards Earl of Liverpool, first appeared, and made his maiden speech in defence of Ministers. He showed that the system of aggression had commenced with Russia, and menaced the profoundest dangers to Europe; that Britain had wisely made alliance with Prussia to stem the evil, and he utterly repudiated all notion of the moderation of the Czarina, whose ambition he asserted to be of the most unscrupulous kind."SOLICITING A VOTE." FROM THE PAINTING BY R. W. BUSS, 1834.Comedy and farce occupied the middle portion of the reign, but neither of them rose to the height of Sheridan. In tragedy, Murphy's "Arminius," Godwin's "Antonio," and Madame D'Arblay's "Edwy and Elgiva," were the best. Amongst the comedies, Holcroft's "Road to Ruin," Morton's "Speed the Plough," Mrs. Inchbald's "Wives as they Were, and Maids as they Are," and Colman's "Sylvester Daggerwood," were the most popular.

On Monday, the 17th, Fox renewed the discussion, supported by Mr. Grey, who complained that at a so-called loyal meeting held at Manchester, the people had been incited to attack the property of those of more liberal views; and that an association had been formed in London, at the "Crown and Anchor" Tavern, which had issued a paper called "A Pennyworth of Truth from Thomas Bull to his Brother John," containing most unfounded censures on the Dissenters, whom it charged as being the authors of the American war. He declared that this paper was far more inflammatory than Paine's "Rights of Man," and he desired that it might be read at the table. Fox severely criticised the conduct of the loyal associations, and the means taken by the subscription papers to mark out those who maintained Liberal opinions; all such marked persons, he said, were in danger, on any excitement, of having their persons or houses attacked. He mentioned one paper concluding with the words, "Destruction to Fox and all his Jacobin crew!" This was, he thought, pretty plainly marking him out for such treatment as Dr. Priestley and Mr. Walker had received. The motion was rejected.

per cent.[2]CHAPTER IX. REIGN OF WILLIAM IV. (continued).

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In sculpture at this period we stood much lower than in painting. Here we had no Hogarth, nor even a Thornhill. All that was of any value in this art proceeded from the chisels of foreigners, and even in that what an immense distance from the grand simplicity of the ancients! The sculpture of Italy and France was in the ascendant, but Bernini and Roubiliac had little in common with Phidias and Praxiteles, and our own sculptors presented a melancholy contrast to the work of artists of the worst age of Greece or Rome; there is scarcely a name that is worth mentioning. The best of the native sculptors was John[164] Bushnell, who was employed by Wren to execute the statues of the kings at Temple Bar; and Francis Bird, who was also employed later by Wren to execute "The Conversion of St. Paul," in the pediment of the new cathedral, the bas-reliefs under the portico, and the group in front, all of a very ordinary character. His best work is the monument of Dr. Busby in the transept of Westminster Abbey. Besides this he executed the monument of Sir Cloudesley Shovel, also at Westminster, and the bronze statue of Henry VI., in the quadrangle of Eton College, both very indifferent. Gibbs and Bird executed the ponderous and tasteless monument of Holles, Duke of Newcastle, at Westminster, and the fine old minster is disgraced by a crowd of still more contemptible productions of this period. These can only be equalled in wretchedness by the works of a trading school, who supplied copies in lead of ancient gods, goddesses, shepherds, shepherdesses, etc., for the gardens of the nobility, which soon swarmed in legions in all the gardens and areas in and around the metropolis. Amongst the chief dealers in this traffic were Cheere and Charpentier, who employed foreign artists, even, for such images, and it was the fortune of Roubiliac to commence his English career with the former of these traders. The three chief foreigners of this period were Rysbraeck, Scheemakers, and Roubiliac, who were copyists of the French sculptors Coysevox, Bouchardon, and Le Moyne, as these had been of Bernini.FROM THE PICTURE BY W. F. YEAMES, R.A.

The Ministerial arrangements being completed, the coronation took place on the 31st of October, and was fully attended by the chief nobles and statesmen, even by Oxford and Bolingbroke, and was celebrated in most parts of the kingdom with many demonstrations of joy. Parliament was then dissolved, and the elections went vastly in favour of the Whigs, though there were serious riots at Manchester, and throughout the Midlands. The hopes of advantage from a new monarch made their usual conversions. In the House of Commons of 1710 there was a very large majority of Whigs; in that of 1713 as great a one of Tories; and now again there was as large a one of Whigs. In the Lords the spectacle was the same. Bolingbroke says, "I saw several Lords concur to condemn, in one general vote, all that they had approved of in a former Parliament by many particular resolutions."



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