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The new British Parliament met on November 26, and Ministers were seen to have a powerful majority. The king announced, in his speech from the throne, that hostilities had broken out in India with Tippoo, and that a peace had been effected between Russia and Sweden, and he mentioned the endeavours that were in progress for restoring amity between the Emperor of Austria and his subjects in the Netherlands. In the debate on the Address in the Commons, Fox appeared inclined still to laud France, and to condemn our interference in the Netherlands. His eyes were not yet opened to the real danger from France, whose example was indeed exciting popular disturbances in the Netherlands and in Poland. Already the doctrines of Liberty and Equality had reached the ears of the negroes in St. Domingo, who had risen to claim the rights of man so amiably proclaimed by France, and the troops of France were on their way thither to endeavour to put them down, in direct contradiction of their own boasted political philosophy. In the Lords, Earl Greythe father of the Whig statesmanon the 13th of December, called for the production of papers relating to Nootka Sound. The motion was negatived by two hundred and fifty-eight against one hundred and thirty-four votes. But the Marquis of Lansdowne contended that Spain had a right to the whole of the North American coast on which Nootka Sound is situated, and had had it since the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He asserted that we had insulted the weakness of Spain; and that Mr. Mears and the other projectors of the trading settlement of Nootka Sound were a set of young men of letters, seeking for novelties. He completely overlooked the provocations which[376] Spain had lately given us, and her endeavours to enter into a conjunction with France against us. He condemned Ministers for having alienated France, Spain, Russia, Denmark, and Sweden, overlooking the fact that they had made alliances with Prussia, Austria, Holland, and the Netherlands. Pitt's cousin, Lord Grenville, replied to this one-sided view of things, and proudly contrasted the position of Britain at this moment to what it was at the conclusion of the American War, when Lord Lansdowne himself, as Lord Shelburne, had been in the Ministry. Pitt, on the 15th of December, stated that the expenses of the late armament, and the sums necessary to keep up the increased number of soldiers and sailors for another year, before which they could not be well disbanded, owing to certain aspects of things abroad, would amount to something more than three millions, which he proposed to raise by increasing the taxes on sugar, on British and foreign spirits, malt, and game licences, as well as raising the assessed taxes, except the commutation and land taxes. He stated that there was a standing balance of six hundred thousand pounds to the credit of the Government in the Bank of England, which he proposed to appropriate to the discharge of part of the amount. He, moreover, introduced a variety of regulations to check the frauds practised in the taxes upon receipts and bills of exchange, which he calculated at three hundred thousand pounds per annum. With this, Parliament adjourned for the Christmas recess, and thus closed the eventful year of 1790.During this year Great Britain held that position which properly belonged to her, and which showed how unassailable she was whilst employed in self-defence. Her fleets covering the Channel, and at the same time plying in the most distant regions for that money which for years had been wasted on helpless and ungrateful Continental nations, were calculated to make her invincible on the ocean. So far from permitting Buonaparte to set foot on her coasts, she continually insulted his. She entered the ports and roadsteads of Havre, St. Valery, and other places, and brought away ships and gunboats; she attacked Dieppe, and destroyed its batteries; she bombarded Granville, and demolished its pier, under the eyes of some of Napoleon's[491] most distinguished officers. Her fleet amounted to nearly six hundred vessels of different kinds, and she began rapidly to recapture the colonies which she had so tamely, and without compensation, surrendered at the strange Peace of Amiens. St. Lucia was retaken by Commodore Hood and General Grinfield on the 22nd of June. In one day, the 30th of June, were retaken Tobago, in the West Indies, and St. Pierre and Miquelon, on the coast of Newfoundland. Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice were soon after reconquered, and Guadeloupe was invested, and destined to fall into our hands ere long.

The coasting trade carried on by means of steamers underwent an astounding development during the twenty years now under review. In 1820 there were but nine steamers engaged in it, with a tonnage of 500. The next year there were 188 steamers, and thenceforth they went on doubling for several years. In 1830 the number of vessels was nearly 7,000, with a tonnage of more than a million; in 1840 it was upwards of 15,000, with a tonnage of nearly three millions; and in 1849 it was 18,343, with a tonnage of upwards of four millions and a quarter. This account does not include vessels arriving and departing in ballast or with passengers only, which are not required to enter the Custom House. Steam-vessels were not employed in this kingdom for conveying goods coastwise before 1820, nor in foreign trade, except for the conveyance of passengers, earlier than 1822. In the foreign trade the number of steamers increased gradually from that year till they reached the number of 4,000, with an aggregate tonnage of 800,000.[See larger version]

From the Picture in the National Gallery of British Art.

O'CONNELL RETURNING HOME FROM PRISON. (See p. 532.)At length the Sikhs moved on to meet the British on the 18th of December. When they came in sight, the British bugles sounded, and the wearied soldiers, who had been lying on the ground, started up and stood to their arms. The Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief rode from regiment to regiment, cheering the spirits of their men, and rousing them to the needful pitch of valour by encouraging exhortations. About two miles from Moodkee, Gough, at the head of the advanced guard, found the enemy encamped behind sandy hillocks and jungle, 20,000 strong, with forty guns, which immediately opened fire as he approached. The battlefield was a sandy plain, on which the view was obstructed by small hills, which prevented the belligerents from seeing one another till they were quite near. For some time the contest was maintained on both sides by the artillery. Then General Gough ordered the advance of a column of cavalrythe 3rd Light Dragoons, the 5th Light Cavalry, and the 4th Lancers. The column was launched like an immense thunderbolt against a mass of Sikh cavalry, and proved so irresistible in its terrific onset that it broke them up into fragments, scattered them about, and swept along the whole line of the enemy, cutting down the gunners, and suspending for a time the roar of their artillery. Soon afterwards the infantry came into action, led on by Sir Harry Smith, General Gilbert, and Sir John M'Caskill. The Sikhs fought bravely and obstinately at every point; but when the steady incessant fire of the artillery had done its work, a general charge was made, with loud, exultant cheers, and the enemy were driven from their ground with tremendous loss. The day had closed upon the battlefield, but the routed enemy were pursued for a mile and a half by the light of the stars.

A second question regarding the late Minister became immediately necessary. He had died deeply in debt. It was one of the fine qualities of Pitt that he never had a love of money, or an ambition to create a great estate at the expense of the country, like too many statesmen. At an early period of Pitt's ministerial career, though a bachelor, he was so hopelessly in debt, that his friend, Robert Smith, afterwards Baron Carrington, had looked into his affairs, and declared that, of all scenes of domestic robbery by servants, and wild charges by tradesmen, he had never witnessed anything to compare with it. The financial management of his own income and that of the nation were just on a par in Pitt's case. He let his own money go like water, and he would have flung any quantity of the nation's property away on his quixotic scheme of propping up the thoroughly rotten and hopeless condition of the Continental governments. A strong effort was now made by such of Pitt's creditors as had advanced money to him, to be repaid by the nation. In this endeavour none were more eager than his great friends and relatives, who had been enabled by him to draw a hundredfold from the nation what they had lent him. Wilberforce, however, proposed that they should not only forego their individual claims, but should contribute each a moderate sum towards the raising of forty thousand pounds, which would pay his tradesmen; but here the great relatives and friends became dumb and motionless. Spencer Perceval offered a thousand pounds, and one or two others made some offers; but the appeal was in vain, and a motion was proposed by Mr. Cartwright, on the 3rd of February, that the nation should pay this sum. This was carried at once.Home we have none!

The funeral was but poorly attended. Few members of either House were there, except those of the Opposition. Gibbon says that "the Government ingeniously contrived to secure the double odium of suffering the thing to be done, and of doing it with an ill grace." Burke and Savile, Thomas Townshend, and Dunning, were pall-bearers; Colonel Barr carried the banner of the barony of Chatham, supported by the Marquis of Rockingham and the Dukes of Richmond, Northumberland, and Manchester; William Pitt, in the place of his elder brother, who was gone to Gibraltar, was the chief mourner, followed by eight Peers, as assistant mourners, amongst whom were Lord Shelburne and Lord Camden. The tomb of Chatham is in the north transept of the Abbey, distinguished by the monument soon afterwards erected to his honour.It was time, if they were to avoid a battle. Cumberland was already on the march from Edinburgh. He quitted Holyrood on the 31st of January, and the insurgents only commenced their retreat the next morning, the 1st of February, after spiking their guns. With this force the prince continued his march towards Inverness, a fleet accompanying him along the coast with supplies and ammunition. On nearing Inverness, he found it rudely fortified by a ditch and palisade, and held by Lord Loudon with two thousand men. Charles took up his residence at Moray Castle, the seat of the chief of the Macintoshes. The chief was in the king's army with Lord Loudon, but Lady Macintosh espoused the cause of the prince zealously, raised the clan, and led them out as their commander, riding at their head with a man's bonnet on her head, and pistols at her saddle-bow. Charles, the next morning, the 17th of February, called together his men, and on the 18th marched on Inverness. Lord Loudon did not wait for his arrival, but got across the Moray Firth with his soldiers, and accompanied by the Lord-President Forbes, into Cromarty. He was hotly pursued by the Earl of Cromarty and several Highland regiments, and was compelled to retreat into Sutherland. Charles entered Inverness, and began to attack the British forts. Fort George surrendered in a few days, and in it they obtained sixteen pieces of cannon and a considerable stock of ammunition and provisions.The Viennese repeatedly sent petitions and deputations imploring him in vain to return; and it was not till the 8th of August that he consented to quit the safe asylum he had chosen. Personally he had nothing to apprehend. He was amiable and kind, and wanted both the ability and energy to make himself feared. It was not at Vienna alone, or in the Austrian province, that the imperial power was paralysed. Every limb of the vast empire quivered in the throes of revolution. Two days after the outbreak in Vienna a great meeting, convoked anonymously, was held at Prague, the capital of Bohemia, which passed resolutions demanding constitutional government; perfect equality in the two racesGerman and Czech; the union of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, with a common Diet to meet alternately at Prague and Brünn; that judicial proceedings should be public; that there should be a separate and responsible government at Prague, with security for personal liberty; free press, and religious equality. A deputation was sent with these demands to Vienna. They were all granted; Bohemia was recognised as having a distinct nationality; the Prince Francis Joseph, afterwards Emperor of Austria, having been appointed Viceroy. Even so Slav ambition was unsatisfied, and Prague had to be bombarded by the Austrian troops.

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The excitement, both at Court and in the country, was far beyond the then apparent value of the islands; but there had been an insult to the British flag, and both Government and Opposition demanded expiation. Lord North displayed a bold and determined tone on the occasion. Orders were sent over to the British ambassador, at Madrid, to demand an immediate disavowal of Buccarelli's act, and instant measures were taken for war, in case of refusal. Ships were refitted, their commanders named, stores were put on board, and orders for pressing men, according to the custom of the time, were issued. But in London these preparations met with resistance from the opposition spirit of the Corporation. Things, however, seemed tending strongly towards war. Our Charg d'affaires at Madrid, in absence of the ambassador, was Mr. Harris, the son of the author of "Hermes." He was but a youth of four-and-twenty, but already displayed much of the talent which raised him to the title of Malmesbury. He wrote home that the King of Spain and some of his Ministers were averse from the idea of war, and unprepared for it; but that others were influenced by Choiseul, the French Premier, and demanded a vigorous attack on England.[See larger version]

Granville being got rid of, and the Opposition bought up with place, the only difference in the policy which had been pursued, and which had been so bitterly denounced by the noblemen and gentlemen now in office, was that it became more unequivocally Hanoverian and more extravagant. "Those abominably Courtly measures" of Granville were now the adopted measures of his denouncers. The king had expressed, just before his fall, a desire to grant a subsidy to Saxony; but Lord Chancellor Hardwicke had most seriously reminded his Majesty of the increased subsidy to the Queen of Hungary, which made it impracticable: now, both the increased subsidy to Maria Theresa and the subsidy to Saxony were passed without an objection. A quadruple alliance was entered into between Britain, Austria, Holland, and Saxony, by which Saxony was to furnish thirty thousand men for the defence of Bohemia, and to receive a hundred and fifty thousand pounds, two-thirds of which were to be paid by England, and one-third by Holland. The Elector of Cologne received twenty-four thousand pounds, the Elector of Mayence eight thousand pounds. Nay, soon discovering that, as there was no opposition, there was no clamour on the subject, Ministers the very next year took the Hanoverians into their direct pay again, and in 1747 increased the number of them from eighteen thousand to twenty thousand.

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