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petitions. Mr. Brougham, early in the session, moved that the landed interest should be relieved by a reduction of taxes. The motion was opposed by ministers as a censure upon them, and negatived. Lord Londonderry, on the 18th of February, procured the appointment of the agricultural committee. This committee having made its report, Lord Londonderry, in pursuance of it, proposed, on the 29th of April, a plan of relief which was reducible to two leading points - the repeal of the annual malt tax; and a loan of a million by exchequer bills to the landed interest, upon the security of warehoused
The loan system of lord Londonderry, repudiated by the leading country gentlemen, supported by Mr. Ricardo and Mr. Huskisson, and laid bare with flaying sarcasm by Mr. Brougham, was ultimately agreed to.
The chancellor of the exchequer, at the same time, started two financial operations, of which the one succeeded but the other failed. The first was the reduction of the navy 5 per cents. to 4 per cent. ; which was effected with a saving of nearly a million and a half, and of ninety thousand a year : the second, an alleviation of the burden of the military and naval pensions and civil superannuation allowances, by extending them, in the form of annuity loans, through a complex process over forty-five years. The plan was proved in parliament to be partly fallacious, and partly unintelligible; but was not the less passed into a law on the implicit faith of the minister. But Mr. Vansittart, though he persuaded majorities in parliament, did not convince capitalists out of it; and he found it necessary to
remodel his plan. A direct reduction of taxes exceeding three millions was effected at the same time.
A question of theological rather than political character, and relating to the conduct of an individual bishop, was brought before parliament in this and the preceding session. Dr. Herbert Marsh, bishop of Peterborough, a distinguished scholar and theologian, propounded to clergymen and candidates for ordination in his diocese eighty-seven questions, drawn up by himself; and to these he required satisfactory answers. Some clergymen and candidates petitioned the house of lords; and lords Holland and Dacre, who presented their petitions, described the bishop's conduct as vexatious and unwarranted. The bishop defended his conduct and his right. His conduct, passing over the theological question of right, may be pronounced not only just and fair, but called for. There was a class of divines, calling themselves “ evangelical clergy of the church of England,” who would enjoy the benefices of the establishment, with the credit and profits of a certain evangelical sectarian purity of doctrine. The bishop of Peterborough endeavoured, by sifting the consciences or the casuistry of these sanctified pluralists, to oblige them to make their election between the church and the conventicle. He was attacked by the whig opposition, in and out of parliament; but his conduct appears to have been, in this instance, essentially reasonable and just.
Parliament was prorogued, with a speech of no marked importance, on the 6th of August, by the king in person; and on the 10th he embarked at
Greenwich for Scotland. The king was still at sea, when his government was rather relieved than disorganised by the loss of one of its chief members ; -lord Londonderry, on the 12th of August, terminated his life by suicide.
Amid the distractions of domestic affairs, popular riot, public distress, and the trial of the queen, the foreign relations of the country had scarcely engaged the serious attention of parliament or the people for some time. Whilst the holy alliance was strangling the new-born liberty of Italy, and coiling round that of Spain, the British government confined itself to passive protests, or vain declarations of abstract principles; and England had become dispossessed of her European station. This degeneracy in the foreign policy of England resulted from the political career and character of lord Londonderry, and led directly to his death. No government, not even that of ancient Rome, ever held a more commanding position than England upon the fall of the French empire. Aggrieved indi . viduals and oppressed nations appealed to her as the arbitress, like Rome, of public right and political dominion over the civilised world. She had proffered to her the high and heroic part in the drama of European politics; and lord Londonderry condemned her to play a subordinate and mean one. His ignorance of the social intellect of Europe, past and present, in arts, literature, and policy; his silly adoption of the aristocratic tone and despotic principles of ministers and monarchs with whom he associated abroad; his impertinent false shame of the plebeian liberty of England; his openness to
the hollow flatteries of courtiers and their sovereigns; his total want of continental experience in public affairs, enabled men possessing an accurate topical knowledge of Europe, physical and moral, and trained in negotiation, artifice, and intrigue, to practise upon his incapacity and weakness, and lead him beyond his depth. In 1815-16, he actually co-operated with the relentless despotism which trampled on the rights of ancient and free states and independent nations. In the interval, however, between the congresses of Vienna and Verona, he became sensible of the false position into which he had brought his government, his country, and himself. When the holy allies grouped in congress at Troppau, and, by adjournment, at Laybach, issued an infamous proscription of human rights, liberty, and reason, declaring that “every change in legislation and government should emanate from those alone (themselves) whom God has rendered responsible for power," lord Londonderry protested, but with equivocal epithets and neutralising qualifications; and the emperor of Austria, without a shadow of right, except that of tyranny and brute force, destroyed the constitutional governments, and restored the imbecile tyranny of Naples and Piedmont, — with the additional pressure of his own barbarian yoke upon the whole of illfated, illustrious Italy.
Lord Londonderry almost expressly abandoned Italy to the Austrians ; but, in his confidential note of 1820, he deprecated any more congresses, and any interference with the internal affairs of Spain, calling in to his aid the authority and Spanish ex
perience of the duke of Wellington. Still, however, his language, even in this note, was equivocal and feeble, between his contradictory admissions and diplomatic equivocations. The Spaniards, for instance, should not be interfered with; because the duke of Wellington, in the late war, found it " a trait of Spanish character to be obstinately blind to the most pressing considerations of public safety." But again he
says, in the same document, with his usual insipidity and sinuosity of diction, “ There can be no doubt of the general danger which menaces more or less the stability of all governments, from the principles which are afloat, and from the circumstance that so many states of Europe are now employed in the difficult task of casting anew their governments upon the representative principle.” His protests, if they deserve the name, were treated with indifference, perhaps derision: a congress was ordered to be held at Verona ; the English government received an invitation; and his colleagues appointed lord Londonderry to appear on the Continent once more as the representative of England. He was now sensible of his false and difficult position. He had compromised himself too deeply in the policy and designs of the confederate despots. He knew not how to face them with his changed views, and probably his specific instructions from his colleagues. With his mediocre capacity, he had political ambition and personal spirit. The sense of his situation preyed upon his mind, disturbed his imagination, and led to his melancholy end.
No minister, with the exception, perhaps, of the