Billeder på siden

virate of tyrants, as an antagonist conservative force to keep down by mutual aid the dangerous and threatening tendencies of the popular mind, and the hostile principle of liberty and reform. The holy alliancė, in fine, may be judged by the previous and subsequent acts of the contracting parties; and, viewing it in this light, it may be said of the three sovereigns as of the Roman augurs, that they could hardly have met (for the purpose of signing it) without laughing in each other's faces.

The chancellor of the exchequer, in the course of his financial statement, made on the 12th of February, announced that he should propose an income tax of five per cent. The continuance of this tax, even thus reduced, was strongly deprecated by petitions, especially from the trading cities and towns, and vehemently declaimed against in the house of

The minister persisted, and was defeated on a division by a majority of 238 to 201. A loan now became indispensable, and as the greater or lesser amount was, within a certain compass, immaterial, he abandoned, for the relief of the landholders, the war malt tax. He stated the supplies of the year at 39,500,000l.; and the


and means to meet them deficient about 2,500,0001. Such were the complication and obscurity in which this great master of arithmetical chiaro-scuro (Nicholas Van. sittart, Lord Bexley) involved his accounts, that Mr. J. P. Grant moved counter-resolutions, - proving upon his view a deficiency of 17,000,0001. The majority decided for the minister, but certainly without the remotest understanding of the matters in dispute.



The army estimates, notwithstanding their enormous amount for a time of peace, passed without much difficulty. The proposal of so large a force as 25,000 men for Ireland, - equal to that required for the remainder of the United Kingdom, cited surprise and animadversion. Mr. Peel, who had just commenced his political life, was at this time secretary for Ireland. His collegiate reputation preceded him in parliament. His superior talents, and highly exercised mind, manifesting themselves through the medium of an eloquence rather subdued and severe than ostentatious or figurative, did not strike the multitude, but made him regarded by the judicious as the leading political aspirant of the time. He on this occasion proved the necessity of the large force proposed in Ireland with convincing energy and mournful truth. But Mr. Peel, unfortunately for Ireland and for himself, instead of looking forward to a political, thought only of a party chieftaincy, and joined under the standard of religious intolerance. His anti-catholic policy neutralised or counteracted the better spirit of his Irish administration, and continues to trammel his ambition even after he has renounced it.

The usual and barren routine of motions for an enquiry into the state of Ireland, and for the repeal of the penal laws, soon followed, with their usual results. A measure of some practical importance - the consolidation of the exchequers of Great Britain and Ireland — took place in the course of the session. · The case of Napoleon was represented as new, and unprovided for by the law of war or of nations.

Lord Castlereagh brought in two bills, authorising and regulating the mode of his detention, with an assurance that every indulgence and enjoyment should be permitted the prisoner, consistently with his safe keeping. Both bills passed without opposition into laws.

Mr. Canning was unconnected with the government since 1809; and for the two last years had not appeared in parliament. A reconciliation, however, had taken place between him and lord Castlereagh. Having to attend an invalid son, who was advised to try the air of Lisbon, Mr. Canning accepted in an evil hour the appointment of ambassador to receive the prince regent of Portugal, who was announced to be preparing for his return from the Brazils. This unfortunate appointment subjected one of the most disinterested and least money-loving of men to popular obloquy, and the humiliation of being put, in the following session, by a motion of Mr. Lambton, upon his defence. Mr. Canning arrived in England early in 1816; and on the 30th of May Mr. Huskisson moved a new writ for Liverpool, upon his appointment to the office of president of the board of controul.

After the house of commons had voted its thanks, to be conveyed by a complimentary deputation to the duke of Wellington, who had just arrived unexpectedly from France, parliament was prorogued by the prince regent in person, on the 2d of July.

The 3d of May in this year was signalised by an event which diffused through the kingdom unqualified joy, - the marriage of the princess Charlotte of Wales. The public felt a lively interest, inspired

by the personal character of the young princess, still more, perhaps, than by her relation to the state. All the circumstances tended to give unalloyed satisfaction. It was a marriage of her own choice, in which political calculations had no share. The chosen husband was third son of a minor German prince; a captain of cavalry in the Austrian service, with hardly any other fortune than his sword. His advantages of person, - the reputation of an amiable character and an accomplished mind, - above all, his being the choice of the princess, —made him for his hour a popular idol. At nine in the evening the marriage was solemnised with extraordinary magnificence, in the apartment called the crimson chamber, at Carlton House. Princes, princesses, lords, ladies, foreign ambassadors, ministers of state, crowded round the altar. . The duke of Clarence introduced the bride ; the prince regent gave her away; and the event was announced by the Tower guns. The compliance of the regent with the wishes of his daughter diminished, if it did not wholly do away with, his unpopularity as a husband and father. The people, in short, seemed for a moment to forget all

even to the mortality of her who was the object of their affections and hopes.

In the course of the summer, it was remarked that the meetings of the princess Charlotte and her father were infrequent. By some, this was ascribed to her domestic happiness and love of retirement; by others, to her being informed that the regent was actually taking measures to separate himself from her mother by a divorce. The princess of Wales was still on her travels, and disreputable tales

of her conduct and companionships circulated very freely at home and abroad. The rumours of a divorce, however, died away towards the close of the year, either because there was never any

foundation for them, or because the prince regent and his ministers found it advisable to give way to public opinion, and to the remonstrances of the princess Charlotte.

In the beginning of September, England had occasion to rejoice once more in the valour of her navy. The enterprise was still more distinguished for the generosity of its motives, than even for its brilliant success.

The state of peace made all the nations of Europe more sensible to the outrages of the Barbary corsairs, and allowed the greater powers leisure to attend to the solicitations of the lesser for protection. Admiral lord Exmouth, commanding in the Mediterranean, received orders early in the spring of 1816 to demand from the beys of Tripoli and Tunis, and the dey of Algiers, satisfaction and protection for the flags of the Ionian isles, Naples, and Sardinia, and the total abandonment of Christian slavery. The two former implicitly complied; the last gave partial satisfaction, and rather temporised than refused to treat Christian captives henceforth as prisoners, according to the usages of civilised war. After some weeks had been lost in negotiation, lord Exmouth, with a well equipped British fleet, and the Dutch squadron of admiral Capillen, appeared before Algiers on the 27th of August - opened a tremendous discharge of shot, shells, and rockets upon the city - set it on fire in several parts - destroyed the Algerine

« ForrigeFortsæt »