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The Political History of England - Vol XI - From Addington's Administration to the close of William - IV.'s Reign (1801-1837)
by George Brodrick
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FOOTNOTES:

[64] For details of the riots see Annual Register, lviii. (1816), 60-73. They were particularly numerous in May, 1816, and in the counties of Cambridge, Essex, and Suffolk. At Littleport in Cambridgeshire, on May 24, it was found necessary to fire on the rioters. Two men were killed and five were afterwards executed.

[65] Greville, Memoirs, i., 2; Walpole, History of England, i., 392, 393.

[66] The curious may be interested in the following list of the names and ages of the persons who stood next in order of succession to the crown after the death of Princess Charlotte. It will be observed that of the fourteen who stood nearest the throne, not one was under forty years of age, and not one had a legitimate child:—

Age. Relation to king. 1. George, Prince Regent 55 Son. 2. Frederick, Duke of York 54 Son. 3. William, Duke of Clarence 52 Son. 4. Edward, Duke of Kent 50 Son. 5. Ernest, Duke of Cumberland 46 Son. 6. Augustus, Duke of Sussex 44 Son. 7. Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge 43 Son. 8. Charlotte, Queen-Dowager of Wuertemberg 51 Daughter. 9. Princess Augusta 48 Daughter. 10. Princess Elizabeth 47 Daughter. 11. Mary, Duchess of Gloucester 41 Daughter, 12. Princess Sophia 40 Daughter. 13. William, Duke of Gloucester 41 Nephew. 14. Princess Sophia of Gloucester 44 Niece. 15. Charles, Duke of Brunswick 13 Great nephew.

[67] See, however, the Creevey Papers, i., 268-71, 284.



CHAPTER IX.

THE LAST YEARS OF LORD LIVERPOOL.

The only important events of domestic interest in the year 1820, after the death of George III., were the Cato Street conspiracy, and the so-called trial of Queen Caroline. For the accession of the king, who had so long exercised royal functions as regent, produced no visible effect either on the personal composition or on the general policy of the government. Immediately after his proclamation he was attacked by a dangerous illness, but on his recovery he promptly raised two questions which nearly involved a change of ministry. One of these was a proposal to increase his private revenue, which he was induced to abandon for the present. The other was a demand for a divorce, which the ministers firmly resisted, though they ultimately agreed to a compromise, under which the divorce question was to be deferred, so long as the queen remained quietly abroad, but action was to be taken in case she returned to assert her rights.

[Pageheading: THE CATO STREET CONSPIRACY.]

In the midst of these difficulties the lives of the ministers were threatened by a plot somewhat like those of the seventeenth century. Later writers have represented it as contemptible in its conception, and as directly provoked by the "Manchester massacre". So it may be said that Guy Fawkes was an insignificant person, and that his employers were exasperated by the severe treatment of popish recusants. The facts are that Arthur Thistlewood, the author of the Cato Street conspiracy, was a well-known confederate of the Watsons and other members of the extreme reform party, and that his plan for murdering the assembled cabinet in a private house would probably have been effectual, had it not been detected by the aid of an informer. This informer, Edwards, had warned the authorities in November, 1819, of the impending stroke, and may or may not have instigated Thistlewood's gang to execute it at a moment and place well-calculated to secure their arrest. At all events twenty-four conspirators armed themselves in Cato Street, near the Edgware Road, London, for the purpose of assassinating the ministers at a cabinet dinner in Harrowby's house in Grosvenor Square, and some of their associates were posted near the door of that house to summon them when the guests should have assembled. Harrowby's dinner was of course put off, but the watchers were deceived by the arrival of carriages for a dinner party next door, and failed to apprise the gang in Cato Street. The police rushed in upon the gang, but a body of soldiers ordered to support them reached the spot too late, a policeman was stabbed, and Thistlewood, with twelve or fourteen others, contrived to escape. He was captured the next morning, and executed with four of his accomplices, five more were transported for life, and the atrocity of the enterprise was naturally treated in the king's speech as a justification for the repressive measures in operation. In the following April a petty outbreak in Scotland was easily put down by a few troops at a place called Bonnymuir. It was, however, preceded by a treasonable proclamation, which spread terror among the citizens of Glasgow for several hours, and was sufficiently like an attempt at armed rebellion to confirm the alarm excited by the Cato Street conspiracy. In the face of such warnings, the energy of the government in stamping out disorder could hardly be censured.

The last parliament of George III. was prorogued on February 28, 1820, and dissolved on the following day. One of its last debates was on Lord John Russell's proposal to suspend the issue of writs to the boroughs of Grampound, Penryn, Barnstaple, and Camelford. This was carried in the house of commons, but lost in the house of lords. The new parliament was opened by George IV. in person on April 21. Widespread excitement occasioned by the question of the divorce prevented the business of the first session from attracting much attention. A deficit in the revenue, coinciding with growing expenditure, compelled Vansittart to fall back on a fresh manipulation of the sinking fund. One measure, however, of the highest importance was introduced by Brougham. The committee of 1814 on national education had amassed a great body of valuable evidence, and he now founded upon its report a comprehensive bill extending to the whole country. It placed the management and teaching of elementary schools entirely in the hands of Churchmen, and was dropped after the first reading, but the conscience of the nation was roused by it, and it bore fruit later. Further slight mitigations of the criminal law were carried as a result of attacks made by Sir James Mackintosh, upon whom the mantle of Romilly had fallen, and it is worthy of notice that even Eldon, the stout opponent of such mitigations, condemned the use of spring-guns, as a safeguard against poaching. The only ministerial change in this year was the final retirement in May of Lord Mulgrave, who had held high office in every ministry except that of Grenville since 1804, and had voluntarily surrendered his post at the head of the ordnance in 1818 to make room for Wellington.

[Pageheading: QUEEN CAROLINE.]

The "queen's trial," as it is erroneously called, was the last act but one in a domestic tragedy which had lasted twenty-five years. The Princess Caroline of Brunswick was a frivolous and ill-disciplined young woman when she was selected by George III. as a wife for the heir-apparent, already united and really attached to Mrs. Fitzherbert. The princess could not have been married to a man less capable of drawing out the better side of her character, nor was she one to inspire his selfish and heartless nature with a sentiment, if not of conjugal love, yet of conjugal friendship. From the first there was no pretence of affection between them. A few years after her marriage she was relegated, not unwillingly, to live independently at Blackheath, where many eminent men accepted her hospitality. During this period, as we have seen, a "delicate investigation" into her conduct was instituted in 1806. Though she emerged from it with less stain on her character than had been expected, she never enjoyed the respect of the royal family or of the nation, and there was no question of her sharing the home of her husband. Instead of being a bond of concord between them, the education of her daughter was the subject of constant discord, requiring the frequent intervention of the old king until he lost his reason. After she went abroad in 1814, she travelled widely, but her English attendants soon retired from her service, and she incurred fresh suspicion by her flighty and undignified conduct. She had no part in the rejoicing for the marriage, or in the mourning for the death, of the Princess Charlotte; and in 1818 a secret commission, afterwards known as the Milan commission, was sent out by the prince regent to collect evidence for a divorce suit. Not only Liverpool, but Eldon, who had formerly stood her friend, concurred in the appointment of this commission, promoted by Sir John Leach, and its report was the foundation of the proceedings now taken against her.

These proceedings were immediately due to her own action in returning to England in June, 1820, but this action was not wholly unprovoked. She had long and bitterly resented her official exclusion from foreign courts, and when, after the king's accession, her name was omitted from the prayer-book, she protested against it as an intolerable insult. Contrary to the advice of her wisest partisans, including Brougham, she persisted in braving the wrath of the king and throwing herself upon the people. She was received at Dover with acclamations from immense multitudes; and her journey to and through London was a continued ovation. Not that her innocence was established even in the popular mind, but that, innocent or guilty, she was regarded as a persecuted woman, and persecuted by a worthless husband. The ministry fulfilled its promise to the king by moving the house of lords to institute an inquiry into the queen's conduct. Pending this, conferences took place between Wellington and Castlereagh, on the part of the king, and Brougham and Denman on that of the queen. It was at once laid down as a preliminary basis of the negotiation that neither should the king be understood to retract, nor the queen to admit, any allegation against her. The points upon which she inflexibly insisted were, the recognition of her royal status at foreign courts, through an official introduction by the British ambassador, and the insertion of her name in the prayer-book.

The house of commons, on the motion of Wilberforce, offered to protect her honour (whatever that might import) on condition of her waiving this last point, but she courteously declined its conciliatory proposals on June 22. On July 4 a secret committee of the house of lords recommended a solemn investigation, to be carried out "in the course of a legislative proceeding," and on the 8th Liverpool introduced a bill of pains and penalties, to deprive her of her title, and to dissolve her marriage. The second reading of this bill was formally set down for August 17, and for several weeks afterwards the house of lords was occupied in hearing evidence in support of the charges against her. The whole country was deluged with the squalid details of this evidence, the ministers were insulted, and the sympathy of the populace with her cause was obtrusively displayed in every part of the kingdom. On October 3, after an adjournment of the lords, Brougham opened the defence in the most celebrated of his speeches. On November 2 the lord chancellor, Eldon, moved the second reading of the bill, and on the 8th it was carried by a majority of twenty-eight. Four days later, on the third reading, the majority had dwindled to nine only. Knowing the temper of the house of commons, Liverpool treated such a victory as almost equivalent to a defeat, and announced that the government would not proceed further with the measure.

Had the queen possessed the virtue of self-respect or dignity, she would have been satisfied with this legislative, though not morally decisive, acquittal. But she was intoxicated with popular applause, largely due to her royal consort's vices, and, after London had been illuminated for three nights in her honour, she declined overtures from the government, and appealed for a maintenance to the house of commons, which granted her an annuity of L50,000 in the next session. But she never lived to enjoy it After going in procession to St. Paul's, to return thanks for her deliverance, on the 29th, and vainly attempting, once more, to procure the mention of her name in the prayer-book, she concentrated her efforts on a claim of right to be crowned with the king. No government could have conceded this claim, and, when it had been refused by the privy council, her solemn protests were inevitably vain. Even her least prudent counsellors would assuredly have dissuaded her from the attempt which she made to force an entrance into Westminster Abbey on the coronation day, July 19, 1821. It was a painful scene when she, who had so lately been the idol of the fickle populace, was turned away from the doors amidst conflicting exclamations of derision and pity. A fortnight later, on August 2, she was officially reported to be seriously ill; on the 7th she was no more. In accordance with her own direction her body was buried at Brunswick. Her ill-founded popularity was shown for the last time, when a riotous multitude succeeded in diverting her funeral procession, and forcing it to pass through the city on its way to Harwich. But it did not survive her long; the people were becoming tired of her, and the king, who had forfeited the respect of the middle and upper classes, was less hated by the lower classes after her death.

[Pageheading: GEORGE IV. IN IRELAND.]

The personal character and opinions of George IV. seem to have influenced politics less during the early years of his reign than during his long regency. His coronation was celebrated with unprecedented magnificence, and amidst external demonstrations of loyalty, hard to reconcile with the unbounded enthusiasm which the queen had so lately inspired. Soon afterwards, he sailed in his yacht from Portsmouth on a voyage to Ireland, but put into Holyhead and there awaited news of the queen's expected death. This reached him at last, and probably impressed him, no less than his ministers, as "the greatest of all possible deliverances, both to his majesty and the country".[68] He proceeded to Dublin in one of the earliest steam-packets, and secluded himself until "the corpse of his wife was supposed to have left England".[69] He then plunged into a round of festivities, and pleased all classes of Irishmen by his affable and condescending manners. He was, indeed, the first sovereign of England who had appeared in Ireland on a mission of peace. John William Ward, afterwards fourth Viscount Dudley in his letters, describes him as having behaved like a popular candidate on an electioneering trip, and surmises that "if the day before he left Ireland, he had stood for Dublin, he might have turned out Shaw or Grattan ".[70] Certain it is that his visit to Ireland was regarded as an important political event. The same kind of success attended his visit to Scotland in August of the following year, 1822. Thenceforth, he scarcely figures in political life until the resignation of Lord Liverpool in 1827, and though he consented with reluctance to Canning's tenure of the foreign office, he did not attempt to interfere with the change in foreign policy consequent upon it. He was, in fact, sinking more and more into an apathetic voluptuary; but he could rouse himself, and exhibit some proofs of ability, under the impulse of his brothers, the honest Duke of York and the arch-intriguer, the Duke of Cumberland.

The cry for retrenchment, now taken up by the country gentlemen, and not unmingled with suggestions for a partial repudiation of the national debt, compelled the government to adopt a policy of strict economy. Accordingly, in 1822, Vansittart introduced a scheme for the conversion of the so-called "Navy 5 per cents.," which resulted in a saving of above L1,000,000 annually. He also carried a more questionable scheme for the payment of military, naval, and civil pensions, which then amounted to L4,900,000 a year, but were falling in rapidly; the money required for this purpose was to be borrowed by trustees, and was to be repaid in the course of forty-five years at the rate of L2,800,000 a year; in this way an immediate saving of about L2,000,000 annually was effected at the cost, however, of the next generation. By means of these expedients, with a considerable reduction of official salaries, the government was enabled to repeal the additional duty on malt, to diminish the duties on salt and leather, and, on the whole to remit about L3,500,000 of taxes. When the entire credit of financial reform is given to Huskisson, Joseph Hume, and other economists of the new school, it should not be forgotten that a beginning was made by economists of the old school, before Huskisson joined the government in 1823, or Robinson took Vansittart's place as chancellor of the exchequer.

From the beginning of this reign a more enlightened spirit may be traced in parliamentary debates. This was aided by the growth of a constitutional movement in favour of reform in parliament as the first step towards a redress of grievances. The movement left its first trace on the statute-book in a measure carried by Lord John Russell in the session of 1821 for the disfranchisement of Grampound, though the vacant seats were transferred to the county of York, instead of to the "village" of Leeds or some other of the great unrepresented cities. This was the first instance of the actual disfranchisement of a constituency, though it was not without precedent that the franchise of a corrupt borough should be extended to the freeholders of the surrounding district. A notable sign of the progressive change was the reconstruction of the cabinet in 1822. Liverpool, who always possessed the gift of working harmoniously with colleagues of different views and felt the weakness of his present ministry, once more attempted to bring about a coalition with the Grenville party in the opposition. Grenville had long been drifting away from his alliance with Grey, and had been a stout advocate of repressive legislation which the more advanced whigs opposed. Though he declined office for himself, several of his relatives and adherents were rewarded with minor appointments, his cousin, Charles Wynn, became president of the board of control, in succession to Bragge-Bathurst, who had himself succeeded Canning in the previous year, and his nephew, the Marquis of Buckingham, obtained a dukedom. Such recruits added little strength to the Liverpool government, and Holland well said that "all articles are now to be had at low prices, except Grenvilles".

[Pageheading: THE DEATH OF CASTLEREAGH.]

But Liverpool gained far more powerful coadjutors in the Marquis Wellesley, Peel, and Canning. In December, 1821, Wellesley undertook the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland, which had relapsed into so disturbed a state that it had been proposed to make Wellington both viceroy and commander-in-chief. The significance of this selection was increased by the appointment of Plunket as attorney-general. Sidmouth, while retaining his seat in the cabinet, retired, by his own wish, from the office of home secretary, with a sense of having pacified the country, and was succeeded by Peel. Castlereagh, now Marquis of Londonderry, remained foreign secretary, but on August 12, 1822, as he was on the point of setting out for the congress of Verona, he died, like Whitbread and Romilly, by his own hand. His suicidal act was clearly due to a morbid fit of depression, under the stress of anxieties protracted over more than twenty years; and the disordered state of his mind had been observed, not only by Wellington, but also by the king. His successor was Canning, who also became leader of the house of commons.

The characters and political aims of these rival statesmen have often been contrasted by historians of a later age, who have seldom done justice to Castlereagh. It is remembered that he was the author of the Walcheren expedition; it is forgotten that he was the advocate of sending a powerful force to the Baltic coast at the critical moment between Jena and Eylau, that he was not altogether responsible for the delays which rendered the Walcheren expedition abortive or for the choice of its incompetent commander, that his prime object was to strike a crushing blow at Napoleon's naval power, and that, if his instructions had been obeyed, this would have been effected by a rapid advance upon Antwerp when nearly all the French troops had been withdrawn from the Netherlands. It is remembered that he was at the war office when the operations of Wellington in the Peninsula were crippled for want of supplies; it is forgotten that it was he who selected Wellington, and that he loyally strained every nerve to keep him supplied with troops, provisions, and specie, when few but himself believed in the policy of the Peninsular war, and Sir John Moore had assured him that if the French dominated Spain, they could not be resisted in Portugal. It is remembered—or rather it is assumed—that he was the eager promoter of coercive and reactionary legislation at home; it is forgotten, or ignored, that he was among the earliest and staunchest advocates of catholic emancipation, and that a despotic temper is belied by the whole tone of his speeches. Above all, he is unjustly credited, in the face of direct evidence to the contrary, with being the champion of absolutism in the councils of Europe, the fact being not only that his voice was always on the side of moderation and conciliation, but that Canning himself, on succeeding him, dissociated Great Britain from the holy alliance by taking his stand upon an admirable despatch of Castlereagh and adopting it as his own. When he met with his tragical end, the brutal shouts of exultation raised by a portion of the crowd at his funeral were the expression of sheer ignorance and not of intelligent public opinion. He was a tory, in days when most patriots were tories, but he was a tory of the best type; and we of a later generation can see that few statesmen of George III.'s reign have left a purer reputation or rendered greater services to their country.

[Pageheading: CANNING AND PEEL.]

George Canning, his successor, has been far more favourably judged by posterity, and not without reason, if intellectual brilliancy is a supreme test of political merit. A firm adherent of Pitt, and a somewhat unscrupulous critic of Addington, he was probably the first parliamentary orator of the nineteenth century, with the possible exception of Sheridan. Pitt's eloquence was of a loftier and simpler type, Fox's was more impetuous and spontaneous; Peel's range of political knowledge was far wider; Gladstone excelled all, not only in length of experience but in readiness and dialectical resource. Canning's rhetoric was of a finer quality and was combined with great debating power, but he was a man to inspire admiration rather than confidence, and had not held one of the higher political offices since his resignation in 1809, after his quarrel with Castlereagh. He accepted a mission to Portugal, however, and was in Lisbon when Napoleon returned from Elba. In 1816, as has been seen, he became president of the board of control, but, having been formerly one of the queen's advisers, he declined to have anything to do with her trial and remained abroad during its continuance. In December, 1820, he returned, but persisted in resigning his place at the board of control on the supposed ground that further parliamentary discussion of the queen's case was inevitable. On this occasion he received a special vote of thanks from the directors of the East India Company for his services on the board. The king objected to his readmission after the queen's death, and he was a private member of parliament when he was offered and undertook the governor-generalship of India in March, 1822. But his departure was delayed until August, and he was on his way to bid farewell to his constituents at Liverpool when Castlereagh destroyed himself. It was generally felt that no other man was so well qualified as Canning to succeed him. But the king declared his "final and unalterable decision" to sanction no such change. Though he afterwards relented, on the remonstrances of Wellington, he did so with a bad grace; but there was no delay on Canning's part in accepting the foreign secretaryship thus offered. From his acceptance may be dated the most remarkable part of his career.

The accession of Peel to the Liverpool ministry, in the capacity of home secretary; was only less important than that of Canning. Hitherto, Peel had mostly been known to the British public as chief secretary for Ireland, and as chairman of the committee which, in 1819, recommended the early resumption of cash payments. In both these posts he displayed a certain moderation and independence of mind, combined with a rare capacity for business, which marked him out as a great administrator. This promise he amply fulfilled as home secretary. He was the first minister of the crown who took up the philanthropic work of Romilly and Mackintosh, largely reducing the number of offences for which capital punishment could be inflicted. He was also the first to reform the police system of London, and to substitute for a multitude of decrepit watchmen, incapable of dealing with gangs of active criminals, a disciplined body of stalwart constables, which has since been copied in every county and large town of Great Britain. Above all, while he cannot be said to have shown a statesmanlike insight or foresight of the highest order, he could read the signs of the times and the temper of his countrymen with a sagacity far beyond that of his predecessor, Sidmouth, or of such politicians as Eldon and Castlereagh. In him was represented the domestic policy of Pitt in his earlier days, as Pitt's financial views were represented in Huskisson, who had actually served under him.

Though Huskisson was only made president of the board of trade, in January, 1823, and not chancellor of the exchequer, it is certain that his mind controlled that of Robinson, who succeeded Vansittart in that position. Vansittart, who was created Lord Bexley, succeeded Bragge-Bathurst as chancellor of the duchy. The cabinet changes were completed in October by the removal of Wellesley Pole, now Lord Maryborough, from the office of master of the mint. Huskisson, if any man, was the leading pioneer of free trade, and there can be little doubt that, had he not died prematurely, its adoption would have been hastened by ten or fifteen years. In his first year of office he welcomed petitions for the repeal of the import duties on foreign wool, but failed to convince the wool manufacturers that it must be accompanied by the abolition of export duties on British wool. The proposed reform was, therefore, dropped, and a like fate befell his attempt in the same year to benefit the silk trade by abolishing certain vexatious restrictions upon it, including the practice of fixing the wages of Spitalfields weavers by an order of the magistrates. For the moment the ignorant outcry of the journeymen themselves prevailed over their real interests, but in the following year, 1824, Huskisson carried a much wider measure, providing that foreign silks, hitherto excluded, should be admitted subject to a duty of 30 per cent. in and after 1826, and another measure for the joint relief of wool growers and wool manufacturers which imposed a small duty of equal amount on the importation and the exportation of wool.

His great achievement in 1823 was the reform of the navigation laws. These acts, dating from the commonwealth and the restoration, gave British shipowners a qualified monopoly of the carrying trade, since they prohibited the importation of European goods except in British ships or ships of the producing country, while the importation of goods from other quarters of the world was confined to British ships only. America had protested against this exclusive system, and it was abandoned, as regards the United States, by the treaty of Ghent in 1814. The mercantile states of Europe soon followed the example of America, and the reciprocity of duties bill, introduced by Huskisson on June 6, 1823, conceded equal rights to all countries reciprocating the concession, only retaining the exclusion against such countries as might reject equality of trade. The change involved some hardship to shipowners who had built their vessels with timber bought at prices raised by heavy duties, but they were too shortsighted to accept the compromise offered by Huskisson. Before long, however, the act was justified, and the shipowners compensated by a rapid increase in British shipping.

[Pageheading: AGRICULTURAL DISCONTENT.]

For nearly five years after the accession of George IV. the state of the country was, on the whole, more prosperous, and the industrial classes were more contented, than in the five years next preceding. Such restlessness as there was prevailed among farmers and agricultural labourers rather than among workmen in the manufacturing districts, and in 1823 every branch of manufactures was reported to be flourishing. It is difficult for a later generation, accustomed to consider 30s. a quarter a fair price for wheat, to understand the perennial complaints and petitions of the agricultural interest when 60s. a quarter was regarded as a low price for wheat, and the cultivation of wheat extended over a vastly larger area than it does at present. Nor is the difficulty lessened, when we remember the miserably low rate of wages then paid by farmers. A partial explanation may be found in the fact that what they saved in wages they lost in poor rates, and that most agricultural products except corn were sold at a very small profit. The high poor rates were the result of the disastrous system of giving allowances to labourers.

But there were other evils caused by the vicious policy pursued by the government. The encouragement of home production had led to the enclosure of land not fit for cultivation, so that a slight fall in prices meant ruin to many farmers. Moreover, the corn laws, though framed for the purpose of arresting fluctuations in price, actually increased fluctuations and thus enhanced the risks attending agricultural enterprise. Nor were landlords who had thriven on war prices, and raised the scale of their establishments as if these prices were to be perpetual, willing to reduce their rents on the return of peace. Rent was said to have risen 70 per cent. since 1792; but the landlords were often embarrassed, because their lands had too often been burdened with jointures, settlements, and mortgages during the war. It was in their interest that the act of 1815, which aimed at maintaining war prices, had been passed. But the deeper reason for all this clamour from the rural districts was the stagnation of ideas, and incapacity of improvement, engendered by an artificial monopoly of the national food supply. This was not the special lesson impressed upon landlords or tenants by Cobbett, whose violent and delusive writings had a large circulation in the country. But his teaching was so far beneficial that it quickened the demand for parliamentary reform, though the fruits of that reform were destined to be very different from the expectations which he excited.

[Pageheading: SPECULATIVE FRENZY.]

The spell of general prosperity which, in spite of some distress in the rural districts, prevailed in the years 1820-23 was somewhat broken in 1824 by strikes and outrages in the manufacturing districts. Strikes for higher wages naturally arose out of the increase in mill owners' profits, and the ferocious spirit displayed by the strikers against masters and fellow-workmen was attributed by reformers to the one-sided operation of the combination laws. Accordingly, a committee of the house of commons reported in favour of repealing these laws, and also part of the common law which treated coercion either by trade unions or by masters as conspiracy. A bill founded on this report was hastily passed, with the natural result that strikes broke out in every quarter of the country; wholesale and cruel oppression was practised by trade unionists, and it became necessary for parliament to retrace its steps. Under a new act, passed in 1825, which continued in force until very recent times, trade unions were recognised as legal, but their worst malpractices were once more brought within the control of the criminal law.[71] So far the commercial policy of Huskisson was justified, as a whole, by its effects on trade, and the session of 1824 was closed on June 25 by a cheerful speech from the king, in which the disturbed state of Ireland was the only topic suggestive of anxiety. Already, however, the revival of commercial hopefulness at home, with the opening of new markets in South America, was paving the way for the most ruinous mania of speculation known in England since the south sea bubble. It was well that sound and sober-minded economists now guided the action of the government, and that Liverpool proved himself a worthy successor of Sir Robert Walpole during the great financial crisis of 1825.[72]

The speculative frenzy of 1825 differed from the railway mania of the next generation in that it had no solid basis of remunerative investment. The development of the railway system, after the application of locomotive steam engines to iron tramways, offered a legitimate promise of large profits, and this promise would have been still more amply realised but for the shameful waste of capital on competition and law expenses. It was otherwise with the dupes and victims of the rage for speculation which possessed all classes of society in 1825, and arose out of an immense accumulation of wealth for which no safe employment could be found at home except at a modest rate of interest. The weakening of the hold of Spain on South America left her colonies open to foreign trade, but the enterprises there and elsewhere which absorbed the hard-won savings of humble families, by thousands and tens of thousands, were nearly all chimerical, and some of them grotesque in their absurdity. Whether or not warming-pans and skates were actually exported to the tropics, it is certain that Scotch dairy-women emigrated to Buenos Ayres for the purpose of milking wild cows and churning butter for people who preferred oil. The incredible multiplication of bubble-companies was facilitated by a marvellous cheapness of money, largely due to an inordinate issue of notes by country bankers, and even by the Bank of England, in spite of the fact that gold and silver were known to be leaving the country in vast quantities, especially in the shape of loans to France. The inevitable reaction came when the Bank of England contracted its issue of notes in order to arrest the drain of gold; goods recklessly bought up had to be sold at a fearful loss, bills upon which advances had been made proved to be of no value, and several great London banking houses stopped payment, bringing down in their fall a much larger number of country banks dependent on them.

In the month of December, 1825, the crisis was at its height, and it is stated that within six or seven weeks after the failure of the banking firm of Pole & Company on the 5th, sixty or seventy banks had broken. The king's speech in July had congratulated parliament on increasing prosperity and had betrayed no misgivings about its stability. When the crash came, however, the ministers showed no want of firmness or resource. They could not repair the consequences of national folly, but they devoted themselves with intelligence to a restoration of credit. For this purpose they suppressed at once the further issue of small notes from country banks by a high-handed act of authority, for which they admitted that an act of indemnity might be needed. At the same time they rapidly increased the supply of small notes from the Bank of England, and of coin from the mint. Moreover, they induced the Bank of England to establish branches in a few provincial towns and to make advances upon merchants' goods to the amount of three millions. It cost a greater effort to break down the monopoly of the Bank of England by legalising joint-stock banks in the provinces, though not within a distance of sixty-five miles from London. Such practical expedients as these, seconded by the good sense of the mercantile community, proved sufficient to avert a catastrophe only less disastrous than national bankruptcy. With the subsidence of alarm, the causes of alarm also subsided, the recuperative powers of the country reasserted themselves, as during the great war, and the heart-breaking anxieties of 1825-26 were ignored, if not forgotten, in the political excitement of 1827.[73]

[Pageheading: ECONOMIC REFORM.]

The budgets of 1823-26 indeed mark a memorable advance in financial reform, which the commercial panic of 1825 scarcely interrupted. There had been a reduction of the national debt by about L25,000,000. "The poorer householders had been relieved from the pressure both of house tax and window tax. The manufacturing classes had been encouraged by the reduction of the duties on silk, wool, and iron. The consuming classes had been benefited by the reduction of duties on spirits, wines, coffee, and sugar."[74] Owing to Huskisson's enlightened policy the old navigation laws had been repealed upon the condition of reciprocity; the combination laws had been liberally revised; various bounties had been abandoned on free trade principles, and the monstrous evils of smuggling had been greatly abated. If the chancellor of the exchequer could show no surplus in 1826, he could at least boast that after so desperate a crisis there was no deficit, and he had no reason to be ashamed of Cobbett's nickname, "Prosperity Robinson," which he owed to his optimism, largely founded upon facts. Before the close of the year 1826, however, this optimism received a rude shock. The agitation against the corn laws assumed an acuter form than ever, and Huskisson prudently deprecated it on the simple ground that no effective action could be taken in an expiring parliament. Distress had recurred in the manufacturing districts; mills and power-looms were again destroyed. The free trade policy of Huskisson was vigorously attacked in parliament, but it was successfully defended in powerful speeches by Canning as well as by himself. Ultimately the government, having obtained limited powers from parliament to admit foreign corn during the temporary emergency, had the courage to exceed those powers and seek an indemnity from the next parliament.

The dissolution of 1826, closing the life of one of the longest parliaments in modern times, was the prelude to a very eventful year. The general election brought into prominence the two burning questions of catholic relief and the corn laws, and unseated for the moment Brougham, Cobbett, Hunt, and Lord John Russell, but it produced no material change in the balance of parties. Little was done in the short autumn session, but when parliament met again early in February, 1827, great events had already cast their shadows before. The Duke of York, heir-presumptive to the crown, had died on January 5. He was known to be a strong tory in politics, but, in spite of this, and of the scandals which attached to his name in earlier years, he enjoyed a considerable share of popular confidence. Compared with his elder brother, he was respected; he was a true Englishman, like his father, whom he resembled in character; his administration of the army had survived hostile criticism, while a declaration which he had recently made against catholic emancipation had produced a profound impression on public opinion. Much less was known of the Duke of Clarence, who stood next in succession. He had already injured himself in public estimation by declining the increased allowance offered him, and then claiming it with arrears; nor did he now improve his position in the eyes of his future subjects by stickling for a larger addition to it than parliament was disposed to grant. But the Duke of York's death was followed by a far more important incident. Liverpool was disabled by illness from attending his funeral, which, occurring in the depth of winter, proved directly fatal to one of those who were present, and seriously weakened the constitutions of others, including Canning. On February 8, the first day of the session, Liverpool was in his place, though in broken health, and on the 17th he took a feeble part in the debate on the grant to the Duke of Clarence. On the following morning he was struck down by a paralytic seizure, and, though his life was prolonged for two years, he never recovered the use of his faculties.

[Pageheading: THE CLOSE OF LIVERPOOL'S MINISTRY.]

Liverpool's disappearance from the political scenes may be said to mark an epoch in the later history of England. Though only fifty-six years of age, he had been continuously in office for twenty years, and prime minister for fifteen, a tenure of power which none of his predecessors had exceeded except Walpole and Pitt. His lot was cast in the most critical period of the great war, and in the long night of adversity and anxiety which ushered in the "thirty years' peace". As foreign secretary he conducted the negotiations for the peace of Amiens; as home secretary he led the house of lords and was responsible for the government of Ireland; as secretary for war and the colonies he gave Wellington a steady, if not ardent, support in those apparently barren campaigns which strained the national patience; as prime minister he guided the ship of state in all the difficulties of foreign and domestic affairs which arose between 1812 and 1827. Castlereagh may have been the most influential minister in the earlier years of his administration, and Canning in the later, but he was never the mere tool of either; on the contrary, it Is certain that he was treated with respect and deference by all his numerous colleagues. In general capacity and debating power he was inferior to few of them; in temper, judgment, and experience he was superior to all.

He may be said to have lived and died without "a policy," in so far as he forebore to identify himself with any of the great questions then pressing for solution. His real policy both at home and abroad was one of moderation and conciliation; he looked at party divisions almost with the eyes of a permanent official who can work loyally with chiefs of either party; and he succeeded in keeping together in his cabinet ambitious rivals who never would have co-operated under any other leader. This is not the road to fame, neither is it the course which men of imperious character like Castlereagh, or Canning, or Wellington, in his place, would have adopted. But Canning and Wellington actually proved themselves incapable of winning the confidence which Liverpool so long retained, and the whig government which followed them fell to pieces in two years. Moderation in statesmanship does not always imply mediocrity of ability; and if Liverpool failed to see how many institutions needed radical amendment, he was not so blind as some of his more celebrated associates. Not only was he more liberal in his views than Eldon and Castlereagh, but he was less opposed to free trade than most of his cabinet, to parliamentary reform than Canning, and to catholic emancipation than Wellington or Peel. His fault was that he did not act upon his own inward convictions with sufficient promptitude, or assert his own authority with sufficient energy. Had he done so, the beneficial measures of the last years of his administration might have been anticipated, and the country might have been spared much of the misery which darkened the close of George III.'s reign.

FOOTNOTES:

[68] Lord Londonderry in Twiss, Life of Eldon, ii., 432.

[69] Harriet Martineau, History of England During the Thirty Years' Peace, i., 274.

[70] Letters to Copleston, p. 295.

[71] Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce in Modern Times (edit. 1903), pp. 756-59. Compare Dicey, Law and Opinion in England, pp. 190-200.

[72] The graphic description of this crisis in Harriet Martineau's History of the Thirty Years' Peace, i., 355-66, deserves to be studied and remembered as a masterpiece of social portraiture by a contemporary.

[73] Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce in Modern Times, p. 823.

[74] Walpole's History of England, vol. ii., p. 187.



CHAPTER X.

PROBLEMS IN SOUTHERN EUROPE.

The events of the year 1820 subjected the European concert to a severe strain. An insurrection broke out in Spain on January 1, and on March 9 the king was forced to swear fidelity to the obsolete constitution of 1812. The result was to plunge the country into disorder, as both the clerical party and the extreme revolutionists refused to accept the constitution. Meanwhile the assassination by a working man of the Duke of Berry, who died on February 14, 1820, had occasioned a new royalist reaction in France, and had increased the general fear of the revolutionary party. The Bourbon succession had seemed to depend on his life, for his son, the Count of Chambord, was posthumous. On receiving the news of the Spanish revolution the tsar, already tiring of his liberal enthusiasm, fell back on his scheme for exercising paternal discipline over Europe. He proposed in April that the ambassadors at Paris should issue a joint remonstrance requiring the Spanish cortes to disavow the revolution, and to enact severe laws against sedition. Failing this, he proposed joint intervention, and offered for his own part to send an army of 15,000 men through North Italy and southern France to co-operate in the suppression of the revolution. To this Castlereagh replied that England would never consent to a joint intervention in Spain. Metternich was too much displeased with the Russian encouragement of secret societies in Italy to wish to see Russian troops in that country, and both Castlereagh and Metternich wished to keep Spain free from French influence. In the face of this opposition Russia could not, and France would not, do anything, and all thought of intervention was postponed. It was the last time that Castlereagh was able to assert the principle of non-intervention without breaking up the European concert.

[Pageheading: REVOLUTIONS IN SOUTHERN EUROPE.]

July and August saw three new revolutions. A rebellion at Nola on July 2 ended in King Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies taking the oath on the 13th to the Spanish constitution, then regarded as a model by the liberals of Southern Europe. But the grant of a constitution to Naples suggested a demand for independence at Palermo. On July 17-18 that city rose in revolt and was only subdued by the Neapolitans in the beginning of October. Portugal, too, was in a disturbed state. The royal family had been absent for nearly thirteen years, and the country had for five years been governed by Lord, afterwards Viscount, Beresford as marshal and commander of the Portuguese army. In April, 1820, he sailed for Brazil, intending to induce the king, John VI., to return. During his absence a revolution took place at Oporto on August 24, a provisional government was established, and all British officers were dismissed. This was followed by a similar revolution at Lisbon on September 15. Beresford on his return was forbidden to land, and retired to England. On November 11, the Spanish constitution was proclaimed in Portugal, but six days later another proclamation left the question of determining the constitution to the cortes which were to be elected on a popular suffrage.

The Neapolitan revolution raised at once the question of intervention. In this case Castlereagh held that Austria had a right to interfere, because her position as an Italian power was endangered by the revolution, and because the revolution was a breach of the secret treaty of 1815 which had received the sanction of the British government. He still objected to any joint interference and was opposed to the reference of the question to a congress. Austria could not have interfered alone without offending the tsar, who clung to the principle of joint action. The question of intervention was therefore postponed for the present. France, however, being jealous of Austrian influence in Italy, demanded the meeting of a congress, and such a meeting was accordingly held at Troppau on October 20. To this congress Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia sent plenipotentiaries. Great Britain carried her opposition to joint interference so far as to refuse to join in the deliberations, though Sir Charles, now Lord, Stewart was sent to Troppau to watch the proceedings. Metternich, on finding that he could not avoid the meeting of a congress, determined to lead its proceedings, and, before it met, drew up a memorandum defining his own views about intervention. These views were accepted at the congress by Prussia and Russia as well as by Austria; and a protocol was issued by the three powers declaring that a state in which a revolution should occur was dangerous to other states, and ceased to be a member of the European alliance, until it could give guarantees for its future stability. If such a revolution placed other states in immediate danger, the allied powers were bound to intervene by peaceful means, if possible, or if need were, by arms. Before parting, the congress invited Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies to attend an adjourned meeting, to assemble early in the following year at Laibach.[75] Against these decisions Castlereagh protested in vigorous terms, and more especially against any possible application of the principle of intervention to England; France under the Duke of Richelieu joined in neither the protocol nor the protest. The liberal tendencies of the tsar had been quenched by recent events, so that, instead of a concert of Europe, there was left only a concert of absolute monarchs.

[Pageheading: AUSTRIAN INTERVENTION.]

In January, 1821, the sovereigns of Austria, Prussia, and Russia met the King of the Two Sicilies at Laibach. France had vainly attempted to mediate between the King of the Two Sicilies and his people. But the Neapolitans were not satisfied with any vague promise of a constitution, and before allowing their king to depart for Laibach, held him pledged to the observance of an impossible condition, the maintenance of the Spanish constitution of 1812. The king's oath to preserve this particularly objectionable constitution was regarded by Austria as sufficient to preclude negotiation, and it was resolved that she should restore him by force as an absolute monarch, and should occupy the Neapolitan territory. The duration of this occupation was reserved as a question to be discussed at the next European congress, which it was intended to hold at Florence in the autumn of the next year. After a show of resistance at Rieti the Neapolitans submitted, and the Austrian army entered Naples on March 24. The restoration of absolute government was accompanied by severities towards the constitutionalists, but Austria would not allow any repetition of the bloodshed of 1799.

While the Austrian army was marching southwards, a new revolution broke out in Piedmont. The Spanish constitution was proclaimed at Alessandria on March 10, and at Turin on the 12th. On the 13th, Victor Emmanuel I., King of Sardinia, abdicated, appointing as regent his distant cousin Prince Charles Albert of Carignano, who had been in communication with the revolutionary party. The regent immediately accepted the Spanish constitution on condition of the maintenance of the line of succession and of the Roman catholic religion. The new king, Charles Felix, was at Modena when the revolt occurred. He refused to acknowledge the new constitution, and ordered Charles Albert to betake himself to Novara, where the royalist troops were collecting. On the night of the 21st, Charles Albert fled from Turin to Novara, but the constitutional party did not submit without a struggle. On April 8 the Austrians crossed the frontier and, uniting with the royalists, defeated the constitutionalists at Novara. Two days later the royalist army entered Turin. The two Italian revolutions had thus ended in an Austrian occupation of the two largest Italian states which were not ruled by members of the imperial house. The Papal States were now the only Italian principality of any size which was not dominated by Austria.

So far Austria had been sufficiently powerful in the congresses of the powers to be able to prevent interference with other states where it was not to her interest, and to incline the balance in favour of it where intervention would strengthen her. The reopening of the Eastern question made her ascendency more difficult to maintain. The congress of Laibach had been closed, but the sovereigns had not yet departed, when the news arrived that a revolt, engineered by Greeks with the pretence of Russian support, had broken out against the Turks in Moldavia and Wallachia. Russia at once agreed with Austria that the principle laid down at Troppau applied to this revolt; the insurrectionary leaders were disowned by Russia, and by the end of June Turkish authority was restored in the Danubian principalities. So far the action of Russia had met with the approval not only of Austria but of Great Britain, and Castlereagh had written to Alexander urging him not to join the Greek cause, which appeared to him to be part of an universal revolutionary movement.

Early in April, however, a more serious insurrection broke out in the Morea, and was followed a few weeks later by one in Central Greece. The war was disgraced from the first by inhuman massacres on both sides. The Greek patriarch at Constantinople together with three archbishops was executed by the Turks on Easter Sunday, April 22. A great ferment in Russia was the result, where the people were anxious to assist their co-religionists and to avenge the death of the patriarch, whom they regarded as a martyr. The grievances of the Orthodox religion were seconded by the proper grievances of Russia. Greek ships, sailing under the Russian flag, had been seized in the Dardanelles; the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia had not been evacuated by the Turkish troops as was required by treaty, while an ancient treaty rendered it possible to regard the wrongs of the Greek Church as the political wrongs of Russia. A Russian ultimatum was despatched on June 28; and, while awaiting a reply, Russia consulted the other powers as to the course they would pursue in the event of war breaking out between Russia and Turkey, and the system with which they would propose to replace the Turkish domination if it came to be destroyed. The principle of joint intervention, adopted at Troppau, seemed to require the powers to give their support to Russia. Great Britain and Austria, however, refused to treat war with Turkey as a possibility. The Greek revolt seemed to them to express the principle of revolution, and the tsar himself became inclined to take this view of the situation when the Greeks established an advanced republican form of government. They accordingly distinguished between the treaty rights of Russia, which the four powers would urge Turkey to respect, and the provision of a more secure state of order in Turkey, which would be discussed at a European congress. The Russian ambassador had been withdrawn from Constantinople on August 8, and the negotiation was conducted mainly by Lord Strangford, the British ambassador at Constantinople, who was supported by Austria, France, and Prussia. He succeeded in inducing Turkey to evacuate the principalities and to open the Dardanelles to ships of all nations, but Turkish obstinacy deferred the conclusion of a treaty.

[Pageheading: THE SPANISH QUESTION.]

Meanwhile the Spanish question became more critical. As time went on Spain grew less instead of more settled, while the ultra-royalist party gained strength in France. To them the position to which the Bourbon King of Spain had been reduced seemed at once an insult and a menace to France. The establishment of Austrian supremacy in Italy made them long for French supremacy in Spain. In August, 1821, the presence of yellow fever in Spain was made the occasion for establishing a body of troops, professing to act as a sanitary cordon, upon the frontier. They were retained there when the fever had disappeared, and their numbers were gradually raised to 100,000. In December, 1821, an ultra-royalist ministry entered on office in France under the leadership of Villele. Villele, like King Louis XVIII., was opposed to war, but he might easily be forced to adopt the war policy which was popular with his party. Fresh evidence was given of the contagious nature of the Spanish revolution by the adoption, on the 27th of the preceding June, by the Portuguese cortes, of a constitution modelled on that of Spain. Six days later the Portuguese king arrived at Lisbon and was induced to sign the new constitution. This event was the more significant in the eyes of the powers, because the proclamation of the constitution had been accompanied by an insult to the Austrian embassy.

If Spanish liberalism placed Spain in danger of a war with France, Spain was in equal danger of a war with Great Britain because she was not liberal enough. The revolution of 1820, instead of reconciling the revolted colonies, had served as an example to the loyal colonies to seek their liberty. By the summer of 1822 Upper Peru was the only part of the American mainland where Spain held more than isolated posts; she had been compelled to sell Florida to the United States, and San Domingo had joined the revolted French colony of Hayti. The Spanish cortes, however, were even more resolute than the king had been to maintain the authority of the mother country, and protested against the right which the British had claimed and exercised of trading with the revolted colonies. The disorderly state of these colonies encouraged the growth of piracy, which flourished even in the ports which still acknowledged the supremacy of Spain. Special irritation was caused in 1822 by the condemnation of the Lord Collingwood for trading with Buenos Ayres, a place over which Spain had exercised no authority for twelve years. In the same year the new navigation acts greatly increased the facilities for trading with Great Britain enjoyed by such places in America as admitted British ships. In April, 1822, the United States recognised the independence of Colombia, but Great Britain refrained as yet from recognising any of the Spanish-American states, partly because of their unsettled condition and partly because the threat of recognition was a valuable diplomatic counter in negotiations with Spain.

Instead of a congress being held at Florence it was finally determined that the Italian questions should be referred to a congress which was to meet at Verona in September, 1822, and was to be preceded by a conference at Vienna on the Eastern question; there could, however, be little doubt that the Spanish question would also be raised. Castlereagh, or as we should now call him Lord Londonderry, would have preferred that Great Britain should stand aloof from the Spanish and Italian questions, but he desired that she should participate in the discussion of the Eastern question; it was accordingly arranged that he should represent Great Britain at the conference of Vienna, and he had actually drawn up instructions in favour of non-intervention in Spain and of accrediting agents to some of the South American republics, when his departure was prevented by his death on August 12. He was succeeded by Wellington as plenipotentiary, and by Canning as foreign secretary. The change was, however, one of persons rather than of policies. Canning was less conciliatory in manner, and had less sympathy with the principle of European congresses, but was prepared to carry on Castlereagh's policy on the questions which for the time being agitated the world.

[Pageheading: THE CONGRESS OF VERONA.]

The Spanish question was, as a fact, the one question which occupied the attention of the powers at Vienna and Verona. In consequence of the efforts of Strangford at Constantinople and his own growing dissatisfaction with the Greeks, the tsar was willing to allow the Greek question to drop; at the same time the kings of the Two Sicilies and Sardinia themselves desired the continuance of Austrian occupation, and thus postponed the Italian question. As in 1820, Austria held the balance between two rival policies. She had then thrown her weight on the side of non-intervention, and, had the Spanish question stood by itself, she would probably have done so again. But in Metternich's opinion the Spanish question was of less importance than the Eastern, and it was important that the tsar should not doubt her loyalty to the principle on which she had persuaded him to refrain from an attack upon the Porte.

On passing through Paris on his way to Vienna, Wellington found Villele desirous of avoiding war, but counting on it as a probability. He arrived at Vienna too late for the actual conference, but in time to have some conversation with Metternich and the tsar before leaving for Verona. So far it appeared that Montmorency, the more active of the French representatives, though professing to desire a peaceful termination to the dispute between France and Spain, advocated French intervention, if intervention should be necessary, but was opposed to the passage of foreign troops through France. Metternich and the tsar distrusted French troops when brought face to face with revolutionists, and Metternich was therefore opposed to intervention, while the tsar still desired to be allowed to march a Russian army on behalf of the combined powers through Piedmont and southern France into Spain. Metternich of course did not wish to see any Russian troops to dispute Austria's supremacy in Italy. But all three desired the suppression of the Spanish constitution, if they could find a trustworthy instrument. Wellington adhered to Castlereagh's policy of non-intervention.[76]

When the congress opened at Verona on October 20, Montmorency proposed three skilfully drawn questions. Avoiding the direct discussion of hostilities, he asked whether, if France were compelled to withdraw her ambassador from Madrid, the other powers would do the same. Then, assuming their sympathy, he asked what form of moral support they would give her in event of war. Lastly, he propitiated Russian views of joint action by asking what form of material support the powers would give France, if she should require it. Wellington refused to consider hypothetical cases, but the sovereigns of Austria, Prussia, and Russia answered the first question in the affirmative, and assured France of their moral, and, if necessary, of their material support. So far no power had abandoned its original attitude, but the promises had been given in a form which lent itself best to the sole interference of France, as the representative of the congress. Metternich now advocated British mediation, but this was refused by Montmorency on the ground of the differences between the policy adopted by Great Britain and that adopted by the other powers. It was then agreed that Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia should address notes of the same tenor to their ambassadors at Madrid, who should make corresponding representations to the Spanish government, and a proces verbal was concluded between these four powers defining the causes which would justify the recall of their ambassadors.

As the French king was not present at Verona, the sending of the French note was made conditional on the approval of the French government. The occupation of Spain by foreign troops was to be discussed when the King of Spain should have been restored to liberty. The tenor of the notes agreed on seemed to Wellington more likely to inflame the Spanish government than to win concessions, and he lost no time in informing Villele through Sir Charles Stuart, the British ambassador at Paris, of the course of negotiations.[77] Although Wellington had been assured at Verona that Villele's decision would not affect the transmission of notes from the other courts, he hoped and Canning believed that it was still in the power of Villele to arrest the machinery that Montmorency, his representative at Verona, had set in motion. On November 30 Wellington left Verona, but the emperors remained. On December 5 Villele sent a message to Verona proposing to postpone sending the despatches till an occasion for breaking off diplomatic relations as defined in the proces verbal should arise, and suggesting that the ambassadors at Paris should determine when such an occasion had occurred. This proposal was rejected. It was inconsistent with Russia's desire for war, while Austria was anxious to please Russia in the west, so long as she remained pacific in the east. The three eastern powers therefore resolved that they would only delay sending their notes till the French note was ready.

[Pageheading: THE SPANISH QUESTION.]

While this negotiation was pending, Wellington arrived at Paris, where, under strong pressure from Canning,[78] he renewed his offer of mediation with Spain. It was declined. On the arrival of the reply from Verona, Wellington was informed that even if the other powers sent their despatches to Madrid, France would withhold hers. In the end, Villele dismissed Montmorency for the independent line he had taken, and sent a milder note than the three eastern powers, but withdrew his ambassador from Madrid soon after the other ambassadors had departed. Great Britain was in consequence the only great power which still continued diplomatic relations with Spain at the end of January, 1823. In the course of the negotiations two curious suspicions had occurred to Canning and Villele respectively. Canning imagined that France would employ the threats of her allies as a show of force to compel Spain to join her in an attack on British commerce in the West Indies, while Villele suspected that the British defence of the political independence of Spain was to be recompensed by the cession of some Spanish colonies in America.

Meanwhile, the war party before which Villele had had to bow, was having its own way in France. On January 28 Louis XVIII. in opening the chambers announced the withdrawal of his ambassador, and declared that 100,000 Frenchmen were ready to march to preserve the throne of Spain to a descendant of Henry IV., and to reconcile that country with Europe. The sole object of any war that might arise would be to render Ferdinand VII. free to give his people institutions which they could not hold except from him, and which, by securing their tranquillity, would dissipate the unrest in France. Canning protested against the apparent implication that no valid constitution could rest on any other basis than that of France did, as also against the apparent claim to interfere in virtue of the family relation of the dynasties of France and Spain; but he vainly endeavoured to persuade the Spanish government to come to some agreement with its king. On March 31, when war seemed imminent, Canning despatched a note to Paris defining the limits of British neutrality. The independence of Spain and integrity of its dominions were to be recognised; it was not to be permanently occupied by a military force, and France was not to attempt to gain either by conquest or by cession any of the revolted colonies of Spain in America. At the same time he disclaimed any intention of acquiring any of those colonies for Great Britain.[79]

[Pageheading: PORTUGAL AND BRAZIL.]

War between France and Spain began with the passage of the frontier by the Duke of Angouleme on April 7. On May 23 he entered Madrid. On October 1 the Spanish constitutionalists were compelled to set their king at liberty to join the French, and on November 1 the war was terminated by the surrender of Barcelona to the royalists. The restoration of Ferdinand VII. to absolute power was followed by a furious and vindictive reaction, which Angouleme strove in vain to moderate. For the next five years French troops occupied the country, but Angouleme showed his disapproval of the method of government by refusing the decorations offered him by Ferdinand. The restoration of absolutism in Spain led to events in Portugal which forced Great Britain to intervene and strengthened the difference between her policy and that of the continental powers. The new Portuguese constitution was unpopular, especially in the army, and as early as February, 1823, there was a revolt against the constitution, but order was restored in April. On May 26 another absolutist revolt broke out, and the rebels were joined next day by the king's second son, Dom Miguel, then twenty years of age; on the 29th the revolt spread to Lisbon; on the 31st the king promised a revised constitution, and on June 2 the cortes ceased to sit. The government resolved itself into an absolute monarchy, which continued till the following year, in spite of the appointment of a junta under the presidency of Palmella to draw up a new constitution. The ambassadors of Austria, Prussia, and Russia opposed the granting of a new constitution, and Dom Miguel still maintained a threatening attitude. Palmella accordingly applied to Great Britain for troops to support his government. This request created no little difficulty. It was impossible for Great Britain to allow the government of Portugal to fall into the hands of a party resting for support on the absolutists in Spain and the French army, and it was equally impossible to employ British troops to maintain the cause of the King of Portugal against his ultra-royalist subjects when Great Britain had protested so vigorously against the kings of Spain and the Two Sicilies receiving foreign assistance against their liberal subjects; there were moreover no troops that could well be spared.

Canning accordingly contented himself with despatching a naval squadron to the Tagus to act as a moral support to the king. As the event proved, this squadron was sufficient to determine the course of events. At the same time Canning refused to guarantee any constitution, though when France joined the eastern powers in threatening the proposed constitution, he intimated his readiness to resist by force of arms any foreign intervention in Portugal. On April 30, 1824, Dom Miguel attempted another coup d'etat, and was for nine days in possession of Lisbon, where he made wholesale arrests of his political opponents. John VI. was, however, supported by all the foreign ambassadors, and on March 9, by their advice, he went on board the British ship of war, Windsor Castle, where he summoned his son to appear before him. Dom Miguel thought it wisest to obey; the king sent him abroad, and the attempt at a revolution was over for the present. The junta appointed in the previous year to frame a constitution now reported in favour of a revival of the ancient cortes, and this proposal was accepted by the king. The cortes were not, however, actually assembled; still, the mere fact of Dom Miguel's absence left the government a little stronger.

Meanwhile, the relations between Portugal and Brazil occasioned difficulties between the former country and Great Britain. On leaving Brazil, King John VI. had entrusted the government to his elder son, Peter, to whom he had given secret instructions to proclaim himself Emperor of Brazil in case he found it impossible to maintain the union between Brazil and the mother country. Acting on these instructions, Peter had proclaimed the independence of Brazil on October 12, 1822, adopting for himself the style of constitutional emperor. Next month Lord Cochrane, who had been in the service of Chile, quitted it for that of Brazil. Neither party in Portugal was prepared for the separation of Brazil, and it was therefore opposed, but without much effect, by the home government. By the end of 1823 Cochrane had captured all the Portuguese posts in Brazil, and in August, 1824, he suppressed a republican movement in the north of that country. On July 23 of the same year Great Britain signed a commercial treaty with the new empire. This irritated the Portuguese government. Meanwhile, Beresford, who had returned to Portugal in a private capacity, had been requested to resume the command of the Portuguese army. This he refused to do so long as the Count of Subserra, a French partisan, held office at home. There was a difficulty in forming a ministry without him, and eventually Subserra became virtual prime minister, and Beresford was excluded from office. In order to obtain an excuse for the introduction of French troops into Portugal, Subserra sent a request to Great Britain for a force of four or five thousand, knowing it would be refused. Great Britain's refusal had not, however, the expected consequence, because the influence of the other powers at Lisbon was weakened by their anti-constitutional policy. In July, 1825, the representatives of Austria, Brazil, Great Britain, and Portugal assembled at London to consider the relations of Portugal and Brazil. While the conference was sitting it was discovered that Subserra was carrying on separate negotiations with Brazil. Canning was now able to obtain his dismissal, which was followed by the recall of the French ambassador, De Neuville, who had been the principal opponent of British influence at Lisbon. As a result of this conference the Portuguese government on August 29 recognised the independence of Brazil.[80]

The restoration of absolute government in Spain revived the question of Spanish America. Ferdinand VII., on recovering his authority, proposed a congress at Paris for the consideration of South American affairs. Canning, however, declined his invitation, and it was thought useless to hold a congress without the participation of Great Britain. The position in which Great Britain had been placed by the negotiations of Verona, as diplomatic champion of Spain, had caused her to suspend her complaints about the treatment of her merchant vessels trading with the revolted colonies; but disorder continued, and on one occasion the British admiral was authorised to land in Cuba to extirpate the pirates using the Spanish flag. Canning was determined that French force should not be employed to reduce the revolted colonies, and in October, 1823, he informed the French ambassador, Polignac, that he would acknowledge the independence of those colonies if France assisted Spain in her attempts to reduce them[81]—a somewhat empty threat, as the commercial interests of Great Britain would have compelled him to acknowledge them in any case as soon as there should be settled governments in existence with which he could treat. Diplomatic agents were in fact appointed in most of the revolted colonies before the end of this year.

[Pageheading: THE MONROE DOCTRINE.]

What, however, rendered French interference hopeless was the attitude of the United States, as expressed in President Monroe's historic message to congress on December 2, 1823. In this message occur the words, since known as the Monroe doctrine: "With the governments who have declared their independence, and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration, and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power, in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States." After this the recognition of the independence of the Spanish colonies was only a matter of time.[82] Great Britain recognised the independence of Buenos Ayres, Colombia, and Mexico, in 1824, and the rest soon after. In spite of the temporary successes of Canterac, Peru, the last of the mainland provinces, was lost to Spain in 1825, and the other European powers did not now delay their recognition of the American republics. In April of that year France recognised the virtual independence of her own revolted colony of Hayti.

The Eastern question advanced more slowly. On March 25, 1823, Canning recognised the Greeks as belligerents. After this step Great Britain enjoyed the advantage of being able to hold the Greek government responsible for piracy committed by Greek ships; but, coming as it did after the isolated action of Great Britain at Verona, it created a suspicion among the eastern powers of a desire to effect a settlement of the Eastern question without the co-operation of other states. In October, 1823, the Tsar Alexander and the Emperor Francis had a meeting at Czernowitz in Bukowina. Here they discussed joint intervention in Greece as a means of forestalling the isolated intervention of Great Britain. During the meeting the news arrived of the Turkish concessions to the Russian demands of 1821. Before the conference broke up, the tsar informally suggested a conference at St. Petersburg to arrange joint intervention on the basis of the erection of three principalities under Turkish suzerainty in Greece and the AEgean. In January, 1824, the same proposal was made formally in a Russian circular addressed to the great powers. Metternich and Canning both opposed the scheme, thinking that the principalities would fall under Russian influence.

Metternich met it by a counter proposal for the complete independence of Greece. Canning preferred to adopt neither course, and to watch the sequence of events. In April, however, he consented that Great Britain should be represented at the conference at St. Petersburg on condition that no coercion should be applied to Turkey, and that diplomatic relations should have been previously restored between Russia and Turkey; in August the Greek government sent to London its protest against the Russian proposals, and in November Canning, finding that neither Greeks nor Turks would accept the decision of the conference, and being still opposed to violent interference, refused to take part in it. At the same time he offered British mediation to the Greeks in case it should be absolutely necessary. Early in 1825 Metternich induced Charles X., the new King of France, to support his proposal. Russia, however, would not hear of the independence of Greece, which might mean the creation of a rival to her influence in the Turkish dominions. The conference therefore merely resolved that the Porte should grant satisfaction to its subjects, failing which the powers offered their mediation.

[Pageheading: THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER I.]

Turkey refused the offer. She was in fact busily engaged in restoring order in her own way. In February, 1825, an Egyptian army was landed in the Morea, and met with rapid successes of such a nature as to arouse a suspicion that it was the fixed policy of its commander, Ibrahim, the adopted son of Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, to depopulate the Morea. His advance upon Nauplia was checked by an order of the British commodore, Hamilton, and he retired towards Tripolitza and Navarino. The Turkish successes induced Canning to make proposals to Russia through Sir Stratford Canning, the British ambassador at St. Petersburg, for a joint intervention of the powers on condition that there should be no coercion of Turkey. The tsar refused to accept the condition and made preparations for war. Canning meanwhile declined an offer of the Greek government to place itself under British protection, and on August 18 Alexander declared that he would solve the Eastern question by himself. He then set out for the south of Russia, where his army had collected. Canning now dropped his scheme of an united intervention and opened negotiations for a separate intervention on the part of Great Britain and Russia alone. Meanwhile he informed the Greek government that he would allow no power to effect a settlement without British co-operation, and that if Russia invaded Turkey he would land troops in Greece. The negotiations with Russia were proceeding favourably when they were interrupted by the death of Alexander on December 1.

One event of the year 1825 which attracted little attention at the time was destined to be a cause of friction at a much later date. In 1824 the boundary between British America and the United States had been partially delimited, and this was followed early in the following year by a treaty, which attempted to settle the boundary between British and Russian America. Unfortunately the words used in this treaty were somewhat indefinite, and, although no difficulty was experienced for two generations, the discovery of gold in the north-west of America subsequently led to a bitter dispute between Canada on the one side and the United States, which had acquired the rights of Russia, on the other.

FOOTNOTES:

[75] Metternich, Memoirs, Sec. 484, English translation, iii., 446.

[76] Wellington, Despatches, etc., i., 343-48.

[77] Wellington, Despatches, etc., i., 518-23. For a French account of the congress see Duvergier de Hauranne, Gouvernement Parlementaire en France, vii., 130-229.

[78] Wellington, Despatches, etc., i., 650. Compare pp. 638, 653-57.

[79] Stapleton, Life of Canning, ii., 18, 19.

[80] Stapleton, Life of Canning, ii., chapters x., xi.

[81] Stapleton, Life of Canning, ii., 26-33.

[82] See J. W. Foster, A Century of American Diplomacy, pp. 442-50; Stapleton, George Canning and his Times, p. 375.



CHAPTER XI.

TORY DISSENSION AND CATHOLIC RELIEF.

The sudden illness of Liverpool in February, 1827, disclosed the dualism and mutual jealousies which had enfeebled his cabinet. One section, represented by Canning, advocated catholic emancipation, encouraged the practical application of free trade doctrines, and was prepared to support the principle of national independence, not only in South America, but in Greece and Portugal. This section was dominant in the house of commons. The other section, led by Wellington and Peel, which was dominant in the house of lords, was strictly conservative on all these questions, though Peel was beginning to show an open mind on one, at least, of them. The king's known distrust of Canning, largely shared by his own party, naturally suggested the hope of rallying it under the leadership of some politician with the moderate and conciliatory temper of Lord Liverpool. But no such politician could be found, nor was there any prospect of Canning accepting a subordinate position in a new ministry. For nearly six weeks the premiership was in abeyance, while Liverpool's recovery was treated as a possible event. Canning himself was in broken health, but, ill as he was, he proposed and carried in the house of commons a sliding scale of import duties upon corn, variable with its market price. He also made a fierce attack on Sir John Copley, then master of the rolls, who had vigorously opposed a motion of Burdett for catholic relief. At last the king, having consulted others, made up his mind to send for Canning, who had been suffering from a relapse. It was in vain that Canning advised him, unless he were prepared for concession on the catholic question, to summon a body of ministers sharing his own convictions. There was, in fact, no alternative to Canning's succession, except that of Wellington or Peel. The former declared that he would be worse than mad to accept the premiership; the latter was still young for the office and deprecated as hopeless the formation of any exclusively "protestant" cabinet. The selection of Canning became inevitable, and on April 10 the king determined upon it, irritated by what he regarded as an attempt to force his hand in the choice of a minister.

[Pageheading: CANNING ACCEPTS OFFICE.]

From that moment, during the short remainder of his life Canning had to undergo the same bitter experience as Pitt in 1804, and to suffer a cruel retribution for his aggressive petulance. All his strongest colleagues, except Huskisson, deserted him. The resignation of Lord Eldon, since 1821 Earl of Eldon, must have been expected, terminating, as it did, the longest chancellorship since the Norman conquest. But Canning seems to have really hoped that he might secure the support of Wellington by the assurance of his desire to carry out the principles of Liverpool's government. The duke, however, repelled his overtures with something less than courtesy, and even retired from the command of the army. Peel had already intimated privately that a transfer of the premiership from an opponent to a champion of emancipation would make it impossible for him to retain office. Three peers, Bathurst, Melville, and Westmorland, followed his example. Canning had no resource but to enlist colleagues from the ranks of the whigs. In this he was at first unsuccessful. Sturges Bourne was appointed to the home office, Viscount Dudley became foreign secretary, and Robinson, who was raised to the peerage as Viscount Goderich, became secretary for war and the colonies. Canning himself united the offices of first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer. The Duke of Portland became lord privy seal. Palmerston, the secretary at war, was given a seat in the cabinet. Harrowby, Huskisson, Wynn, and Bexley, retained their former posts, and Sidmouth, hitherto an unofficial member of the cabinet, finally retired. One important office outside the cabinet, that of chief secretary for Ireland, was given to a whig, William Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne. It was a happy idea to make the Duke of Clarence lord high admiral without a seat in the cabinet, and without any power of acting independently of his council, while Copley (as Lord Lyndhurst) proved a good successor to Eldon.

In May some of the whigs were induced to join the ministry. Tierney entered the cabinet as master of the mint and the Earl of Carlisle as first commissioner of woods and forests. The Marquis of Lansdowne, the former Lord Henry Petty, joined the cabinet without taking office. Other minor posts were assigned to whigs, and several whig chiefs, such as Holland and Brougham, while they remained outside the government, tendered it a friendly support. In July Lansdowne became home secretary, Bourne was transferred to the woods and forests department, Carlisle became lord privy seal, and Portland remained in the cabinet without office.

The new cabinet was therefore still in an unsettled state when it met parliament at the beginning of May. It there encountered a storm of unsparing criticism even in the house of commons, but still more in the house of lords. Lord Stewart, who had succeeded his brother as Marquis of Londonderry, and the Duke of Newcastle denounced Canning in the most intemperate language; and the veteran whig, Lord Grey, who had not been consulted, delivered an elaborate oration against him not the less virulent because it was carefully studied and measured. This attack was so keenly felt by Canning that he was supposed to meditate the acceptance of a peerage, that he might reply to it in person. The climax of his vexations was reached when a corn bill, prepared by the late cabinet, and passed by the house of commons, was finally wrecked in the house of lords through an amendment introduced by Wellington. There was some excuse for the duke's action in letters which had passed between him and Huskisson, but Canning naturally resented his mischievous interposition, and unwisely declared that he must "have been made an instrument in the hands of others". So ended the session on July 2, amidst discords and divisions which boded ill for the future, but threw a retrospective light on the rare merits of Liverpool.

[Pageheading: THE DEATH OF CANNING.]

The days of Canning were already numbered. Before the end of July he was unable to attend a council, and retired for rest to the Duke of Devonshire's villa at Chiswick. As in the case of Castlereagh, the king had noticed the symptoms of serious illness, and on August 5 the public was informed of his danger. On the 8th he died of internal inflammation in the room which had witnessed the death of Fox. His loss was deeply felt, not only by the king who never showed him confidence, but also by the best part of the nation, and his funeral was attended by a great concourse of mourners, both whigs and tories. No one doubted that he was a patriot, and his noble gifts commanded the admiration of his bitterest opponents. He belonged to an age of transition, and it must ever be deplored that he missed the opportunity of showing whether his mind was capable of further growth in the highest office of state; for the inconsistencies of his opinions, obstinately maintained for years, would have demanded many changes of conviction or policy. He was as stout an enemy of reform at home as he was a resolute friend of constitutional liberty abroad. He detested the system of repression consecrated by the holy alliance, but he defended the necessity of such measures as the six acts and arbitrary imprisonment for a limited period. He never swerved in his advocacy of Roman catholic relief, but he was unmoved by arguments in favour of repealing the test and corporation acts. Probably, at the head of a coalition, embracing the ablest of the moderate tories and reformers, and loyally supported by his colleagues, he might have proved the foremost British statesman of the nineteenth century. But it is more than doubtful whether his proud and sensitive nature would have enabled him so to cancel past memories as to consolidate such a coalition, or to inspire such loyalty in its members.

The death of Canning involved for the moment far less political change than might have been expected. The king at once sent for Sturges Bourne and Goderich, as the most intimate adherents of Canning. He then commanded Goderich to form, or rather to continue, a ministry of compromise, and this was done with little shifting of places. Wellington resumed the command of the army, thereby revealing his motive in giving it up so abruptly. But a very unwise choice was made in the appointment of John Charles Herries, rather than Palmerston, as chancellor of the exchequer, and it carried with it the seeds of an early disruption. Palmerston had originally been proposed for the office, but the king strongly favoured Herries, though he showed good sense in deferring to public opinion, and desiring Huskisson to take the post himself. Unfortunately, Huskisson preferred the colonial office, and, as neither Sturges Bourne nor Tierney would accept the position, royal influence prevailed, and Herries found himself at the exchequer. Meanwhile Portland succeeded Harrowby as lord president, Charles Grant succeeded Huskisson at the board of trade, and Lord Uxbridge, who had been created Marquis of Anglesey after the battle of Waterloo, and who was now master-general of the ordnance, was given a seat in the cabinet.

In the course of November it was decided by Goderich, in concert with Huskisson and Tierney, that a finance committee should be appointed early in the next session to consider the state of the revenue. Lord Althorp, the son of Earl Spencer, was designated as chairman, and provisionally undertook to act, but the chancellor of the exchequer, who, contrary to all precedent, had not been taken into counsel, strongly protested against the nomination, as soon as he was informed of it. Out of this dispute arose the ignoble fall of the Goderich administration, though it was preceded by more serious dissensions on foreign policy. The king, whose activity revived with the increasing weakness of his ministers, committed himself, without asking their opinion, to a hearty approval of Codrington's action at Navarino, in which, as will be recorded hereafter, that admiral had co-operated in the destruction of the Turkish navy, though the British government professed to be at peace with the Porte. The king was also adverse to a proposal for the admission of Holland and Wellesley into the cabinet. Goderich in consequence resigned, but had withdrawn his resignation when the quarrel between Huskisson and Herries broke out afresh. Driven to distraction by difficulties to which he was utterly unequal, Goderich once more abandoned his post. The king gladly dispensed with his services, and after some negotiation with Harrowby sent for Wellington on January 9, 1828, giving him a free hand to invite any co-operation except that of Grey. It was stipulated, however, "that the Roman Catholic question was not to be made a cabinet question," and that both the lord chancellors, as well as the lord lieutenant of Ireland, were to be "protestants".[83]

[Pageheading: WELLINGTON PRIME MINISTER.]

It must ever be regretted, for the sake of the country not less than of his own fame, that Wellington undertook the premiership. He was beyond all dispute the greatest man in England, and exercised up to the end of his life a more powerful influence in emergencies than any other subject. But he had judged himself rightly when he declared that he was wholly unfit to be prime minister, and his administration was among the weakest of modern times. The firmness which had sustained him in so many campaigns, the political sagacity which had enabled him to grapple with the complications of Spanish affairs, and with the great settlement of Europe, equally failed him in party management and in the estimation of public opinion at home. He understood better than any man how to deal with the king, and overbore not only the king's own prejudices but the machinations of the Duke of Cumberland with masterly resolution. He set a good example in declining to regard himself as a mere party leader and in refusing to study the arts of popularity hunting, but he never grasped the principle that constitutional government ultimately rests on the will of the people. Still he was too good a general not to see when facts were too strong for him. His chief manoeuvres on the field of politics consisted in somewhat inglorious though not unskilful retreats; when he afterwards carried boldness to the point of rashness, he encountered a signal defeat. Nevertheless, while he utterly lost his political hold on the masses, and even the confidence of shrewd politicians, he never ceased to retain the profound respect of his countrymen, not only as the first of English generals, but as the most honest of public servants.

Wellington naturally applied first to Peel, and, by his advice, attempted a reconstruction of the Goderich cabinet, but with the addition of certain new elements. Five of Canning's followers—Lyndhurst, Dudley, who had been created an earl, Huskisson, Grant, and Palmerston retained their old offices, and Palmerston gave an extraordinary proof of patience by cheerfully remaining secretary at war after eighteen years' service in that capacity. These cabinet ministers were now joined or rejoined by Peel as home secretary, Earl Bathurst as lord president, Henry Goulburn as chancellor of the exchequer, Melville as president of the board of control, Lord Aberdeen as chancellor of the duchy, and Lord Ellenborough, son of the former chief justice, as lord privy seal. Herries was transferred from the exchequer to the mastership of the mint. Outside the cabinet Anglesey became lord lieutenant of Ireland, where Lamb remained chief secretary. It was understood that Eldon, now in his seventy-seventh year, would have willingly accepted the presidency of the council, and felt hurt that no offer or communication was made to him. On the other hand, the whigs were by no means satisfied, while the inclusion of Huskisson equally offended extreme tories and the widow of Canning, who spoke of him as having become an associate of her husband's murderers. This association was not destined to be long lived. The formation of the ministry was not completed until the end of January, and very soon after parliament met on the 29th of that month a rupture between Huskisson and Wellington became imminent. For this Huskisson was mainly responsible. Having to seek re-election at Liverpool, and irritated by the attacks made upon his consistency, he delivered a very imprudent speech, in which he implied, if he did not state, that he had obtained from his chief pledges of adhesion to Canning's policy. Such a declaration from such a man was inevitably understood as applying at least to free trade and the conduct of foreign affairs. Both Huskisson and the duke in parliamentary speeches disclaimed the imputation of any bargain; still the rift was not closed, and it was speedily widened by events on which harmony between tories and friends of Canning was impossible.

For six years the so-called war of Greek independence had been carried on with the utmost barbarity on both sides. The sympathies of Canning, as foreign secretary, had been entirely with the Greeks, as they had been with the South American insurgents, but he was equally on his guard against the armed "mediation" of Russia and her claim to be the supreme protector of the Greek Christians. We have seen how at last, in 1825, hopeless discord between the great continental powers led to overtures for the peaceful intervention of Great Britain, and how at this juncture the Tsar Alexander died on December 1, 1825. Wellington, at Canning's request, undertook a special embassy to St. Petersburg for the ostensible purpose of congratulating the new tsar, Nicholas, on his accession, and succeeded, during April, 1826, in concluding an arrangement for joint action by Russia and Great Britain with a view to establishing the autonomy of Greece under the sovereignty of Turkey. Meanwhile the impulsive enthusiasm which has so often seized the English people on behalf of "oppressed nationalities" had been fanned into a flame by the cause of Greek independence. Byron had already sacrificed his life to it in April, 1824; Cochrane now devoted to it an energy and a naval reputation only second to Nelson's; volunteers joined the Greek levies, and subscriptions came in freely. In the course of 1826 Canning succeeded in procuring the adhesion of the French government to the Anglo-Russian agreement. Early in 1827 the three powers demanded an armistice from Turkey, and, on the refusal of the Porte, signed the treaty of London for the settlement of the Greek question. This treaty, dated July 6, 1827, was almost the last public act of Canning. It was moderate in its terms, embodying the conditions laid down in the previous year at St. Petersburg, and making the self-government of Greece subject to a payment of tribute to the Porte. It provided for a combination of the British, French, and Russian fleets in the event of a second refusal from Turkey; but Canning died in the hope that hostilities might be avoided.

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