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The National Assembly commenced its sittings on the 4th of May in a temporary wooden structure erected for the purpose. One of its first acts was to pass a resolutionthat the Provisional Government had deserved well of the country. But the revolutionary passions out of doors were far from being appeased. Secret societies and clubs were actively at work, and on the 11th of May a placard appeared, citing a proclamation of the Provisional Government dated the 25th of February, in which it unwisely undertook "to guarantee labour for all the citizens," and proceeding thus:"The promises made on the barricades not having been fulfilled, and the National Assembly having refused, in its sitting on the 10th of May, to constitute a Ministry of Labour, the delegates of the Luxembourg decline to assist at the fte called 'de la Concorde.'" On the 15th of May the Chamber was invaded by a body of men, carrying banners in their hands, and shouting for Poland. The President put on his hat, and the Assembly broke up. After a short time he returned. The National Guard appeared in force, and quickly cleared the hall. After these measures were taken to suppress the counter-revolution, the Assembly resumed its labours. A proclamation was issued, stating that the National Guard, the Garde Mobile, all the forces in Paris and the neighbourhood, had driven before them the insane conspirators, who concealed their plots against liberty under the pretence of zeal for Poland.

These reverses were calculated to make France more compliant; yet Pitt was astonished to find,[171] instead of compliance, a great spirit of resistance. Choiseul would by no means admit that Belleisle was an equivalent for Minorca. He demanded Guadeloupe and Belleisle too, simply in lieu of the French conquests in Germany. He now demurred to the surrender of Cape Breton, or in any case to forego the right of fishing along its coasts. He was not content with Amaboo or Acra; he demanded Senegal or Goree. He declined also to destroy the fortifications of Dunkirk, raised in contempt of the treaty of Utrecht. All captures made at sea previous to the declaration of war must be restored; and in Germany, though he was willing to withdraw the French troops, it was only on condition that the troops commanded by Prince Ferdinand should not reinforce the Prussian army.

Lord Wellington, early in October, called down his troops from their cold and miserable posts in the mountains, and marched them over the Bidassoa, and encamped them amongst the French hills and valleys of La Rhune. The last division moved across on the 10th of November, the town of Pampeluna having surrendered on the 31st of October. This was a very agreeable change to the troops; but, before crossing, his lordship issued the most emphatic orders against plundering or ill-using the inhabitants. He told them, and especially the Spanish and Portuguese, that though the French had committed unheard-of barbarities in their countries, he would not allow of retaliation and revenge on the innocent inhabitants of France; that it was against the universal marauder, Buonaparte, and his system, that the British made war, and not against the people of France. But the passions of the Portuguese and Spaniards were too much excited against their oppressors, and they burnt and plundered whenever they had opportunity. On this, Wellington wrote sternly to the Spanish general, Freyre.[62] "Where I command," he said, "no one shall be allowed to plunder. If plunder must be had, then another must have the command. You have large armies in Spain, and if it is wished to plunder the French peasantry, you may then enter France; but then the Spanish Government must remove me from the command of their armies. It is a matter of indifference to me whether I command a large or a small army; but, whether large or small, they must obey me, and, above all, must not plunder." To secure the fulfilment of these orders, he moved back most of the Spanish troops to within the Spanish frontiers. The strictness with which Lord Wellington maintained these sentiments and protected the inhabitants produced the best results. The folk of the southern provinces, being well inclined to the Bourbons, and heartily wearied of seeing their sons annually dragged away to be slaughtered in foreign countries for Buonaparte's ambition, soon flocked into camp with all sorts of provisions and vegetables; and they did not hesitate to express their wishes for the success of the British arms.

The queen expired at seven o'clock on Sunday morning, the 1st of August, 1714, not having recovered sufficient consciousness to receive the Sacrament, or to sign her will. During her intervals of sense she is reported to have repeatedly exclaimed, "Oh, my brother, my dear brother, what will become of you!" She was still only in her fiftieth year, and the thirteenth of her reign. Bolingbroke wrote to Swift"The Earl of Oxford was removed on Tuesday, and the queen died on Sunday. What a world is this, and how does fortune banter us!" Whilst the fate of Louis XVI. was drawing to a crisis, the question of danger menaced by the French revolution had been warmly discussed in the British Parliament. The Government had already called out the militia when Parliament met on the 13th of December, 1792. The speech from the throne attributed this to the attempts of French incendiaries to create disturbance in the country, coupled with the doctrines of aggression promulgated by the French Convention, and their invasion of Germany and the Netherlands, which had already taken place. The latter country was overrun with French armies, and Holland, our ally, was threatened. The Address to the Speech, in the Commons, was moved by Mr. Wallace and seconded by Lord Fielding in the same tone. Fox, on the other hand, strongly opposed the warlike spirit of the speech. He declared that he believed every statement in the royal speech was unfounded, though the invasion of Germany and of the Netherlands was no myth. Fox had not yet, despite the horrors perpetrated by the French revolutionists, given up his professed persuasion of the good intentions of that peoplea wonderful blindnessand he recommended that we should send a fresh ambassador to treat with the French executive. Grey and Sheridan argued on the same side; Windham and Dundas defended the measures of Government, declaring that not only had the French forced open the navigation of the Scheldt, the protection of which was guaranteed by Britain, but that they were preparing for the regular subjugation of Holland. Burke declared that the counsels of Fox would be the ruin of England, if they could possibly prevail. He remarked that nothing was so notorious as the fact that swarms of Jacobin propagandists were actively engaged in disseminating their levelling principles in Great Britain, and were in close co-operation with Republican factions. These factions had sent over deputations to Paris, who had been received by the Jacobin society and by the Convention. He read the addresses of Englishmen and Irishmen resident in Paris, and of Joel Barlow and John Frost, deputies of the Constitutional Society of London. Burke said the question was, if they permitted the fraternising of these parties with the French Jacobins, not whether they should address the throne, but whether they should long have a throne to address, for the French Government had declared war against all kings and all thrones. Erskine replied, ridiculing the fears of Burke, and denouncing the prosecution of Paine's "Rights of Man" by Government. The Address was carried by a large majority. Fox, however, on the 14th of December, moved an amendment on the Report; and in his speech he rejoiced in the triumph of the French arms over what he called the coalition of despots, Prussia and Austria. He declared the people of Flanders had received the French with open arms; that Ireland was too disaffected for us to think of going to war; and that it was useless to attempt to defend the Dutch, for the people there would go over to France too. He again pressed on the House the necessity of our acknowledging the present French Government, and entering into alliance with it. He said France had readily acknowledged the Revolution in England, and entered into treaty with[411] Cromwell. Burke again replied to Fox, declaring that France had no real Government at all to enter into terms with. It was in a condition of anarchy, one party being in the ascendency one day, another the next; that such was not the condition of England under Cromwell. There was a decided and settled Republican Government, but a Government which did not menace or overthrow all monarchies around it, any more than Switzerland or the United States of America did now. Dundas reminded the House that we were bound by treaties to defend Holland if attacked, and that we must be prepared for it. Whigs, who had hitherto voted with Fox, now demanded to whom we were to send an ambassadorto the imprisoned king, to the Convention, or to the clubs who ruled the Convention? Fox's amendment was rejected without a division. Another ground of attack upon the Government at the opening of the Session was their conduct in not bringing up Mr. O'Connell for judgment. It was alleged that they had entered into a corrupt compromise with the great Irish agitator, in order to avert his hostility and secure his support at the elections. This was indignantly denied both by Mr. Stanley and Lord Plunket. They contended that as the Act expired with the Parliament, so did the conviction, and that Mr. O'Connell could not be legally punished. This was the opinion of the law officers of the Crown in Ireland, an opinion in[336] which the English law officers concurred. Mr. Stanley said:"Not only was there no collusion or compromise, but I should have been most glad if Mr. O'Connell could have been brought up for judgment; but then we have been told that we ought not to have dissolved Parliament, because by so doing Mr. O'Connell had escaped. Now, no man can be more sensible than I am of the importance of showing to the people of Ireland that if Mr. O'Connell chooses to go beyond the law, he is not above the law; but, without meaning the slightest disrespect to Mr. O'Connell, I must say that if I put on the one hand the success of a great and important measure like the Reform Bill, and on the other the confinement of Mr. O'Connell in his Majesty's gaol of Kilmainham for three, six, or nine months, I must say that what became of Mr. O'Connell was as dust in the balance. Besides, the impression of the supremacy of the law was made upon the people by the fact of the verdict having been obtained against him, and an immediate change was wrought in the system of agitation, which, indeed, ceased. Such being the case, the question of what might be the personal consequences to any individual by the dissolution became of still less importance than it was before."

CHAPTER XXI. REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).

Although the division took no one by surprise, as the rejection of the Bill by the Lords was expected, yet the shock to society was very violent. The Funds suddenly fell, and there was that feeling of vague anxiety in the public mind which often portends some great calamity. At Derby they broke open the gaol and demolished the property of the anti-Reformers of the place. At Nottingham there was serious rioting, which ended in the utter destruction by fire of the ancient castle, once the property of the Duke of Newcastle, who had given violent offence by his rash declaration with regard to his voters at Newark, "that he had a right to do what he pleased with his own." The popular fury, however, soon subsided, and the public mind regained tranquillity, in the full assurance that the carrying of the Bill was only a question of time, and that the popular cause must ultimately triumph. What[340] most materially contributed to the restoration of public confidence was the fact that the king, alarmed at the prospect of a revolution, implored the Ministers to retain their places, and to shape their Bill so as to disarm their opponents; and on the following Monday, in the House of Commons, Lord Ebrington moved a vote of confidence in the Government, to the effect that, while the House lamented the present state of a measure in favour of which the opinion of the country had been so unequivocally expressed, and which had been matured after the most anxious and laborious discussions, they felt imperatively called upon to reassert their firm adherence to its principles and leading provisions, and their unabated confidence in the integrity, perseverance, and ability of the Ministers, who, in introducing it and conducting it so well, had consulted the best interests of the country. This motion was carried by the large majority of 131; the numbers being 329 to 198. Thus supported by the Commons, the Ministers retained their places; and the king, on the 20th of October, prorogued Parliament in person, in a Speech which the Lords might take as the king's answer to their vote, telling them in effect that by their obstinate bigotry they were setting themselves in antagonism to the two other estates of the realm, and that in their conduct and position lay the real danger to the Constitution. His Majesty said: "To the consideration of the important question of the Reform of the House of Commons the attention of Parliament must necessarily again be called at the opening of the ensuing Session; and you may be assured of my unaltered desire to promote its settlement by such improvements in the representation as may be found necessary for securing to my people the full enjoyment of their rights, which, in combination with those of the other orders of the State, are essential to the support of our free Constitution."