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course he should pursue. Without a single dissentient voice they urged him to persevere, and pledged themselves to carry the Bill. Walpole remained silent till they had all spoken,. when he rose, and having stated how conscious he was of having meant well, he proceeded to say that 'in the present inflamed temper of the people the Act could not be carried into execution without an armed force; that there would be an end to the liberty of England if supplies were to be raised by the sword. If, therefore, the resolution was to go on with the Bill, he would immediately wait upon the King, and desire His Majesty's permission to resign his office, for he would not be the minister to enforce taxes at the expense of blood.'1 English political history contains many more dazzling episodes than this. It contains very few which a constitutional statesman will regard as more worthy of his admiration.

A kindred spirit of moderation, in the later years of his life, marked his dealings with his opponents, though in this respect his merits have, I think, been much exaggerated. Among the benefits achieved by the Revolution, one of the greatest was that reform of the law of treason which placed the political opponents of the Government under efficient legal guarantees, put an end to the intolerable scandal of the Stuart State trials, and introduced a new spirit of clemency and amenity into English politics. The change was, however, only very gradually effected. The Treason Act of 1696 did not extend to the case of those who were impeached by the House of Commons, and the unhappy noblemen who suffered for the rebellions of 1715 and 1745 were compelled to defend their lives almost 'without legal assistance. The counsel assigned to them were not allowed to cross-examine any witness, to give the prisoner any assistance, public or private, while matter of fact only was

Almon's Anecdotes of Chatham, ii. 106. Coxe's Walpole, i. 403–401. The authority for this anecdote is Mr. White, the Member for Retford, who was an intimate friend of Walpole; it is itself quite in harmony with what we know of the character of

Walpole, and Archdeacon Coxe fully admits it. At the same time it mus be acknowledged that it is not easy to find a place for the transaction in the history of the Excise Bill as rarrated in Lord Hervey's Memoirs.

in question, or to hold any communication with him; though if a disputed question of law arose in the course of the trial, they might speak to it. A miserable scene took place, after the former rebellion, at the trial of Lord Wintoun. He is said to have been, at best, a man of very weak intellect, and he was evidently utterly bewildered by the scene and situation in which he found himself, and utterly incapable of conducting his defence. Again and again he implored the Lord High Steward to allow counsel to examine the witnesses, and to speak in his behalf. He professed himself, with truth, entirely incapable of conducting a cross-examination, or of presenting his defence; but he was again and again told that the law refused him the legal assistance he so imperatively required.' Hardly less scandalous was the scene exhibited thirty years later, when Lord Lovat, an old man of eighty, almost ignorant of the very rudiments of the law, and with the grotesque manners of a half-savage Highlander, was compelled, without assistance, to defend his life against an array of the most skilful lawyers in England. The injustice was so glaring that it at last shocked the public conscience, and a measure was moved and carried, without opposition, in 1747, for allowing the same privileges of counsel to prisoners in cases of impeachment as in cases of indictment.? many years after the Revolution, parliamentary impeachment was looked upon as an ordinary weapon of political warfare, and the Whig party, though far less guilty than their opponents, are responsible for a few scandalous instances of tyrannical' severity. The execution of Sir John Fenwick, by a Bill of Attainder, at a time when there was no sufficient legal evidence to procure his condemnation, has left a deep stain upon the. Government of William. The imprisonment without trial of Bernardi and four other conspirators, who were concerned in the plot against the life of William in 1696, was continued by special Acts of Parliament to the end of the reign of William and through the whole of the reign of Anne. In the first year

1 Townsend's Hist. of the House of Commons, ii. 286-293.


220 George ii. c. 30. Horace Walpole to Mason, May 1747.

of George I. a petition for their release was presented to the House of Lords; but the Whig Government persuaded the House to refuse even to take it into consideration. It was rejected without a division, Lord Townshend expressing his astonishment that any member of that august assembly should speak in favour of such execrable wretches; and Bernardi at last died, in 1736, at the age of eighty, having been imprisoned, without condemnation, for no less than forty years, by the Acts of six successive Parliaments. Walpole himself was a leading agent in the impeachment of the Tory ministers of Anne for the negotiation of a peace which had received the assent of two Parliaments; and Oxford remained for two years in the Tower before his trial and acquittal. The severities of the Government against the prisoners who were implicated in the rebellion of 1715 are susceptible of more defence, but it is at least certain that the ministers by no means erred on the side of clemency; and it is worthy of notice that Walpole on this occasion uniformly advocated severity, and even induced Parliament to adjourn between the condemnation and execution of the rebel lords, in order to render useless, petitions for their reprieve. But whatever may have been his conduct at this time, in the later part of his career he displayed a uniform generosity to opponents, even when he knew them to be implicated in Jacobite conspiracies, and when they were therefore in a great degree in his power. He made it a great aim to banish violence from English politics, and an illustrious modern critic, who was far from favourable to him, has said that he was the minister who gave to our Government the character of lenity, which it has generally preserved.'4

To these merits we must add his ardent love of peace, and the skill with which, during many years and under circumstances of great difficulty, he succeeded in preserving it. He served two sovereigns, the first of whom cared nothing, and

1 Parl. Hist. vii. 61-62.

2 Bernardi's Autobiography. Townsend's Hist. of the House of Commons, ii. 205-206. Johnson has made a

touching allusion to this case in his Life of Pope.

Coxe's Walpole, i. 72-73. • Macaulay.

the second very little, for any but Continental politics; and George II. was passionately warlike, and anxious beyond all things to distinguish himself in the field. He was at the head of a party which by tradition and principle was extremely warlike, which originally represented the reaction against the arrogant ambition of Lewis XIV. and the abject servility of Charles II., and which under William and Anne had aspired to make England the arbiter of Europe. He was embarrassed also during a great part of his career by an Opposition which never scrupled for party purposes to aggravate the difficulties of foreign policy; and the whole Continent was troubled by the restless plotting of ambitious and perfectly unscrupulous rulers. In the last years of George I. Europe was again on the verge of a general conflagration. When peace had been established between France and Spain in 1720 the Infanta, who was then only four years old, was betrothed to Lewis XV., and she was brought to France to be educated as a Frenchwoman. By thus postponing for many years the marriage of the young king, the Regent greatly strengthened the probability of his own succession to the throne; but on the death of the Regent in December 1723, the Duke of Bourbon, who succeeded to power, determined to hasten the royal marriage. He accordingly broke off the Spanish alliance, sent the Infanta back to Spain, and negotiated an almost immediate marriage between the French king and the daughter of Stanislaus, the deposed King of Poland. The affront thus offered to the Spanish court, together with the influence of Ripperda, the Dutch adventurer, who now directed Spanish policy, produced or at least accelerated, a great change in the aspect of European politics. The Emperor and the King of Spain, whose rivalry had so long distracted Europe, now gravitated to one another, and a close alliance was concluded between them in April 1725.1 The Spanish Government agreed to recognise the Pragmatic Sanction, which provided that the Austrian succession should descend to the daughter of Charles VI., and it ceded almost every point

See, on this treaty, Ranke's Hist. of Prussia, i. 190-192.

that was at issue between the Courts. Each Power agreed to recognise the right of succession of the other, and to defend the other in case of attack; and Spain gratified the maritime ambition which was one of the strongest passions of the Emperor, by recognising the Ostend Company, by placing Austrian sailors in her seaports on the footing of the most favoured nation, and by promising them special protection in all her dominions.

Of all mercantile bodies the Ostend Company was the most offensive to England and Holland. Founded soon after the cession of the Spanish Netherlands to Austria, it was intended among other objects to establish a trade by the subjects of the Emperor with India, and thus to break down the monopoly which the India companies of England and Holland had established. Two ships had sailed from Ostend, in 1717, under the passports of the Emperor, and several others soon followed their example. The Dutch seized some of the Ostend ships as violating their monopoly. The Emperor retaliated by granting commissions of reprisal. Laws were passed in England in 1721 and 1723 strengthening the English monopoly, and authorising the English to fine any foreigners who were found infringing it, triple the sum that was embarked; but the Emperor, in 1723, gave a regular charter to the Ostend Company, and in defiance of the Dutch and English Governments it rose rapidly into prominence. Its recognition by Spain was therefore a matter of very considerable political moment. It soon, however, became known among statesmen that other objects were designed that Austria engaged to assist Spain in wresting Gibraltar and Minorca from England; that there was a project, by a marriage between Maria Theresa and Don Carlos, the eldest son of Philip's second wife, of placing the Imperial sceptre in the hands of a Spanish prince, and making Austria supreme in Italy by joining Parma, Piacenza, and Tuscany, which were assured to Don Carlos, to Naples and Sicily, which already belonged to Austria; that Charles VI., partly from religious fanaticism, and partly from personal resentment, was boasting

1 Mill's Hist. of India, bk. iv. c. 1.

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