Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the gravest possible causes of difference, to support the ministers selected by the King, whatever party or connection they belonged to, and whatever might be his opinion of the men and of their measures. He was thus completely identified with the King's friends, and by the wish of the King was kept in office through several successive administrations. The brilliant but versatile and unprincipled Charles Townshend filled his place, and a few other changes were made which, though unimportant in themselves, showed that Tory tendencies, and especially personal devotion to the sovereign, had become the passports of favour. Notwithstanding the professions of purity that were made by the King's friends, it was noticed that the general election which now took place was one of the most corrupt ever known in England, that large sums were issued by the Treasury, that the King took an active part in naming the candidates, and that the boroughs attached to the Duchy of Cornwall, which had hitherto been at the disposal of the ministry, were now treated as solely at the disposal of the Crown.

It was evident that it was intended, in the first place, to strike down Pitt; 3 and an opportunity soon occurred. The great question now impending was the negotiation for peace. The arguments in favour of terminating a war are always strong, but in this case they had a more than common force. The debt was rapidly increasing, and the estimates had arisen to a most alarming extent. The total sum granted by Parliament for 1761 was more than nineteen millions. The British forces in different parts of the world amounted to no less than 110,000 soldiers and 70,000 seamen, besides 60,000 German auxiliaries in British pay. The success of England had hitherto been almost unparalleled, but there was now but little left for her to gain, and she had many dangers to fear. She had hitherto been very successful in Germany, but a German war could not fail to be extremely bloody and expensive. The interests of England in it were very subordinate, and as the colonial empire of France was passing away, it was certain that the war would be concentrated chiefly in this quarter. In a Continental war the normal strength of France was so great that the chances were much in her favour, and, in the opinion of some good judges, there was much danger lest the King's German dominions should be ultimately absorbed. The Tory party had always looked with great aversion on Continental wars, and, as we have seen, there was a strong minority in the Cabinet, including Newcastle and Hardwicke, who were prepared to sacrifice much for a peace. A very able pamphlet, called . Considerations on the German War,' appeared about this time, and exercised an influence which was probably greater than that of any other English pamphlet since Swift's Conduct of the Allies.' Its author was an obscure writer named Mauduit, and it was said to have been published under the countenance of Lord Hardwicke. The writer fully approved of the capture of the French islands, and of the destruction of the naval power of France; but he argued with much force, that no policy could be more manifestly suicidal than to squander larger sums than were expended for the whole land and sea service during the Duke of Marlborough's campaigns, in a German war waged between two great German Powers, for the possession of a remote German province which might belong to either without affecting in any way the real interests of England. The burden of the war was beginning to be seriously felt. In March 1761, when there were rumours of an approaching peace under the superintendence of Pitt, the funds rose four per cent. When the three years' term of service in the militia expired, and a new ballot was about to take place, there were riots in several of the Northern counties. At Hexham, in Northumberland, a body of Yorkshire militia were attacked by six or seven thousand rioters armed with clubs, and a serious struggle ensued, in which forty-two persons were killed and forty-eight others wounded. The expedition against Belleisle caused many murmurs, for it cost much bloodshed, and the island was little more than a barren rock, of no value to England, and at the same time so near the French coast that it was tolerably certain that it would be restored at the peace. The unhealthy quarters to which English conquests had recently extended, made the mortality among the troops very great. Bounties rose to an unexampled height, and there were fears. that if the war continued it would be a matter of great difficulty to fill the ranks.

" See the very curious letters published in the Life of Barrington by his brother the Bishop of Durham, pp. 79, 99, 103-105.

: Albemarle's Life of Rockingham, i. 61-64. Walpole's Memoirs of Georgo III. i. 41, 42. Dodington's Diary,

Feb. 2, 1761.

3 See on the feeling of Bute towards Pitt a letter of the Duke of Newcastle.—Bedford Correspondence, iii. 19.

Parl. Hist. xv, 1000-1006,

· See Bedford Correspondence, iii. 22-29.

? In Dodington's Diary, Jan. 2, 1761, there is a report of a conversation he had with Bute on the prospects of the peace. Bute said the minis

try neither were nor could be united : that the Duke of Newcastle most sincerely wished for peace, and would go any length to obtain it; that Mr. Pitt meditated a retreat and would stay in no longer than the war.'

Negotiations for peace had taken place as early as November 1759, and they were resumed in the spring of 1761, but neither party appears to have entered very keenly into them. Pitt had just sent out his expedition against Belleisle, and he was anxious that nothing should be done until it succeeded. He told the King that he by no means thought ill of the state of the war in Germany; that he thought the total destruction of the French power in the East Indies, the probability of taking Martinique as well as Belleisle, and the probable results of the next German campaign, would enable us to secure all Canada, Cape Breton, the neighbouring islands, and the exclusive fishery of Newfoundland, and that he would sign no peace on lower terms. It was quite certain that the French were not prepared to accede to such terms, and both the King and Newcastle strongly remonstrated against the determination of Pitt to lay them down as indispensable at the very outset of the negotiations. On the French side, also, new prospects were opening out which produced an equal hesitation. Charles III., who had very recently exchanged the throne of Naples for that of Spain, still remembered with bitterness how the English had threatened to bombard Naples in 1742. He looked forward with great dread to the complete naval supremacy which England was rapidly attaining; he inherited the old Spanish grievances. against England about Gibraltar and the trade of the Indies ;

Annual Register, 1761, p. 83. Chatham Correspondence, ii. 100, 101. Walpole to Montagu, March 19, 1761. See too Adolphus's Hist. of England, i. 571, 572.

2 Adolphus, i. 100.

: See the letter of Newcastle to Lord Hardwicke, April 15, 1761. Al.. bemarle's Life of Rockingham, i. 23, 24.

he was closely connected with the French sovereign, and he also saw a prospect of obtaining in Portugal conquests of great value at little cost. These various considerations were rapidly drawing him into closer alliance with France.' Belleisle was captured by the English on June 7, 1761. On the 15th of the following month, the French negotiator took the very significant and very startling step of presenting a memorial in behalf of Spain, claiming the restitution of some prizes bearing the Spanish flag which had been taken by the English, the right of the Spaniards to fish upon the banks of Newfoundland, and the demolition of the English settlements on the disputed territory in the Bay of Honduras.?

Such demands, made by a Power with which England was at perfect peace, through the intervention of a Power with which England was at war, could have but one meaning, and Pitt loftily expressed to the French agent his opinion of the transaction. "His Majesty,' he answered, “will not suffer the dispute with Spain to be blended in any manner whatever in the negotiations of peace between the two Crowns, and it will be considered as an affront to his Majesty's dignity, and as a thing incompatible with the sincerity of the negotiations, to make further mention of such a circumstance. Moreover, it is expected that France will not at any time presume a right of intermeddling with such disputes between England and Spain.' The rupture of the negotiations between France and England soon followed. It is not necessary to examine the proceedings in great detail ; it is sufficient to say that Pitt was prepared to purchase the restitution of Minorca by restoring Belleisle, Guadaloupe, and Marie-Galante to the French, and that he consented to a partition of the Antilla Isles ; but he maintained that England should retain all the other conquests. He refused the French demands for a participation in the fisheries of Newfoundland, for the cession of Cape Breton in America, for the restoration of either Goree or Senegal as a depôt for the French slave trade in the West Indies, and for the re-establishment in Hindostan of the frontier of 1755. He refused equally the demand for the restoration of prizes made before the declaration of war, and he insisted, in the interest of the King of Prussia, that the French should withdraw their armies from Germany, while England still retained her right of assisting her ally.' The spell of success which had so long hung over the British arms was still unbroken. The capture of Belleisle in June 1761; the capture of Dominica, by Lord Rollo, in the same month; the tidings of new successes in Hindostan, and a victory of Prince Ferdinand at Vellinghausen in July, contributed to raise the spirits of the country, and formed the best defence of the demands of Pitt. Nor is there any reason to doubt that he sincerely desired peace, if he could have obtained it on terms which he deemed adequate. The alliance, however, between France and Spain was rapidly consummated. On August 15, 1761, the family compact between the French and Spanish kings was signed, binding the two countries in a strict offensive and defensive alliance, and making each country guarantee the possessions of the other. Mr. Stanley, the vigilant English agent who had been negotiating in Paris, obtained secret knowledge of one of the articles, and confidential communications from other quarters corroborated the account. Pitt, who had for some time watched with great suspicion the armaments of Spain, perceived clearly that the declaration of war was only delayed till the naval preparations of Spain were completed and the treasure ships which were expected from Mexico and Peru had arrived safely in port. He acted with characteristic promptitude and decision. Spain had committed no overt act which could be reasonably taken as a pretext for war. The evidence of the family compact was somewhat doubtful, and, being derived exclusively from secret information, it could not be publicly

· The earlier stages of this negotiation may be traced in the letters between Grimaldi and Fuentes, the Spanish ambassadors at Paris and London, in Jan., Feb. and March 1761.

Chatham Correspondence, vol. ii.

2 See the official documents on the subject in Parl. Hist. xv. There is a good epitome in De Flassan's Hist. de la Diplomatie Française.

"Adolphus, i. 36-40. De Flas- doubt of this. He wrote (Aug. 6, san, v. 382-388. A curious picture of 1761): The Duke of Newcastle has the debates in the Cabinet, and of already been with Lord Bute to beg the imperative manner in which Pitt that we may not lose sight of peace; silenced all opposition, will be found and take my word for it, Mr. Pitt is in the letters of Newcastle to Hard- almost as unwilling, though he is too wicke in Albemarle's Life of cking- wise to show it.'- Grenville Papers, i. hom, vol. i.

• It is remarkable that Jenkinson, * Compare Walpole's George III. who was one of the most uncompro- i. 123, 124. Adolphus, i. 41-45. Chatinising adherents of Bute, had no ham Correspondence, ii. 140, 141, VOL. III.

D

p. 382.

« PreviousContinue »