France and England being already agreed, independently of the consent of the rest of the Allies, the conference began on a basis which was sure to lead to immediate confusion and contention. The Dutch plenipotentiaries were astonished to see the different tone displayed by the French ambassadors. They were no longer the humble personages that they had been at Gertruydenberg. The Abb Polignac, who was the chief speaker, assumed a high and confident manner. The French envoys, therefore, when the Dutch deputies demanded that the treaty should be carried out on the basis of the terms offered at Gertruydenberg, told them plainly that matters were now quite altered, and that the conditions offered at Gertruydenberg could not be entertained by France at all, but those to which the Queen of England had agreed in London; that unless the Dutch were willing to treat on these conditions, they would find their allies concluding peace without them, and that on the spot. The chief article to which the Allies objected was the concession of Spain to Philip; and they were the more resolute because it had become imminently necessary from changes that had now taken place in France. The Dauphin had died of the smallpox during the last year. The title had been conferred on his son, the Duke of Burgundy; but the Duke of Burgundy had just expired, too, in the sixth year of his age; and of the Dauphin's children there only now remained the Duke of Anjou, a sickly child of two years old. This child was the only remaining obstacle to Philip, the King of Spain, mounting the throne of France. The danger was so obvious of the union of France and Spain in a very few yearsto prevent which had been the object of the warthat the English Government was compelled to demand from Philip a distinct renunciation of all claims on the French Crown, and from France as distinct a one in the treaty that any such claim should be resisted. St. John entered into a correspondence with De Torcy, the French minister, on this point; and the answers of De Torcy must have shown the English Government how useless it was to attempt to bind Frenchmen on such matters. He replied that any renunciation on the part of Philip or any French prince would be utterly null and void according to the laws; that on the king's death the next heir male of the royal blood succeeded, independently of any disposition or restriction of the late king, or any will of the people, or of himself, even; that he was, by the laws of France, sovereign by right of succession, and must be so, in spite of any circumstances to the contrary; that neither himself, the throne, nor the people had anything to do with it, but to obey the constitution. Therefore, even if Philip did bind himself to renounce the Crown of France, should the present Dauphin die, he would be king, independently of any circumstances whatever. Another expedient, however, was proposed by the English ministry, who must have seen clearly enough the folly of their treating on such hollow ground. That was, if Philip did not like to renounce the Crown of France, he should at once quit the throne of Spain, and agree that the Duke of Savoy should take it and the Indies, surrendering his own territories to Philip, to which should be added Naples, Sicily, Montserrat, and Mantua, all of which, whenever Philip succeeded to the French Crown, should be annexed to France, with the exception of Sicily, which should be made over to Austria. Louis XIV. professed to be delighted with this arrangement, but Philip would not listen to it, showing plainly that he meant, notwithstanding any renunciation, to retain his claim to both France and Spain. Sir Francis Burdett once wrote a letter of a single sentence to his friend Lord Cloncurry, as follows:"Dear Lord Cloncurry, I should like to know what you think would allay Irish agitation? Yours truly, F. B." It would have taken a volume to answer this question, and perhaps, after all, Sir Francis Burdett would not have been satisfied. George IV. thought that his visit would have had that effect, and appearances for a time seemed to justify his sanguine anticipations. The visit had been long meditated. He set out on a yachting excursion soon after the coronation, and arrived at Plymouth on the 1st of August amidst the huzzas of an immense concourse of people. On the following day the royal squadron departed for Ireland, and anchored in the bay at Holyhead on the 7th. The news of his approach threw the people of Dublin into a paroxysm of joy, to which the newspapers of the day gave expression in the most extravagant terms. The blessing that awaited them seemed too great to be realised. Never had they comforted their hours of despondency or flattered themselves in seasons of imagined felicity, with anything approaching to the reality which fortune was about to shower upon them. The king's name, they declared, was more to them than a tower of strength; it had effected what neither patriots, philosophers, nor moralists could ever accomplish.

Colonel B. Heneker, a regiment, and 3,500 a-year for his seat.

At length the fated 1st of March arrived, when the Paymaster of the Forces arose amidst profound silence, to state the Bill. Lord John Russell's speech was remarkable for research, accuracy, and knowledge of constitutional law, but not for oratory. He showed that the grievances of which the people complained, in connection with the Parliamentary representation, were threefirst, the nomination of members by individuals; secondly, elections by close corporations; and thirdly, the enormous expenses of elections. Sixty nomination boroughs, not having a population of 2,000 each, were to be totally disfranchised; 46 boroughs, having a population of not more than 4,000, and returning two members each, would be deprived of one. The seats thus obtained were to be given to large towns and populous counties. In boroughs, the elective franchise was to be extended to householders paying 10 rent; in counties, to copyholders of 10 a year, and leaseholders of 50. Persons already in possession of the right of voting were not to be deprived of it, if actually resident. Non-resident electors were to be disfranchised, and the duration of elections was to be shortened by increasing the facilities for taking the poll. No compensation was to be given to the proprietors of the disfranchised boroughs, which was justified under the precedent of the forty-shilling freeholders of Ireland, who had received no compensation for the loss of their votes. The question of the duration of Parliaments was reserved for future consideration.

Thus the entente cordiale was broken, and the two Powers were left isolated in Europe, for the efforts of Louis Philippe to form an alliance with the Austrian Court were without success. In the circumstances Lord Palmerston's foreign policy during these eventful years was inevitably somewhat unsatisfactory. When Austria, in defiance of pledges, annexed the Republic of Cracow, he could only issue a solitary protest, which was completely disregarded. In Portugal affairs were once more in complete confusion, the Conservative party, headed by the Queen, being in arms against the so-called Liberals led by Das Antas. Palmerston left them to fight it out until foreign intervention appeared inevitable from Spain, if not from France; then he made an offer of help to the Queen Donna Maria, on condition that she would grant a general amnesty and appoint a neutral Administration. The terms were accepted by the Conservatives. The Liberal Junta submitted on hearing that its fleet had been captured by the British, and the civil war came to an end. Meanwhile, in Switzerland Lord Palmerston was upholding the cause of the Diet against the secessionist cantons known as the Sonderbund, by refusing to countenance the intervention of the Powers in Swiss affairs, which was advocated by Prince Metternich and also by Guizot. For a moment his position was dangerous, as Guizot declared that the opportunity had come for France to take vengeance upon England by forming another Quadruple Treaty, from which Great Britain should be excluded. But the prompt victory of the Diet's general, Dufour, over the forces of the Sonderbund saved the situation, and owing to Palmerston's representations the victorious party abstained from vindictive measures. Thus revolution was postponed in Europe for another year, and Palmerston attempted similar results in Italy, whither he sent Lord Minto, the First Lord of the Admiralty, on a special mission to support constitutional reforms in Sardinia and at Rome, where the new Pope, Pius IX. by title, was supposed to be the friend of progress. But the blind hostility[550] of Metternich prevailed. The reforms granted by his puppet princes were wholly insufficient in extent, and events in Italy were evidently hastening towards an upheaval, when the train of the European explosion was fired in France.

The foreign expeditions planned by the Grenville Ministry were, this year, attended by disgraceful results, and the news of their failure arrived in time to enable the new Ministry to throw additional odium upon their foes. The news of the seizure of Buenos Ayres by Sir Home Popham and General Beresford had induced the late Cabinet to overlook the irregular manner in which their enterprise had been undertaken. They sent out Admiral Sir C. Stirling to supersede Sir Home Popham, who was to be brought before a court-martial, but he took out with him a fresh body of troops, under General Auchmuty. These troops landed at Monte Video on the 18th of January, and, after a sharp contest against six thousand Spaniards, and the loss of five hundred and sixty British killed and wounded, the place was taken on the 2nd of February. Soon afterwards General Whitelocke arrived with orders to assume supreme command and to recapture Buenos Ayres, which the inhabitants had succeeded in recovering. Whitelocke reached Monte Video towards the end of May, and found the British army, with what he brought, amounting to nearly twelve thousand men, in fine condition. With such a force Buenos Ayres would have soon been reduced by a man of tolerable military ability. But Whitelocke seems to have taken no measures to enable his troops to carry the place by a sudden and brilliant assault. It was not till the 3rd of July that he managed to join Major-General Gore, who had taken possession of a commanding elevation[536] overlooking the city. The hope of success lay in the rapidity with which the assault was made: all this was now lost. The rain poured in torrents, and the men had no shelter, and were half starved. All this time the Spaniards had been putting the city into a state of defence. Still, on the morning of the 5th of July the order was issued to storm. The troops advanced in three columns from different sides of the town, headed severally by Generals Auchmuty, Lumley, and Craufurd. Whitelocke said that it could be of no use to delay the advance towards the centre of the town by attacking the enemy under cover of their houses; it could only occasion the greater slaughter. The command, therefore, was to dash forward with unloaded muskets, trusting alone to the bayonet. Much blame was cast on Whitelocke for this order, but there seems strong reason in it, considering the wholly uncovered condition of the troops against a covered enemy, and that the only chance was for each division to force its way as rapidly as possible to certain buildings where they could ensconce themselves, and from whence they could direct an attack of shot and shells on the Spaniards. General Auchmuty, accordingly, rushed on against every obstacle to the great squarePlaza de Toros, or Square of Bullstook thirty-two cannon, a large quantity of ammunition, and six hundred prisoners. Other regiments of his division succeeded in getting possession of the church and convent of Santa Catalina, and of the residencia, a commanding post; Lumley and Craufurd were not so fortunate. The 88th was compelled to yield; and the 36th, greatly reduced, and joined by the 5thwhich had taken the convent of Santa Catalinamade their way to Sir Samuel Auchmuty's position in the Plaza de Toros, dispersing a body of eight hundred Spaniards on their way and taking two guns. Craufurd's division capitulated at four o'clock in the afternoon. In the evening Whitelocke resolved to come to terms. The conditions of the treaty werethat General Whitelocke's army, with its arms, equipage, and stores, was to be conveyed across the La Plata to Monte Video; his troops were to be supplied with food; and that at the end of two months the British were to surrender Monte Video, and retire from the country. Such was the humiliating result of the attempt on Buenos Ayres. Nothing could exceed the fury of all classes at home against Whitelocke on the arrival of the news of this disgraceful defeat. It was reported that he had made the men take their flints out of their guns before sending them into the murderous streets of Buenos Ayres; and had he arrived with his despatches, his life would not have been safe for an hour. There was a general belief that the Court was protecting him from punishment; and, in truth, the delays interposed between him and a court-martial appeared to warrant this. It was not till the 28th of January, 1808, that he was brought before such a court at Chelsea Hospital, when he was condemned to be cashiered, as wholly unfit and unworthy to serve his Majesty in any military capacity whatever.

The unfortunate king was obliged to submit, and retain his present incompetent Ministers. These incompetent Ministers, on their part, now believing themselves indispensable, became at once proportionably assuming, and even insolent, in their demands. Grenville and Bedford put several direct demands to the king as the conditions even of their condescending to serve him: that he would promise to have no further communications with Lord Bute, nor to allow him the slightest share in his councils; that he would dismiss Bute's brother, Mr. Mackenzie, from the office of Privy Seal of Scotland, and from the management of Scottish affairs; that he would dismiss Lord Holland from being Paymaster of the Forces, and appoint Lord Granby Commander-in-Chief. The king, after some demur, submitted to all these conditions, except the appointment of Lord Granby, and escaped that only by Granby himself declining the post. George submitted, because he could not help it, to these imperious conditions; but he inly resented them, and did not avoid showing it by his coldness towards both Bedford and Grenville. At this, the haughty Bedford took fire, and read the king a severe lecture before leaving town for Woburn. He complained of the king showing kindness to the enemies of the administration; and demanded whether the king had kept his promise not to consult Lord Bute.

The Sicilian Chambers met on the 13th of April, and voted the deposition of the royal family of Naples. It was resolved to elect a new king, and to join the league for the independence of Italy. The prince chosen King of Sicily was the Duke of Genoa, second son of Charles Albert, with the title of Albert Amadeus I., King of Sicily. Messina had revolted, and a fleet was sent from Naples to reduce it. A bombardment commenced on September 3rd, and was continued night and day. The insurgents bravely defended themselves till their provisions were exhausted, and they were scarcely able to stand to their guns. Their ammunition had been all consumed. On the other hand, reinforcements by thousands were poured in from a fleet of Neapolitan steamers. The city was now on fire in every quarter. The insurgents were unable to return a single shot. The victorious royalists then began to massacre the inhabitants, who fled in every direction from their murderous assailants, 10,000 of them finding shelter on board French and English vessels while the Bourbon standard floated over the smoking ruins of Messina. The king promptly withdrew his fleet and contingent of 20,000 men from Northern Italy.

This was an attempt as constitutional as it was ignorantly and hopelessly planned by suffering people; but more criminal speculations were on foot. A second report of the Lords' secret committee, recommending the renewal of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, stated that a general insurrection was planned to take place at Manchester, on the 30th of Marchto seize the[125] magistrates, to liberate the prisoners, burn the soldiers in their barracks, and set fire to a number of factories; and that such proposals were really in agitation is confirmed by Bamford and other of the Radical leaders. The report says that the design was discovered by the vigilance of the magistrates, a few days before its intended taking place; but it is far more probable that the magistrates had received some intimation of what was in progress from those who had misguided the ignorant multitude. Bamford tells us that both he and his friends had been applied to to engage in the design, but they had condemned it as the work of incendiaries, who had availed themselves of the resentment of the Blanketeers at their treatment, to instigate them to a dreadful revenge. The truth was, a number of spies in the pay of Government, with the notorious Oliver at their head, were traversing the manufacturing districts of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, to stimulate the suffering population into open insurrection, that they might be crushed by the military. Bamford and the more enlightened workmen at once saw through the snare, and not only repulsed the tempters, but warned their fellows against their arts. The failure of the first design, however, did not put an end to the diabolical attempt on the part of the spies. They recommended the most secret meetings for the purpose; that another night attack should be prepared for Manchester, and that Ministers should be assassinated. Such proposals were again made to Bamford and his friends, but they not only indignantly repelled them, but sought safety for their own persons in concealment, for continual seizures of leading Reformers were now made.

The agitation which the queen underwent on the night of the 27th, when she dismissed Oxford after a long and fierce altercation, produced a marked change in her health. The Council was only terminated, having sat to consider who should be admitted into the new Ministry, by the queen falling into a swoon. Being got to bed, she passed the night, not in sleep, but in weeping. The next day another Council was held, but was again broken up by the illness of the queen, and was prorogued to the 29th of July. To Dr. Arbuthnot, her physician, Anne declared that the disputes of her Ministers had killed her; that she should never survive it. Lady Masham, struck by the queen's heavy and silent manner, apprehended the worst. Bolingbroke and his Jacobite colleagues were thunderstruck by this sudden crisis. They assembled in council at Kensington, in a room not far from that of the dying queen, but they were so stupefied by the blow that they could do nothing. On the other hand, the Whigs had been quite alert. Stanhope had made preparations to seize the Tower; to secure the persons of the Ministers and the leading Jacobites, if necessary, on the demise of the queen; to obtain possession of the outports, and proclaim the king. A proof of this concert was immediately given by the Dukes of Argyll and Somerset, who belonged to the Privy Council, but, of course, had not been summoned, suddenly entering the Council chamber, stating that, hearing of the queen's critical position, they had hastened, though not summoned, to offer their assistance. No sooner had they said this, than the Duke of Shrewsbury rose and thanked them for their courtesy. The Whig dukes immediately demanded that the queen's physicians should be called and examined as to her probable continuance. The physicians in general were of opinion that her Majesty might linger some time; but Dr. Mead declared that she could not live many days, perhaps not many hours; from the apoplectic symptoms she might be gone in one. Argyll and Somerset thereupon declared it absolutely necessary that the post of Lord Treasurer should be filled up, as it was requisite that, at such a moment, there should be a recognised Prime Minister, and proposed that the Duke of Shrewsbury should be nominated to that office. Bolingbroke felt that his power and his plans were at an end, and sat like one in a dream. The members of the Council then proceeded to the queen's apartment, and Bolingbroke followed them, as it were, mechanically. The queen was sensible enough to be made aware of their errand, and expressed her approval of it. Shrewsbury, however, with that singular hesitation which always characterised him, refused to take the White Staff, except from her Majesty's own hand. It was, therefore, handed to her, and she extended it towards Shrewsbury, saying, "For God's sake, use it for the good of my people!" Shrewsbury was already Chamberlain, and he presented the staff of that office in resignation of it; but the queen bade him retain both; and thus he was at once Lord Treasurer, Lord Chamberlain, and Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

All attempts at negotiation having failed, sealed green bags were laid upon the table of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons, with a message from the king to the effect that in consequence of the arrival of the queen he had communicated certain papers respecting her conduct, which he recommended to their immediate and serious attention. The bags contained documents and evidence connected with a commission sent in 1818 to Milan and other places to investigate chargesor rather to collect evidence to sustain charges which had been made against the Princess of Wales. The principal of these charges was that she had been guilty of adultery with a person named Bergami, whom she had employed as a courier, and afterwards raised to the position of her chamberlain and companion. The commission was under the direction of Sir John Leach, afterwards Vice-Chancellor.

Still more inglorious were the proceedings of our fleet on the coasts of the Spanish-American colonies. Sir Chaloner Ogle joined Vernon in Jamaica on the 9th of January, 1741, and no time was to be lost, for the wet season set in at the end of April, which, besides the deluges of rain, is attended by a most unhealthy state of the climate. Vernon, however, did not move till towards the end of the month, and then, instead of directing his course towards the Havannah, which lay to the leeward, and could have been reached in three days, he beat up against the wind to Hispaniola, in order to watch the motions of the French fleet under D'Antin. It was the 15th of February before he learned distinctly that the French had sailed for Europe in great distress for men and provisions. Now was the time to make his way to Cuba; but, instead of that, he called a council of warthe resource of a weak commander,which was followed by its almost invariable result, a contrariety of advice. It was at length concluded that, as Admiral Torres had now sailed for the Havannah, and thus closed the opportunity for its attack, the fleet should take in wood and water at Hispaniola, and make for the continent of New Spain. On the 4th of March the fleet came to anchor in Playa Grande, to the windward of Carthagena.