Mr. Canning, who had been on terms of intimacy with her Majesty, declined to take any part in the proceedings, declaring that nothing would induce him to do anything calculated to reflect upon the honour and virtue of the queen. The queen intimated to the Lord Chancellor that she meant to come in person to the House of Lords when her case should next be discussed there. He answered that he would not permit her to enter without the authority of the House, for which she must previously apply. She then desired that he would deliver a message to the House in her name, which he declined, stating that "the House did not receive messages from anybody but the king, unless they were sent as answers to Addresses from the House." The petition was presented by Lord Dacre, on which occasion the Lord Chancellor declared that he had no objection to its being submitted to the consideration of the House, adding that "he would sooner suffer death than admit any abatement of the principle that a person accused is not therefore to be considered guilty." Mr. Brougham and Mr. Denman were then called in to support the petition, which prayed that their lordships would not prosecute a secret inquiry against her. The powerful pleading of these two orators had an immense effect upon the public mind. On the following day Lord Grey moved that the order for the appointment of a secret committee should be discharged. His motion was negatived by a majority of one hundred and two to forty-seven. This was the first division on the proceedings against the queen, and so large a majority naturally gave great confidence to the Government. The secret committee accordingly set to work, opened the green bag, and examined the charges. On the 4th of July they brought in their report, which stated "that allegations supported by the concurrent testimony of a great number of persons in various situations of life, and residing in different parts of Europe, appeared to be calculated so deeply to affect the character of the queen, the dignity of the Crown, and the moral feeling and honour of the country, that it was indispensable that they should become the subject of a solemn inquiry, which would best be effected in the course of a legislative proceeding." On the 5th Lord Liverpool introduced the Bill of Pains and Penalties against her Majesty, which, having recited in the preamble that she carried on an adulterous intercourse with Bergami, her menial servant, enacted "that she should be degraded from her station and title of queen, and that her marriage with the king should be dissolved." Counsel were again heard against that mode of proceeding, a second reading was set down for the 17th of August, when the preamble was to be proved, and the trial to begin.

The feelings of the constituencies were undergoing a speedy change, and the fact was now being rapidly proved. For three months, whilst the Opposition in the House of Commons were exulting on their majority, the majority amongst the people was sliding from them; and, whilst they were straining every nerve to prevent the dissolution of Parliament, they were only more securely preparing their own fall, for Pitt and the Government had been zealously at work undermining them. The nation was pleased at his bravery, and at his disinterestedness in refusing the sinecure of the Clerkship of the Pells, though his private means were scarcely 300 a year. The 20th of November arrived; the two Houses met, and Lord Camden in the Peers, and Pitt in the Commons, were obliged to announce the incapacity of the king to open the Session, and to move for an adjournment till the 4th of December, in order that the necessary measures for transferring the royal authority, temporarily, might be taken. Fox, at this important crisis, was abroad, and had to hurry home with headlong speed, in order to join his party in their anxious deliberations preparatory to the great question of the regency. In the meantime, the king's physicians had been examined before the Privy Council, and had given their opinion that the royal malady would prove only temporary. This in particular was the opinion of Dr. Willis, a specialist who had the chief management of the case, and whose mild treatment, in contrast to the violent means previously employed, had already produced a marked improvement. From this moment Pitt appears to have taken his decisionnamely, to carry matters with a high hand, and to admit the Prince of Wales as regent only under such restrictions as should prevent him from either exercising much power himself, or conferring much benefit on his adherents. When, therefore, Parliament met, after the adjournment, and that in great strengthfor men of all parties had hurried up to town,Lord Camden moved in the Lords, and Pitt in the Commons, that, in consequence of the king's malady, the minutes of the Privy Council containing the opinions of the royal physicians should be read, and that this being done, these opinions should be taken into consideration on the 8th of December. [129]

[See larger version] Whilst these events had been passing in Austria and Bavaria, the King of England had endeavoured to make a powerful diversion in the Netherlands. Under the plea of this movement sixteen thousand British troops were embarked in April for the Netherlands; but they were first employed to overawe Prussia, which was in contention with Hanover regarding the Duchy of Mecklenburg. There were other causes of dispute between Prussia and the Elector of Hanover. George having now this strong British force, besides sixteen thousand Hanoverian troops and six thousand auxiliary Hessians, Frederick thought proper to come to terms with him, and, in consequence of mutual arrangements, the Hanoverian troops quitted Mecklenburg, and George, feeling Hanover safe, marched this united force to the Netherlands to join the British ones. He expected the Dutch to co-operate with him and the Austrians, and strike a decided blow at France. But the Earl of Stair, who was to command these forces, and who was at the same time ambassador to the States, found it impossible to induce the Dutch to act. They had increased their forces both by sea and land, but they were afraid of the vicinity of the French, and were, with their usual jealousy, by no means pleased to see the English assuming power in the Netherlands. Therefore, after making a great demonstration of an attempt on the French frontier with the united army, the project was suddenly abandoned, and the troops retired into winter quarters. But little was accomplished during this year by the British fleet.

Lord Wellington, notwithstanding that the destruction of these armies, on which the defence of Andalusia and the provinces of the south depended, completely proved the justice of his statements to the Junta, was deeply chagrined by the circumstance. "I lament," he said, in his despatches, "that a cause which promised so well a few weeks ago, should have been so completely lost by the ignorance, presumption, and mismanagement of those to whose direction it was entrusted. I declare that, if they had preserved their two armies, or even one of them, the cause was safe. The French could have sent no reinforcements which could have been of any use; time would have been gained; the state of affairs would have daily improved; all the chances were in our favour; and, in the first moment of weakness, occasioned by any diversion on the Continent, or by the growing discontent of the French themselves with the war, the French armies must have been driven out of Spain." Lord Wellington's position was, by the destruction of these armies, left totally open, and he had for some time resolved to retire wholly into Portugal, and had been planning that system of defence which afterwards proved so astonishing to the French. Though he was left with about twenty thousand men to maintain himself against the whole French host in Spain, he never for a moment contemplated quitting the Peninsula, nor despaired of the final result. The experienced eye of Lord Wellington, after the battle of Vimiera, had, at a glance, seen the admirable capability of the mountain ranges of Torres Vedras for the construction of impregnable lines of defence for Lisbon. So far from holding any notion of being driven to his ships, like Sir John Moore, he was satisfied that, by fortifying the defiles through these hills, and keeping our ships on the Tagus and on the coast, he could defy all the armies of France. He proceeded now to Lisbon, where he arrived on the 10th of October, reconnoitred the hills, and, having done so, left with Colonel Fletcher, of the Engineers, a clearly written statement of all that he desired to be done, so as to make the double line of defences complete: to erect batteries on each side of the defiles through which the necessary roads ran, to erect breastworks and entrenchments where required, and to break down the bridges in front of them. He ascertained the precise time it would require to accomplish all this, and, ordering all to be carried on with the utmost quickness, he returned to Badajos, and next proceeded to Seville, to join his brother in urging on the Spanish Government the necessary measures for the defence of the country. After visiting Cadiz[580] with his brother, he returned to his headquarters, where he had scarcely arrived on the 17th of November, when he received the news of the total overthrow of the Spaniards at Oca?a. He then made a deliberate and orderly retreat from Spain, crossing the Tagus at Abrantes, where he left General Hill with his division, supported by General Fane's brigade of heavy horse, and marched to Almeida, and quartered his army there in a more healthy situation. His troops were now also well supplied with provisions. During the long interval of reposethat is, till the following MayWellington actively employed himself in putting life and order into the commissariat, baggage, and conveyance departments; and General Beresford, to whom the important function of disciplining the Portuguese troops was assigned, laboured in that with such effect, that he produced at the next campaign troops which, led by British officers, and mixed with British regiments, fought admirably. The Portuguese were wise enough to allow the British commander full control, and by this means they avoided those defeats and calamities which fell long and heavily on the Spaniards. The triumph of the Whigs was complete. Whilst Oxford, who had been making great efforts at the last to retrieve himself with his party by assisting them to seize the reins of power on the queen's illness, was admitted in absolute silence to kiss the king's hand, and that not without many difficulties, Marlborough, Somers, Halifax, and the rest were received with the most cordial welcome. Yet, on appointing the new cabinet, the king showed that he did not forget the double-dealing of Marlborough. He smiled on him, but did not place him where he hoped to be, at the head of affairs. He made Lord Townshend Secretary of State and Prime Minister; Stanhope, the second Secretary; the Earl of Mar was removed from the Secretaryship of Scotland to make way for the Duke of Montrose; Lord Halifax was made First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, and was raised to an earldom, and was allowed to confer on his nephew the sinecure of Auditor of the Exchequer; Lord Cowper became Lord Chancellor; Lord Wharton was made Privy Seal, and created a marquis; the Earl of Nottingham became President of the Council; Mr. Pulteney was appointed Secretary-at-War; the Duke of Argyll, Commander-in-Chief for Scotland; Shrewsbury, Lord Chamberlain and Groom of the Stole; the Duke of Devonshire became Lord Steward of the Household; the Duke of Somerset, Master of the Horse; Sunderland, Lord-lieutenant of Ireland; Walpole was at first made simply Paymaster of the Forces, without a place in the cabinet, but his ability in debate and as a financier soon raised him to higher employment; Lord Orford was made First Lord of the Admiralty; and Marlborough, Commander-in-Chief and Master of the Ordnance. His power, however, was gone. In the whole new cabinet Nottingham was the only member who belonged to the Tory party, and of late he had been acting more in common with the Whigs. The Tories complained vehemently of their exclusion, as if their dealings with the Pretender had been a recommendation to the House of Hanover. They contended that the king should have shown himself the king of the whole people, and aimed at a junction of the two parties.

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Whilst Parliament was busy with the Septennial Bill, George I. was very impatient to get away to Hanover. Like William III., he was but a foreigner in England; a dull, well-meaning man, whose heart was in his native country, and who had been transplanted too late ever to take to the alien earth. The Act of Settlement provided that, after the Hanoverian accession, no reigning sovereign should quit the kingdom without permission of Parliament. George was not content to ask this permission, but insisted that the restraining clause itself should be repealed, and it was accordingly repealed without any opposition. There was one difficulty connected with George's absence from his kingdom which Council or Parliament could not so easily deal with: this was his excessive jealousy of his son. The king could not take his departure in peace if the Prince of Wales was to be made regent, according to custom, in his absence. He proposed, therefore, through his favourite, Bothmar, that the powers of the prince should be limited by rigorous provisions, and that some other persons should be joined[34] with him in commission. Lord Townshend did not hesitate to express his sense of the impolicy of the king's leaving his dominions at all at such a crisis; but he also added that to put any other persons in commission with the Prince of Wales was contrary to the whole practice and spirit of England. Driven from this, the king insisted that, instead of regent, the prince should be named "Guardian and Lieutenant of the Realm"an office which had never existed since the time of the Black Prince.

The Government of Spain was sunk into the very deepest degradation and imbecility. Charles IV. was one of the weakest of Bourbon kings. He was ruled by his licentious wife, Maria Luiza, and she by Manuel de Godoy, a young and handsome man, who, about the year 1784, had attracted her eye as a private in the Royal Guards. By her means he was rapidly promoted, and at the age of twenty-four was already a general. He was soon created a Grandee of Spain, and the queen married him to a niece of the king. He was made Generalissimo of all the Spanish Forces, and, in fact, became the sole ruling power in the country. He was styled the Prince of the Peacea title acquired by his having effected the pacification of Basle, which terminated the Revolutionary War between France and Spain. By the subsequent Treaty of St. Ildefonso he established an offensive and defensive alliance with France, which, in truth, made Spain entirely subservient to Napoleon.

The literature of this period is more distinguished for learning and cleverness than for genius. There are a few names that rise above the smartness and mere accomplishment of the time into the regions of pure genius; but, with very few exceptions, even they bear the stamp of the period. We have here no Milton, no Shakespeare, no Herbert, no Herrick even, to produce; but De Foe, Addison, Steele, Thomson, and Pope, if they do not lift us to the highest creative plane, give us glimpses and traits of what is found there. For the rest, however full of power, there hangs a tone of "town," of a vicious and sordid era, about them, of an artificial and by no means refined life, a flavour of the grovelling of the politics which distinguished the period, and of the low views and feelings which occupied and surrounded the throne during the greater portion of this term.