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A.D. 1783.]



superior in numbers and well provided. The next spring Lord North resigned his premiership, and England recognised the independence of the United States.

By a great naval victory over the French fleet, 12th April 1782, Rodney defeated an expedition intended to wrest from England the valuable island of Jamaica. After other successes .at sea, the crowning one being Admiral Lord Howe's defeat of the French and Spanish fleets off Gibraltar, on the 20th April 1782, peace was signed in Paris (20th January 1783).

A debate on this treaty took place a few days afterwards in the House of Commons, which brought into play the eloquence of its members, and served to show the temper and spirit of that assembly. The art of parliamentary reporting being then little understood, the great reputation of such powerful orators as Fox, Pitt, Burke, and Sheridan, rests chiefly upon the testimony of earwitnesses. The conditions of the treaty were boldly and freely criticised by Lord North, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Burke, and, through their exertions, a vote of censure was carried. The effect of so serious a condemnation was, however, qualified by a subsequent resolution that the House would maintain the peace that had been concluded. It may be considered a proof that the principle of ministers being bound to recognise the voice of the majority had by this time taken firm root, that, after this defeat, Lord Shelbourne, the head of the Cabinet, resigned. The king tried to induce that minister's colleague, Mr. Pitt, Lord Chatham's son, to form an administration, which he declined. The Commons voted an address to the king requesting his Majesty "to comply with the wishes of the House, by forming an administration entitled to the confidence of the people." To which the king graciously replied, by an assurance of his earnest desire to comply with the wishes of his faithful Commons. A ministry was then formed under the Duke of Portland, which comprised Lord North, Fox, and Burke. It is worthy of note that parliamentary reform was so popular a topic, that Mr. Pitt, sitting on the opposition benches, moved resolutions for preventing bribery at elections, for disfranchising burghs con

victed of corruption, and for a large addition of members to represent growing centres of population. The ministry lasted only till the end of December, when, on the 19th of that month, Mr. Pitt, though only in his twenty-fifth year, was created prime minister, an office to which he proved himself quite equal by his extraordinary talents.

On the 2d August 1786, a mad woman, Margaret Nicholson, attempted to stab the king as he was alighting at the door of St. James's Palace. Towards the close of the year 1788, his Majesty fell ill, and his mind was found to be so much affected, that Pitt brought in a bill for appointing a regency, a measure which gave rise to the most brilliant displays of parliamentary eloquence on the part of the minister and his rival Fox. Burke, Sheridan, and other great orators distinguished themselves in these debates. Happily, the king recovered, although his restoration was not permanent, and the bill proved unnecessary.

Cotemporary Sovereigns and Events.-France: Louis XV., XVI. First partition of Poland (1772). Last victim of the Inquisition burnt (1781). Last witch burnt (1783).

Questions.-1. Who were the parties to the "Seven Years' War;" and what were its objects and results? 2. What led to the American war? 3. In what year was the Independence of the United States recognised? 4. What occasion gave rise to brilliant displays of Parliamentary eloquence in 1788; and who were the leading statesmen at that time?

A.D. 1789.]




A.D. 1789-1820.




[During this Epoch flourished Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, and
Sir Walter Scott.]

1. George III. (continued.)

A.D. 1789-1820.



IN the year 1789 commenced the great Revolution in France. which, however just in the beginning, eventually took an evil course, that involved Europe in a general war. France had long been governed by a despotic monarchy. The States-General (or French Parliament, as it may be called) had not been convoked after the year 1614. The Crown having freed itself from the control both of people and nobles, no limit was set to royal expenditure, or to the exercise of arbitrary power, and ere long, in consequence of debt and political difficulties, the Government became extremely embarrassed. Louis XIV., though not tainted with the vices of his predecessors, yet contributed to the increase of pecu

niary difficulties by supporting the revolt of the American colonies against Great Britain. At this time, the nobility and clergy enjoyed exemption from taxation, which fell almost exclusively upon the middle classes of the people. This produced great discontent among the rising middle ranks- -a discontent which was further aggravated by the arrogance and neglect of the rural aristocracy. In the hope of bringing the privileged classes to share the public burdens, they were called together in an assembly of notables (1787) only to show that their selfishness was invincible. Nothing remained for the Court but to revive the meetings of the States-General, in which the power of the representatives of the people, or Tiers Etat, might be brought to bear upon the obstinacy of the other orders. A general election for members took place, and the States-General assembled at Versailles, 5th May 1789. consequence of disputes raised by the nobility about precedence, the deputies resolved upon forming themselves into a National Assembly, which should not dissolve until they had endowed their country with a Constitution. This work they accomplished with a spirit and moderation which excited admiration and sympathy in England. The constitution being settled, the National Assembly dissolved, and gave place to the Legislative Assembly, composed of a new set of men, which met in 1791, but who were far from imitating the moderation of their predecessors. But it was not till they were replaced by a third Assembly, called the Convention, that the incensed feeling of the nation was fully displayed, and revolution completed by the overthrow of the monarchy.


When the princes and nobles of France began to apprehend danger to themselves, they emigrated. The king himself, attempting to escape, was brought back (June 20, 1791). Austria and Prussia threatened to support the king, and in July 1792, the Duke of Brunswick, at the head of an Austro-Prussian army, menaced with military execution all who insulted the royal family or opposed his own march. These threats fired the proud people, who drove back the invaders.

Hitherto England had not interfered; when,

A.D. 1789.]



however, the king was brought to the block (27th January 1793), a great revulsion of feeling took place. The English Court went into mourning, and the French minister was ordered to quit London. The next day a message from the king informed the Parliament that he had determined upon joining the allies in opposing the designs of the French Republic, and resisting by arms the propagation of principles subversive of order and civil liberty. Parliament responded to the call of the Government by an overwhelming majority. Before the Convention consummated the tremendous act of regicide, it had already aroused the resentment of England by a general appeal to universal insurrection, with a promise of support to peoples rising against their rulers. On the 1st February 1793, the National Convention formally declared war against England.

Before the declaration of war, an event of European importance had taken place. Russia, Austria, and Prussia had made a second partition of Poland, and, encouraged by the indifference with which this spoliation was effected, they set about making the third and final partition of this unfortunate land, and it was while gallantly resisting their arms that the Polish patriot Kosciuszko fell at Chilm, 8th July 1794.

Soon after the declaration of war, a small English army landed at Ostend, under the Duke of York, the king's brother, where he joined the allies, Austrians, Prussians, and Dutch, under the supreme command of the Austrian General Clairfait. They advanced towards Valenciennes, and repelled an attack of the French, on which occasion the duke displayed much personal bravery. On the 23d May, the camp of Famars was carried by the allies, and on the 28th July the Duke of York reduced Valenciennes ; but not being equally successful in other operations, owing to the slowness of his friends the Dutch, his Grace returned to London December 1794. The French, opposed to the Austrians and other German troops, made great advances on the Rhine, and, indeed, were most successful in all their campaigns on land. At sea, the fleets of the French Republic met with several repulses in different

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