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Music advanced at an equal rate with its sister arts, and during this period added to its conquests the compositions of Purcell and Handel. William was too much engaged in war to become a patron of music, or of any of the fine arts, and his queen, Mary, does not appear to have possessed much taste for it. She is related by Sir[155] John Hawkins to have sent for Purcell and Mrs. Arabella Hunt, a famous singer, to entertain her. Mrs. Hunt sang some of Purcell's splendid compositions, and Purcell accompanied them on the harpsichord; but Mary soon grew weary of these, and called on Mrs. Hunt to sing the Scottish ballad, "Cold and Raw!" The third topic discussed at these conferences was the nature of the relations then subsisting between France and Spain, and the projects of the former power in reference to the latter. These were explained by the Minister without any reserve, and with no symptoms of apprehension that they would be disagreeable to Britain, or of anxiety as to the result, whether they were so or not. He frankly avowed that, under cover of the sanitary cordon, 100,000 French troops were assembled; that it was proposed to throw them in two columns into Spain; that one column, of 40,000 men, was to pass into Catalonia, while the other, of 60,000, was to march by the great road through Irun upon Madrid. He stated that the sole object of this invasion was to insure the personal safety of the king, to afford him the opportunity to collect a native force strong enough to enable him to protect himself against the schemes of the Revolutioniststhat is, to put down the Constitution. Of course, France said she entertained no views of conquest or aggrandisement, or even of prolonged occupation. She would withdraw her troops whenever the King of Spain said he could do without them, and yield up every inch of territory. In reference to this matter the Duke of Wellington wrote home for instructions, and in reply Canning said:"If there be a determined project to interfere by force or by menace in the present struggle in Spain, so convinced are his Majesty's Government of the uselessness and danger of any such interferenceso objectionable does it appear to them in principle, as well as utterly impracticable in executionthat when the necessity arisesor, I would rather say, when the opportunity offersI am to instruct your grace at once frankly and peremptorily to declare that to any such interference, come what may, his Majesty will not be a party." To say that England peremptorily declined "to be a party" to the invasion of an independent state, in order to force upon the people a government contrary to their will, was not saying very much, nor putting the objection very strongly. We are assured, however, that the Duke steadily set his face against the project, pointing out that the step would be not only unjust, but impolitic; that it would precipitate the catastrophe which the French Government feared; that the Revolutionists would probably remove Ferdinand from Madrid as soon as they heard of the passing of the frontier by the French troops, and that, even if these troops should reach the capital, the Spaniards would not therefore submit, nor would the king be set at liberty. He argued that a war between France and Spain for such a purpose would be pronounced a war to put down free institutions, and that if France sought the support of her allies, the only one amongst them that had free institutions would feel it her duty to meet such a request with a refusal. Europe would be ranged into two hostile camps, that of absolutism on the one side and of revolution on the other; amid which not thrones only, but settled governments in every form, might be overthrown. In reply to these arguments, both the king and his Minister stated that whatever France might do in the matter she would do single-handed, and that she would not only not apply for assistance from without, but that, if such assistance were offered, she would refuse it. The Duke could not, however, prevail upon the French Government to refrain from bringing the question between France[234] and Spain before the Congress. The king and his Minister both contended that vast moral good would accrue from a joint remonstrance on the part of the Allies against the treatment to which the King of Spain was subjected, and a joint threat that if any violence were offered to his person or family all would unite to avenge the outrage.

Mr. Smith O'Brien, early in July, gave occasion for another great debate on the state of Ireland, by moving that the House resolve itself into a committee for the purpose of taking into consideration the causes of the discontent prevailing there, with a view to the redress of grievances, and the establishment of a system of just and impartial government in that part of the United Kingdom. The honourable gentleman reviewed the history of the country since the union, discussed the questions of the National Debt and taxation, the Church Establishment, the position of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Government appointments, Coercive Acts, and land tenure. Lord Eliot, then Chief Secretary of Ireland, answered his arguments at length. A great number of speakers followed, continuing the debate for five nights. At length the House divided, when the numbers wereagainst the motion for a committee, 243; for it, 164. The whole of these vexed questions again came up on the 9th of August, when the Irish Arms Bill was set down for the third reading. On this occasion Sir Robert Peel made some remarks, expressing the feeling of his Government with regard to Ireland, declaring that he viewed the state of things there with deep anxiety and pain. He had hoped that there was a gradual abatement of animosity on account of religious differences; that he saw the gradual influence of those laws which removed the political disabilities of Catholics and established civil equality. He thought he saw, in some respects, a great moral and social improvement; that there was a hope of increasing tranquillity, which would cause the redundant and superfluous capital of England, then seeking vent in foreign and precarious speculations, to flow into Ireland. But the agitation had, in his opinion, blasted all those hopes. This point settled, the preliminaries of peace were signed at Fontainebleau on the 3rd of November. To console Spain for her losses by her unlucky alliance with France, Louis XV. ceded Louisiana to that country by a private convention. [See larger version]

This was going to the very heart of the question with that clear, searching sense for which Chatham was so distinguished. Lord Chancellor Camden, who had himself a strong and honest intellect, but not the moral courage of Chatham, had retained the Great Seal, though disapproving of the measures of his colleagues. Emboldened by the words of his friend, he now rose and expressed his regret for having so long suppressed his feelings. But, he added, "I will do so no longer; I will openly and boldly speak my sentiments. I now proclaim to the world that I entirely coincide in the opinions expressed by my noble friend, whose presence again reanimates us, touching this unconstitutional and illegal vote of the House of Commons.... By this violent and tyrannical conduct Ministers have alienated the minds of the people from his Majesty's GovernmentI had almost said from his Majesty's person!" After these words Camden could no longer remain Lord Chancellor. While these things had been passing in England, the Revolution in France had been making great strides. The Assembly, after its removal to Paris, passed completely under the influence of the violent Jacobin Club, and the work of destruction and reconstitution proceeded with startling rapidity. By the division of France into Departments all the old territorial arrangements and provincial Assemblies were abolished; the judicial system was re-established on a popular basis, and its dependence on the Crown swept away; the Church was made a department of the State, and its vast property sold, chiefly by means of bills payable in Church lands and called assignats. The position of the king became well-nigh intolerable. There was a chance, indeed, that Mirabeau might extricate him from the toils of his enemies. That great man, now reconciled to the Court, advised him to withdraw from the capital, and throw himself upon the conservatism of the country districts. But the death of Mirabeau in April, 1791, deprived Louis of his only wise adviser, and in June he adopted the ill-judged course of flying from Paris, with the object of making his way across the frontier and joining the enemies of his country. The flight was ill-managed, the royal family were arrested at Varennes and brought back as prisoners to Paris, where they were placed under the strictest surveillance.

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An extraordinary scene of confusion was being enacted in the House of Commons at the moment when the king's reluctance was overcome. Sir R. Vivian took occasion to arraign Ministers violently for their intention of dissolving Parliament. Sir Francis Burdett contended that he was out of order. The Speaker ruled that he was in order. The Reformers differed from the Chair. Loud cries of "Sir Robert Peel! Sir Robert Peel!" were answered by counter-cries of "Sir Francis Burdett! Sir Francis Burdett!" and some wiser cries of "Chair! Chair!" The Speaker rose and stilled this unprecedented stormrebuked those who had disputed his authority, and again called on Sir Robert Peel, who proceeded thereupon, in undisguised anger, to address the House. But as the noise of the cannon, which announced the king's approach, boomed into the House, the Reform members loudly cheered, each discharge being greeted with overbearing and triumphant shouts. Suddenly Sir Robert's angry speech, and the loud cheers of the Reformers, were stilled by the three admonitory taps of the Usher of the Black Rod, who came to summon the members to attend his Majesty in the House of Peers. The Speaker at once obeyed, the Commons following. A similar scene of confusion in the Upper House was interrupted by the approach of the king. Lord Londonderry said, "I protest my lords, I will not submit to." Further than this his speech did not proceed, as the Lord Chancellor, who heard the king approaching, clutched the seals, left the woolsack, and darted out of the House. Lord Londonderry, not yet despairing, moved Lord Shaftesbury again to act as Speaker, and Lord Mansfield began a furious harangue in a loud and angry voice. In the meantime the Lord Chancellor met the king entering the House, and proceeding in procession to the robing-room. As the king advanced, the noise in the House became distinctly audible. "What's that, my Lord Chancellor?" said the king. "Only, may it please you, sire, the House of Lords amusing themselves while awaiting your Majesty's coming." The king, knowing what was meant, hastily robed, and as hastily entered the Housecutting short Lord Mansfield's speech, and putting an end to all chance of passing the[333] resolution under debate. The king ascended the throne, and commanded the attendance of the Commons. The bar of the House of Lords was thronged by the mass of members who now entered. The Speaker addressed the king, stating that the House of Commons approached the king with profound respect; and that the Commons had at no time more faithfully responded to the real feelings and interest of his Majesty's affectionate people; "while it has been," he added, "their earnest desire to support the dignity and honour of the Crown, upon which depend the greatness, the happiness, and the prosperity of this country." The Royal Assent being given to the bills that had passed, and, among others, to the Civil List Bill, the Chancellor presented to his Majesty the Speech he was to deliver, and the king, with the high shrill tone he always employed, but with more than wonted energy, read the first, which, indeed, was the really important paragraph of the Speech, and that which alone men cared to listen to or hear.

The fall of Robespierre produced a marked change in the policy of the Convention towards the Royalists of this district, and they were promised, on laying down their arms, that they[445] should enjoy their country and their religion in peace. On this assurance, Charette signed a treaty of pacification with the agents of the Government at Nantes, in February, 1795. But scarcely was the peace signed, when Charette received a letter from Monsieurbrother of the late king, and now appointed by the Royalist party Regent to the Dauphin, now styled by them Louis XVII.assuring him of his confidence, declaring him the second founder of the monarchy, and appointing him his Lieutenant-General. Charette wrote back to inform him that he had been compelled to sign a peace, but that his submission was only apparent, and when the Royalist affairs were somewhat reinstated, he should be ready to take up arms and die in the service of his prince. The young General Hoche, who was sent to reduce the insurgents of Brittany, whilst Canclaux reduced those of La Vende, did not for a moment believe in the sincerity of the peace. He was aware that Puisaye, the chief of the insurgents in Brittany, was gone to England, to endeavour to induce Pitt to do what all the efforts and importunities of the Bourbon princes and Emigrant nobles had failed to doto send an expedition to the coast of Brittany, with another to the coast of La Vende, in which the British fleet should support the bodies of Emigrants who had, in England and the Channel Islands, formed themselves into regiments for the purpose. Aware of this, he still did all he could to reconcile the peasantry to the peace, and very soon they would have been pacified by this judicious treatment, and been averse from rising again, with a prospect of re-experiencing their former sufferings; but the Bourbon princes and the tribes of Emigrants now driven from the Rhine did not allow them that chance.

On the following evening Lord Melbourne, having explained why he resigned, said, "And now, my lords, I frankly declare that I resume office unequivocally and solely for this reason, that I will not abandon my Sovereign in a situation[463] of difficulty and distress, and especially when a demand is made upon her Majesty with which I think she ought not to complya demand, in my opinion, inconsistent with her personal honour, and which, if acquiesced in, would make her reign liable to all the changes and variations of political parties, and render her domestic life one constant scene of unhappiness and discomfort." The Whigs, therefore, returned to office, but not to power.