« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
MR. PITT'S BUDGET-THE STATE OF IRELAND-THE KING DISMISSES LORD
THURLOW-DISCONTENTS IN ENGLAND-FRENCH EMIGRANTS-RETREAT OF THE DUKE OF BRUNSWICK-MEASURES OF INTERNAL DEFENCE-THE FRENCH CONVENTION DECLARES WAR AGAINST ENGLAND AND HOLLAND.
NOTWITHSTANDING the vast expenditure to which the country had been recently exposed, the Budget, at the opening of Parliament in 1792, more than realized the anticipations of Lord Grenville. The statement laid before the House of Commons by Mr. Pitt was a complete answer to the apprehensions of the timid, and the taunts of the Opposition. There was a clear surplus of £900,000 in the month of January, after paying the interest of the National Debt, the annual million devoted to its extinction, the Civil List, the naval and military establishments, and all other items of current outlay. Upon this basis of unexampled prosperity the Minister proposed to remit a large amount of taxation, and to apply a further sum towards the extinction of the National Debt. He did not regard this surplus as a temporary or transient incident, but as the genuine and natural result of regular and permanent causes. In the existing state of the continent, it was impossible to calculate with certainty upon the future, and Mr. Pitt, even in this solid condition of the national finances, was careful not to indulge in hopes of too sanguine a character, which a sudden turn of events, beyond the control of English influence, might frustrate and disappoint. His language was explicit as to his confidence in the present, but guarded as to his views of the future. “On the continuance of our present prosperity,” he observed, “it is indeed impossible to count with certainty ; but unquestionably, there never was a time when, from the situation of Europe, we might more reasonably expect a durable peace than at the present moment." The subsequent course of European politics, unfortunately, did not bear out this expectation ; but at the moment when it was uttered, the lull that had set in on the continent, and the flourishing state of our own trade and commerce, abundantly justified the statement of the Minister. Some additional reliance on the stability of our prospects might also have been drawn from the fact that the destinies of England were never in abler hands than those to whom they were confided in 1792, with Mr. Pitt at the Treasury and Lord Grenville at the Foreign Office.
Parliament met on the 31st of January. The Speech from the Throne announced the conclusion of the treaty between Austria and the Ottoman Porte, and the agreement to preliminaries between the latter and Russia. The maintenance of peace was regarded, under the circumstances, as so certain that His Majesty was induced to recommend for
the consideration of Parliament an immediate reduction of the naval and military establishments. The following letters, written before the opening of Parliament, touch slightly on these affairs.
LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
St. James's Square, Jan. 6th, 1792. MY DEAR BROTHER,
My present idea on the subject of your last letter entirely agrees with yours, and I wait only till the great bear returns to this hemisphere to put it in execution roundly, and without reserve. The only thing that restrains me is the extreme importance that I feel it is of to my honour not to involve any other persons, and still less a whole system of Government, in a personal contest, which I am obliged to maintain (being embarked in it) for a personal object. The mode of doing this is not without much difficulty, and it is the only difficulty I feel on the subject.
Before I do anything decisive, I will certainly contrive in some manner to talk it over with you, but till I know the precise time of his return my motions are of course suspended. The moment I am able I will write to you again.
The solution of the French enigma which you state is, that it is a war of bullying on both sides, the two parties being equally afraid of each other. In the meantime there certainly are some in France who wish the war, but very many more who fear it, and the ruin of their finances is approaching with very rapid strides indeed. What a contrast we shall make with them, when I come to state to you the particulars, about which I am now little less sanguine than I was at Weymouth.
Ever most affectionately yours,
LORD GRENVILLE TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
St. James's Square, Jan. 17th, 1792. MY DEAR BROTHER,
Nothing more has passed on the subject, but a day or two will now probably bring it to a point, as Dundas is to see him, and put the question to him, yes or no, either to-morrow or Thursday. This is not to be done with any message from me, a point which I have thought it indispensably necessary to stipulate, in order that I might not have to reproach myself with anything like personal solicitation to him on such a point. I feel this so material, that I have made a pretext of going to take possession of my castle on Thursday, in order to be completely out of the way of all negotiation upon the subject. Pitt comes to me on Saturday, and brings me the answer on which my future conduct must depend. I shall remain there, if possible, till the Friday or Saturday following. It would be very little out of your way to make it your run on Tuesday, when you would certainly find me there, and I need not say that I should, in any case, be extremely glad to see you there; but more particularly if any further step is to be taken about this business, in which I do not well see my way, because I hardly see how I can take tbat line which my own situation personally seems so loudly to demand, without involving more than I should like to do of public consequences. If I alone were concerned, my line would be very soon taken.
Ever, my dear brother,
G. Everything looks like peace on the side of France.
A letter from Mr. Hobart gives a sketch of the state of Ireland at this time. The English Bill of toleration had
produced a ferment in the country, and the war of religious animosity was assuming a more violent aspect every day.
MR. HOBART TO THE MARQUIS OF BUCKINGHAM.
Dublin Castle, Jan. 30th, 1792. MY DEAR LORD,
The multiplicity of business, both public and private, in which I have been engaged since I left Stowe, must plead my excuse for having so long postponed writing to your Lordship. I cannot, however, delay thanking you for the communication you have made through Mornington on the subject of my marriage—a subject I should not have been silent upon when I had the pleasure of seeing you, had I not predetermined the case, and therefore was not open to advice. I flatter myself you will be happy to hear that I have received a most friendly and liberal letter from the Earl of Bucks upon the occasion, and have experienced every attention and kindness from all my friends, and a marked civility from all persons here on both sides of the question.
You can have little idea of the ferment that has been raised on the subject of Catholics. When I saw you, I talked of existing prejudices, which would ever render it no easy task to carry the English concessions. I little thought that the minds of the Protestants could be so inflamed, as a variety of circumstances (but principally the industry of Mr. R. Burke) has inflamed them. He has endeavoured, and with too much success, to persuade the Catholics that British Government were determined to compel the Irish Administration, and through them the Parliament of Ireland, to open the franchise to the Catholics; that therefore, if they persevered in the assertion of their claims, they could not fail of carrying their point. The alarm and indignation that this created amongst the Protestants was such as I will not venture to describe; but