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Coote landed at Madras at the beginning of November. A council was immediately called, Whitehill was removed from the government of the Presidency, and the member of Council next in seniority appointed. Coote had brought with him only five hundred British troops and six hundred Lascars. The whole force with which he could encounter Hyder amounted only to one thousand seven hundred Europeans and five thousand native troops. Coote, whose name as the conqueror of the French at Wandewash and Pondicherry struck terror into Hyder, soon resumed his triumphs on his old ground, driving the enemy from[331] Wandewash. Hearing then of the arrival of the French armament off Pondicherry, he marched thither, and posted himself on the Red Hills. The French fleet, consisting of seven ships of the line and four frigates, was anchored off the place. But the French squadron having sailed away for the Isle of France, from apprehension of the approach of a British fleet, Hyder retreated, and, entering the territory of Tanjore, laid it waste, while his son, Tippoo, laid siege again to Wandewash. Hyder was again encouraged to advance, and on the 6th of July, 1781, Coote managed to bring him to action near Porto Novo, and completely routed him and his huge host, though he had himself only about eight thousand men. Hyder retired quite crestfallen to Arcot, and ordered Tippoo to raise the siege of Wandewash.

[149] VIEW OF WASHINGTON FROM ARLINGTON HEIGHTS.

Very strong hopes were entertained by the Liberal party from the Administration of Lord Wellesley, but it was his misfortune to be obliged to commence it with coercive measures, always the ready resource of the Irish Government. The new Viceroy would have removed, if possible, the causes of public disturbance; but, in the meantime, the peace must be preserved and sanguinary outrages must be repressed, and he did not shrink from the discharge of his duty in this respect on account of the popular odium which it was sure to bring upon his Government. Mr. Plunket, as Attorney-General, was as firm in the administration of justice as Mr. Saurin, his high Tory predecessor, could be. The measures of repression adopted by the legislature were certainly not wanting in severity. The disorders were agrarian, arising out of insecurity of land tenure, rack rents, and tithes levied by proctors upon tillage, and falling chiefly upon the Roman Catholic population, who disowned the ministrations of the Established Church. The remedies which the Government provided for disturbances thus originating were the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act and the renewal of the Insurrection Act. By the provisions of the latter the Lord-Lieutenant was empowered, on the representation of justices in session that a district was disturbed, to proclaim it in a state of insurrection, to interdict the inhabitants from leaving their homes between sunset and sunrise, and to subject them to visits by night, to ascertain their presence in their own dwellings. If absent, they were considered idle and disorderly, and liable to transportation for seven years! These measures encountered considerable opposition, but they were rapidly passed through both Houses, and received the Royal Assent a week after Parliament met. Under these Acts a number of Whiteboys and other offenders were tried and convicted, several hanged, and many transported. Lord Wellesley must have felt his position very disagreeable between the two excited parties. To be impartial and just was to incur the hostility of both. Possibly he became disgusted with the factions that surrounded him. Whether from this cause, or from an indolent temper, or from the feeling that he was hampered and restrained, and could not do for the country what he felt that its well-being required, or from ill health, it is certain that he became very inactive. A member of the Cabinet writes about him thus:"I find the Orange party are loud in their abuse of Lord Wellesley, for shutting himself up at the Ph?nix Park, lying in bed all day, seeing nobody, and only communicating with Secretary Gregory by letter. Indeed, I believe that the latter is more than he often favours Secretaries Peel and Goulburn with." In another letter, the same Minister, Mr. Wynn, complains of his total neglect of his correspondence with England. This, he said, was inexcusable, because those on whom the chief responsibility rested had a right to know his views upon the state of Ireland, in order to be able to meet the Opposition during the sitting of Parliament. This was written towards the end of April, and at that time the Government had not for a month heard a syllable from him on the agitated questions of tithes, magistracy, and police. The state of Ireland, indeed, became every day more perplexing and alarming. A revolutionary spirit was abroad, and all other social evils were aggravated by famine, which prevailed in extensive districts in the south and west. The potato crop, always precarious, was then almost a total failure in many counties, and left the dense population, whose existence depended upon it, totally destitute. The cry of distress reached England, and was responded to in the most generous spirit. Half a million[223] sterling was voted by Parliament, and placed at the disposal of Lord Wellesley, to be dispensed in charitable relief and expended on public works for the employment of the poor. In addition to this, the English people contributed from their private resources the sum of three hundred thousand pounds for the relief of Irish distress. On the 30th of May there was a ball given for the same object, in the King's Theatre, London, which produced three thousand five hundred pounds.

J. Bingham, created Lord Clanmorris; 8,000 for two seats, and 15,000 compensation for Tuam. Had first offered himself for sale to the anti-unionists. Whilst these combined efforts were being made to unseat him, Walpole saw his Cabinet every day becoming more untrustworthy, more divided against him. The Duke of Newcastle was eagerly pressing forward to supplant him. He had entered into secret engagements with the Duke of Argyll, and Lord Chancellor Hardwicke threw himself into that clique. To these were added the Earl of Wilmington, formerly Sir Spencer Compton, who, forgetting his alarm at the idea of succeeding Walpole as Prime Minister, now was anxious for that honour. To add to these depressing circumstances, the king arrived from Hanover in a humour ready to lay his disgrace and failure at anybody's door. On the 4th of December he opened the new Parliament, and, conscious of his own contemptible figure after the submission to French dictation in Hanover, he took care to remind it that he had commenced the war only at the urgent desire and advice of both Houses, and that he had been particularly counselled to direct our naval efforts towards Spanish America.

In the West Indies it was decided that Great Britain should, of the French islands that she had taken, retain Tobago, Dominica, St. Vincent, and[175] Grenada, but restore to France Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Lucia.

CHAPTER X. REIGN OF WILLIAM IV. (continued).

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Disappointed in their hopes from England, educated Roman Catholic opinion in Ireland began to drift towards the United Irishmen, in spite of the[462] peasants' war that was rife in various parts of the country between the members of the two religions. Suddenly their expectations received an unlooked-for impulse. During the spring of 1794 Pitt determined to send over Lord Fitzwilliam, who was heir to the Marquis of Rockingham and a prominent member of the Portland Whigs, as Lord-Lieutenant. It was clearly understood that Fitzwilliam should be allowed to inaugurate a policy of reform, but Pitt wished that reform to be gradual and cautious. It is plain that he gave Grattan intimation to that effect, and that Grattan thought the stipulation a reasonable one, but it is equally clear that he somehow or other failed to make much impression upon Fitzwilliam. No sooner had the new Lord-Lieutenant arrived in Ireland than he proceeded to dismiss Castle officials before he could possibly have had time to inquire into the rights and wrongs of their cases, and with equal abruptness turned out the Attorney, and Solicitor-General, and Mr. Beresford, the Commissioner of Revenue, the head of the most powerful of the Protestant families. The result was a violent outcry, which was increased when he proceeded, in conjunction with Grattan, to draw up a Bill for the immediate granting of the Catholic claims. The Ascendency party clamoured for his recall, and the Lord Chancellor Fitzgibbon represented to the king that to admit Roman Catholics to Parliament would be to violate his Coronation Oath. Pitt was obliged to give way, and on March 25th, 1794, Fitzwilliam left Ireland, amidst every sign of national mourning. The incident is a melancholy one, but a calm review of the circumstances produces the conclusion that the indiscretion of Lord Fitzwilliam was very much the cause of it.