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CHAPTER CXXXII. covrnrcATioN Of The Lite Of Lord Hardwicke Till The
RESIGNATION OF 8IR ROBERT WALPOLE.
hi the end of this year Lord Hardwicke was much alarmed by Chap.
F. Y Y Y T T
the death of Queen Caroline, on whose great influence with the King, notwithstanding his infidelities to her, the ministry A n 1737 was supposed chiefly to depend; but her dying recommenda- Death of tion of Walpole sunk deep into the King's mind, and his rolinc? C"' Majesty's health being completely re-established, the opposition party melted away. Horace Walpole says, that, "on the Queen's death, Lord Chancellor Hardwicke went deep into the scheme of governing through the Princess Emily; this scheme was to be built on the ruin of Sir Robert Walpole, who had no other trouble to make it miscarry than in making the King say, Pho!"* But this is a mere imaginary plot. From the hour of Caroline's decease the King lavished greater kindness than ever on Walpole, and it was not till long after that Newcastle or Hardwicke thought of his removal.
The assailants of the government in the House of Lords, although not numerous, were active and unscrupulous. When the "Mutiny Bill" was brought forward in the session of 1738, May 2. Lord Carteret moved that the number of the forces to be kept l738, on foot for the British empire should be reduced from 18,000 to 12,000 men; and he was warmly supported by Lord Chesterfield and Lord Bathurst, who, like him, declaimed against the danger to liberty from a standing army, laughed at the idea of there being longer any thing to be apprehended from the Jacobites, and contended that the best mode of allaying the prevailing discontents would be by disbanding every regiment in the service. The Duke of Newcastle made such a sorry figure in attempting to answer their sophistries, that before the debate closed the Lord Chancellor thought it proper to
* Memoirs of Ten last Years of George II.
CHAP, leave the woolsack, and he made a speech which, even from CXXXII •
[ the imperfect report of it, appears to have been marked by
uncommon excellence. Having pointed out the serious apprehension to be entertained from foreign invasion, and still wicke's' more from internal disturbances, he thus proceeded: "But, speech for say some Lords, 'all the discontents we now complain of arise the armyUP from your keeping up such an army: Disband but your army, or a great part of it, and the people will be satisfied.' This, in my opinion, my Lords, would be like a man throwing away his arms in order to be reconciled with his enemy,—which I am sure no man of courage or prudence would do. The recent riots which caused such alarm in the metropolis, and all over the country, have been produced by useful acts of the legislature for the erection of turnpike gates, and to put down the beastly excesses of gin-drinking. The real danger to liberty arises from the machinations of desperate and ambitious men, who wish at all hazards to get into their own hands the supreme power of the state, under pretence of being attached to the exiled royal family, and who are ready to turn to their own account the delusions which may prevail among the people. If the noble Lords who ridicule our apprehensions feel none, my apprehensions are onty the greater. My Lords, I warn you, that before long an attempt will be made to subvert our present happy establishment. Notwithstanding the uninterrupted peace and increasing prosperity which the nation has enjoyed since the accession of the present royal family, for reasons which I cannot explain, discontents with the government are now general and deep, and without prudence and energy on our part these discontents will soon lead to open rebellion. The violence, the oppression, the subversion of law, liberty, and religion, which made the nation for a brief space almost unanimously concur in the Revolution are forgotten; many are now so ungrateful as to censure that glorious event; many are so silly as to think, that by recalling the exiled family they may get rid of all fancied grievances, and continue to enjoy all the securities for the church and the constitution which the Revolution has achieved. While the late King James was alive, the doctrine of 'divine right' could not be acted upon without opening our arms to receive him who, by his blind bigotry, had brought CHAP, us to the brink of destruction; whereas now the scene is CXXXITchanged, and delusive hopes may be entertained from a young Prince who personally has inflicted no wrong, although all reflecting men are aware that his family in their exile have learned nothing and forgot nothing, and that Popery and slavery would be recalled along with them. The small army which is asked is indispensably necessary for the safety of the well-disposed. They will cherish it, — while it is hated by the seditious, because it prevents them from spreading war, bloodshed, and desolation over the face of their country."* As soon as the Chancellor had resumed the woolsack the House divided, when the motion was negatived by ninetynine to thirty-five.
After this defeat the opposition made a much more skilful, Plan of the though a very profligate, move. Because the Spaniards °o^*„^" objected to our carrying on a contraband trade with their the country American colonies, most frightful stories were propagated of ^h^".,^ their cruelty to our countrymen, of which "the fable of , Captain Jenkins's ears" was a fair specimen; and, under colour of taking revenge, there was an eager desire in the nation to fit out expeditions for the purpose of capturing their galleons, and seizing possession of their gold mines. Here was an opportunity to bring obloquy upon the pacific Walpole, who was represented to be "a furious mastiff to his own countrymen, but a fawning spaniel to the Spaniards." His opponents determined to give him only the alternative of a Spanish war or resignation, and it was generally believed that, fond as he was of power, he was fonder of peace, and that his political extinction was at hand. With this view certain resolutions were moved in the House of Lords, affirming the outrageous conduct of Spain, denying the right of search which she claimed, and praying that English commerce might be protected against her aggressions. The task of combating these was cast upon the Chancellor, but he did it feebly and ineffectually, hardly venturing to go further than to point out that the reso
Debate on Convention with Spain to settle differences.
Vindication of Lord Hardwicke from the charge of encouraging war.
Feb. I. 1739.
lutions were so framed as to condemn the belligerent right to search neutral vessels which might be carrying contraband of war— a right essential to the maintenance of our own naval ascendency. Finding that he was making no impression on the House, he withdrew his opposition, and the resolutions passed unanimously. *
In the following session the same policy was pursued by the opposition leaders, whose great object was to attack a preliminary convention with Spain, by which Walpole had hoped that all differences might be adjusted, and peace might be preserved. They were now encouraged by the faithless Duke of Newcastle, who thought this a favourable opportunity for becoming prime minister; and it has been represented even that another member of the cabinet, from whom a very different line of conduct might have been expected, joined in the war cry. "The Chancellor, Lord Hardwicke," says Coxe, "a man of moderation, good sense, and candour, was of the same opinion with the Duke of Newcastle, and spoke with such vehemence in the House of Lords against the depredations, and in favour of compulsory measures, that Walpole, who stood behind the throne, exclaimed to those who were near him, Bravo! Colonel Yorke, Bravo! f In justice to his memory, however, I am bound to declare that the printed reports of the proceedings of the Lords do not show the slightest foundation for this charge, and if they are to be relied upon, they effectually repel it. He could not resist the motion for hearing witnesses at the bar, so that an opportunity was given for Captain Jenkins's celebrated declaration, that when under the hands of the torturing Spaniards, "he committed his soul to God, and his cause to his country ;" but in the debates on the convention Lord Hardwicke appears to have defended it at great length, and boldly and manfully to have attempted to dispel the public delusion. He showed, that while we have a right to the free navigation of the American seas for the purpose of carrying on an unrestrained intercourse with our own colonies, according
to the laws we are pleased to lay down for the regulation of Chap.
their commerce, the Spaniards had a right to lay down laws
to regulate the commerce of their colonies, and to prevent the carrying on of a contraband trade in violation of those laws. "The mode in which these respective rights shall be enjoyed and enforced," said he, "is the fair subject of negotiation and treaty, and cannot be satisfactorily adjusted by an appeal to arms. For this reason, plenipotentiaries were appointed on both sides, who, if they are permitted to proceed, may be expected to bring about a settlement for the mutual honour and advantage of the two nations. We have just reason to complain of the manner in which, in some instances, the Spaniards have exercised the right which we cannot dispute they possess; but let us try whether we may not obtain indemnity and security, without rushing headlong into a war, the result of which cannot certainly be foreseen, although the vulgar be captivated by the golden prospects which it is supposed to hold out. Having shown that no reasonable objection can be made to the treaty now before us, I must beg your Lordships to consider the present circumstances of Europe, the peculiar situation of this nation, and the relation we stand in to Spain. It must be allowed that no nation ought to enter into a war against a neighbouring nation for any object which may be attained by peaceable means. Of all nations, we ought to be the last unnecessarily and wantonly to engage in hostilities. A great part of our people subsist by trade; our landed gentlemen owe a great part of their yearly revenue to the commerce and manufactures we carry on. Not only should we, by the wished-for war, lose our intercourse with the dominions of Spain, allowed to be so profitable, but a shock would be given to our trade with the rest of the world. Considering our heavy debt and many taxes, we are in no very good condition for engaging in a dangerous, and expensive, and perhaps protracted war. The rest of Europe will not quietly look on and see us make conquests in Spanish America, if the fortune of war should at the outset be in our favour. The Spaniards would soon be assisted by France, and perhaps by other powers we