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The conduct of Vernon, though he had been the Idol of the Opposition, and not of the Ministry, as it became known, increased enormously the unpopularity of Walpole. Though he had literally been forced into the war by the Opposition, the whole of its disasters were charged, not on them, but on him; and they did not hesitate to throw from themselves upon him the odium of all its failures. The general election which now came on was seized upon to load Walpole with all the weight of the unsuccessful war. The Duchess of Marlborough, Pulteney, and the Prince of Wales raised funds to outbribe the master of corruption himself. They incurred heavy debts to complete his ruin, and as the news of the miserable issue of the expedition to the Spanish settlements came in, numbers of those who had been returned to Parliament as friends of the Ministry turned round and joined the Opposition in violent denunciations of the mismanagement of the war. Lord Chesterfield, whilst these transactions had been progressing, had hastened on to Avignon, and, taking up his quarters with the Duke of Ormonde, obtained from the Pretender letters to nearly a hundred Jacobites in England and Scotland, engaging them to put out all their power and influence against Walpole.

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MARIE ANTOINETTE (1783.)

When the resolutions of the Committee were reported two days afterwards, the debate was renewed with all its vehemence, and Pulteney unveiled another view of the case, which had much real truth and warning in it. "It is well known," he said, "that every one of the public officers have already so many boroughs or corporations which they look on as their properties. There are some boroughs which are called Treasury boroughs; there are others which may be called Admiralty boroughs; in short, it may be said that nearly all the towns upon the sea-coast are already seized upon, and in a manner taken prisoners by the officers of the Crown. In most of them they have so great an influence that none can be chosen members of Parliament but such as they are pleased to recommend. But, as the Customs are confined to our seaports, as they cannot travel far from the coast, therefore this scheme seems to be contrived in order to extend the laws of Excise, and thereby to extend the influence of the Crown over all the inland towns and corporations of England." W. G. Joscelyn, promotion in the army, and his brother made Bishop of Lismore.

Lord Londonderry, wearied with the labours of the Session, had retired to his country seat at North Cray Farm, near Bexley, in Kent, to recruit his strength, and prepare to take his part as the representative of England at the forthcoming Congress of Verona, which was to be held in October. There, on the 12th of August, he committed suicide by cutting the carotid artery with a penknife. Lord Eldon, in a letter on the subject, says:"I learn, upon the best authority, that for two or three days he was perfectly insane; and the medical men attribute that fact to the operation upon his head of the unceasing attention to business which the last harassing Session (to him) called for." The disease would appear to have been coming on some time before; he had got the idea that he was beset by secret enemiesthat he was the object of conspiracies. He was full of apprehension of being waylaid in the Park, and he felt that his life was every hour in danger. His mind gave way under the pressure of these morbid fears, and he put an end to his existence in the fifty-third year of his age. Impartial history, we think, will come to the conclusion that, with intellectual abilities not much above mediocrity, he owed his success as a statesman, in a great measure, to his fixity of purpose, and to his audacity, courage, and perseverance in adhering to his line of action in the midst of the most formidable difficulties; while the strength of his will was aided by a commanding person, an imperturbable temper, extreme affability, and winning frankness of manner. Of the policy of the Government in which he bore so long a leading part, it must be said that it was narrow, exclusive, jealous of popular rights, favourable to despotism abroad and at home, devoted to the interests of the Throne and the aristocracy, at the expense of social order and national progress. Such, at all events, was the impression of the majority of the nation, and the detestation in which the London populace held his character as a statesman was painfully evinced by the shouts of exultation which followed his coffin into Westminster Abbey, where it was deposited between the remains of Fox and Pitt. This conduct greatly shocked Lord Eldon. "This morning," he writes, "I have been much affected by attending Lord Londonderry to his grave. The concourse of people between St. James's Square and the Abbey was very great; the great bulk of them behaving decorously, some behaving otherwise; but I protest I am almost sorry to have lived till I have seen in England a collection of persons so brutalised as, upon the taking the coffin at the Abbey door out of the hearse, to have received it with cheering for joy that L. was no more. Cobbett and the paper called the[227] Statesman have, by the diabolical publications he and that paper have issued, thus demoralised these wretches." Sir John marched out of Edinburgh for the north on the very day that the standard of the Stuarts was erected in Glenfinnan, the 19th of August. On the following day he continued his route from Stirling, accompanied by one thousand five hundred foot, leaving, very properly, the dragoons behind him, as of no service in the mountains, nor capable of finding forage there. He then continued his march towards Fort Augustus, which he hoped to make the centre of his operations, and then to strike a sudden and annihilating blow on the handful of rebels. At Dalwhinnie he heard that the rebels now mustered six thousand, and that they meant to dispute the pass of Corriarrick, lying directly in the line of his march towards Fort Augustus. This Corriarrick had been made passable by one of General Wade's roads, constructed after the rebellion of 1715, to lay open the Highlands. The road wound up the mountain by seventeen zig-zags or traverses, and down the other side by others, called by the Highlanders the Devil's Staircase. Three hundred men were capable, much more three thousand, of stopping an army in such a situation, and Cope called a council of war. At length it was agreed that they should take a side route, and endeavour to reach Inverness and Fort George. The resolve was a fatal one, for it gave the appearance of a flight to the army, and left the road open to Stirling and the Lowlands.

The last night's debate continued till between six and seven o'clock on the morning of Saturday, the 8th of October. It was a night of intense anxiety, both in the House and out of doors. The space about the throne was crowded with foreigners and members of the other House. There was a number of ladies, peeresses, and their daughters, sitting there the whole night, manifesting their excitement in every way consistent with decorum. Palace Yard and the space all round the House was thronged with people waiting to hear the result of the division. The night was wet, however, and the debate was so protracted that the crowd had dispersed before morning. This was a matter of consolation to the Opposition peers, who dreaded a mobbing. It was now broad daylight, and no sound was heard outside except the rolling of the carriages of the peers, who passed up Parliament Street as quietly as if they had come from disposing of a road Bill. The fate of the Bill was that day decided, for it, 158; against it, 199leaving a majority of 41. "The night was made interesting," wrote Lord Eldon, "by the anxieties of all present. Perhaps, fortunately, the mob on the outside would not wait so long."