[See larger version] The impeachment of Oxford followed. On the 9th of July, 1715, Lord Coningsby, attended by many of the Commons, carried up to the Lords the articles against him, sixteen in number, to which afterwards six more were added. The first fifteen related to the Peace of Utrecht; the sixteenth to the sudden creation of twelve peers in 1711, in order to create a Tory majority, by which it charged him with highly abusing the constitution of Parliament and the laws of the kingdom. When the Articles had been read, it was doubted whether any of the charges amounted to high treason. To decide this as a legal point, it was moved that the judges should be consulted; but this motion was rejected, and another was made to commit Oxford to the Tower; and, though reprieved a few days on account of an indisposition, he was committed accordingly, having made a very solemn plea of his innocence, and of having only obeyed the orders of the queen, without at all convincing the House. He continued to lie in the Tower for two years before he was brought to trial, matters of higher public interest intervening. Eventually the impeachment was dropped, the documentary evidence being considered insufficient. ARRIVAL OF THE MAIL COACH. (See p. 420.)

It might have been imagined that this magnificent and destructive repulse would have convinced the allies that the siege was hopeless, but they were pretty well informed that General Elliot had well nigh exhausted his ammunition in this prodigal death-shower, and they had still their great combined fleet, snug in the narrow bay, with scouts in the Strait to prevent the carrying in of supplies. But on the 24th of September news arrived at Madrid that the fleet of Lord Howe was under weigh for Gibraltar. Howe's fleet of thirty-four sail-of-the-line, six frigates, and three fire-ships, though in the neighbourhood of one of fifty sail-of-the-line, besides a number of frigates and smaller vessels, managed to get into the bay of Gibraltar all safe, amid the wildest acclamations of soldiers and inhabitants. By the 18th of October all the store-ships had discharged their cargoes, and had passed through the Strait, and on the 19th Lord Howe followed them with his fleet. The enemy's fleet then came out after him, and the next day they were in the open ocean, and Howe proceeded to their leeward to receive them. Some of their vessels had suffered[296] in the late gales, but they had still at least forty-four sail to Howe's thirty-four, and, having the weather-gauge, had every advantage. But after a partial firing, in which they received great damage from Howe, they hauled off and got into Cadiz bay. Howe, then dispatching part of his fleet to the West Indies and a second squadron to the Irish coast, returned home himself. The news of the grand defence of Gibraltar produced a wonderful rejoicing in England; thanks were voted by Parliament to the officers and privates of the brave garrison; General Elliot was invested with the Order of the Bath on the king's bastion in sight of the works which he had preserved, and on his return, in 1787, at the age of seventy, he was created a Peer as Lord Heathfield of Gibraltar.

The case of Spain was the most perplexing of all. The British Cabinet expressed the opinion that no foreign Power had any right whatever to interfere with any form of government which she had established for herself, and that her king and people were to be left to settle their own differences as best they could. The representative of Great Britain was directed to urge this point with all his influence upon the Allies, and especially upon France. But the case of her revolted colonies was different. It was evident, from the course of events, that their recognition as independent States was become a mere question of time. Over by far the greater portion of them Spain had lost all hold, and it had been found necessary, in order to admit their merchant vessels into British ports, to alter the navigation laws both of Britain and Spain. The letter of instructions accordingly directed the British plenipotentiary to advocate a removal of the difficulty on this principle: that every province which had actually established its independence should be recognised; that with provinces in which the war still went on no relation should be established; there was to be no concert with France, or Russia, or any extraneous power, in establishing relations with the new States. "The policy projected was exclusively English and Spanish, and between England and Spain alone its course was to be settled. Other nations might or might not come into the views which England entertained; but upon their approval or disapproval of her views England was not in any way to shape her conduct."

In July of the present year the union of Ireland with Great Britain was carried. Pitt and Lord Cornwallis had come to the conclusion that a double Government was no longer possible, and that unless the Irish were to be allowed to exterminate one another, as they had attempted to do during the late rebellion, the intervention of the British Parliament was absolutely necessary. A resolution had passed the British Parliament in 1799, recommending this union, and the news of this created a tempest of indignation in Protestant Ireland. In January, 1799, the speech on the Address to the throne in the Irish Parliament was, on this account, vehemently opposed, and an amendment was carried against the Government by a majority of one; yet in January, 1800, a motion was carried, at the instigation of Lord Castlereagh, the Secretary, in favour of the union, by a majority of forty-two. Whence this magical change in twelve months? On the 5th of February the whole plan of the union was detailed by Lord Castlereagh, the principal Secretary of State for Ireland, in the Irish Commons. He stated that it was intended to give to Ireland in the Parliament of the United Kingdom four lords spiritual sitting in rotation of sessions, and twenty-eight lords temporal elected for life by peers of Ireland, and that the Irish representatives in the united House of Commons should be a hundred. The motion for this plan was carried in the Irish Commons by a majority of forty-two in spite of a magnificent speech from Grattan, and by a great majority in the House of Lords; but this was in the face of the most unmitigated amazement on the part of the opposition, and of the people, who were not in the secret. Their rage was beyond description. On the 13th of March Sir John Parnell declared that this measure had been effected by the most unexampled corruption, and moved for an Address to his Majesty, imploring him to dissolve this Parliament, and present the question to be decided by a new one. But the Solicitor-General declared that this motion was "unfurling the bloody flag of rebellion;" and Mr. Egan replied that the Solicitor-General and other members of the[475] administration had already "unfurled the flag of prostitution and corruption." But the measure was now passed, and that by the same Parliament which, only a year before, had rejected the proposition in toto. But what were the means employed by the British Government to produce this change? The answer is simple; a million and a quarter was devoted to the compensation of borough owners, lawyers who hoped to improve their prospects by entering the House, and the Dublin tradesmen.

A new and surprising phenomenon was discovered in the attacks upon Ministers for these concessions: Fox and North were in coalition! Fox, who so lately had declared North and his colleagues men "void of every principle of honour and honesty," and who would consent, should he ever make terms with them, to be called "the most infamous of mankind," now as warmly declared that he had ever found Lord Norththis man void of honour and honestya man always "open and sincere as a friend, honourable and manly as an enemy, above practising subterfuges, tricks, and stratagems." Lord North, on his side, repaid the compliments of Fox, growing enthusiastic on the genius, eloquence, and generous nature of that statesman. "While I admire the vast extent of his understanding," exclaimed North, "I can rely on the goodness of his heart." The coalition was looked upon with disfavour, but it was justified to a considerable extent during the debate on the peace. Lord John Cavendish truly represented that France and Spain were on the verge of ruin; that Holland was in an exhausted and helpless condition; and that as for America, it was in the very gulf of destitution, the people refusing to pay the taxes ordered by[300] Congress for the continuance of the war. And it was to such defeated and demolished enemies that Ministers had conceded almost everything they had asked. Lord North turned more particularly to the concession made to the French in the East Indies. It was in that quarter, he said, that he looked for a consolidated and expanding empire, calculated to recompense us, and more than recompense us, for the loss of America. From that splendid continent we had completely driven the French, and the soundest policy dictated their continued firm exclusion from it. Yet here had Ministers most fatally readmitted them, to renew their old plots and alliances against us, by which they would to a certainty continue to harass, thwart, and weaken us, till we once more went through the ruinous and sanguinary process of expulsion. He was equally severe on the surrender of Minorca and the Floridas to Spain, and the admission of the unconceding, unconciliating Americans to our own proper fishing grounds. Fox called on Ministers to produce the treaty which he had sketched a few months before, and to see what very different terms he had demanded, and would have exacted. That the sense of the House went with these sentiments was shown by both the amendments of the Coalition being carried by a majority of sixteen. Lord John Cavendish moved another resolution strongly condemning the terms of the treaty, but consented that the peace now made should remain inviolate. This was also carried, by a majority of seventeen, being two hundred and seven votes against one hundred and ninety.

TALLEYRAND. (After the Portrait by Gerard.)