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Gaudais, in compliance with the demands of Colbert, gives his statement in a long memorial, Le Sieur Gaudais Dupont Monseigneur de Colbert, 1664.
1672-1675.The year 1792 opened in England with a state of intense anxiety regarding the menacing attitude of affairs in France. There were all the signs of a great rupture with the other Continental nations; yet the king, in opening Parliament, on the 31st of January, did not even allude to these ominous circumstances, but held out the hope of continued peace. George III. stated that he had been engaged with some of his allies in endeavouring to bring about a pacification between the Russians and Austrians with Turkey, and that he hoped for the conclusion of the war in India against Tippoo Sahib, ere long, through the able management of Lord Cornwallis. He also announced the approaching marriage of the Duke of York with the eldest daughter of the King of Prussia. Grey and Fox, in the debate upon the Address, condemned strongly our interference on behalf of Turkeya state which they contended ought, from its corruption, to be allowed to disappear. They also expressed a strong opinion that the war in India would not be so soon terminated. Fox was very severe on the treatment of Dr. Priestley and the Dissenters at Birmingham, declaring the injuries done to Priestley and his friends equally disgraceful to the nation and to the national Church. He passed the highest encomiums on the loyalty of the Dissenters. Pitt regretted the outrages at Birmingham, but slid easily over them to defend the support of Turkey as necessary to the maintenance of the balance of power in Europe; and he concluded the debate by stating that the revenue of the last year had been sixteen million seven hundred and seventy thousand pounds, and that it left nine hundred thousand pounds towards the liquidation of the National Debt.
The Ministerial changes consequent on the death of Mr. Canning were announced on the 17th of August. Viscount Goderich, afterwards Earl of Ripon, became the First Lord of the Treasury, the Duke of Portland President of the Council, Mr. Herries Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Huskisson Colonial Secretary, and Mr. C. Grant President of the Board of Trade. On the 22nd the Duke of Wellington was gazetted as Commander-in-Chief. He accepted this office at the earnest request of the king, and it was universally felt that he was the fittest man for the post; but those who, with Lord Eldon, earnestly wished for the speedy downfall of the new Ministrywhich they regarded as almost exclusively Canningitelamented that he should have assumed that position which would necessarily paralyse his opposition in the House of Lords, and so far tend to keep in the Administration. There was, however, little chance of that, for perhaps no Cabinet was ever more divided. They intrigued man against man, section against section; and at last, without any external pressure, the Cabinet fell to pieces from its own weakness. Lord Goderich lost heart, and gave in his resignation before Parliament met. The king was at Windsor while the work of dissolution was going on. When it was complete, he said, "If they had not dissolved themselves by their own acts, I should have remained faithful to them to the last." They appeared before him on the 8th of January, 1828, to resign the offices which they had received from his hands. The Duke of Wellington was then sent for. It was not his wish to become Prime Minister of England. The reasons which had impelled him, on a former occasion, to resist the solicitations of his colleagues induced him now to remonstrate respectfully with the Sovereign; but the king would take no denial.
What especially stirred the governors dudgeon was the conduct of Bourdon, Villeray, and Auteuil, those faithful allies whom Laval had placed on the council, and who, as Mzy soon found, were wholly in the bishops interest. On the 13th of February he sent his friend Angoville, major of the fort, to Laval, with a written declaration to the effect that he had ordered them to absent themselves from the council, because, having been appointed on the persuasion of the aforesaid Bishop of Petr?a, who knew them to be wholly his creatures, they wish to make themselves masters in the aforesaid council, and have acted in divers ways against the interests of the king and the public for the promotion of personal and private ends, and have formed and fomented cabals, contrary to their duty and their oath of fidelity to his aforesaid Majesty. * He further declares that advantage had been taken of the facility of his disposition and his ignorance of the country to surprise him into assenting to their nomination; and he asks the bishop to acquiesce in their expulsion, and join him in calling an assembly of the people to choose others in their place. Laval refused; on which Mzy caused his declaration to be placarded about Quebec and proclaimed by sound of drum.
The large majorities in the House of Lords were to be ascribed chiefly to the unparalleled influence of the Duke of Wellington. But the public at the time were little aware of the difficulties that great man had to deal with in overcoming the opposition of the king, who was much under the influence of the Duke of Cumberland. When the storm of Conservative violence reached its height, after the rejection of Peel in Oxford, and his return, not without a struggle, for Westbury; and when, on the 3rd of March, he gave notice that he would draw the attention of the House to the clause of the Royal Speech referring to Ireland, the king, greatly excited and alarmed, sent the same evening to desire that the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and the Chancellor should wait upon him next day. He had already seen the Chancellor once, and the Duke twice separately. The king received his three Ministers, when they presented themselves at the palace, kindly but gravely; he looked anxious and embarrassed while he requested them to make him acquainted with the details of their Bill. It was explained to him that it would relieve Roman Catholics from the necessity of making a declaration against the doctrine of transubstantiation; whilst it so far modified in their case the oath of supremacy, as to omit all notice of the king's authority in things spiritual. "What!" he exclaimed, "do you mean to alter the ancient law of supremacy?" It was to no purpose he was shown that the alteration applied only to Roman Catholics, who would be dispensed from swearing what they could not believe; but he appealed to his own coronation oath, in reference to which he could not recognise the dispensing power of his Ministers. The king was condescending in the extreme. He seemed deeply grieved at the dilemma to which they had been brought. He acknowledged that possibly he had gone too far on former occasions, though he had acted entirely through misapprehension. But now he trusted that they would see, with him, that it had become a point of conscience, and that there was no alternative left him except to withdraw his assent. In the most respectful manner they acquiesced in his Majesty's determination, allowing, without a murmur, that he had a perfect right to act as he proposed. But when he went on further to ask what they intended to do, the Duke's answer was explicit: they must retire from his Majesty's service, and explain to Parliament that unexpected obstacles had arisen to the accomplishment of the policy which they were engaged to pursue. To this Mr. Peel added, that as the Bill for the suppression of the Catholic Association had been carried on the understanding that other and more comprehensive measures would follow, it would be necessary to make Parliament generally aware of the causes which operated to prevent the bringing forward of those measures. The king heard all this to an end, without attempting to interrupt, or argue with, his Ministers. He admitted, on the contrary, that it was impossible for them to take any other course, and then bade them farewell, kissing each of them on both cheeks. They set off from Windsor immediately, and arrived at Lord Bathurst's, where their colleagues were waiting dinner for them. They made a full report of all that had occurred, and announced that the Government was at an end. The party broke up, believing themselves to be out of office; but early next morning, before any decisive steps had been taken, a special messenger arrived at Apsley House with a letter from the king. It was guardedly expressed, for it went no further than to state that his Majesty had found greater difficulties than he expected in forming a new Cabinet, and was therefore desirous that the present Ministry should go on. The moment was critical, and the position of the Government delicate and in some sense insecure. No doubt, his Majesty's letter might be read as implying an abandonment of the objections which he had taken to the policy of his Ministers overnight, but it was certainly capable of a different interpretation. It appeared, therefore, to the Duke, that before proceeding further it would be necessary to come to a clear understanding with the king as to his Majesty's real intentions, and Mr. Peel concurring in this opinion, the Duke was requested to write to the king on the subject. He did so, with all the candour and loyalty which were natural to him; and the result was an unequivocal declaration from the Sovereign that he would accept the measures of his Ministers as his own.