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THE Addington Ministry entered upon office as a peace ministry; and their first care was to open negotiations for a separate treaty with France. These, begun in March, were protracted until the autumn; but on the first of October the preliminaries were signed in London, and on the twelfth, the usual ratifications were exchanged. The country, thoroughly weary of the war, and oppressed by a heavy burden of taxation, received the intelligence with infinite satisfaction. In Parliament it was not so favourably regarded. The terms were criticised as dishonourable and degrading. But Pitt approved ; * and the support of the Pittites enabled the Ministry to defy opposition, while, necessarily, they received the assistance of Fox and his followers. Pitt, meanwhile, had sold his favourite residence at Holwood; had given up his carriages and horses ; retrenched his expenditure; discharged his debts so far as he was ablet; and, like a modern Cincinnatus, had retired to the seclusion of Park Place, to economize on an income of less than £1000 a year.
Pitt supports most magnanimously," writes Wilberforce, “and assists in every way.”
+ Though he had been in receipt of an income of £10,000 a year, his debts amounted to £45,000. He had no family to maintain, and he did not gamble; so that the deficiency must be ascribed to the peculation of his servants. The King offered him £30,000 ; but Pitt declined the gift. He accepted, however, a sum of £11,700, subscribed by his friends.
THE TREATY OF AMIENS.
The treaty of Amiens was signed in February, 1802. France agreed to withdraw her forces from Southern Italy, and to leave the new republics which Bonaparte had created to take care of their own fortunes. England undertook to surrender all her newly conquered colonies, with the exception of Ceylon, and even to give up Malta, the key of the Mediterranean, to its former possessors, the Knights of St. John. The peace was one of which everybody was glad, and nobody proud; but for a time the sense of relief from a prolonged and costly struggle prevailed over the feeling that most of its dearly purchased trophies had been abandoned. It was evident, however, that Bonaparte had agreed to the treaty only in order to gain time for fresh military preparations; and English statesmen found themselves being drawn into a new contest, which would be one for selfpreservation and national independence. The errors and even crimes of the leaders of the French Revolution were many, but at least they had sincerely desired to ensure the freedom of nations; and their ideas, however mistaken, did not lack a certain element of generosity. But Napoleon sought to revive the sanguinary despotism of a Genghiz Khan. He aimed at making all Europe the pedestal of his selfish glory. He laughed at national rights, and set his foot upon popular liberties. Neither his word nor his oath could bind him. He made treaties with the deliberate intention of violating them as soon as they had been signed. The stipulations to which he had agreed at Amiens were openly set at nought as soon as he had reorganised his armies. In spite of the temperately worded remonstrances of the British Govern
PELTED WITH LAMPOONS.
ment, he decreed the annexation of both Parma and Piedmont; and despatched a French force to occupy Switzerland. To
To prepare the way for war with England, , he suddenly demanded the expulsion of the refugees who had been sheltered by the ægis of Great Britain since the outbreak of the Revolution, and called for the surrender of Malta, which it was known he was preparing to seize. And he accumulated immense armaments in the French ports, with no other object apparently than the invasion of England, as soon as he found it convenient to begin hostilities.
Meanwhile, the Addington Ministry, feeble from its very birth, grew weaker daily. It was exposed to the attacks of the Foxites, of the Grenvilles, of the Windhamites, of the young Pittites, headed by George Canning, while Pitt's co-operation became more fitful and constrained. Probably no English administration was ever so pelted with lampoons; and unquestionably in the inefficiency of Addington, the timidity of Hawkesbury, and the prevailing mediocrity of their colleagues, there was ample material for the wits. The country rang with laughter at the Ode to the Doctor' and The Grand Consultation :
“ If the health and strength, and the pure vital breath
Of old England at last must be doctored to death,
As Doctor Henry Addington!"
Still more provocative of mirth was Sheridan's witty adaptation of one of Martial's best-known epigrams :
" THE PILOT THAT WEATHERED THE STORM.” 61
"I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
To a different feeling Canning appealed in his vigorous lyric of “The Pilot that weathered the Storm”; a
a lyric open, no doubt, to criticism both in its statements and its language, but admirably adapted to arouse the popular spirit :
“If hushed the loud whirlwind that ruffled the deep,
The sky if no longer dark tempests deform,
“At the footstool of Power let Flattery fawn !
“ And shall not his memory to Britain be dear,
Whose example with envy all nations behold ?
Who, when terror and doubt through the universe reigned,
Unheeding, unthankful, we bask in the blaze,
So, Pitt, when the course of thy greatness is o'er,
“O! take them—for dangers by wisdom repelled,
“ And 0 ! if again the rude whirlwind should rise,
The dawning of peace should fresh darkness deform,
“ The Pilot” took no part in the proceedings of Parliament during the session · of 1802. He had approved of the peace, but much that was done by the Addington Incapables did not satisfy him; and to avoid
n assuming an attitude of hostility, he maintained a frigid silence. He was preparing, we believe, for a ministerial crisis, which he knew could not be long delayed, when once “ the Doctor” was deprived of his powerful support. In the month of November, Canning, always eager to pluck the fruit before it was ripe, drew up a memorial for presentation to Addington and Pitt, requesting the former, in the interest of the country, to retire and make way for the latter. Pitt, and even Lord Grenville, were at this time disposed, in consideration of the King's infirmity, to accept office without insisting upon the concession of the Catholic claims. But they were not willing that a change of ministry should be effected by any movement which their adversaries could fairly describe as a cabal or an intrigue. They saw clearly enough that the time was rapidly approaching, when Addington himself would be forced to solicit the ex-premier's assistance, or the nation would demand his return to power as the only statesman capable of coping with the gathering tempest.