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It was not to be wondered at that when, on the 24th of January, the preliminaries of peace were laid on the tables of the two Houses, there should be a violent denunciation of the large concessions made by Ministers. Spain had been granted better terms than in any treaty since that of St. Quentin. She had obtained the most desirable island of Minorca, with the finest port on the Mediterranean. She had got the Floridas, and had given up scarcely anything, whilst, had the British, now freed from the dead weight of America, pursued the war against her, she must soon have lost most of her valuable insular colonies. France had given up more, but she recovered very important territories which she had lost, and especially her settlements of Pondicherry and Chandernagore, in the East Indies; but America had conceded nothing, and yet had been allowed to determine her own frontier, and to share the benefits of the fishing all round our own Transatlantic coasts.?
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But the matters most important, and in which the Rockingham Ministry succeeded the best, were those of attempting to accomplish the peace with America, and with the Continental nations, on which they had so long and so loudly insisted. Fox first tried his diplomatic genius with the Dutch, whom he could, as he boasted, soon conciliate; but, to his infinite chagrin, that calculating people were so elated by the recent ill success of the English, and relied so completely on the powerful fleets of France and Spain to protect their trade and islands, that they returned a contemptuous answer, declaring that they could not treat without their allies. Still more mortifying was his repulse by the Americans. His offers of negotiations for peace were received with a haughty indifference by Congress, and he was[292] again referred to France. Fox now had recourse to the mediations of Russia and Prussia. But Frederick the Great declined to intervene, and the Czarina Catherine coupled her offers of alliance with conditions which the king and the majority of the Cabinet refused to accept, though Fox thought they were reasonable..
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True to the pole, by thee the pilot guides
In such circumstances closed the year 1789. The intense excitement which the rapid course of these French events had produced in England had nearly superseded all other topics of interest. At first there was an almost universal jubilation over this wonderful revolution. The dreadful state of misery and oppression to which France had been reduced; the fearful exactions; the system of popular ignorance maintained by priestcraft; the abominable feudal insolence; the abuse of lettres de cachet; and the internal obstructions of customs and barriers between one province and another, made every friend of freedom desirous of seeing all these swept away. The early progress of their destruction was hailed with enthusiasm in England. Even the retired and timid poet, Cowper sang a triumphal note on the fall of the Bastille; but soon the bloody fury of the populace, and the domineering character of the Assembly, which did not deign to stop at the proper constitutional limits, began to create distrust and alarm. Amongst the first to perceive and to denounce this work of anarchy rather than of reform, was Burke. In common with Fox and Pitt, and many other statesmen, he had rejoiced in the fall of the corrupt government of France; but he soon began to perceive that the people were displaying the same ferocious character as in all their former outbreaks. "If," he wrote to M. Menonville, a moderate Member of the Assembly, "any of these horrid deeds were the acts of the rulers, what are we to think of the armed people under such rulers? But if there be no rulers in reality, and the chiefs are driven before the people rather than lead them; and if the armed corps are composed of men who have no fixed principle of obedience, and are moved only by the prevalence of some general inclination, who can repute himself safe amongst a people so furious and so senseless?" As he continued to gaze, he was compelled to confess that he saw no great and wise principles of legislation displayed by the Assembly; but that it went on destroying, without knowing how to rebuild in a manner likely to last or to work any one any good. The whole of the constitution-making, which annihilated the royal power, which erected no second chamber, but absorbed all authority into the Assembly, a mixed and heterogeneous body, he declared to be a bungling and monstrous performance. On the other hand, Dr. Price, Dr. Priestley, and numbers of equally enthusiastic men, saw nothing but what was animating in the progress of the French Revolution. "The Revolution Society," including many of the highest names of the Whig aristocracy, which was accustomed to meet on the 5th of November, to celebrate the anniversary of the landing of William III., and the English Revolution of 1688, this year presented a glowing address of congratulation to the French National Assembly, which was carried over by Lord Stanhope and Dr. Price. Of course, they and the address were received with great acclamation by the Assembly. The admiration of the French Revolution spread over Britain. Clubs were established, both in London and in the country, in sympathy with it, and the press became very Gallican and Republican in its tone, and there was much corresponding with admirers of the revolution in France, especially with Thomas Paine, who had now transferred himself from America, with a political fanatic destined to acquire considerable attention, calling himself Anacharsis Clootz, the "orator of mankind," and with many others.
For some time after the revival of true poetry the old forms still hung about what in spirit was new. The last of the old school of any note may be said to have been Dr. Johnson and Dr. Darwin. Johnson was too thoroughly drilled into the dry, didactic fashion of the artificial past, he was too bigotedly self-willed to be capable of participating in the renovation. In fact, he never was more than a good versifier, one of that class who can win prizes for University themes on the true line and square system of metrical composition. His "London," a mere paraphrase of the third book of "Juvenal," and "The Vanity of Human Wishes" are precisely of that stamp. Johnson lived at the time of Chatterton's appearance, but he completely ignored him, and he ridiculed the simplicity of the poems introduced by Bishop Percy by absurd parodies on them, as鈥
21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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