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According to returns made by the bishops in 1807, the number of incumbents in the eleven thousand one hundred and sixty-four parishes of England and Wales was only four thousand four hundred and twelve, or little more than one in every third parish. In 1810 the matter had a little improved, for the whole number of residents was found to be five thousand nine hundred and twenty-five. The duty of the kingdom was chiefly done by curates, and how were these curates paid? Lord Harrowby stated in the House of Peers, in 1810, that the highest scale of salary paid by non-residents to their curates, who did all the work, was fifty, sixty, or at the most seventy pounds a year; but that a far more usual scale of payment was twenty pounds, or even ten pounds, per annum; that this was much less than the wages of day labourers, and that the worst feature of the case was that the non-residents and pluralists were amongst those who had the richest livings, so that men drawing eight hundred or even two thousand pounds a year from their livings were often totally unknown to their parishioners, and that often "all that they knew of the curate was the sound of his voice in the reading-desk, or pulpit, once a week, a fortnight, or a month."

Another dishonourable characteristic of the Ministers of Queen Anne at this period was that they were in secret zealous partisans of the Pretender, and whilst openly professing a sacred maintenance of the Protestant succession, were doing all in their power to undermine it. They had given mortal offence to the Elector George of Hanover, the heir to the Throne, by their treachery to the Allies; and, as the health of the queen was most precarious from her excessive corpulence and gout, which was continually menacing a retreat to her stomach, this was equally a cause for their hastening the peace, however disgracefully, and for paving the way, if possible, for the return of the Pretender at the queen's death. Bolingbroke was the great correspondent with St. Germains, as his letters in the Stuart Papers abundantly show. But Oxford, although always more cunning and mysterious, was equally concerned in it; nor was the queen, if we may believe these remarkable papers, by any means averse from the succession of the Pretender, in spite of his stubborn adhesion to Popery. The Jacobite party was numerous, powerful, and indefatigable. They were in the Ministry and in both Houses of Parliament. At this moment a public appointment was made which filled the Whigs with consternation and rage. This was no other than that of the Duke of Hamiltona supposed partisan of the Pretenderto be Ambassador to the Court of Versailles. Prior was still there, and had all the requisites of a clever and painstaking Envoy; but, being only a commoner and a poet, it did not suit the aristocratic notions of England that he should be accredited Ambassador. Hamilton was appointed, and would thus have had the amplest opportunity of concerting the return of the Stuarts with the base ministers at home. But he was not destined to see Versailles,[9] for, as readers of Thackeray's "Esmond" will remember, he was killed in a duel by Lord Mohun. Before Walpole thus threw off the mask of moderationindeed, on the very day of his resignationhe introduced a well-matured scheme for the reduction of the National Debt, which was, in fact, the earliest germ of the National Sinking Fund. Though the ordinary rate of interest had been reduced, by the statute of the 12th of Queen Anne, to five per cent., the interest on the funded debt remained upwards of seven. The Long and Short Annuities were unredeemable, and could not be touched without the consent of the proprietors; but Walpole proposed to borrow six hundred thousand pounds at only four per cent., and to apply all savings to the discharge of the debts contracted before December, 1716. He proposed, also, to make some arrangement with the Bank and the South Sea Company, by which the Bank should lend two millions and a half, and the Company two millions, at five per cent., to pay off such holders of redeemable debts as should refuse to accept an equal reduction.

Parliament met on the 16th of November, when the king told them that he had augmented the British forces in the Low Countries with sixteen thousand Hanoverians and six thousand Hessians. In fact, it had been his design, accompanied by his son, the Duke of Cumberland, to go over and take the command of the combined army of English, Hanoverians, Austrians, and Dutch; but the arrival of the Earl of Stair, who had been the nominal commander of these troops, and the return of Lord Carteret from the Hague, with the news that the Dutch could not be moved, had caused him to give up the idea and order his baggage on shore again. He assured Parliament, however, that the spirit and magnanimity of the Queen of Hungary, and the resolute conduct of the King of Sardinia in Italy, had produced the most beneficial effect. The usual address, proposed by the Marquis of Tweeddale, met with considerable opposition, especially in the Upper House, from the Earl of Chesterfield. Lyttelton again introduced the Place Bill, but it was rejected by the very men who had formerly advocated it. There was another motion made for inquiry into the administration of Walpole, on the plea that inquiry had been shamefully stifled on the former occasion; but it met with the same fate. But on the 10th of December the Opposition mustered all its strength on the motion of Sir William Yonge, the new Secretary at War, that we should pay for the sixteen thousand Hanoverians and the six thousand Hessians, and that a grant of six hundred and fifty-seven thousand pounds should be made for their maintenance from August, 1742, to December, 1743. It was the hard task of Sandys, as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, to defend this monstrous grant and the interests of Hanover, after so many years of attack on these topics in opposition. Pitt answered Sandys in the most caustic style of his eloquence, and Sir John Aubyn and others followed as indignantly; but the Ministers carried the motion by two hundred and sixty votes against one hundred and ninety-three. Their ablest supporter on this occasion was Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield, who made his first parliamentary speech on the occasion, and showed the delighted Cabinet that the man whom they had just made their Solicitor-General was capable of contending with that "terrible comet of horse," Pitt.

On the 14th of September the Russian army filed through the streets of their beloved but doomed city, with sad looks, furled banners, and silent drums, and went out at the Kolomna gate. The population followed them. Rostopschin had encouraged vast numbers already to transplant all their wealth and stores from the place, and, as his last act, he called up two prisonersa Russian traitor, and a Frenchman who had dropped hostile expressions. The Russian he ordered, with the consent of the culprit's own father, to be put to death; the Frenchman he set at liberty, telling him to go to Buonaparte and say that but one traitor had been found in Russia, and him he had seen cut to pieces. Rostopschin then mounted his horse and rode after his countrymen, having first[47] ordered all the gaols to be set open, and their wretched inhabitants to be allowed to make their escape.

In America, all at the opening of the campaign seemed to favour the English cause. The army of Washington, still suffering the utmost extremities of cold and starvation, began in earnest to mutiny. A Pennsylvanian division of one thousand three hundred men marched out of their camp at Morristown, and proceeded to Princeton, carrying with them six field-pieces and their stores, and their demands were granted by Congress. The success of this revolt encouraged others to repeat the man?uvre. On the night of the 20th of January a part of the Jersey brigade, stationed at Pompton, marched to Chatham, and made precisely the same demands. But now seeing that, if this were suffered, the whole army would quickly go to pieces, Washington sent General Howe after them, with orders to surround them, and shoot them down, if they did not surrender; and if they did surrender, immediately to seize the most active ringleaders, and execute them. Howe readily accomplished his mission; he reduced the mutinous, and shot their leaders.

The Guards at the gates stood with tricolour cockades on their hats, and the great ladies of the Court came driving in, for they were not far off. The Duchess of St. Leu had been permitted to remain in Paris, and her house had been the focus of all the Buonapartist adherents and conspiracies. From that centre had been sent summonses to every branch of the Buonaparte family to be in readiness, and all had responded except Cardinal Fesch, Louis Buonaparte, and Eugene Beauharnais, who had too much sense to quit Munich with his wife, the daughter of the Bavarian king. Even Murat, to his ruin, had been induced to declare for Buonaparte once more.