权力的中心:希特勒和纳粹集团的核心人物们

This avowal in the royal speech called forth John Wilkes in No. 45 of the North Briton, destined to become a famous number indeed. Wilkes had ceased in the North Briton to employ mere initials when commenting on leading men in Parliament or Government; and he now boldly declared that the speech put into the king's mouth by the Ministers was false in its assertion, that the peace was neither honourable to the Crown nor beneficial to the country. This was regarded as a gross insult to his Majesty, though it was avowedly declared to attack only the Ministry; and on the 30th of April Wilkes was arrested upon a general warrant, that is, a warrant not mentioning him or any one by name, but applying to the authors, printers, and publishers of the paper in question. George Grenville, the new Minister, had, of course, the credit of this proceeding; though it was thought that Bute still secretly directed the movements of Government, and that he or the king might be the real author of the order.

Before there was any declaration of war, the King of France, on the 18th of March, issued an[255] order to seize all British ships in the ports of that kingdom; and, nine days afterwards, a similar order was issued by the British Government as to all French ships in their harbours. The first act of hostility was perpetrated by Admiral Keppel. He had been appointed first Admiral on the earliest news of the treaty of France with America; and, being now in the Channel with twenty ships of the line, he discovered two French frigates, La Licorne and La Belle Poule, reconnoitring his fleet. Not troubling himself that there had been no declaration of war, Keppel ordered some of his vessels to give chase; and, on coming up with the Licorne, a gun was fired over her, to call her to surrender; and the Frenchman struck his colours, but not before he had poured a broadside into the America, commanded by Lord Longford, and wounded four of his men. The "saucy" Arethusa, famed in song and story, in the meantime, had come up with the Belle Poule, and, after a desperate action, drove her in amongst the rocks, whilst the Arethusa herself was so disabled as to require towing back to the fleet. A schooner and a French frigate were soon afterwards taken; and, finding on board these vessels papers stating that the fleet in Brest harbour consisted of thirty-two sail of the line and ten or twelve frigates, Keppel returned to Portsmouth for reinforcements.

From skirmishing at sea the British had now come to direct war with the people of North America. From the period of the American colonists obtaining their independence of Great Britain, they retained a peculiar animus against the mother country. In the war by which that independence was achieved by the aid of France, Holland, and Spain, which all combined to attack Britain on sea and land, the Americans displayed no traces of the magnanimity that usually accompanies bravery. They resorted to many dishonourable practices, amongst which was the breach of contract in retaining prisoners from the army of General Burgoyne. The same spirit continued to animate them afterwards. It was natural to suppose that their success would have the usual effect of making them forget enmity when the cause of it was gone by; but this was not the case. In all contests of Great Britain with revolutionary France, they rejoiced over any disasters which befel her, and were silent in the hour of her victories. Though they were bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and our population was pouring over to swell their numbers, they displayed towards us a hostility that no other nation, France excepted, had ever shown.

The Chambers were opened by the king on the 2nd of March, 1830, with a speech which conveyed a threat to the French nation. "If culpable man?uvres," he said, "should raise up against my Government obstacles which I do not wish to foresee, I shall find the power of surmounting them in my resolution to maintain the public peace, in my just confidence in Frenchmen, and in the love which they have always borne to their kings." The Chambers did not hesitate to express their want of confidence in the Government. The king having declared that his intentions were immutable, no alternative remained but a dissolution, as he was resolved to try once more whether a majority could be obtained by fair means or foul. In this last appeal to public opinion he was bitterly disappointed. It scarcely required a prophet to foresee the near approach of some great change; nor could the result of the impending struggle appear doubtful. Nine-tenths of the community were favourable to a constitutional system. Not only the working classes, but the mercantile and trading classes, as well as the professional classes, and all the most intelligent part of the nation, were decidedly hostile to the Government. In Paris the majority against the Ministerial candidates was seven or eight to one. The press, with scarcely an exception, was vehement in its condemnation of the policy of the Government, which came to the conclusion that it was not enough to abolish the Constitution, but[316] that, in order to insure the success of a purely despotic rgime, it was absolutely necessary to destroy the liberty of the press, and to put down journalism by force. Accordingly, a report on this subject was addressed to the king, recommending its suppression. It was drawn up by M. Chantelauze, and signed by De Polignac and five other Ministers.

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Here, then, our history of the political transactions of the reign of George III. terminates. That reign really terminated in 1811, with the appointment of the Regency, which continued the ruling power during the remainder of his life. From that date it is really the history of the Regency that we have been prosecuting. But this was necessary to maintain the unity of the narrative of that most unexampled struggle which was involving the very existence of every nation in Europe. Of all this the poor old, blind, and deranged king knew nothinghad no concern with it. The reins of power had fallen from his hands for ever: his "kingdom was taken from him, and given to another." He had lived to witness the rending away of the great western branch of his empire, and the sun of his intellect went down in the midst of that tempest which threatened to lay in ruins every dynasty around him. We have watched and detailed that mighty shaking of the nations to its end. The events of the few remaining years during which George III. lived but did not rule, were of a totally different character and belong to a totally different story. They are occupied by the national distresses consequent on the war, and the efforts for reform, stimulated by these distresses, the first[119] chapter of which did not close till the achievement of the Reform Bill in 1832.