Katharine Coman.

A history of England, for high schools and academies online

. (page 27 of 37)
Online LibraryKatharine ComanA history of England, for high schools and academies → online text (page 27 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of 1705, and the election of 1708 strengthened their posi-
tion, livery change in the ministry was in their interest,
and finally, in 1708, an exclusively Whig cabinet under
Marlborough and Godolphin was established.

It was with great difficulty that the queen was brought to
the point of accepting the Whig ministers. She was no
longer under Marlborough's influence and she hated the
Whigs as the foes of the Church and of the royal preroga-
tive. Every change in the ministry which tended to in-
crease their ascendency met with her bitter opposition. The
Whig ministry of 1 708 was therefore a cabinet resting upon a
majority in Parliament and imposing its will upon the crown.
Fall of the Whigs. — The triumph of the Whigs was of
brief duration. After the failure of the peace negotiations Green,
of 1709, war was renewed. At Malplaquet (1709) the PP' 717. 718
allied forces under Marlborough and Eugene succeeded in
again defeating the French, though with tremendous loss
of life. But England was growing weary of the war. The
rejection of the French terms of peace was unjustly attrib-
uted to Marlborough's desire to continue a contest which
gave him power and importance. Since the fate of the
Whigs was closely bound up with the war, they began to
lose ground. Their ruin was completed by the unwise
measures of the ministry against Dr. Sacheverell, who, in a
sermon at St. Paul's, upheld the doctrine of non-resistance
and attacked toleration and the Dissenters. The Whigs
desired an opportunity for formally stating their views on
the Revolution principles of resistance and toleration, and
Sacheverell was solemnly impeached before the House of Impeach-
Lords (1710). The matter was taken up by the whole g^^^^JJ^^/^^^i,^
country. There was a tremendous outburst of enthusiasm j^iq.
for the Church and the principle of legitimacy. The House
of Lords declared Sacheverell guilty, but dared do no more
than to prohibit him from preaching for three years and to
order his sermons to be burnt.


Parties and Party Government

Bright, III,



pp. 687-689.

Act of

Act of
Union, 1707.

The result of the trial was regarded as a Tory triumph,
Sure of the support of the country, the queen now ventured
to act in accordance with her feelings. The Whigs were
dismissed from office and a purely Tory ministry under Har-
ley and St. John was formed. The election of i 710 resulted
in a strong majority for the Tories, and during the remainder
of Anne's reign their ascendency was unshaken.

The Union of England and Scotland. — The renewal of the
union of Scotland and England as established under the
Commonwealth was strongly favored by the government.
There were great difficulties in the way, — traditional hos-
tility, religious division, commercial jealousy, the national

pride of the Scotch. Scotland
was held back through fear
that the stronger nation would
fail to respect her religious and
political rights. England was
unwilling to grant commercial
ecjuality to the poorer kingdom.
The discussion of the terms of
union aroused great bitterness.
In 1703 the Scottish Parliament
passed the Act of Security,
which provided that the suc-
cessor to the crown of Scotland at the queen's death should
not be the same person as the successor to the crown of
England unless full security was given for freedom of religion
and trade. The English Parliament retorted by increasing
the commercial restrictions against Scotland.

The advantages of union to both nations were, however, so
great that the Whig ministers finally succeeded in carrying
through an act of Union (1707). The terms were wise and
liberal. The title of the United Kingdom was to be Great
Britain. There was to be one Parliament, and Scotland
received full representation in both Houses. Free trade
and commercial equality were established. Security was
provided for the national Church and the national law of

Great Seal after the Union

The Tories ajid the Peace of Utrecht 375

the Scotch. To both countries the union proved an un-
mixed benefit.

The Tories and the Peace of Utrecht. — The new Tory p.riKht, HI,
ministry was bent on bringing the French war to a close. 915-921-
It spared no effort to throw discredit upon the upholders
of the opposite policy, and in this it had now the support
of Jonathan Swift, the greatest political writer of the time.
In the Commons the ministerial majority was sure, but in
the House of Lords, the Whigs, led by Marlborough, were
strong enough to secure a condemnation of the peace
policy. To overcome their opposition Harley, Earl of
Oxford, induced the queen to create twelve new Tory
peers, and thus bring the Upper House into harmony with
the Commons. This measure was of great constitutional
importance, since it indicated that hereafter when the two
Houses disagreed it would be the House of Lords that
must give way. The Tory victory over the Lords was
followed by an attack upon Marlborough. He was re-
moved from his command and declared guilty of pecu-
lation by the House of Commons.

Since their accession to office in 1710 the Tory ministers
had been carrying on negotiations with Louis. Finally, in
1 713, by concluding a separate truce with France, the Eng- Green,
lish ministers forced all the allies except the Emperor to pp- ^93. 694-
agree to the treaty of Utrecht. Philip was allowed to re- Treaty of
tain his kingdom, but a provision was added to the effect Utrechi,
that the crowns of Spain and France should never be ^^^^'
united. England secured good terms, obtaining Minorca
and Gibraltar in the Mediterranean and in America the
Hudson Bay territory, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the
French part of St. Christopher. By a special treaty with
Spain, called the Assiento, English merchants were given
the sole right of supplying the Spanish colonies with negro
slaves^ and also permission to send annually one trading ship
to Panama. As an offset to these material gains England

1 From this time on the slave trade was largely in the hands of Bristol


Parties and Party Government

p. 694.
Bright, III,


Death of
Anne, 1714.

had lost all credit abroad by her shabby treatment of her

The Tories and the Succession. — In 1 713 the failing health
of the queen brought forward the question of the succession.
The position of the Tories was difficult. They had nothing
to hope from the accession of the house of Hanover, there
were many who desired the restoration of the old line, and
St. John, Lord Bolingbroke, and some of the leaders had
been long in correspondence with the Pretender. It was cer-
tain, however, that the country gentry and the parish clergy,
the strongest elements in the Tory party, would refuse to ac-
cept a Catholic king. If James Edward had consented at this
time to declare himself a Protestant, he might possibly have
obtained the crown, but he loyally refused to change his faith.

Bolingbroke did not give up his endeavor to secure the
domination of the Tory party. In 1714 he carried through
Parliament the Schism Act, by which the whole education
of the country was put under the control of the Church.
Already, by the Occasional Conformity Act of 171 1, it was
made practically impossible for Dissenters to hold office or sit
in Parliament. But quarrels in the ministry delayed the com-
pletion of Bolingbroke's schemes, and the Whigs acted with
wisdom and decision. On the death of the queen in August,
1 7 14, the Elector of Hanover^ was at once proclaimed king.

The Early Hanoverians. — The unopposed accession of
George I showed that after a struggle of almost thirty years,


George I, 1714-1727

George H, 1727-1760

Frederick, Prince of Wales

George HI, 1760-1820

I \

George IV, 1820-1830 William IV, 1830-1837

Princess Charlotte

Edward, Duke
of Kent

Victoria, 1837

Fall of tJtc Tories 377

England had finally accepted the principle of succession by
parliamentary title. The people were glad to regard the
question as settled and to turn to other interests.

There was nothing in the new rulers to arouse enthusiasm
or to call out personal loyalty. George I was industrious
and businesslike, and George II was a fair soldier ; both
were honest and straightforward men. They were devoted
to Hanover and Hanoverian politics, and they cared litUe
for England. They had the good sense to recognize the
conditions on which alone they could hope to retain the
English crown. In Hanover they were petty despots, but
in England they made no attempt to tamper with a consti-
tution which they did not understand, and, save where
Hanoverian interests were concerned, they gave the control
of affairs unreservedly into the hands of their ministers.^

The House of Hanover and the Whigs. — The accession of Green,
the house of Hanover was followed by forty-five years of PP- ^^^ 72a
unbroken Whig ascendency. The first George was the king
of a party. He felt that he owed his crown to the Whigs,
and he had been led to regard all Tories as Jacobites. The
alliance which he established with the Whigs lasted through-
out his reign and that of his son, George II. During much
of this time a Tory party scarcely existed. The intrigues of
the leaders with the Pretender resulted in the breaking up
of the party, one section going over to Jacobitism, another
joining the Whigs. In the earlier Hanoverian Parliaments,
the Tories in the House of Commons numbered scarcely
fifty. For forty-five years the real rulers of England were
the leaders of the Whig party. They had their favor of the
crown, but the real basis of their power was the steady sup-
port of the Dissenters and the commercial classes and the
Parliamentary influence of the Whig houses.

Fall of the Tories. — The Parhament which met in 1715 Bright, ill,
was strongly Whig. Energetic measures were taken against 931. 932-

1 George I spoke no English, and therefore he was not present at
cabinet meetings, thus establishing a precedent of great constitutional


Parties and Party Governinoii

Attack on the




pp. 696, 697.

rising, 17 15.

Act, 1707.

Bright, III,
938, 939-

the defeated Tories. The negotiations of the peace of Utrecht
were condemned. Impeachment was still the accepted way
of calling ministers to account, and both Oxford and Boling-
broke were impeached for treason. Uohngbroke fled to
France and was attainted. Oxford was seized and com-
mitted to the Tower for a time, when the proceedings against
him were dropped. This is the last instance in English his-
tory of a political impeachment.

Whig persecution tended to increase the Jacobitism of
the Tories. Both in Scotland and in England there were
many ready to rise against the new government. In Sep-
tember, 1 715, a Jacobite insurrection, headed by the Earl
of Mar, broke out in Scotland, and a month later the
Jacobites of the north of England took up arms. The rising
was mismanaged from beginning to end. The Pretender did
not arrive until the contest was really decided, while the
Whigs acted with vigor. On November 13, the English in-
surgents were defeated at Preston, and on the same day at
Sheriffmuir, Argyle won a practical victory over the Scotch
Jacobites. The only effect of the rising was to strengthen the
Whigs by identifying the Tories more closely with Jacobitism.

The Triennial Act of 1694 Hmited the life of a Parliament
to three years, and a general election was due in 17 17. In
the excited state of feeling the Whigs dared not face the
country, and accordingly they passed the Septennial Act ^
(1716), by which the existing Parliament was prolonged four
years. This action of the Whigs was undoubtedly high-
handed and perhaps illegal, but the establishment of the house
of Hanover as well as their own tenure of power was at stake.

The Stanhope Ministry. — The position of the Whigs was
now so secure that they fell to quarrelling among them-
selves and they soon broke into two parties, one headed by
Townshend and Walpole, the other by Sunderland and Stan-
hope. In 1717a new ministry, in which Townshend and Wal-
pole were not included, was organized with Stanhope as chief.

1 Under this act, which still remains in force, the duration of a Parlia-
ment is limited to seven years.

TJie Ministry of Sir Robert Walpole 379

The danger from the Jacobites as well as the industrial Gre
needs of the country led the Whigs to support peace Pi^- 7-
measures. Their foreign policy was directed to securing the
maintenance of the terms of the peace of Utrecht. In 1 7 1 7
Stanhope succeeded in forming with France and Holland
what is known as the Triple Alliance. It was based on an
entire reversal of the policy of Louis XIV. The French
government now gave its adherence to the Protestant suc-
cession in England and agreed to banish the Pretender
from its territories, and the complete separation of the
French and Spanish crowns was conceded.

In 1721 the Stanhope ministry was ruined by the South Bright, ill,
Sea Bubble. The reestablishment of peace had been 948-953-
followed by a great increase in trade and speculation.
Many trading companies were formed. The most im-
portant of these was the South Sea Company. Through South Sea
the Assiento the company had prospered greatly. In Bubble.
1720, desiring to extend its financial operations, it struck a
bargain with the government by which holders of the na-
tional debt were allowed to transfer their loans to the South
Sea Company. As exaggerated ideas prevailed with regard
to the wealth of Spanish America, enormous profits were ex-
pected and there was such a rush for the South Sea Company's
stock that the shares soon stood at one thousand per cent. A
madness of speculation surged over the country. In a fever-
ish desire to get rich quickly, people invested their money
in all kinds of worthless and bogus enterprises. In 1721 the
crash came, the bubble companies failed, the South Sea shares
went down rapidly. Thousands were beggared. Through
its connection with the South Sea Company the ministry was
held responsible for the disasters that had befallen the coun-
try. It was overthrown, and Walpole, whose financial ability
was well known, was called to take charge of the adminis-

The Ministry of Sir Robert Walpole. — In 1721 Walpole Green,
became First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the PP^^ga, 699,
Exchequer, and he continued to hold these offices practi-


Parties and Party Government

Bright, III,


pp. 730-732.

Bright, III,
957. 973-975-




Excise Bill.

cally without a break for twenty-one years. Even the death
of George I (1727) did not permanently shake Walpole's
power; for, through the influence of Queen CaroHne, a
very able woman, the new king, George II (i 727-1760),
was induced to give his confidence to his father's minister,
Walpole's administration forms an important period in Eng-
lish history, but it is devoid of striking events. This was
due mainly to the influence of the great minister. To estab-
lish the Revolution settlement and to restore the commer-
cial and industrial prosperity of the country were the objects
of his policy. Peace abroad and contentment at home were
essential to the success of his plans. It was his constant
efibrt, therefore, to keep England out of war, and to avoid
stirring up trouble among the people. He took for his
motto Qi/ieta non vwvere (let sleeping dogs lie). The
country had just passed through eighty years of revolution.
He felt that it needed repose, not reform.

Finance. — Walpole was one of the greatest masters of
finance that England has ever had. His measures were
timely. He reduced the debt and hghtened the customs.
Some of his plans miscarried, however, through unreasoning
popular opposition, skilfully played upon byhis political oppo-
nents. In 1730 an Englishman named Wood was granted a
patent to issue a new copper coinage for Ireland. The coins
were of good value, the need for them was undoubted, and
no one was obliged to take them against his will. But Irish
opposition to any measure of the English government was
ready. Dean Swift, Walpole's bitter enemy, fomented the
dissatisfaction with the famous Drapiers Letters. Walpole
would run no risk of an outbreak, and the patent was with-
drawn. A far more important measure was defeated by
popular violence in England. The Excise Bill of 1733 was
simply a proposal to transfer wine and tobacco from the
customs to the excise ; that is, to replace the duty on im-
portation by a tax on home consumption. The change
would put a stop to smuggling and so augment the revenue
that the land tax might be reduced, to the gratification of

Foreign Affairs 381

the country gentlemen, a class Walpole desired to conciliate.
In addition, it would tend to make London a free port,
and in consequence a more important market. But the
character of the measure was misunderstood, and it was
greeted with a fierce popular outcry. The opposition,
aided by the Craftsman, a famous Tory paper, spared
no pains to increase the agitation. Walpole's majority in
the House was secure, but he refused to force his measure
upon an unwilling people, and the scheme was abandoned.

In the main Walpole's commercial and colonial policy
was a policy of non-interference, but where he did interfere
he was guided by sound principle. In the king's speech of
1 72 1 it was declared to be the purpose of the government
" to make the exportation of our own manufactures, and the
importation of the commodities used in the manufacturing
of them, as practicable and as easy as may be." Accord-
ingly export duties were removed from one hundred and
six articles of British manufacture, and import duties from
thirty-eight articles of raw material. Other wise measures Colonial
removed some of the restrictions on the foreign trade of measures.
the American and West Indian colonies. The results of
Walpole's policy were shown in the increased prosperity
of the colonies, and in the striking growth of England's trade
with them.

Foreign Affairs. — With the peace of Utrecht, opposi-
tion to France, the controlling principle of European com-
binations for half a century, ceased to have any force. The
uncertainty of continental politics during the next genera-
tion was shown in a series of alliances and counter-alliances.
England's part in foreign affairs was determined by Wal-
pole's desire to maintain a general peace, and to keep
England out of war at all hazards. His poHcy, like Stan-
hope's, was based on an alliance with France. Both the
peace policy and the French alliance aroused bitter oppo-
sition, and in 1733 it seemed certain that Walpole would
have to give way on both points. France and Spain had The Family
just concluded the Family Compact, binding themselves Compact.


Parties and Party Govcrfimcnt


pp. 702-705.

Blight, III,



War with
Spain, 1739.

Bright, III,

to oppose England's commercial and colonial expansion.
The king and queen, a majority in the Cabinet and in the
nation, were determined to force England to give up her
neutrality and declare war. Still Walpole did not yield.
"Madam," he said to the queen one morning in 1734,
" there are fifty thousand men slain this year in Europe, and
not one Englishman." Largely through his efforts a general
pacification was arranged in 1735.

The Opposition. — But the end of peace was at hand.
The opposition was growing strong. It was made up of
several different elements, — a little band of Tories led by
Bolingbroke, now back in England, disappointed Whigs,
who called themselves the Patriots, a group of young men,
the Young Patriots, who were disgusted v/ith the corruption
in government, and held Walpole responsible for it all.
At the head of the opposition was Frederick, Prince of
Wales, a worthless young man, chiefly influenced by a
desire to vex his father, with whom he had quarrelled.
Difficulties with Spain soon gave a good chance for attack
upon Walpole. Under the Assiento giving England the right
to send annually one trading ship to Spanish America, an
extensive smuggling trade had sprung up. In their efforts
to check this the Spanish officials sometimes treated the
English traders with great brutality. Popular feeling be-
came much aroused. The opposition spared no efforts to
increase the agitation. A certain Captain Jenkins was
brought before a committee of the House to tell the tale of
how his ear was torn off by a Spanish naval officer who
boarded his ship in search of contraband. Walpole could
not withstand the storm of indignation that swept over the
country. In 1 739 war was declared against Spain.

Fall of Walpole. — For two years longer Walpole remained
in office. The war against Spain was not successful, and he
was held responsible. In i 741 a general election reduced his
majority in the Commons. Election petitions were at that
time decided in the House of Commons and entirely on
party grounds. On the Chippenham election petition,

Tlie Constitution nnder Walpole


Walpole was beaten by a majority of one. Early in 1742
he resigned. His work was done. He had secured for
England nearly twenty years of peace, he had established
the house of Hanover firmly on the throne, he had advanced
the material interests of the country.

The Old House of Commons

From an Old Print

The Constitution under "Walpole. — During Walpole's long
tenure of office the cabinet system received definite shape.
He was the first English minister who may rightly be called


Pai'tics and Party Govcrnvicnt


pp. 722, 723,

764. 765-





prime minister. He was head of the cabinet, he chose his
colleagues in that body, the policy of the government was
his policy. His ministry was practically a unit, and his power
was founded directly on the support of the House of Com-
mons, and he resigned when he lost that support. The
House of Commons did not, however, represent the nation.
Constitutional development stopped short at this point.

The Revolution of 1688 secured the supremacy of Parlia-
ment over the executive, but that did not mean government
by the people. A few great families ruled the nation in the
name of a king who was a mere figure-head, and by the
authority of a Parliament which they systematically corrupted.
Power had been acquired without a corresponding increase
of responsibility. Debates were secret, division lists ^ were
never published, public opinion could exert but little in-
fluence. Moreover, the electoral system was such that the
House in nowise represented the nation. In the counties
there had been no change in the franchise since the time
of Henry VI. The manner of holding land had been modi-
fied, and new forms of property had come into existence,
but the electors were still the forty-shilling freeholders.
The condition of the towns was far worse. Many had
fallen under the control of the corporations, and the right
of voting was limited to a mere handful of the inhabitants.
In others, all sorts of anomalous franchises existed. In
Weymouth, for example, the title to any share of certain
ancient rents constituted the qualification for voting. The
report of a commission of inspection showed that several
electors voted by right of their claim to an undivided
twentieth part of a sixpence. For generations there had
been no reapportionment of seats. Population had shifted
without a corresponding change of representation. Lan-
cashire, with nearly one and a half million inhabitants,
had fourteen representatives ; Cornwall's three hundred
thousand inhabitants returned forty-four members. Great

1 It was not until 1836 that the House of Commons adopted the plan of
recording and publishing day by day the votes of every member.

TJie Religious Revival 385

cities like Birmingham and Manchester were unrepresented,
while old Sarum, with but one house, and Dunwich, which
had disappeared under the waves of the North Sea, still
returned their two members. It was, in the words of
Burke, a system of " represented ruins and unrepresented

Political Corruption. — Such a condition of things natu-
rally invited corruption. Many of the towns were "pocket "
or nomination boroughs, controlled by some neighboring
noble or landowner. Others were put up publicly for sale, Sale of

Online LibraryKatharine ComanA history of England, for high schools and academies → online text (page 27 of 37)