On the 6th of March the first blessings of war began to develop themselves in the announcement, by Pitt, that his Majesty had engaged a body of his Hanoverian troops to assist the Dutch; and, on the 11th, by his calling on the House to form itself into a Committee of Ways and Means to consider the propriety of raising a loan of four millions and a half, and of issuing four millions of Exchequer Bills, in addition to the ordinary revenue, to meet the demands of the year. Resolutions for both these purposes were passed; and, on the 15th, a Bill was introduced, making it high treason for any one to sell to the French any muniments of war, bullion, or woollen cloth. Fox and his party opposed this Bill, but it was readily carried through both Houses.

In the Commons, Mr. Spencer Compton, the Ministerial nominee, was elected Speaker. The king opened his first Parliament in person, but, being unable to speak English, he handed his speech to Lord Chancellor Cowper to read. In the Commons the Address condemned in strong language the shameful peace which had been made after a war carried on at such vast expense, and attended with such unparalleled successes; but expressed a hope that, as this dishonour could not with justice be imputed to the nation, through his Majesty's wisdom and the faithful endeavours of the Commons the reputation of the kingdom might in due time be vindicated and restored. This was the first announcement of the Ministers' intention to call their predecessors to account, and Secretary Stanhope, in the course of the debate, confirmed it, observing that it had been industriously circulated that the present Ministers never designed to bring the late Ministers to trial, but only to pass a general censure on them; but he assured the House that, though active efforts had been used to prevent[27] a discovery of the late treasonable proceedings, by conveying away papers from the Secretaries' offices, yet Government had sufficient evidence to enable them to bring to justice the most corrupt Ministry that ever sat at the helm. Before three weeks were over a secret committee was appointed to consider the Treaty of Utrecht.

On the 6th of March, Sir William Molesworth, with a view to bringing the whole colonial administration of the empire before the House of Commons, moved that an Address be presented to her Majesty, expressing the opinion of the House that in the present critical state of many of her foreign possessions "the Colonial Minister should be a person in whose diligence, activity, and firmness the House and the public may be able to place reliance;" and declaring that "her Majesty's present Secretary of State for the Colonies does not enjoy the confidence of the House or the country." The honourable baronet made a speech of two hours' duration, which was a dissertation on colonial policy, containing a survey of the whole of her Majesty's dominions in both hemispheres. He disclaimed all party considerations in bringing forward his motion, or any intention to make an invidious attack on Lord Glenelg. But as the colonies were so numerous, so diversified in races, religions, languages, institutions, interests, and as they were unrepresented in the Imperial Parliament, it was absolutely necessary that the colonial administration should be vigilant, prompt, sagacious, energetic, and firm. Lord Glenelg was wanting in these qualities, and the colonies were all suffering more or less from the errors and deficiencies of this ill-fated Minister, "who had, in the words of Lord Aberdeen, reduced doing nothing to a system." Lord Glenelg was defended by Lord Palmerston, who regarded the attack upon him as an assault upon the Cabinet, which would not allow one of its members to be made a scapegoat. The House divided, when the numbers wereayes, 287; noes, 316; majority for Ministers, 29. Nevertheless the Ministry were greatly damaged by the debate, which emphasised the growing Radical revolt. In the following year Lord Glenelg, having declined to exchange his office for the Auditorship of the Exchequer, resigned. The second reading of the Bill was not opposed, but Lord Francis Egerton, with Sir Robert Peel's concurrence, moved that the committee should be empowered to make provision for the abolition of corporations in Ireland, and for securing the efficient and impartial administration of justice, and the peace and good government of the cities and towns in that country. The Tories thought it better that there should be no corporations at all, than that their privileges should be enjoyed by the Roman Catholics. The motion was lost by a majority of 307 to 64, and the Bill ultimately passed the Lower House by a majority of 61. In the Upper House a motion similar to that of Lord Francis Egerton was moved by Lord Fitzgerald, and carried in a full House by a majority of 84. Other amendments were carried, and it was sent back to the Commons so changed that it was difficult to trace its identity. Lord John Russell said that it contained little or nothing of what was sent up: out of 140 clauses, 106 had been omitted or altered, and 18 new ones introduced. He moved that the amendments of the Lords be rejected, and that the Bill be sent back to the Upper House. The motion was carried by a majority of 66, the numbers being 324 to 258. But the Lords refused by a majority of 99 to undo their work; and upon the Bill being returned to the Lower House in the same state, Lord John Russell got rid of the difficulty by moving that the Bill should be considered that day three months.

[529] Yet, on the first view of the case, the selection of the Swedes augured anything but a Russian alliance; and showed on the surface everything in favour of Napoleon and France, for it fell on a French general and field-marshal, Bernadotte. The prince royal elect made his public entry into Stockholm on the 2nd of November. The failing health of the king, the confidence which the talents of Bernadotte had inspired, the prospect of a strong alliance with France through himall these causes united to place the national power in his hands, and to cast upon him, at the same time, a terrible responsibility. The very crowds and cries which surrounded him expressed the thousand expectations which his presence raised. The peasantry, who had heard so much of his humble origin and popular sentiments, looked to him to curb the pride and oppression of the nobles; the nobles flattered themselves that he would support their cause, in the hope that they would support him; the mass of the people believed that a Republican was the most likely to maintain the principles of the Revolution of 1809; the merchants trusted that he would be able to obtain from Napoleon freedom for trade with Great Britain, so indispensable to Sweden; and the[7] army felt sure that, with such a general, they should be able to seize Norway and re-conquer Finland. Nor was this all. Bernadotte knew that there existed a legitimist party in the country, which might long remain a formidable organ in the hands of internal factions or external enemies. How was he to lay the foundation of a new dynasty amid all these conflicting interests? How satisfy at once the demands of France, Britain, and Russia? Nothing but firmness, prudence, and sagacity could avail to surmount the difficulties of his situation; but these Bernadotte possessed.

Still there was no need to despair. The archduke had yet a great force; there were the divisions of the Archdukes John, Ferdinand, and Regnier, and the Tyrolese were all in active operation in their mountains. But the Emperor, on learning the fate of the battle, lost heart, made offers of peace, which were accepted, and an armistice was signed by Francis at Znaim, in Moravia. The armistice took place on the 11th of July, but the treaty of peace was not signed till the 14th of October, at the palace of Sch?nbrunn. The long delay in completing this treaty was occasioned by the exactions which Buonaparte made on Austria of cessions of territory, and the means he took to terrify Francis into submission to his terms. He even addressed a proclamation to the Hungarians, exhorting them to separate from Austria and form an independent kingdom, telling them that they formed the finest part of the Austrian empire, and yet had received nothing from Austria but oppression and misfortunes. By such means, and by constantly exerting himself to sow the germs of discontent through all the Austrian provinces, he at last succeeded in concluding peace on condition of the cession of various territories to his partisans of the Confederacy of the Rhine, and of Trieste, the only Austrian port, to France, thus shutting up Austria, as he hoped, from communication with England. In all, Austria sacrificed forty-five thousand square miles and nearly four millions of subjects to this shameful peace. Neither were his allies, the King of Saxony and the Emperor of Russia, forgotten; each obtained a slice of Austria.

On the 27th of November, only two days after the receipt of the news of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, Parliament met. The king adverted to the unhappy event, but still declared that he should be betraying his trust, as sovereign of a free people, if he did not refuse to give up the contest; that he still trusted in Divine Providence, and he called for fresh, animated, and united exertions. He turned with more satisfaction to the successes in the East Indies, and the safe arrival of our principal mercantile fleets. In the Lords, the Earl of Shelburne attacked the Address, supported by the Duke of Richmond and the Lords Camden and Rockingham; but the most tempestuous burst of indignant eloquence from the Opposition took place in the Commons. Fox asserted that he had listened to the Address with horror and amazement. He declared himself confounded at the hardihood of Ministers, after such a consummation of their imbecile management, who dared to look the House of Commons in the face. He would not say that they were paid by France, for it was not possible for him to prove the fact; but, if they were not, he avowed that they deserved to be, for they had served the French monarch more faithfully and successfully than ever Ministers served a master. He especially singled out Lord Sandwich for reprobation, as the author of the wretched condition of our fleets, which were inferior in number of ships and their appointments to those of the enemy all over the globe. He called on the House to insist on the total and immediate change of Ministers, and urged the adoption of measures which should, if possible, repair the incalculable injuries they had inflicted on the nation. The Ministers, however, had strength enough to carry the Address by two hundred and eighteen votes against one hundred and twenty-nine; but the debate was resumed on the Address being reported, and then William Pitt delivered a most scathing speech, declaring that so far from our being warranted in pressing this ruinous war, he was satisfied that, if he went from one end of the Treasury bench to the other, such was the condition of the Ministry, he should find that there was not one man who could trust his neighbour; and the truth of this was becoming strikingly evident. Dundas, the Lord Advocate, hitherto one of the staunchest supporters of Lord North, spoke now as in astonishment at the language of the Ministers, declaring that some of them in Council clearly did not give their honest opinions. There were other like symptoms of defection; the sensitive placemen saw that the end of the North Administration was at hand. Lord North, perceiving the ground failing beneath him, lowered his tone, and, on Sir James Lowther, seconded by Mr. Powys, proposing a resolution that the war against America had been an utter failure, he explained that he did not advocate, in future, a continental warfare there, a marching of troops through the provinces, from north to south, but only the retention of ports on the coast, for the protection of our fleets in those seas, and the repulse of the French and Spaniards. Parliament was adjourned on the 20th of December till the 21st of January, and thus closed the year 1781.