[33] The South Sea Company, with a folly of which extreme greed only is capable, endeavoured to put down these rival schemes and obtained an order from the Lords Justices and writs of scire facias against several of these new bubbles. It was like raising a wind to blow away the bubbles, forgetting that their own was a bubble too, and would go with them. The moment that the people began to distrust one they distrusted all. The panic became as great as the mania had been. The South Sea stock dropped in less than a month from one thousand to below six hundred. There was a simultaneous rush to sell out, and the shares must have sunk instantly to nil but for the gigantic exertions of the Company to raise money and buy in. The relief, however, was but temporary. The bankers and pawnbrokers who had advanced money on scrip broke and fled; merchants, goldsmiths, and speculators rushed away after them. Walpole was summoned in haste from Haughton to devise some means of staying the panic. He endeavoured to get the Bank of England to circulate three millions of South Sea bonds for a year; but the Bank, seeing that the case was desperate, declined it. This was decisive. The rage and despair of the swarming dupes were indescribable. They heaped[48] execrations not only on the South Sea Company, but on Ministers, the king, his mistresses, and the Royal Family, who had all been deep in the affair, and who had taken good care of themselves. George landed at Margate on the 9th of November, soon after which the South Sea stock fell to one hundred and thirty-five. On the 8th of December Parliament met, and promptly began to investigate the scandal.

Wurmser advanced down the valley of Trent with fifty thousand men, whose number was increased, by the remains of the army of Beaulieu, to sixty thousand. With such a force well conducted, the Austrians might have worsted Buonaparte, whose troops were not more than forty-five thousand, and already greatly harassed by rapid marches. But there was no comparison between the genius of the commanders. The conduct of the Austrians was a series of fatal blunders. Had the Archduke Charles been there it might have been different; but the first thing which Wurmser did was to weaken himself by dividing his forces, and sending one detachment under Quasdanowich along the western shore of the Lake of Garda, and marching along the eastern bank himself with the other. The quick eye of Buonaparte instantly saw his advantage; neither of the divisions was now equal to his own, and he beat them both in detail. He raised the blockade of Mantua, defeated Quasdanowich at Lonato, chased him back into the mountains, and then engaged and routed him twice near Castiglione, on the 3rd and 5th of August. Wurmser had to make a hasty retreat into the mountains, leaving behind his artillery and many thousand men slain. Buonaparte pursued him into the very gorges of the Tyrol, and inflicted fresh losses upon him. The sturdy but not very bright old Austrian, however, made a detour in the hills, and again issued on the plains[454] from the valley of the Brenta. With remarkable address and agility for him, he made his way to Mantua, and threw himself into the fortress with the wretched remains of his army, about eighteen thousand men.

Those Highlanders commenced their march into England with no predilection for the adventure. The warfare of Scotland was familiar to them; in all ages they had been accustomed to descend from their mountains and make raids in the Lowlands. But England was to them an unknown region; they knew little of the dangers or the perils before them; they knew that in the Whiggish clans of the West they left powerful enemies behind them. No sooner did they lose sight of Edinburgh than they began to desert. Charles led his division of the army across the Tweed at Kelso, and sent on orders to Wooler to[100] prepare for his reception, thus keeping up the feint of marching eastward; instead of which, he took his way down Liddesdale, and on the 8th of November crossed the Esk, and encamped that night at a place called Reddings, on the Cumberland side. Another topic of the speech was the mental derangement of the king, which was now asserted, on the authority of the physicians, to be more hopeless; Mr. Perceval argued, therefore, the necessity of arranging the Royal Household so as to meet the necessarily increased expenditure. Resolutions were passed granting an addition of seventy thousand pounds per annum to the queen towards such augmented expenditure, and to provide further income for the Prince Regent. Two Courts were to be maintained, and the Regent was to retain his revenue as Prince of Wales. The Civil List chargeable with the additional seventy thousand pounds to the queen was vested in the Regent; and no sooner were these particulars agreed to than he sent letters to both Houses, recommending separate provision for his sisters; so that the Civil List was at once to be relieved of their maintenance and yet increased, simply on account of the charge of a poor blind and insane old man, who could only require a trusty keeper or two. The separate income agreed to for the princesses was nine thousand pounds a-year each, exclusive of the four thousand pounds a-year each already derived from the Civil Listso that there was needed an annual additional sum of thirty-six thousand pounds for the four princesses, besides the sixteen thousand pounds a-year now being received by them. Some members observed that the grant to the Regent, being retrospective, removed altogether the merit of his declaration during the last Session of Parliament that, "considering the unexampled contest in which the[23] kingdom was now engaged, he would receive no addition to his income." In fact, little consideration was shown by any part of the royal family for the country under its enormous demands. It was understood that there was once more a deficiency in the Civil List, which would have to be made up.

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[458] Tears on his hollow cheek The Parliament was punctually opened on the 16th of February, 1714, by the queen, as she had promised at Windsor, though she was obliged to be carried there; for during last autumn she had been obliged, by her gout and obesity, to be raised into her chamber by pulleys, and so let down again, like Henry VIII. After congratulating the two Houses on the peace with Spain, she turned to the subject of the Press, and the rumours spread by it regarding the danger of the Protestant succession. Bolingbroke had been active enough in prosecuting the Press because it was dangerous to the designs which he was cherishing, notwithstanding the affected warmth which he and Oxford had put into the queen's mouth. They had taxed the penny sheets and pamphlets which agitated these questions; but this, according to Swift, had only done their own side mischief. Bolingbroke had, further, arrested eleven printers and publishers in one day. But now the war was opened in Parliament, Lord Wharton, in the House of Peers, called for the prosecution of "The Public Spirit of the Whigs," and the printer and publisher were brought to the bar. These were John Morphew, the publisher, and one John Bache, the printer. But Lord Wharton, who was aiming at higher quarry, said, "We have nothing to do with the printer and publisher, but it highly concerns the honour of this august assembly to find out the villain who is the author of that false and scandalous libel." Oxford denied all knowledge of the author, yet, on retiring from the debate, he sent one hundred pounds to Swift, and promised to do more. Lord Wharton then turned upon the printer, whom he had first affected to disregard, and demanded that he should be closely examined; but the next day the Earl of Mar, one of the secretaries of State, declared that her Majesty had ordered his prosecution. This was to shield him from the Parliamentary inquiry. Here the matter dropped, for Swift was too well screened by his patrons, who had lately rewarded him by Church preferment, and shortly afterwards made him Dean of St. Patrick's, in Dublin.

But, on the 6th of May, a blow fell on Nuncomar from an unexpected quarter. He was arrested and thrown into prison at the suit of a merchant named Mohun Persaud. The charge was, that he had forged a bond five years before. He had been brought to trial for this before the Mayor's Court at Calcuttathe Supreme Court not then being in existence. On this occasion, being in favour with Hastings, he had procured his release; but now, the merchant seeing that Hastings' favour was withdrawn, and that, therefore, he might have a better chance against him, the charge was renewed. Hastings, on the trial, declared before the Supreme Court that neither directly nor indirectly had he promoted the prosecution. The opposition members were highly incensed at this proceeding. Three days after Nuncomar's committal they realised their threat of dismissing the Munny Begum, and appointed Goordas, the son of Nuncomar, to her office. They sent encouraging messages to Nuncomar in his prison, and made violent protests to the judges against the prosecution. Their efforts were useless. The trial came on in due course. One of the judges, Sir Robert Chambers, had endeavoured to have Nuncomar tried on an earlier statute, which included no capital punishment, for forgery was no capital crime by the native laws. But Sir Elijah Impey and the other judges replied that the new Act compelled them to try him on the capital plea, and he had been, on this ground, refused bail. Nuncomar knew nothing of our estimate of forgery, and he could not comprehend how a man of his rank, and a Brahmin of high dignity, should be tried for his life on such a charge. But he was found guilty, and condemned to be hanged. Strong efforts were then made to have him respited till the judgment of the Court of Directors could be taken on the question, but Impey and the other judges declared that it could not be done unless they could assign some sufficient reasons, and they contended that there were no such reasons. Yet the new Acts expressly gave them this power, and, what made it more desirable, was that no native of any rank had been tried by the Supreme Court and the British law, and only one native had ever been capitally convicted for forgery in any of our Indian courts. Moreover, the indignity of hanging a high-caste Brahmin was so outraging to the native feeling that it was deemed most impolitic to perpetrate such an act. All was pleaded in vain; on the 5th of August, 1775, Nuncomar was brought out and publicly hanged, amid the terrified shrieks and yells of the native population, who fled at the sight, and many of them rushed into the sacred Ganges to purify them from the pollution of ever witnessing such a scene. The death of Nuncomar put an end to all hope of procuring any further native evidence against Hastings. The natives were so terrified at this new kind of execution, that nothing could convince them but that, in spite of the opposition of his colleagues, Hastings was all powerful.

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The suggestions of Murat had failed to induce Ferdinand to leave his capital and go to meet Napoleon; but a more adroit agent now presented himself in the person of Savary, the delegated murderer of the Duke d'Enghien. Savary paid decided court to Ferdinand. He listened to all his statements of the revolution of Aranjuez and the abdication of the king. He told him that he felt sure Napoleon would see these circumstances in the same favourable light as he did, and persuaded him to go and meet the Emperor at Burgos, and hear him salute him Ferdinand VII., King of Spain and of the Indies.