Economic Annals of the Nineteenth Century

By William Smart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
1812. THE TURN OF THE TIDE

IN political history, the chief interest of the year -- graphically reflected with all its intrigues and heartburnings in the pages of Creevey -- was the change in administration which was to confirm the Tories in power for fifteen years to come. Wellesley had resigned in February, to some extent as a protest against the lukewarm support given to his brother -- "impeded in every movement, and checked in the midst of every enterprise, by the apathy, or ill-will, or helplessness, or whatever it was that prevented his own government sending him men, money, stores, and cheering words" -- but chiefly because the Regent would not hear of any concession to the Roman Catholic claims; and Grey and Grenville had refused to join the Cabinet for the same reason. After the assassination of Perceval, on 15th May,1 it was difficult to persuade any leading man to take the chief responsibility, when there was so much distress at home and when Napoleon's star was still in the ascendent. When five attempts had been made, Lord Liverpool formed an administration; 2 Vansittart succeeded Perceval as Chancellor of the Exchequer; Sidmouth became Home Secretary in place of Ryder; and Castlereagh retained the place, to which he had succeeded on Wellesley's resignation, of Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It was

Lord Liverpool's Ministry.

____________________
1
The act of a madman called Bellingham. In private life, as Romilly said, no man could be more generous, more kind, or more friendly than Perceval, and no man had a keener sense of honour. But, of his unpopularity as a statesman, it is some indication that, when the news was received by the multitude which collected in the streets and about the avenues of the House, it was met with "most savage expressions of joy and exultation, and regret that others had not shared the same fate" -- "the English character," muses Romilly, "seems to have undergone some unaccountable and portentous change." Diary, iii. 34.
2
"Well, this is beyond anything!" wrote Creevey. i. 165.

-322-

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