Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 54.djvu/359

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gold coin, he was a member of the bullion committee which was appointed to inquire into the question, and when, in spite of his efforts, the committee reported in favour of an early resumption of cash payments, he vigorously defended Vansittart's resolution in favour of continuing the suspension of cash payments till six months after the conclusion of a general peace. The debate took place in May 1811, the report of the committee was rejected, and Vansittart's resolutions adopted, though not by very large majorities, on 9 and 15 May. Whatever may be said of his policy from the point of view of political economy and finance, there can be no doubt that the critical moment of the Peninsular war was no time to select for the great disturbances that the resumption of cash payments was certain to bring about whenever it took place. In the debate on the Roman catholic claims on 4 Feb. 1812 he declared himself favourable to concession if accompanied by adequate securities, though subsequently in March he pronounced, as a minister, against any step being taken for the present.

For some time pressure had been brought to bear on him to accept elevation to the House of Lords, but he resolutely refused, and with good reason. The ministerial changes which followed Wellesley's resignation restored him to office on 28 Feb. 1812. He became foreign secretary, and held that post till he died. To these duties were added, on Perceval's assassination in May 1812, those of leader of the House of Commons, in spite of Canning's claims and objections. Only a man of indomitable industry could have borne such a strain so long continued; undoubtedly it led to his death. On 16 June Brougham moved the repeal of the orders in council, and, in the face of the widespread distress in the country and the loss of the north American trade, Castlereagh found it hard to support their continuance. He defended them historically, and declared that their consequence had been beneficial and in accordance with the design of the ministry responsible for them; but the American Non-intercourse Act had not been foreseen, and had done England immense harm. The orders would therefore be for the present cancelled. This was done on 23 June, but not in time to procure the repeal of that act in the United States, or to prevent the outbreak of war with America. His resolution and tenacity soon made themselves felt in the cabinet, over which his strong will completely asserted itself. The ministry resolved to prosecute the war with vigour, and by the autumn the forces in the Peninsula were increased by twenty thousand men. Napoleon's offers of terms of peace in April were promptly refused, since they did not provide for the restoration of Ferdinand VII to the throne of Spain. Preparations were made for renewed activity in Sicily and Italy, and Castlereagh set himself to strengthen and assist the Russian emperor, and to overcome his incredulity and distrust of English promises and suggestions. Thanks to his timely revelation to Turkey of the secret articles of the treaty of Tilsit, a peace was signed between Russia and Turkey, 28 May 1812, the Porte preferring an accommodation with Russia to witnessing the complete triumph of Napoleon and his liberation for the prosecution of his designs against the east. A treaty between Russia and Great Britain was concluded on 18 July. Sweden, too, had to be detached from its alliance with Napoleon, though the price demanded—the separation of Norway from Napoleon's ally, Denmark, and its union with Sweden—was felt to be high. Accordingly treaties were concluded in April between Sweden and Russia, with the knowledge and assistance of Lord Castlereagh, though he declined to make Great Britain a formal party to them, and on 12 July peace was concluded between Great Britain and Sweden, and the harbours of Sweden were again thrown open to English ships. Thus by the end of 1812 Castlereagh had placed the struggle with Napoleon, as far as England's share in it went, on a new and extended basis.

Castlereagh's main object was now to maintain in full vigour the coalition of the northern powers. Singly he knew none could make head against France, and during the previous ten years they had severally so often made their own terms, or pursued their own individual objects, that to keep them in line and united was a heavy diplomatic task. Both personally and through his brother Sir Charles William Stewart (afterwards third Marquis of Londonderry) [q. v.] and Lord Cathcart he laboured at this work unceasingly. At his instance the British government raised its subsidies to foreign powers for 1813 to 10,000,000l., though the year's expenditure reached 117,000,000l., and its own troops under arms numbered 153,000 men (Parl. Debates, xxvii. 86). A force was despatched under Sir Thomas Graham (afterwards Lord Lynedoch) [q. v.] to the Scheldt. The terms of peace proposed at Frankfort, though Castlereagh had been at first disposed to acquiesce in them in November 1813, were later on vigorously opposed by him through Lord Aberdeen, the British ambassador to the Austrian court at Frankfort, and at length, on 31 Dec., he left England him-