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On the 12th of March, 1839, Mr. Villiers again moved for a committee of the whole House to take into consideration the Act regulating the importation of foreign corn, and the Manchester delegates were once more in London to watch the progress of events. On this occasion the House again decided, by 342 votes to 195, not to take the subject into consideration. The defeat was of course expected; but the members of the Association immediately assembled again, and issued an address to the public, in which for the first time they recommended the formation of a permanent union, to be called the Anti-Corn Law League, and to be composed of all the towns and districts represented in the delegation, and as many others as might be induced to form Anti-Corn Law associations, and to join the League. Delegates from the different local associations were to meet for business from time to time at the principal towns represented; but in order to secure unity of action, it was proposed that the central office of the League should be established at Manchester, and that to its members should be entrusted the duties of engaging lecturers, obtaining the co-operation of the public press, establishing and conducting a stamped periodical publication, and keeping up a constant correspondence with the local associations. The delegates then parted, becoming so many local missionaries for spreading the doctrines of the new crusade. The Manchester Association had issued a large number of handbills and placards. It now began to publish more largely and systematically a series of pamphlets. Among these were "Facts for Farmers," in which it was shown to demonstration that, whatever might be the interest of the landowners, their tenants had no real share in the benefits of their monopoly. The cheapness of the publications secured them an extraordinary sale wherever political questions were discussed. Mr. Villiers's speech, extending to thirty-two closely printed pages, was sold at three halfpence; Mr. Poulett Thomson's speech, occupying sixteen pages, at three farthings. When the appeals were made to the electors of the kingdom during the height of the agitation, as many as half a million each of the more popular tracts were issued at a time. In accordance with the resolution passed by the League at its formation in London, a fortnightly organ of the new movement was started on the 16th of April. Its title was the Anti-Corn Law Circular. A preliminary address announced that a copy of the paper would be regularly forwarded to every newspaper, review, and magazine in the empire. The first number contained a "Modern History of the Corn Laws," by Richard Cobden, with various information on the progress of the movement. Meanwhile the work of lecturing went on. Free Trade missionaries were dispatched to all parts, and, to the annoyance of the landlords, even preached their obnoxious doctrines to audiences in smock frocks in the agricultural towns and villages, where the views of the country party had hitherto held undisputed sway. Among the most remarkable of these speakers was Colonel Perronet Thompson, who, by his celebrated "Catechism of the Corn Laws," and his other writings, had done perhaps more than any other man of his time to confute the fallacies of the Protectionist party. The clear and terse style, the shrewd reasoning power, the apt and homely illustration, and, above all, the hearty sincerity and good temper of this remarkable man, were equally acceptable among the most refined or the least educated audiences.CHAPTER XII. THE PROGRESS OF THE NATION DURING THE REIGNS OF GEORGE IV. AND WILLIAM IV.

No wonder that pressing entreaties for succour came from Jelalabad. The garrison had exerted themselves with the utmost diligence to fortify the place, which they expected soon to be invested by hosts of Afghans, flushed with victory and thirsting for blood and plunder. The camp-followers were organised to assist in manning the walls, and foraging parties were sent out with good effect, while there was yet time to get in provisions. In the meanwhile Sale received a letter from the Shah, demanding what were his intentions, as his people had concluded a treaty with the Afghans, consenting to leave the country. There was an army preparing for their expulsion, and there were many of their countrymen and countrywomen hostages in the hands of a fanatical and vindictive enemy, while there was little prospect of any immediate relief from the Indian Government. There was even a feeling that they had been abandoned by the Government at Calcutta, which did not wish to maintain the supremacy of the British arms in Afghanistan. A council of war was called on the 26th of January; a stormy debate ensued; the majority were for coming to terms with the enemy and withdrawing from the country, for which purpose the draft of a letter in reply to the Shah was prepared. For two days its terms were debated, the proposition to surrender being vehemently resisted by an officer named Broadfoot, who declared it impossible that the Government should leave them to their fate, and do nothing to restore the national reputation, especially as a new Governor-General was coming out, doubtless with new counsels, and the Duke of Wellington, now in power, would never sanction so inglorious a policy. He was overruled, however, by the majority, and the letter was sent to the Shah. An answer came demanding that they should put their seals to the document. Another council was held; Colonel Broadfoot renewed his remonstrances; he was joined by Colonel Dennie, Captain Abbott, and Colonel Monteith. An answer was sent which left the garrison free to act as circumstances might direct. Next day tidings came from Peshawar, that large reinforcements were moving up through the Punjab, and that all possible efforts were to be made for their relief. There was no more talk of negotiation; every one felt that it was his duty to hold out to the last.

Whilst these movements had been progressing, very different ones had been in development in the north. The British Government, with the fatality which distinguished nearly all its counsels in this war, had thought proper to take the command of the army destined to operate by way of Canada on the northern colonies, from Sir Guy Carleton, and to confer it on General Burgoyne. The campaign had been plannednot by experienced military men on the spot, capable of estimating the difficulties of the enterprise, but in the Cabinet at home, directed by defective maps, and still more defective information.When Washington arrived at Boston, on the 15th of June, he found the English army augmented to ten thousand by fresh forces, under Generals Burgoyne, William Howe, the brother of Lord Howe, and Henry Clinton. The American troops consisted of twenty thousand militia and volunteers, still in a most confused condition, extended over a line of twenty miles in length, that only required an attack of five thousand men, led by a general of courage and ability, to be thoroughly beaten. They were, moreover, greatly deficient in powder and other necessaries. But the English generals lay as if there were no urgent need of action. Had a sudden movement on the Neck been made from Boston, five hundred men could have broken and dispersed the Americans nearest to that position before the other ill-trained troops, some of them at great distances, could have come up; and they might have been easily defeated in detail by the simultaneous efforts of four spirited generals and ten thousand efficient soldiers. But lethargy seemed to have seized on Gage, and to have also infected his coadjutors.

The business of the session now hastened to its close. Votes were given for forty thousand seamen and eleven thousand marines; for sixteen thousand British troops in Flanders, and twenty-three thousand for guards and garrisons at home. For the year's supplies six millions of pounds were voted, and then Parliament was prorogued on the 21st of April. In doing this, George told the Houses that he had ordered his army to pass the Rhine to support the Queen of Hungary. No sooner had Parliament closed, than George, accompanied by his son, the Duke of Cumberland, and Lord Carteret, hastened off to Germany. The British army, which the king had ordered to march from Flanders to aid the Austrians, had set out at the end of February. They were commanded by Lord Stair, and on their route were joined by several Austrian regiments under the Duke of Aremberg, and the sixteen thousand Hanoverians in British pay, who had wintered at Lige. They marched so slowly that they only crossed the Rhine in the middle of May. They halted at H?chst, between Mayence and Frankfort, awaiting the six thousand Hanoverians in Electoral pay, and an equal number of Hessians, who had been garrisoning the fortresses of Flanders, but who were now relieved by Dutch troops. Stair had now forty thousand men, and might easily have seized the Emperor at Frankfort. All parties had respected, however, the neutrality of Frankfort, and Stair did the same, probably because the Emperor, having no subjects to ransom him, might have proved rather a burden on his hands. De Noailles, on his part, had sixty thousand men, independently of the twelve thousand furnished to Broglie. He kept an active eye on the motions of the allied army, and as Stair encamped on the northern bank of the Main, he also passed the Rhine and encamped on the southern bank of the Main. The two camps lay only four leagues from each other, presenting a most anomalous aspect.Sir Samuel Garth, author of "The Dispensary," a mock-heroic poem in six cantos, and Sir Richard Blackmore, another physician, and author of a whole heap of epics in ten or twelve books eachas "King Arthur," "King Alfred," "Eliza," "The Redeemer," etc.may still be found in our collections of verse, but are rarely read. Dr. Young's "Night Thoughts" yet maintain their place, and are greatly admired by many, notwithstanding his stilted style and violent antithesis, for amid these there are many fine and striking ideas.


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In one respect the general election happened at an unseasonable time. It was the driest and warmest summer on record. On the 28th of June, the hottest day in the year, the thermometer stood at eighty-nine and a half degrees in the shade. Several deaths were occasioned by sunstroke; among the victims were a son of Earl Grey, and Mr. Butterworth, the eminent law bookseller, a candidate for Dover. The elections were carried on in many places with great spirit. But, though there were exciting contests, the struggles were not for parties, but for measures. There were three great questions at issue before the nation, and with respect to these pledges were exacted. The principal were the Corn Laws, Catholic Emancipation, and the Slave Trade. In England and Wales one hundred and thirty-three members were returned who had never before sat in Parliament. This large infusion of new blood showed that the constituencies were in earnest. In Ireland the contests turned chiefly on the Catholic question. The organisation of the Catholic Association told now with tremendous effect. In every parish the populace were so excited by inflammatory harangues, delivered in the chapel on Sundays, after public worship, both[254] by priests and laymenthe altar being converted into a platformthat irresistible pressure was brought to bear upon the Roman Catholic electors. The "forty-shilling freeholders" had been multiplied to an enormous extent by the landlords for electioneering purposes. Roman Catholic candidates being out of the question, and the Tory interest predominant in Ireland, electioneering contests had been hitherto in reality less political than personal. They had been contests for pre-eminence between great rival families; consequently, farms were cut up into small holdings, because a cabin and a potato garden gave a man who was little better than a pauper an interest which he could swear was to him worth forty shillings a year. The Protestant landlords who pursued this selfish course little dreamt that the political power they thus created would be turned with terrible effect against themselves; and they could scarcely realise their position when, in county after county, they were driven from the representation, which some of them regarded as an inheritance almost as secure as their estates. The most powerful family in Ireland, and the most influential in the Government, was that of the Beresfords, whose principal estates lay in the county Waterford, and where no one would imagine that their candidate could be opposed with the least prospect of success. But on this occasion they suffered a signal defeat. The forty-shilling freeholders, as well as the better class of Roman Catholic farmers, were so excited by the contest that they went almost to a man against their landlords. In many cases they had got their holdings at low rents on the express condition that their vote should be at the disposal of the landlord. But all such obligations were given to the winds. They followed their priests from every parish to the hustings, surrounded and driven forward by a mass of non-electors armed with sticks and shouting for their church and their country. O'Connell was now in his glory, everywhere directing the storm which he had raised. When the contest was over, many of the landlords retaliated by evicting the tenants who had betrayed their trust and forfeited their pledges. They were tauntingly told that they might go for the means of living to O'Connell and the priests. This was a new ingredient in the cauldron of popular discontent, disaffection, and agrarian crime. The gain of the Catholic party in Ireland, however, was more than counterbalanced by the gain of the opposite party in England and Scotland.Besides the grand army of the Allies, of two hundred thousand, marching from Bohemia, one hundred and twenty thousand Austrians, and eighty thousand Russians and Prussians, Blucher lay on the road to Breslau with eighty thousand; the Crown Prince of Sweden, near Berlin, with thirty thousand Swedes and sixty thousand[68] Prussians and Russians; Walmoden lay at Schwerin, in Mecklenburg, with thirty thousand Allies; and Hiller, with forty thousand Austrians, watched the army of Italy.[See larger version]

There was a radical difference in spirit between the Viceroy and the Premier. The former sympathised warmly with the Roman Catholics in their struggles for civil equality, feeling deeply the justice of their cause. The Duke, on the other hand, yielded only to necessity, and thought of concession not as a matter of principle, but of expediency; he yielded, not because it was right[291] to do so, but because it was preferable to having a civil war. The feeling of Mr. Peel was somewhat similar; it was with him, also, a choice of evils, and he chose the least.The large majorities in the House of Lords were to be ascribed chiefly to the unparalleled influence of the Duke of Wellington. But the public at the time were little aware of the difficulties that great man had to deal with in overcoming the opposition of the king, who was much under the influence of the Duke of Cumberland. When the storm of Conservative violence reached its height, after the rejection of Peel in Oxford, and his return, not without a struggle, for Westbury; and when, on the 3rd of March, he gave notice that he would draw the attention of the House to the clause of the Royal Speech referring to Ireland, the king, greatly excited and alarmed, sent the same evening to desire that the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and the Chancellor should wait upon him next day. He had already seen the Chancellor once, and the Duke twice separately. The king received his three Ministers, when they presented themselves at the palace, kindly but gravely; he looked anxious and embarrassed while he requested them to make him acquainted with the details of their Bill. It was explained to him that it would relieve Roman Catholics from the necessity of making a declaration against the doctrine of transubstantiation; whilst it so far modified in their case the oath of supremacy, as to omit all notice of the king's authority in things spiritual. "What!" he exclaimed, "do you mean to alter the ancient law of supremacy?" It was to no purpose he was shown that the alteration applied only to Roman Catholics, who would be dispensed from swearing what they could not believe; but he appealed to his own coronation oath, in reference to which he could not recognise the dispensing power of his Ministers. The king was condescending in the extreme. He seemed deeply grieved at the dilemma to which they had been brought. He acknowledged that possibly he had gone too far on former occasions, though he had acted entirely through misapprehension. But now he trusted that they would see, with him, that it had become a point of conscience, and that there was no alternative left him except to withdraw his assent. In the most respectful manner they acquiesced in his Majesty's determination, allowing, without a murmur, that he had a perfect right to act as he proposed. But when he went on further to ask what they intended to do, the Duke's answer was explicit: they must retire from his Majesty's service, and explain to Parliament that unexpected obstacles had arisen to the accomplishment of the policy which they were engaged to pursue. To this Mr. Peel added, that as the Bill for the suppression of the Catholic Association had been carried on the understanding that other and more comprehensive measures would follow, it would be necessary to make Parliament generally aware of the causes which operated to prevent the bringing forward of those measures. The king heard all this to an end, without attempting to interrupt, or argue with, his Ministers. He admitted, on the contrary, that it was impossible for them to take any other course, and then bade them farewell, kissing each of them on both cheeks. They set off from Windsor immediately, and arrived at Lord Bathurst's, where their colleagues were waiting dinner for them. They made a full report of all that had occurred, and announced that the Government was at an end. The party broke up, believing themselves to be out of office; but early next morning, before any decisive steps had been taken, a special messenger arrived at Apsley House with a letter from the king. It was guardedly expressed, for it went no further than to state that his Majesty had found greater difficulties than he expected in forming a new Cabinet, and was therefore desirous that the present Ministry should go on. The moment was critical, and the position of the Government delicate and in some sense insecure. No doubt, his Majesty's letter might be read as[299] implying an abandonment of the objections which he had taken to the policy of his Ministers overnight, but it was certainly capable of a different interpretation. It appeared, therefore, to the Duke, that before proceeding further it would be necessary to come to a clear understanding with the king as to his Majesty's real intentions, and Mr. Peel concurring in this opinion, the Duke was requested to write to the king on the subject. He did so, with all the candour and loyalty which were natural to him; and the result was an unequivocal declaration from the Sovereign that he would accept the measures of his Ministers as his own.



When the intense agitation had in some degree subsided, Fox rose and proposed the mode in which the trial should be conducted, which was that the evidence on both sides should be gone through on each separate charge, and that charge immediately decided, whilst all the facts were fresh in the minds of the lords, who were the judges. But this was opposed by the counsel of Hastings, who knew well the advantage of leaving the decision till the vivid impression of the events was worn off. They succeeded in carrying their object, and when the trial terminated eight years afterwards, the result was quite according to their hopes. The Managers complained loudly, but there was no remedy. Fox, therefore, proceeded to open the Benares case, which occupied[343] five hours. Grey took it up, and completed it the next day. Several succeeding days were employed in reading papers and hearing witnesses, and then Anstruther summed up and commented on the charge.

PRINCE CHARLES EDWARD STUART (THE "YOUNG PRETENDER"). (After the Portrait by Tocque, 1748.)On the 17th of February he introduced this plan in two Bills. He declared that his policy had always been pacific; that he had never proposed any tax on the Americanswhen he came into office he had found them taxed already; that he had tried conciliatory means before the sword was drawn, and would still gladly try them. He had thought the former propositions to the Americans very reasonable, and he thought so still. Forgetful of the hopes that he had held out, of assisting the revenues of Great Britain by the taxation of Americans, he now surprised his auditors by asserting that he had never expected to derive much revenue from America, and that, in reality, the taxes imposed had not paid the expenses of the attempt to collect them. The first of his Bills, therefore, he entitled one "For removing all doubts and apprehensions concerning taxation by the Parliament of Great Britain in any of the colonies." It repealed entirely the tea duty in America, and declared "that from and after the passing of this Act, the king and Parliament of Great Britain will not impose any duty, tax, or assessment whatever, in any of his Majesty's colonies, except only such duties as it may be expedient to impose for the regulation of commerce, the nett produce of such duty to be always paid and applied to and for the use of the colony in which the same shall be levied." The second Bill removed some otherwise insuperable obstacles to a treaty. The Commissionersfive in numberwere to raise no difficulties as to the legal ranks or titles of those with whom they would have to negotiate. They were empowered to proclaim a cessation of hostilities on the part of the king's forces by sea or land for any necessary term and on any necessary conditions. They might suspend all the Acts of Parliament respecting America passed since 1763, yet the Bill excepted the repeal of the Massachusetts Charter, and introduced that into a separate Actanother weak measure, for on such an occasion the only wisdom was to wipe away all Acts, or repeal of Acts, which had arisen out of these unhappy differences. The effect of this statement has been well described in the Annual Register of that year, in an article supposed to be from the hand of Burke:"A dull, melancholy silence for some time succeeded this speech. It had been heard with profound attention, but without a single mark of approbation of any part, from any description of men, or any particular man in the House. Astonishment, dejection, and fear overclouded the whole assembly. Although the Minister had declared that the sentiments he had expressed that day had been those which he always entertained, it is certain that few or none had understood him in that manner, and he had been represented to the nation at large as the person in it the most tenacious of those Parliamentary rights which he now proposed to resign, and the most adverse to the submissions which he now proposed to make."As for the queen, she was a far superior person. She had been well brought up on the second marriage of her mother after the death of her father, by the Queen of Prussia, Sophia Charlotte, the sister of George I. She had been handsome till she grew corpulent and suffered from the smallpox, and still she was much admired for her impressive countenance, her fine voice, penetrating eye, and the grace and sweetness of her manner. She was still more admired for the striking contrast which she presented to her husband in her love of literature and literary men, extending her interest and inquiries into philosophy, theology, and metaphysics. Those who are disposed to ridicule her pretence to such knowledge admit that she was equally distinguished by prudence and[58] good sense. She combined in her manners royal dignity and unassuming grace, and was more popular with the nation than any one of the Hanover family had ever yet been. She delighted to engage theologians in discussing knotty points of doctrine, and in perplexing them with questions on the various articles of faith in different churches, and corresponded with them on these subjects through her bedchamber woman, Mrs. Clayton, afterwards Lady Sundon. But the best proofs of Queen Caroline's superiority were shown in her pure moral character, which was free from the slightest stain, and in her quick discernment and substantial promotion of the most able men in the Church.


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