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The Ministers, instead of making rational concessions to the demands of the people for Reform, proceeded without delay to fresh aggressions on their liberties. Not contented with the existing suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and with introducing into the Lords a Bill for the protection of the king's person and Government, they passed a law prohibiting all political meetings, and another to extend the law of treason; they recommenced arrests and prosecutions, and sent out shoals of spies and informers, so that all the safeguards of public liberty were completely annihilated. These despotic measures did not pass without energetic opposition and a good deal of violent language from Fox; but all remonstrance was useless against Pitt's majority. Still the alarm of the Government was not allayed. On the 8th of December the king sent a message to both Houses, reiterating his assurance of an earnest desire to negotiate peace with France. The Opposition very properly pointed out that, so far as France was concerned, victorious in its armies, and as anti-monarchical in its government as ever, there were less hopes of any consent on its part to peace than when the Opposition had so repeatedly urged the same measure. In this unsatisfactory state closed the year 1795.

All the traversers were found guilty. The Attorney-General did not press for judgment against the Rev. Matthew Tierney. Upon the rest Mr. Justice Burton, who was deeply affected, pronounced judgment on the 30th of May, in the following terms:—"With respect to the principal traverser, the Court is of opinion that he must be sentenced to be imprisoned for the space of twelve calendar months; and that he is further to be fined in the sum of £2,000, and bound in his own recognisances in the sum of £5,000, and two sureties in £2,500, to keep the peace for seven years. With respect to the other traversers, we have come to the conclusion that to each shall be allotted similar sentences, namely, that they be imprisoned for the space of nine calendar months, each of them to pay £50 fine, and to enter into their own recognisances of £1,000 each, and two sureties of £500, to keep the peace for seven years."From Clive, events cause us to pass at once to one accused of much greater misdemeanours, and one whose administration terminated in a more formal and extraordinary trial than that of Clive; a trial made ever famous by the shining abilities and eloquence of Burke and Sheridan, and the awful mysteries of iniquity, as practised by our authorities in India, which were brought to the public knowledge by them on this grand occasion. Hastings commenced his rule in Bengal under circumstances which demanded rather a man of pre-eminent humanity than of the character yet lying undeveloped in him. In 1770, under the management of Mr. Cartier, a famine, as we have mentioned, broke out in Bengal, so terrible that it is said to have swept away one-third of the population of the state, and to have been attended by indescribable horrors. The most revolting circumstance was, that the British were charged with being the authors of it, by buying up all the rice in the country, and refusing to sell it, except at the most exorbitant prices. But the charge is baseless. Macaulay says, "These charges we believe to have been utterly unfounded. That servants of the Company had ventured, since Clive's departure, to deal in rice, is probable. That, if they dealt in rice, they must have gained by the scarcity, is certain. But there is no reason for thinking that they either produced or aggravated the evil which physical causes sufficiently explain." Hastings promptly introduced a change in the land-tax by means of which more revenue was obtained with less oppression, and he also freed the country from marauders.Dumouriez, the new Foreign Minister, advised the king to communicate this note to the Assembly without a moment's delay. There was immediate dissension in the royal council. This was the commencement of the division in the Gironde Ministry, which quickly destroyed it. Dumouriez proceeded, in the presence of the king, the rest of the Ministers, and a number of courtiers, on the 20th of April, to make that announcement which was to decide the fate of France and of Europe. Roland and the more determined Girondists had recommended that the king should himself make the declaration of war; but as the war itself was most repugnant to the king, Dumouriez had advised that he should only consult with the Assembly on the necessity of this declaration, and thus throw the responsibility on that body. There had been division of opinion amongst Ministers, and now Dumouriez read a detailed account of the negotiations with Austria, and then Louis, who looked jaded and anxious, stated that he had followed the recommendations of the Assembly, and of many of his subjects in various parts of France, in these negotiations, and, as they had heard the results, he put it to the Assembly whether they could any longer submit to see the dignity of the French people insulted, and the national security threatened. The speech was received with loud acclamations and cries of "Vive le Roi!" The President said they would deliberate, and the result was that a decree was passed resolving upon war. This resolve the Assembly justified by the declaration that the Emperor of Austria had concerted with the Emigrants and foreign princes to threaten the peace and the constitution of France; that he had refused to abandon these views and proceedings, and reduce his army to a peace establishment, as demanded of him by a vote of the 11th of March of this year; that he had declared his intention to restore the German princes by force to the possessions they had held[400] in Alsace, although the French nation had never ceased to offer them compensation; and that, finally, he had closed the door to all accommodation by refusing to reply to the dispatches of the king.

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After passing a Factory Act of some importance, which, however, was only the forerunner of much subsequent legislation, the House of Commons engaged in Poor Law Reform. In the winter of 1832-3 a very startling state of things was disclosed. In a period of great general prosperity, that portion of England in which the Poor Laws had their most extensive operation, and in which by much the largest expenditure of poor-rates had been made, was the scene of daily riot and nightly incendiarism. There were ninety-three parishes in four counties of which the population was 113,147 and the Poor-Law expenditure £81,978, or fourteen shillings and fivepence per head; and there were eighty parishes in three other counties the population of which was 105,728 and the Poor-Law expenditure £30,820, or five shillings and ninepence a head. In the counties in which the Poor-Law expenditure was large the industry and skill of the labourers were passing away, the connection between the master and servant had become precarious, the unmarried were defrauded of their fair earnings, and riots and incendiarism prevailed. In the counties where the expenditure was comparatively small, there was scarcely any instance of disorder; mutual attachment existed between the workman and his employer; the intelligence, skill, and good conduct of the labourers were unimpaired, or increased. This striking social contrast was but a specimen of what prevailed throughout large districts, and generally throughout the south and north of England, and it proved that either through the inherent vice of the system, or gross maladministration[362] in the southern counties, the Poor Law had a most demoralising effect upon the working classes, while it was rapidly eating up the capital upon which the employment of labour depended. This fact was placed beyond question by a commission of inquiry, which was composed of individuals distinguished by their interest in the subject and their intimate knowledge of its principles and details. Its labours were continued incessantly for two years. Witnesses most competent to give information were summoned from different parts of the country. The Commissioners had before them documentary evidence of every kind calculated to throw light on the subject. They personally visited localities, and examined the actual operation of the system on the spot; and when they could not go themselves, they called to their aid assistant commissioners, some of whom extended their inquiries into Scotland, Guernsey, France, and Flanders; while they also collected a vast mass of interesting evidence from our ambassadors and diplomatic agents in different countries of Europe and America. It was upon the report of this commission of inquiry that the Act was founded for the Amendment and Better Administration of the Laws relating to the Poor in England and Wales (4 and 5 William IV., cap. 76). A more solid foundation for a legislative enactment could scarcely be found, and the importance of the subject fully warranted all the expense and labour by which it was obtained.When Sir Robert Peel delivered up the seals of office, the first thing the king did was to send for Earl Grey, who declined the task of forming an Administration. He advised his Majesty to entrust it to Viscount Melbourne. The business, therefore, devolved upon Melbourne, and he hastened to complete it out of such materials as he had at his command. These were substantially the same as those which composed his former Administration. Lord Brougham, however, was now left out, as Lord Melbourne, in a series of plain-spoken letters, had already informed him he would be; also Lord Althorp, who, being in the Upper House[386] as Earl Spencer, did not seem to have any ambition for the toils and honours of office. Lord Howick, the eldest son of Earl Grey, became a member of the Cabinet. There was no Lord Chancellor appointed for the present, out of consideration for Brougham's feelings. The Great Seal was put in commission, the three Commissioners being the Master of the Rolls, the Vice-Chancellor, and Mr. Justice Bosanquet. The offices were distributed as follows:—Lord Melbourne, Premier; the Marquis of Lansdowne, President of the Council; Lord Palmerston, Foreign Secretary; Lord John Russell, Home Secretary; Mr. Charles Grant, Colonial Secretary; Mr. Spring-Rice, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Viscount Duncannon, Lord Privy Seal and Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests; Lord Auckland, First Lord of the Admiralty; Sir John Hobhouse, President of the Indian Board; Mr. Poulett Thompson, President of the Board of Trade; Lord Howick, Secretary-at-War; Lord Holland, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The appointments not in the Cabinet were—Sir Henry Parnell, Paymaster of the Forces; Mr. Charles Wood, Secretary to the Admiralty; Sir George Grey, Under-Secretary of the Colonies; the Honourable Fox Maule, Under-Secretary for the Home Department; Mr. Labouchere, Vice-President of the Board of Trade and Master of the Mint; Attorney-General, Sir John Campbell; Solicitor-General, Mr. Rolfe. The Irish appointments were—The Earl of Mulgrave, Lord-Lieutenant; Lord Morpeth, Chief Secretary; Lord Plunket, Chancellor.

These enactments, unaccompanied by any others the object of which was to relieve the distress of the people, only tended still more to exasperate the feelings of the working classes. In fact, nothing had been so obvious as the effect of the proceedings of Government of late in disturbing that peace which they professed themselves so desirous to preserve. They, in truth, were the real agitators. The passing of the Six Acts only made the popular resentment the deeper, and whilst this tended to render the more prudent Reformers cautious, it stimulated the lowest and most unprincipled of them to actual and deadly conspiracy. The general conspiracy believed in by Ministers never existed, but a conspiracy was actually on foot in London, which again was found to have been, if not originally excited, yet actively stimulated, by the agents of Government. The details of this transaction, and of the concluding scene of the Manchester outrage, namely, the trial of Hunt and his associates, necessarily lead us about two months beyond the death of George III., which took place on the 29th of January, 1820. In November, 1819, whilst Government were framing their Six Acts, the more completely to coerce the people, they were again sending amongst them incendiaries to urge them to an open breach of the laws in order to furnish justifications for their despotic policy. The leading miscreant of this class was a man named Edwards, who kept a small shop at Eton for the sale of plaster casts. Some of the emissaries appeared at Middleton, the place of Bamford's abode, but he was in prison awaiting his trial with Hunt and the rest, and the people tempted were too cautious to listen to these agents of Government. But in London these agents found more combustible materials, and succeeded in leading into the snare some who had been long ready for any folly or crime. Chief amongst these was Thistlewood, who had been a lieutenant in the army, a man who had, or conceived that he had, suffered injustice at the hands[154] of Ministers, and who had wrought up his temper to the perpetration of some desperate deed. Bamford when in London, in 1816, had found Thistlewood mixed up with the Spenceans, and to be met with any day at their places of resort—the "Cock," in Grafton Street, the "Mulberry Tree," in Moorfields, the "Nag's Head," Carnaby Market, No. 8, Lumber Street, Borough, and a public-house in Spa Fields, called "Merlin's Cave." At these places they might be found, amidst clouds of tobacco-smoke and the fumes of beer, discussing remedies for the miserable condition of the people. At the latter place Thistlewood was often to be found with the Watsons, Preston, and Castles, who was employed to betray them. From this spot they issued for their mad attempt on the Tower on the 2nd of December of that year. Thistlewood was one of those seized on that occasion, but was acquitted on his trial. Not warned by this, he no sooner got abroad than he sent a challenge to Lord Sidmouth, for which he was arrested, and sentenced to a year's imprisonment. He issued from gaol still more embittered against Sidmouth and his colleagues, and resolved on striking some mortal blow at them. He did not lack comrades of a like fiery and abandoned stamp, and they determined on a scheme for cutting off the whole Cabinet together. The detestable deed was to be perpetrated in the autumn of 1819, a time when the public mind, especially that of the working classes, was so embittered against the Government. They did not, however, succeed in their intentions, and it was at this crisis of unwilling delay that the man Edwards became privy to their plans. In November he carried the important, and, as he hoped, to him profitable secret to Sir Herbert Taylor, who was attached to the establishment of the king at Windsor, and by him he was introduced to Lord Sidmouth. This minister and his colleagues, with that fondness for the employment of spies, and for fomenting sedition instead of nipping it in the bud, immediately engaged Edwards, on good pay, to lead forward the conspirators into overt action. It was not enough for them that, by adding another witness or two to Edwards, they would be able to produce the most complete proof of the treason of these men—they rather luxuriated in the nursing of this plot, and thus ripening it into something bloody and horrible; and in this they succeeded.

The Austrians advanced under Marshal Braun, an officer of English extraction, against Frederick, but after a hard-fought battle at Lowositz, on the 1st of October, Frederick beat them, and soon after compelled the Saxon army, seventeen thousand strong, to surrender at Pirna. The King of Saxony, who had taken refuge in the lofty rock fortress of K?nigstein, surrendered too, on condition of being allowed to retire to Warsaw, and Frederick established his headquarters for the winter at Dresden, levying heavy contributions throughout Saxony.Half the London bridges were built, or rebuilt, during this period. Waterloo Bridge was begun in 1811, and completed by its designer and architect, John Rennie, on the 18th of June, 1817, having cost upwards of a million sterling. It is not only the longest of the Thames bridges, but was pronounced by Canova the finest bridge in the world, and is justly universally admired. Rennie built Southwark Bridge, an iron one, at a cost of eight hundred thousand pounds, and completed it in 1819, its erection occupying five years. Sir John Rennie, his son, built the new London Bridge from the designs of his father; but this was not begun till six years after the death of George III., nor finished till 1831, at a cost of five hundred and six thousand pounds.

Charles was, both in Scotland—on which his wild adventure had inflicted such miseries—and in France, a hero of romance; but his captured adherents had far other scenes to face than the lights and luxurious music of the opera. The prisons were crammed to such a degree with the[109] unfortunate Gaels, that Government was compelled to stow numbers away on board of men-of-war and transports, till fever broke out and swept them off by hundreds, sparing the labours of judges, juries, and hangmen. In Carlisle prison alone four hundred Scots were jammed in a space not properly sufficient for forty! The poor prisoners had been brought out of Scotland in open defiance of the Act of union and of the recognised rights of the Scottish courts; and now they were called on to cast lots for one in twenty to take their trials, with a certainty of being hanged, and the rest shipped off to the Plantations in America without any trial at all.In America, the belligerents were early afoot this year; but the attention and the forces of the English were drawn from the States to the West Indies by the determined attempts of the French to make themselves masters of our islands there. D'Estaing, who was joined by another French squadron under the Marquis de Vaudreuil, was early opposed by Admiral Byron, who arrived at St. Lucia from the American coast on the 6th of January. This Admiral Vaudreuil, on his way, had visited our settlements on the coast of Africa, and taken from us Senegal; but Sir Edward Hughes soon arrived there, and took their settlement of Goree, so that it was a mere exchange of territory. In June Admiral Byron was obliged to escort our merchant fleet to a certain distance, and D'Estaing seized that opportunity to make himself master of St. Vincent and Grenada, where the garrisons were weak. On the return of Byron, on the 5th of July, he came to an engagement with D'Estaing off Grenada; but the French admiral, after an indecisive action, took advantage of the night to sail away, boasting of a great victory. He now made for Georgia and Carolina, to assist the Americans in endeavouring to wrest from us our recent conquest of Savannah, in Georgia.[89]

Sheridan marked the opening of the year 1795 by moving, on the 5th of January, for the repeal of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. He showed that the very grounds on which this suspension had been based had miserably given way on the trials of Tooke, Hardy, and the rest; that the whole amount of arms and money on which the so-called "formidable" conspiracy had rested had been shown to be one pike, nine rusty muskets, and a fund of nine pounds and one bad shilling! He said that the great thing proved was the shameful conspiracy of the Government against the people, and their infamous employment of spies for that end; that eight thousand pounds had been spent on the Crown lawyers, and a hundred witnesses examined, only to expose the guilt of the Ministry. Windham defended the measures of Government, and charged the juries with ignorance and incapacity, for which Erskine severely reprimanded him. But the standing majorities of Pitt were inaccessible to argument, and the continuance of the suspension was voted by a majority of two hundred and thirty-nine against fifty-three. A like result attended the debate in the Lords, where, however, the Dukes of Norfolk and Bedford, the Marquis of Lansdowne, and the Earls of Lauderdale and Guildford strongly opposed the suspension.HENRY FIELDING. (The Portrait by Hogarth; the Border by James Basire.)Long for work did he seek,

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[See larger version]"It was always," said Mr. Brougham, "the queen's sad fate to lose her best stay, her strongest and surest protection, when danger threatened her; and by a coincidence most miraculous in her eventful history, not one of her intrepid defenders was ever withdrawn from her without that loss being the immediate signal for the renewal of momentous attacks upon her honour and her life. Mr. Pitt, who had been her constant friend and protector, died in 1806. A few weeks after that event took place, the first attack was levelled at her. Mr. Pitt left her as a legacy to Mr. Perceval, who became her best, her most undaunted, her firmest protector. But no sooner had the hand of an assassin laid prostrate that Minister, than her Royal Highness felt the force of the blow by the commencement of a renewed attack, though she had but just been borne through the last by Mr. Perceval's skilful and powerful defence of her character. Mr. Whitbread then undertook her protection; but soon that melancholy catastrophe happened which all good men of every political party in the State, he believed, sincerely and universally lamented. Then came with Mr. Whitbread's dreadful loss the murmuring of that storm which was so soon to burst with all its tempestuous fury upon her hapless and devoted head. Her child still lived, and was her friend; her enemies were afraid to strike, for they, in the wisdom of the world, worshipped the rising sun. But when she lost that amiable and beloved daughter, she had no protector; her enemies had nothing to dread; innocent or guilty, there was no hope, and she yielded to the entreaty of those who advised her residence out of this country. Who, indeed, could love persecution so steadfastly as to stay and brave its renewal and continuance, and harass the feelings of the only one she loved so dearly by combating such repeated attacks, which were still reiterated after the echo of the fullest acquittal? It was, however, reserved for the Milan Commission to concentrate and condense all the threatening clouds which were prepared to burst over her ill-fated head; and as if it were utterly impossible that the queen could lose a single protector without the loss being instantaneously followed by the commencement of some important step against her, the same day which saw the remains of her venerable Sovereign entombed—of that beloved Sovereign who was, from the outset, her constant father and friend—that same sun which shone upon the monarch's tomb ushered into the palace of his illustrious son and successor one of the perjured witnesses who were brought over to depose against her Majesty's life.

[See larger version]The intelligence of this result was received by the public with transports of joy. London was illuminated for three successive nights; Edinburgh, Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool, and all the great towns followed the example. "For several days," says Alison, "the populace in all the cities of the empire seemed to be delirious with joy. Nothing had been seen like it before since the battle of Waterloo; nothing approaching to it after since the Reform Bill was passed." Meetings were immediately called in every direction to present addresses both to the king and queen: to the former, to congratulate him on the escape of his illustrious consort, and to call upon him to dismiss his present Ministers; and to the latter, to congratulate her on the restoration of those dignities from which she had been so long excluded. Not only public meetings of citizens and civic bodies, but trades of all kinds assembled and adopted addresses expressing their exultation at her triumph, and tendering their homage.

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