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It is only too true, however, that many of the Hampden Clubs entertained very seditious ideas, and designs of seizing on the property of the leading individuals of their respective vicinities. Still more questionable were the doctrines of the Spenceans, or Spencean Philanthropists, a society of whom was established in London this year, and whose chief leaders were Spence, a Yorkshire schoolmaster, one Preston, a workman, Watson the elder, a surgeon, Watson the younger, his son, and Castles, who afterwards turned informer against them. Mr. "Orator" Hunt patronised them. They sought a common property in all land, and the destruction of all machinery. These people, with Hunt and Watson at their head, on the 2nd of December, met in Spa Fields. The Spenceans had arms concealed in a waggon, and a flag displayed declaring that the soldiers were their friends. The crowd was immense, and soon there was a cry to go and summon the Tower. Mr. Hunt and his party appear to have excused themselves from taking part in this mad movement. The mob reached the Tower, and a man, supposed to be Preston, summoned the sentinels to surrender, at which they only laughed. The mob then followed young Watson into the City, and ransacked the shop of Mr. Beckwith, a gunsmith, on Snow Hill, of its firearms. A gentleman in the shop remonstrated, and young Watson[122] fired at him and severely wounded him. Young Watson then made his escape, but his father was secured and imprisoned; and the Lord Mayor and Sir James Shaw dispersed the mob on Cornhill, and took one of their flags and several prisoners. Watson the elder was afterwards tried and acquitted; but a sailor who was concerned in the plunder of the gunsmith's shop was hanged. A week after this riot the Corporation of London presented an Address to the Throne, setting forth the urgent necessity for Parliamentary reform.

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In the meantime, petitions, memorials, and remonstrances were presented from New York and other places, and from the British inhabitants of Canada, but all were rejected. On the 26th of May George III. prorogued Parliament, and expressed his perfect satisfaction in its proceedings; so utterly unconscious was this king that he was alienating a great empire, and which, indeed, was already virtually gone from him; for during the very time that Parliament had been protesting against even the contemptible crumbs of concession offered by Ministers, war had broken out, blood had flowed, and the Americans had triumphed!

The naval transactions of 1810 were almost wholly confined to watching the French, Spanish, and Italian coasts, to thwart the French, who, on their part, were continually on the watch for any of our blockading ships being driven by the weather, or called to some other station, in order to run out and convey men and stores into Spain. The last action of Lord Collingwood took place in this service. Though his health was fast failing, and he had repeatedly entreated the Admiralty to allow him to give up the command and go home to his family—the only chance of his long survival—they always refused. His complaint was declared by the faculty to be owing to his long confinement on board ships, and he had now scarcely set foot on shore for three years. But notwithstanding all this, with a singular selfishness the Admiralty kept him on board, and he was too high-minded to resign his commission whilst he could be of service to his country. In this state of health he was lying off Toulon, blockading that port, when he was driven to Minorca by a gale of wind. He had regained the coast of Catalonia, when he heard that the French fleet had issued from Toulon, and were making for Barcelona. The whole British fleet were in exultation; but on sighting this supposed fleet it was found to consist only of three sail of the line, two frigates, and about twenty other vessels, carrying provisions to the French army at Barcelona. They no sooner caught view of the British fleet than they made off in all haste, and the British gave chase. Admiral Martin was the first to come up with them in the Gulf of Lyons, where two of the ships of the line ran ashore, and were set fire to by the French admiral, Baudin. Two others ran into the harbour of Cette; and eleven of the store-ships ran into the Bay of Rooas, and took refuge under the powerful batteries; but Lord Collingwood, in spite of the batteries, sent in the ships' boats, and in the face of the batteries, and of boarding nets, set fire to and destroyed them. Five other store-ships were captured. This was the last exploit of the brave and worthy Collingwood. His health gave way so fast, that, having in vain endeavoured again to induce the Admiralty to relieve him of his command, expressly assuring them that he was quite worn out, on the 3rd of March he surrendered his post to Rear-Admiral Martin, and set sail in the Ville de Paris for England. But it was too late; he died at sea on the 7th of March, 1810. Very few admirals have done more signal service, or have displayed a more sterling English character than Lord Collingwood; and perhaps none were ever more grudgingly rewarded or so unfeelingly treated by the Admiralty, who, in fact, killed him by a selfish retention of his services, when they could be continued only at the cost of his life.

It was during the year 1838 that the Chartists became an organised body. The working classes had strenuously supported the middle classes in obtaining their political rights during the agitation for the Reform Bill, and they expected to receive help in their turn to obtain political franchises for themselves, but they found Parliament indifferent or hostile to any further changes in the representation, while the middle class, satisfied with their own acquisitions, were not inclined to exert themselves much for the extension of political rights among the masses. The discontent and disappointment of the latter were aggravated by a succession of bad harvests, setting in about 1835. The hardships of their condition, with scanty employment and dear provisions, the people ascribed to their want of direct influence upon the[456] Government. This gave rise to a vigorous agitation for the extension of the franchise, which was carried on for ten years. In 1838 a committee of six members of Parliament and six working men prepared a Bill embodying their demands. This was called the "People's Charter." Its points were six in number:—First, the extension of the right of voting to every male native of the United Kingdom, and every naturalised foreigner resident in the kingdom for more than two years, who should be twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and unconvicted of crime; second, equal electoral districts; third, vote by ballot; fourth, annual Parliaments; fifth, no property qualification for members; sixth, payment of members of Parliament for their services.Reproduced by André & Sleigh, Ltd., Bushey, Herts.

LOUIS XVI. AND MARIE ANTOINETTE IN THE PRISON OF THE TEMPLE.[See larger version]Halley's quadrant was constructed and made known by him to the Philosophical Society, in 1731, though Thomas Godfrey, a glazier, of Philadelphia, is said to have made a similar instrument a year before. As early, however, as 1727 Newton had described such an instrument to Halley, that is, a very little time before his death. This invaluable instrument has since been improved, first into a sextant, and ultimately into a complete circle. In 1758 appeared John Dollond's corrections of Newton's views of the dispersion of refracted light, and in the following year his achromatic telescope, based on his accurate discoveries.

John Gay, a contemporary of Pope, Swift, and Arbuthnot, is now best known by his "Fables" and his "Beggar's Opera." His "Fables" have been extremely popular, and still make him a general name; but, in his own time, his "Beggar's Opera" was his great success. Its wit, its charming music, its popular characters, gave it a universal favour; and it is the only English opera that even to this time has become permanent. Gay's "Trivia; or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London," is still amusing, and some of his ballads have a lightness and buoyancy about them which justify the esteem in which he was held.[97]On the 27th of May Mr. Ward brought forward a motion upon this subject. In an able speech he reviewed the state of Ireland, and remarked that since 1819 it had been necessary to maintain there an army of 22,000 men, at a cost of a million sterling per annum, exclusive of a police[372] force that cost £300,000 a year. All this enormous expense and trouble in governing Ireland he ascribed to the existence of a religious establishment hostile to the majority of the people; he therefore moved that "the Protestant episcopal establishment in Ireland exceeds the spiritual wants of the Protestant population; and that, it being the right of the State to regulate the distribution of Church property in such a manner as Parliament may determine, it is the opinion of this House that the temporal possessions of the Church of Ireland, as now established by law, ought to be reduced."

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[See larger version]EARL GREY STREET, NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE. (From a Photograph by Poulton & Son, Lee.)

At the same time, our seamen—who were the real and proper defenders of the country but were so miserably paid and so abominably treated in many ways, that they could only be compelled into the service by the odious operation of pressgangs—now burst forth into mutiny. Their complaints and resistance compelled a small advance and improvement. None since then had taken place. This advance of wages did not amount to more than eightpence-halfpenny a day to able seamen and sevenpence to ordinary seamen. And the low pay was but the smallest part of the complaint of these brave men. They complained that a most unfair system of prize-money had prevailed, by which the admirals and chief officers swept off most of the money and left little or nothing to the petty officers and the men; that their treatment on board was barbarous, unfeeling, and degrading; that their provisions were of the vilest description, being the direct consequence of the contracts with villainous purveyors, through equally rascally Navy Commissioners, so that, in fact, they were served with such salt beef, salt pork, and biscuit as no dog would touch. Nor did their list of grievances only too real end here. Instead of Government paying the pursers direct salaries, they were paid by deducting two ounces from every pound of provisions served out to the men. Thus, instead of sixteen ounces to the pound, they received only fourteen ounces; and the same rule applied to the measurement of liquids—beer and grog—served out to them. Things had come to such a pass from these causes, and the neglect of their complaint was so persevering, that the whole fleet determined on a mutiny.The Bastille surrendered almost immediately after the governor had been seized with despair. The French Guard began to cannonade the fortress; the captain of the Swiss, who might undoubtedly have held out much longer, saw that no rescue came, and that prolonged resistance would only lead in the end to sanguinary vengeance, he therefore hoisted a white flag. The captain of the Swiss demanded to be allowed to capitulate, and to march out with the honours of war; but the furious mob cried out, "No capitulation! no quarter! The rascals have fired upon the People!" The Swiss captain then said that they would lay down their arms, on condition that their lives should be spared. Then the gates of the old prison were thrown open, and the furious and triumphant mob burst in. The news of the fall of the Bastille came as a thunder-clap. The king, who had not been so confident, was gone to bed. The Duke de Liancourt, Grand Master of the Wardrobe, by virtue of his office went to his bedside, awoke him, and told him the amazing fact. "What!" exclaimed Louis, "is it, then, really a revolt?" "Say, rather, sire," replied the Duke, "a revolution!"


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