During this debate, the state of Ireland had been repeatedly alluded to, and, on the 13th of December, Lord North brought forward his promised scheme of Irish relief, which consisted in extending the exportation of woollen cloths to wool, and wool-flocks, to all kinds of glass manufactures, and in free trade to the British coloniesprivileges that it seems wonderfully strange to us, at the present day, could ever have been withheld from any portion of the same empire. The critical state of America, no doubt, had much to do with the grant of these privileges, for all of them were conceded.

The Assembly had not paid him the respect to wait on him; but, at the last moment, they passed a resolution that the Assembly was inseparable from the person of the king, and appointed one hundred deputies to attend him. Amongst them was Mirabeau. It was about one o'clock when the king quitted Versailles amid a general discharge of musketry, falsely, on this occasion, termed a feu-de-joie. The king and queen, the dauphin, and the little daughter, Monsieur, the king's brother, and Madame Elizabeth, the king's sister, went all in one great State coach. Others of the royal household, with the ladies of honour, and the one hundred deputies, followed in about a hundred vehicles of one kind or other. The Mayor, Bailly, received them at the barrier of Paris, and conducted them to the H?tel de Ville. So soon as they had passed the barrier, the numerous procession were joined by the whole leviathan mob of Paris, calculated at two hundred thousand men! It was night, and the crushing and shouting throngs prevented the royal carriage from more than merely moving all the way from the barrier to the Place de Grve. At the H?tel de Ville, Moreau de St. Mery addressed the king in a long speech, congratulating him on his happy arrival amongst his peoplehis "loving children of the capital." The poor tired and dispirited king replied that he always came with confidence amongst his people. Bailly repeated the words in a loud tone to the people, but omitted the words "with confidence," whereupon the queen said, with much spirit, "Sir, add 'with confidence';" so Bailly replied, "Gentlemen, in hearing it from the lips of the queen you are happier than if I had not made that mistake." The king was then exhibited on the balcony to the mob, with a huge tricolour cockade in his hat, at which sight, in French fashion, the people hugged and kissed each other and danced for joy. It was eleven o'clock at night before the miserable royal captives were conducted by Lafayette to their appointed prisonfor such it was, in factthe great palace of their ancestors, the Tuileries, which had been uninhabited for a century, and had not been prepared[370] for their reception. The Assembly followed, and proceeded to work under the eyes of the Paris commune and the people. Power was fast slipping from their hands.

IRISH PRISONERS LIBERATED DURING LORD MULGRAVE'S PROGRESS. (See p. 396.) LORD NELSON. (After the Portrait by Sir William Beechey, R.A.) It was not till between eleven and twelve o'clock on the morning of Sunday, the 18th of June, that this terrible conflict commenced; for the troops of Napoleon had not yet all reached the ground, having suffered from the tempests of wind and rain equally with the Allies. The rain had now ceased, but the morning was gloomy and lowering. The action opened by a brisk cannonade on the house and wood of Hougomont, which were held by the troops of Nassau. These were driven out;[99] but their place was immediately taken by the British Guards under General Byng and Colonels Home and Macdonald. A tremendous cannonade was kept up on Hougomont by Jerome's batteries from the slopes above; and under cover of this fire the French advanced through the wood in front of Hougomont, but were met by a terrible fire from the British, who had the orchard wall as a breastwork from which to assail the enemy. The contest here was continued through the day with dreadful fury, but the British held their ground with bull-dog tenacity. The buildings of the farmyard and an old chapel were set fire to by the French shells; but the British maintained their post amid the flames, and filled the wood in front and a lane running under the orchard wall with mountains of dead.

Such a calamity could not but be attended with the most mischievous consequences. Chatham was obliged to leave town, and seek retirement and[192] a purer air at North End, near Hampstead. Townshend, who in a few days would have ceased to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, still retained office, and now showed more freely the wild and erratic character of his genius. He had lost half a million from the revenue by the reduction of the land-tax, and he pledged himself to the House to recover it from the Americans. He declared that he fully agreed with George Grenville, even in the principle of the Stamp Act, and ridiculed the distinction set up by Chatham, and admitted by Franklin, of the difference between internal and external taxation. This was language calculated to fire the already heated minds of the colonists, who, the more they reflected on Chatham's lofty language on the supreme authority of the mother country in the declaratory Act, the more firmly they repudiated it.

It has been remarked that the "monster meetings" could never have been conducted in the orderly manner for which they were distinguished, but for the Temperance reform which had been effected by Father Mathew, a benevolent, tolerant, and single-minded friar from Cork, who was known as the Apostle of Temperance, and who had induced vast numbers from all parts of the country to take the pledge, which the majority religiously kept for some years. The monster meetings, of which forty-five were held during the year, were vast assemblages whose numbers it was difficult to calculate, but they varied from 20,000 to 100,000 each. The people, generally well-dressed, came crowding to the appointed place from every direction, some on horseback, some on jaunting cars and carts, generally preceded by bands with immense banners, and sometimes marching in military order. O'Connell, the "uncrowned monarch," as his followers called him, arrived from Dublin, sitting on the dickey of a coach, usually drawn by four horses. He was always accompanied by his devoted friend, Tom Steel, the "head pacificator," one of the most ardent of hero-worshippers, who looked up to his chief as a sort of demi-god. The first of the monster meetings was held at Trim, in the county Meath, on the 19th of March, and was said to have been attended by about 30,000 persons. A dinner took place in the evening, at which Mr. O'Connell delivered an exciting speech. Referring to the bright eyes and hardy look of the multitudes that surrounded him that day, he asked, would they be everlasting slaves? They would answer "No," and he would join in the response, and say, "I shall be either in my grave or be a free man. Idle sentiments will not do. It will not do to say you like to be free. The man who thinks and does not act upon his thoughts is a scoundrel who does not deserve to be free." The monster meeting held at Mullingar on the 14th of May (Sunday) was attended by Dr. Cantwell and Dr. Higgins, two Roman Catholic bishops, and a great number of priests. This was one of the largest of the meetings, and was remarkable for the declaration made by Dr. Higgins, to the effect that "every Roman Catholic bishop in Ireland, without exception, was a Repealer. He defied all the Ministers of England to put down the agitation. If they prevented them from assembling in the open fields, they would retire to their chapels, and suspend all other instruction, in order to devote all their time to teaching the people to be Repealers. They were even ready to go to the scaffold for the cause of their country, and bequeath its wrongs to their successors." This outburst excited tumultuous applause, the whole assembly rising and cheering for a considerable time. In March, 1796, Mr. Wickham, the British envoy to Switzerland, asked of M. Barthlemy, by direction of Pitt, whether the French Directory were desirous of entertaining the question of peace. Barthlemy replied that the Directory would enter into negotiations on the basis of France retaining all the Netherlands won from Austria, which were now annexed to the Republic, and which France would never restore. The reply was certainly insincere. France was as busy as ever by her emissaries undermining the loyalty of all the populations around her on pretence of liberating them. She had worked upon the Swiss, so that it was evident that they would soon fall into her net. She had entered into a treaty with the disaffected in Ireland, namely, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, Wolfe Tone, Arthur O'Connor, and their fellow-conspirators, and the treaty was already signed, and a large fleet and force preparing for the invasion of Ireland. Not only was France on the very eve of invading Ireland, but she had issued a decree prohibiting the introduction of all British manufactures into Holland, Belgium, and the German states on the Rhine, as well as into any of the French colonies, on the severest penalties. Yet, in the face of all these hostile demonstrations, did Pitt send over Lord Malmesbury to endeavour to negotiate a peace. Lord Malmesbury arrived in Paris, on the 22nd of October, with a splendid retinue. The Directory received him haughtily, and commissioned M. Delacroix to discuss the matter with him. Lord Malmesbury insisted on the restoration of the Netherlands to Austria, a point on which the French Government had declared there could be no treaty, and which rendered the embassy, from the first moment, utterly absurd. Delacroix communicated the proposal to the Directory, and the Directory immediately published it, contrary to all the rules of diplomacy, in the Moniteur, Instead of proceeding further with Britain, the Directory immediately dispatched General Clarke, an officer of Irish extraction, and afterwards made Duke of Feltre, under Buonaparte, to Vienna, to treat separately with Austria. This failed, and, of course, with it all failed; though there was much talk between Malmesbury and the Directory on the subject of Britain restoring the French colonies in the East and West Indies, since the restoration of Belgium and Holland was a sine qua non. Thus, as might have been seen from the first, the negotiation was at a deadlock. The King of Sardinia was already in negotiation for peace for himself; and therefore British Ministers did not add to his difficulties by demanding the restoration of Savoy and Nice. December 10th. January 11th.

Mr. Villiers's motion was again brought forward on the 9th of May. The debate lasted for five nights, and ended in a division which, though it showed a majority of 256 against inquiry, was encouraging as evidencing an increase in the number of the Free Traders. The minority numbered 125. The debate was chiefly remarkable for the violence of the monopolist party. Sir Robert Peel said that the subject was exhausted, and nothing new could be adduced. "The motion of Mr. Villiers was fairly stated and proposedthere was no subterfuge involved in it. But he thought that the principle must be applied generally and universally to every article on which a duty was levied. They could not stand on the single article of corn. By the adoption of the motion they would sound the knell of Protection, and they must immediately proceed to apply the principle to practice. This would at once upset the commercial arrangements of the last year. The whole of our colonial system must be swept away without favour and without consideration." A contemporary writer describes the uproar which took place on this occasion as exceeding anything that had been witnessed since the night of the memorable division on the Corn Bill. The minority, it is said, were aware that the remaining speeches, even if delivered, could not be reported, and for that and other reasons were in their resolves so resolute, that although outvoted in some divisions, the question was just as often removed and seconded. At length Mr. Ross told Lord Dungannon, that if he were contented to sit till eight o'clock, he himself, and those who acted with him, would willingly sit till nine; and it was at this stage that Sir Charles Napier slyly suggested that they should divide themselves into three watches, after the fashion of a ship's crew. This arrangement would afford ease to all, excepting the Speaker, to whom he was sorry he could not afford the slightest relief. Worn out at length by the violence of their exertions, and despairing of victory, the majority yielded.

The Russians began their retreat, but some of them not till daylight, and then marched close past Eylau, in the very face of the French, who were, probably, as much astonished as pleased at the spectacle. Benningsen could scarcely have known the extent of the French losses, when he decided to retire. But Buonaparte, notwithstanding that he claimed the victory, was glad now to offer a suspension of hostilities to the King of Prussia, with a view to a separate peace, hinting that he might be induced to waive most of the advantages derived from the fields of Jena and Auerst?dt, and restore the bulk of his dominions. Frederick William, however great the temptation, refused to treat independently of his ally, the Czar. On this, Buonaparte, so far from pursuing the Russians, as he would have done had he been in a capacity for it, remained eight days inactive at Eylau, and then retreated on the Vistula, followed and harassed all the way by swarms of Cossacks. On this Benningsen advanced, and occupied the country as fast as the French evacuated it. The Emperor Alexander could soon have raised another host of men, but he was destitute of money and arms. He therefore applied to Britain for a loan, which the Talents thought fit to decline. This, at such a crisis, was unwise. It is certain that it filled Alexander with disgust and resentment, and led to his negotiations with Buonaparte at Tilsit. Soon after this the Conservative or Portland Ministry came in, and supplies of muskets and five hundred thousand pounds were sent, but these were, in fact, thrown away, for they did not arrive till the Czar had made up his mind to treat with Napoleon.

Lord Auckland was then Governor-General of India, but the period of his tenure of office was drawing to a close. He hoped it would end brightly, that the war for the restoration of an imbecile and puppet king would have ended triumphantly, and that he would return to his native land bearing something of the reflected glory of the conquerors of Afghanistan. He had been cheered by the despatches of the too sanguine envoy in the month of October, who spoke only of the continued tranquillity of Cabul. November passed, however, without any intelligence, and all was anxiety and painful suspense. Intelligence at last came confirming the worst anticipations. Calcutta was astounded at the news that Afghanistan, believed to be prosperous and grateful for British intervention, was in arms against its deliverers. Suddenly the tranquillity of that doomed country was found to be a delusion. "Across the whole length and breadth of the land the history of that gigantic lie was written in characters of blood." Confounded and paralysed by the tidings of so great a failure, which he had not energy to retrieve, he thought only of abandoning the vicious policy of aggression that had ended so miserably, and given such a terrible blow to the prestige of British power in India, on which our dominion in the East so much depended. He had owed his appointment to the Whigs; and the Conservatives, who were now in office, had opposed the policy of the Government regarding the Afghan war. But no one seemed more sick of the policy of aggression than the Governor-General himself. He became thoroughly convinced of the folly of placing a detached force in a distant city which could be reached only through dangerous defiles occupied by an ever-watchful enemy, depending for supplies upon uncertain allies, and without any basis of operations. The expedition had proved enormously expensive, and had drained the Indian treasury of funds that should have been employed in developing the resources of our Indian possessions. When all this had ended in disastrous failure and national disgracewhen he recollected that the directors of the Company, as well as the Government, had expressed intense dissatisfaction at his policy, feeling conscious that their complaints were just, and that their worst forebodings had been realised, his spirit seems to have been completely broken; instead of any attempt at retrieving the[497] misfortunes of his Government, he thought only of saving, if possible, what remained of the forces that he had sent across the Indus. Writing to the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Jaspar Nicolls, who was then on a tour through the Upper Provinces of India, with reference to the sending forward of reinforcements, he said he did not see how the sending forward of a brigade could by any possibility have any influence on the events which it was supposed were then passing at Cabul, which they could not reach before April. In his opinion they were not to think of marching fresh armies to the reconquest of that which they were likely to lose. He feared that safety to the force at Cabul could only come from itself. The Commander-in-Chief himself had been always of opinion that the renewed efforts of the Government to support Shah Sujah on his throne, and to establish a permanent influence in Afghanistan, was a great mistake. However, owing to the energy of Mr. George Clarke, the Governor-General's agent on the north-west frontier, and his assistant, Captain, afterwards Sir, Henry Lawrence, forces were dispatched from that quarter, under the command of General Pollock, who had commanded the garrison of Agra, having been in the Indian service since 1803, and having distinguished himself under General Lake. This appointment gave the greatest satisfaction, as it was believed that he was selected solely for his merit, and not through aristocratic influence. While he was preparing to advance, Lord Auckland was recalled, and Lord Ellenborough, the new Governor-General, arrived at Calcutta.

Mr. Smith O'Brien returned to London, took his seat in the House of Commons, and spoke on the Crown and Government Securities Bill, the design of which was to facilitate prosecutions for political offences. He spoke openly of the military strength of the Republican party in Ireland, and the probable issue of an appeal to arms. But his[567] address produced a scene of indescribable commotion and violence, and he was overwhelmed in a torrent of jeers, groans, and hisses, while Sir George Grey, in replying to him, was cheered with the utmost enthusiasm.

The introduction of the steam-engine, railroads, and canals enabled the coal-miners during this reign to extend the supply of coals enormously. In 1792 the coal-mines of Durham and Northumberland alone maintained twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty persons, and employed a capital of three million one hundred and thirty thousand poundsa very small amount of both people and money as compared with the workers and capital engaged in the trade since the expansion of the manufacturing and steam systems. The coal-fields of Durham and Northumberland extend to nearly eight hundred square miles, but the beds in Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, the Midland Counties, South of Scotland, and Ireland, are still immense and not yet fully explored. Fresh strata are discovered as steam power enables us to go deeper. In 1817 Sir Humphry Davy perfected his safety-lamp, which, by means of a simple wire gauze, enabled the miner to work amid the most explosive gases. These lamps, however, were not able to protect the colliers from their own carelessness, and most horrible destruction, from time to time, took place amongst them from neglect.