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Some of the most eminent land-owners were clear-sighted and disinterested enough to oppose these views with all their power. The Dukes of Buckinghamshire and Devonshire, the Lords Carlisle, Spencer, Grey, Grenville, Wellesley, and many members of the Commons, voted and protested energetically against them; and the additional restrictions were not carried. But enough had been done to originate the most frightful[120] sufferings and convulsions. We shall see these agitations every remaining year of this reign. The Prince Regent, in his opening speech, in 1816, declared "manufactures and commerce to be in a flourishing condition." But Mr. Brougham at once exposed this fallacy. He admitted that there had been an active manufacturing and an unusual amount of exportation in expectation of the ports of the world being thrown open by the peace; but he declared that the people of the Continent were too much exhausted by the war to be able to purchase, and that the bulk of these exported goods would have to be sold at a ruinous reductionat almost nominal prices; and then would immediately follow a stoppage of mills, a vast population thrown out of employment, and bread and all provisions made exorbitantly dear when there was the least power to purchase. All this was speedily realised. British goods were soon selling in Holland and the north of Europe for less than their cost price in London and Manchester. Abundant harvests defeated in some degree the expectations of the agriculturists, and thus both farmers and manufacturers were ruined together; for, the check being given to commerce, the manufacturing population could purchase at no price, and, in spite of the harvest, the price of wheat was still one hundred and three shillings per quarter. Many farmers, as well as manufacturers, failed; country banks were broken, and paper-money was reduced in value twenty-five per cent.; and a circumstance greatly augmenting the public distress was the reduction of its issues by the Bank of England from thirty-one millions to twenty-six millions.

Government, not content with expelling Wilkes from the House of Commons, had commenced an action against him in the Court of King's Bench, where they succeeded in obtaining a verdict against him for a libel in the North Briton. Temple paid the costs, and the City of London[183] turned this defeat into a triumph, by presenting its freedom to the Lord Chief Justice Pratt, for his bold and independent conduct in declaring against the general warrants. They ordered his portrait to be placed in Guildhall; and the example of London was followed by Dublin and many other towns, who presented their freedom and gold snuff-boxes to Pratt. The City of London also gave its thanks to its members for their patriotic conduct. Their general, Lescure, was killed, and most of their other leaders were severely wounded. Kleber triumphed over them by his weight of artillery, and they now fled to the Loire. Amongst a number of royalist nobles who had joined them from the army of the Prince of Cond on the Rhine, was Prince de Talmont, a Breton noble, formerly of vast property in Brittany, and now of much influence there. He advised them, for the present, to abandon their country, and take refuge amongst his countrymen, the Bretons. The whole of this miserable and miscellaneous population, nearly a hundred thousand in number, crowded to the edge of the Loire, impatient, from terror and despair, to cross. Behind were the smoke of burning villages and the thunder of the hostile artillery; before, was the broad Loire, divided by a low long island, also crowded with fugitives. La Roche-Jaquelein had the command of the Vendans at this trying moment; but the enemy, not having good information of their situation, did not come up till the whole wretched and famished multitude was over. On their way to Laval they were attacked both by Westermann and Lchelle; but being now joined by nearly seven thousand Bretons, they beat both those generals; and Lchelle, from mortification and terror of the guillotinenow the certain punisher of defeated generalsdied. The Vendans for a time, aided by the Bretons, appeared victorious. They had two courses open before them: one, to retire into the farthest part of Brittany, where there was a population strongly inspired by their own sentiments, having a country hilly and easy of defence, with the advantage of being open to the coast, and the assistance of the British; the other, to advance into Normandy, where they might open up communication with the English through the port of Cherbourg. They took the latter route, though their commander, La Roche-Jaquelein, was strongly opposed to it. Stofflet commanded under Jaquelein. The army marched on in great confusion, having the women and children and the waggons in the centre. They were extremely ill-informed of the condition of the towns which they approached. They might have taken Rennes and St. Malo, which would have greatly encouraged the Bretons; but they were informed that the Republican troops were overpowering there. They did not approach Cherbourg for the same cause, being told that it was well defended on the land side; they therefore proceeded by Dol and Avranches to Granville, where they arrived on the 14th of November. This place would have given them open communication with the English, and at the worst an easy escape to the Channel Islands; but they failed in their attempts to take it; and great suspicion now having seized the people that their officers only wanted to get into a seaport to desert them and escape to England, they one and all protested that they would return to the Loire. In vain did La Roche-Jaquelein demonstrate to them the fatality of such a proceeding, and how much better it would be to make themselves strong in[425] Normandy and Brittany for the present; only about a thousand men remained with him; the rest retraced their long and weary way towards the Loire, though the Republicans had now accumulated very numerous forces to bar their way. Fighting every now and then on the road, and seeing their wives and children daily drop from hunger and fatigue, they returned through Dol and Pontorson to Angers: there they were repulsed by the Republicans. They then retreated to Mons, where they again were attacked and defeated, many of their women, who had concealed themselves in the houses, being dragged out and shot down by whole platoons. At Ancenis, Stofflet managed to cross the Loire; but the Republicans got between him and his army, which, wedged in at Savenay, between the Loire, the Vilaine, and the sea, was attacked by Kleber and Westermann, and, after maintaining a desperate fight against overwhelming numbers and a terrible artillery, was literally, with the exception of a few hundred who effected their escape, cut to pieces, and the women and children all massacred by the merciless Jacobins. Carrier then proceeded to purge Nantes in the same style as Collot d'Herbois had purged Lyons.

The Ministry had, as a matter of course, been much weakened by the retirement of Lord Grey; but, having got through the Session, it might have survived to the next meeting of Parliament but for the death of Earl Spencer, which occurred on the 10th of Novemberan event which removed Lord Althorp to the House of Peers. It was supposed that this would lead only to a fresh modification of the Cabinet, by a redistribution of places. For example, Lord John Russell was to succeed Lord Althorp as the leader of the House of Commons. Lord Melbourne's Administration seemed to be quietly acquiesced in, as sufficient for a time; the nation evidently assuming that, in any case, a Liberal Government was the necessary consequence of a reformed Parliament. The public were therefore startled when it was announced on the 15th that the king had dismissed his Ministers. It appeared that Lord Melbourne had waited upon his Majesty at Brighton, on the 14th, to take his commands as to the new arrangements he was about to make. But the king said he considered that Government dissolved by the removal of Lord Althorp; that he did not approve of the intended construction of the Cabinet; that Lord John Russell would make "a wretched figure" as leader of the House, and that Abercromby and Spring-Rice were worse than Russell; that he[378] did not approve of their intended measure with regard to the Irish Church; and concluded by informing Lord Melbourne that he would not impose upon him the task of completing the Ministerial arrangements, but would send for the Duke of Wellington. [See larger version]

REVENUE CUTTERS CAPTURING AN AMERICAN SMUGGLING VESSEL. (See p. 184.) 1

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The indisposition of Parliament to attend to the ordinary business of the legislature, however important and pressing any portion of it might be considered in other circumstances, may be easily accounted for. One subject engrossed the minds of all men at this time, and agitated the nation to a depth and extent altogether unprecedented in our history. The story of Caroline of Brunswick is one of the saddest and most romantic in the annals of the Queens of England. When the Prince Regent became king, his wife, as a matter of course, became the rightful Queen of[206] England. But her husband had resolved that she should not be queen; and, rather than not have his way in this, he was ready to imperil his throne. She was as fully entitled to enjoy the well-defined rank and position that devolved upon her by the laws of the country, as he was to wear his crown, without regard to personal character. He would break the marriage tie, if he could; but, failing that, he was determined to degrade the queen by bringing against her the foulest charges of immorality. She might, indeed, have escaped a trial on these charges if she had consented to remain abroad, and had agreed to forego any title that would have connected her with the Royal Family of England. Till the death of George III., who had always been her steady friend, she had been prayed for in the liturgy as the Princess of Wales. There was now no Princess of Wales, and the king insisted that she should not be prayed for at all. His Ministers, against their own convictionsagainst what they well knew to be the almost unanimous feeling of the nationweakly yielded to the arbitrary will of their licentious Sovereign. They and their apologists attempted to uphold this conduct by alleging that she was prayed for under the words, "the rest of the Royal Family." But Mr. Denman, who defended her, afterwards observed with more truth that the general prayer in which she was embraced was, "For all that are desolate and oppressed." The moment the news of this outrage reached the queen, she resolved, with characteristic spirit and determination, to come at once to England and assert her rights in person. The Ministers flattered themselves that this was a vain boast, and that, conscious of guilt, her courage would fail her.

The Duke had little to console him in connection with the general election. In passing the Emancipation Act he had made great sacrifices, and had converted many of his most devoted friends into bitter enemies. The least that he could expect was that the great boon which it cost him so much to procure for the Roman Catholics of Ireland would have brought him some return of gratitude and some amount of political support in that country. But hitherto the Emancipation Act had failed in tranquillising the country. On the contrary, its distracted state pointed the arguments of the Tories on the hustings during the Irish elections. O'Connell, instead of returning to the quiet pursuit of his profession, was agitating for Repeal of the union, and reviling the British Government as bitterly as ever. He got up new associations with different names as fast as the Lord-Lieutenant could proclaim them, and he appealed to the example of the French and Belgian revolutions as encouraging Ireland to agitate for national independence. In consequence of his agitation many Ministerial seats in Ireland were transferred to the most violent of his followers. During these conflicts with the Government Mr. O'Connell was challenged by Sir Henry Hardinge, in consequence of offensive language used by him about that gentleman, who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland. Mr. O'Connell declined the combat, on the ground that he had a "vow registered in heaven" never again to fight a duel, in consequence of his having shot Mr. D'Esterre. This "affair of honour" drew upon him from some quarters very severe censure.

But the bullionists were still bent on forwarding their scheme, or on throwing the country into convulsions. Lord King announced to his tenants in a circular letter that he would receive his rents in specie or in bank-notes to an amount equalling the advanced value of gold. This raised a loud[12] outcry against the injustice of the act, which would have raised the rents of his farms twenty or more per cent.; and Lord Stanhope brought in a Bill to prevent the passing of guineas at a higher value than twenty-one shillings, and one-pound banknotes at a less value than twenty shillings. There was a strenuous debate on the subject in both Houses. In the Lords, Lord Chancellor Eldon demonstrated the enormity of people demanding their rents in gold when it did not exist, and when, if the person who could pay in notes carried these notes to the Bank of England, he could not procure gold for them. He denominated such a demand from landlords as an attempt at robbery. Yet the Bill was strongly opposed in both Housesin the Commons by Sir Francis Burdett, Sir Samuel Romilly, Brougham, and others. It underwent many modifications, but it passed, maintaining its fundamental principles, and landlords were obliged to go on taking their rents in paper.

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Louis Philippe, King of the French, had been the subject of constant eulogy for the consummate ability and exquisite tact with which he had governed France for seventeen years. It was supposed that the "Citizen King" had at length taught his restless and impulsive subjects the blessings of constitutional government, and that they were perfectly contented with the free institutions under which it was now their happiness to live. Guizot, regarded as one of the greatest statesmen on the Continent, was at the head of affairs in 1847, and it was hoped that his profound wisdom and keen sagacity would enable him to guard the state against any dangers with which it might be threatened by the Legitimists on one side or the Democrats on the other. But the whole aspect of public affairs in France was deceptive, and the unconscious monarch occupied a throne which rested on a volcano. The representative government of which he boasted was nothing but a shama gross fraud upon the nation. The basis of the electoral constituency was extremely narrow, and majorities were secured in the Chambers by the gross abuse of enormous government patronage. The people, however, saw through the delusion, and were indignant at the artifices by which they were deceived. The king, who interfered with his Ministers in everything, and really directed the Government, was proud of his skill in "managing" his Ministry, his Parliament, and the nation. But the conviction gained ground everywhere, and with it arose a feeling of deep resentment, that he had broken faith with the nation, that he had utterly failed to fulfil his pledges to the people, who had erected the barricades, and placed him upon the throne in 1830. The friends of the monarchy were convinced that it could only be saved by speedy and effectual reform. But the very name of Reform was hateful to the king, and his aide-de-camp took care to make known to the members of the Chambers his opinions and feelings upon the subject. M. Odillon Barrot, however, originated a series of Reform banquets, which commenced in Paris, and were held in the principal provincial cities, at which the most eminent men in the country delivered strong speeches against political corruption and corrupters, and especially against the Minister who was regarded as their chief defenderGuizot.

The CoronationFears of Eminent MenThe CholeraThe WaverersLord John Russell introduces the third Reform BillIts Progress through the CommonsThe Second Reading carried in the LordsBehind the ScenesFeeling in the CountryDisfranchisement Clauses postponedGrey resignsEbrington's ResolutionWellington attempts to form a MinistryPopular furyThe Run on the BankWellington abandons his postGrey exacts the King's Consent to the creation of PeersThe Opposition withdrawnThe Bill becomes LawThe Irish Reform BillThe Bill in the LordsThe Scottish Reform BillBecomes LawResult of the Reform BillsMr. Stanley in IrelandThe Tithe-proctorThe Church CessTithe Legislation of 1831Irish EducationWyse's ReportStanley's BillIts Provisions for Religious InstructionGeneral ElectionNew ParliamentThe Coercion BillThe Church Temporalities BillThe Poor Law CommissionIts ReportSketch of the Poor Law SystemProvisions of the Poor Law Amendment ActHistory of the Emancipation MovementMr. Stanley's ResolutionsProvisions of the Act of EmancipationThe Dorsetshire LabourersThe Copenhagen Fields MeetingOther Meetings and StrikesSheil and Lord AlthorpO'Connell's Motion on the unionBaron SmithLittleton's Tithe BillMr. Ward's MotionResignation of Mr. Stanley and his FriendsAn Indiscreet Speech of the King'sThe Debate on Mr. Ward's MotionFinal Collapse of the CabinetRetrospect of Lord Grey's Ministry.