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In history, as in fiction, a new school of writers arose during this period, at the head of which stood Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon. David Hume (b. 1711; d. 1776) had already acquired a great reputation by his "Philosophical Essays concerning the Human Understanding," his "Inquiry into the Principles of Morals," and his "Natural History of Religion." In these metaphysical works he had indulged his extreme sceptical tendency, and in the "Essay on Miracles" believed that he had exploded the Christian religion. His works on this subject did not, at first, gain much attention; but in a while were seized on by the deistical and atheistical philosophers in Britain and on the Continent, and have furnished them with their principal weapons. The first two volumes of history met for a time with the same cold reception as his metaphysics. He commenced with that favourite period with historians—the reigns of James I. and Charles I.—because then began the great struggle for the destruction of the Constitution, followed by the still more interesting epoch of its battle for and triumph over its enemies. Hume had all the Tory prejudices of the Scottish Jacobite, and the reigns of James I. and Charles I. were extremely to his taste, but as little to that of the English public. Hence the dead silence with which it was received. But when there had been time to read the second volume, containing the Commonwealth and the reigns of Charles II. and James II., the storm broke out. In these he had run counter to all the received political ideas of the age. But this excitement raised both volumes into notice, and he then went back, and, in[176] 1759, published two more volumes, containing the reigns of the Tudors; and, going back again, in 1762 he completed his history by bringing it down from the invasion of Julius C?sar to the accession of Henry VII. It was afterwards, as has been mentioned, continued by Smollett.

The court then adjourned to the 15th of April. The case of the Begums was opened by Mr. Adams, and concluded the next day by Mr. Pelham. Then sixteen days were occupied by the evidence, and at length, on the 3rd of June, Sheridan began to sum up the evidence, and, in a speech which lasted three days, he kept the court in the highest state of excitement. The place was crowded to suffocation during the whole time, and as much as fifty guineas is said to have been paid for a single seat. Greatly as this speech of Sheridan's was admired, it was felt to be too ornate and dramatic: there was not the deep and genuine feeling of Burke in it, and the effect was so evidently studied, that, on concluding, Sheridan fell back into the arms of Burke, as if overcome by his own sensations. The prorogation of Parliament was now at hand, and only two out of the twenty charges had been gone through: neither of them had yet been replied to, and yet other causes of engrossing interest arising, the trial was entirely suspended till the 20th of April of the following year! Then it was taken up languidly and at uncertain intervals, and rapidly became a mere exhibition of rhetoric. Further, Burke's unlawyer-like style and intemperance of language drew upon him the censure of the Lord Chancellor, and even of the House of Commons. A revulsion of public feeling took place, and was seen in the acquittal of Stockdale who was tried for libelling the promoters of the trial. Three years afterwards Burke himself renounced sixteen of his charges, and all popular interest in the trial gradually disappeared.Chatham, undeterred by the fate of his motion, determined to make one more effort, and bring in a Bill for the pacification of the colonies, and he called upon Franklin to assist in framing it. On the following Tuesday, Franklin hurried down to Hayes with the draft of the Bill left with him, and with his full approbation of it, having, he says, only added one word, that of "constitutions" after "charters." The next day (Wednesday), the 1st of February, Chatham appeared in the House of Lords with his Bill. He declared that it was a[215] Bill not merely of concession, but of assertion, and he called on the Lords to entertain it cordially, to correct its crudenesses, and pass it for the peace of the whole empire. The Bill first explicitly asserted our supreme power over the colonies; it declared that all that related to the disposing of the army belonged to the prerogative of the Crown, but that no armed force could be lawfully employed against the rights and liberties of the inhabitants; that no tax, or tollage, or other charge for the revenue, should be levied without the consent of the provincial Assemblies. The Acts of Parliament relating to America passed since 1764 were wholly repealed; the judges were made permanent during their good behaviour, and the Charters and constitutions of the several provinces were not to be infringed or set aside, unless upon some valid ground of forfeiture. All these concessions were, of course, made conditional on the recognition by the colonies of the supreme authority of Parliament.

BRITISH LINE-OF-BATTLE SHIPS (1836).On the 1st of June her Majesty arrived at St. Omer, intending to embark at Calais without delay for England. She wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, the Earl of Liverpool, commanding him to prepare a palace in London for her reception; another to Lord Melville, to send a yacht to carry her across the Channel to Dover; and a third to the Duke of York, repeating both demands, and complaining of the treatment she had received. Two days later Lord Hutchinson, with Mr. Brougham, who was her legal adviser, arrived with a proposition from the king, offering her fifty thousand pounds a year for life if she would remain on the Continent, and relinquish her claims as Queen of England. The queen instantly and indignantly rejected the offer, and started for England with all haste, having dismissed her foreign suite, including Bergami, her chamberlain, and the prime cause of the scandal that attached to her name. She would not even be dissuaded by Mr. Brougham, who most earnestly implored her to refrain from rushing into certain trouble and possible danger; or, at least, to delay taking the step until Lord Hutchinson should have received fresh instructions. She was peremptory, and sailed at once for Dover, accompanied by Lady Anne Hamilton and Alderman Wood, landing on the 6th of June. As this event was quite unexpected by Government, the commandant, having had no orders to the contrary, received her with a royal salute. The beach was covered with people, who welcomed her with shouts of enthusiasm. From Dover to London her journey was a continued ovation. In London the whole population seemed to turn out in a delirium of joy and triumph, which reached its climax as the procession passed Carlton House. No residence having been provided for her by the Government, she proceeded to the house of Alderman Wood in Audley Street.The chiefs of the Tory party were at this time sanguine in their expectation of being speedily called to office. Their hopes were founded mainly upon the dissensions that were known to exist in the Cabinet. These dissensions were first revealed by O'Connell's motion for a committee to inquire into the conduct of Baron Smith, when presiding as a judge in criminal cases, and especially with reference to a charge addressed by him to the grand jury of Dublin, in which he said: "For the last two years I have seldom lost an opportunity for making some monitory observations from the Bench. When the critical and lawless situation of the country did not seem to be generally and fully understood, I sounded the tocsin and pointed out the ambuscade. Subsequent events deplorably proved that I had given no false alarm. The audacity of factious leaders increased from the seeming impunity which was allowed them; the progress of that sedition which they encouraged augmented in the same proportion, till on this state of things came, at length, the Coercion Bill at once to arrest the mischief, and consummate the proof of its existence and extent." As there was no doubt that these shafts were aimed at O'Connell, this last charge afforded him a fair opportunity of putting a stop to the abuse by bringing the conduct of the talented but eccentric judge before Parliament; for, as there was no political case in the calendar, there was no excuse for the attack. Mr. Littleton declared it impossible to refuse his consent to the motion. Mr. Stanley, Lord Althorp, and Lord John Russell expressed a similar view. Sir James Graham briefly but warmly dissented from his colleagues. He had come down to the House with the understanding that they meant to oppose the motion. He for one still retained his opinion, and had seen no reason to change it. As one who valued the independence of the judges and his own character, he must declare that if the motion were carried, and if, as its result, an Address was presented to the Crown for the removal of Baron Smith, it would be a highly inexpedient—nay, more, a most unjust proceeding. The present would be the most painful vote he had ever given, since he felt it incumbent upon him to sever himself from those friends with whom during a public life of some duration he had had the honour of acting; but feeling as he did the proposition to be one dangerous in itself, he conceived he would be betraying the trust committed to him if he did not declare against it. Baron Smith was ably defended by Mr. Shaw, by Sir J. Scarlett, and Sir Robert Peel. On a division, the motion for a committee of inquiry was carried by 167 to 74, Sir James Graham and Mr. Spring-Rice voting in the minority. Next morning Sir James tendered his resignation as First Lord of the Admiralty, which was declined, and in the following week the vote was rescinded by a majority of six.

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.[See larger version]

When the French saw that Ormonde could not induce the mercenary troops to move, they refused to surrender Dunkirk, and an English detachment which arrived there to take possession found the gates shut in their faces. At this insult the British troops burst out into a fury of indignation. The officers as well as the men were beside themselves with shame, and shed tears of mortification, remembering the glorious times under Marlborough. Ormonde himself, thus disgraced, thus helpless—for he had not the satisfaction, even, of being able to avenge himself on the French,—thus deserted by the auxiliaries, and made a laughing-stock to all Europe by the crooked and base policy of his Government, retired from before the walls of Dunkirk, and directed his course towards Douay. The Dutch shut their gates against him, and he finally retired in ignominy to England.During the year 1750 the French evinced a hostile disposition. They laid claim to part of Nova Scotia, and refused to surrender the islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent, as they were bound to do by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. They continued to stir up bad feeling towards us both in Spain and Germany. The Empress listened with eagerness to the suggestions of France, and co-operated with that country in endeavouring to influence Spain against us. Fortunately, the good disposition of the Queen of Spain, and the able management of Mr. Keene, our Ambassador, foiled all these efforts, and completed a commercial treaty with that country. This treaty was signed on the 5th of October, 1750, and placed us at once on the same footing in commercial relations with Spain as the most favoured nations. We abandoned the remaining term of the Assiento, and obtained one hundred thousand pounds as compensation for the claims of the South Sea Company. The right of search, however, was passed over in silence, and we continued to cut logwood[115] in Campeachy Bay and to smuggle on the Spanish Main, winked at by the Spanish authorities, but liable to interruption whenever jealousy or ill-will might be in the ascendant. In various directions our commerce flourished at this time, and many injurious restrictions were removed, such as those that hampered the whale fishery of Spitzbergen, the white herring and coast fisheries, the trade to the coast of Guinea, the import of iron from the American plantations and of raw silk from China. Our manufactures also grew apace, in spite of the internal jarrings of the Ministry and the deadness of Parliament.

Whilst these proceedings were in agitation, the Tory and Jacobite party, which had at the king's accession appeared stunned, now recovering spirit, began to foment discontent and sedition in the public mind. They got the pulpits to work, and the High Church clergy lent themselves heartily to it. The mobs were soon set to pull down the meeting-houses of the Dissenters. Many buildings were destroyed, and many Dissenters insulted. They did not pause there, but they blackened the character of the king, and denied his right to the Crown, whilst the most fascinating pictures were drawn of the youth, and grace, and graciousness of the rightful English prince, who was wandering in exile to make way for the usurper. To such a length did matters go, that the Riot Act, which had been passed in the reign of Mary, and limited to her own reign, which was again revived by Elizabeth, and had never since been called into action, was now made perpetual, and armed with increased power. It provided that if twelve persons should unlawfully assemble to disturb the peace, and any one Justice should think proper to command them by proclamation to disperse, and should they, in contempt of his orders, continue together for one hour, their assembling should be felony without benefit of clergy. A subsequent clause was added, by which pulling down chapels or houses, even before proclamation, was made subject to the same penalties. Such is the Act in force at this day.

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But the position of Buonaparte was far from being secure or satisfactory. Though the soldiers had come over to him, and endeavoured to rouse the populace of Paris to shout for his return, it was in vain. The Guards, incensed at their silence, struck them with the flat of their swords, and bade them cry, "Napoleon and Liberty!" but, though they saw that Napoleon had returned, they very much doubted whether he had brought liberty with him, and they remained cold and indifferent. They saw the armies of the Allies looming again in the distance, and they gave no credence to Napoleon's ready lies that he was at peace with them. But he omitted no exertions to enter into such a peace. He dispatched messengers to every Court, offering to accept the terms of the Treaty of Paris, though he had repeatedly avowed that this treaty consummated the disgrace of France. To these messages no answers were returned. It was already determined that he should receive no communication from the Allied sovereigns but in the shape of overwhelming armies. They had proclaimed, in their Congress at Vienna, and in their new Treaty of Coalition, that he had forfeited every claim to consideration, and the British House of Commons had fully coincided with them, and already upwards of a million of soldiers were in arms, and in march towards France to finally crush him.The first day of 1839 was marked in Ireland by an atrocious crime. The Earl of Norbury, an amiable nobleman, regarded as one of the most exemplary of his class, both as a man and a landlord, was shot by an assassin in the open day near his own house at Kilbeggan, and in presence of his steward. The murderer escaped. This event deserves special mention, because it was, during the year, the subject of frequent reference in Parliament. There was a meeting of magistrates at Tullamore, at which Lord Oxmantown presided, at which the Earl of Charleville took occasion to animadvert very strongly upon an expression in a letter, in answer to a memorial lately presented by the magistrates of Tipperary, in which Mr. Drummond, the Under-Secretary, uttered the celebrated maxim, that "property had its duties as well as its rights." This, in the circumstances of the country, he felt to be little less than a deliberate and unfeeling insult. He did not hesitate to say that the employment of those terms had given a fresh impulse to feelings which had found their legitimate issue in the late assassination. In the course of the meeting resolutions were proposed and carried to the following effect:—"That the answer to the Tipperary magistrates by Mr. Under-Secretary Drummond has had the effect of increasing the animosities entertained against the[459] owners of the soil, and has emboldened the disturbers of the public peace. That there being little hope for a successful appeal to the Irish executive, they felt it their duty to apply to the people of England, the Legislature, and the Throne for protection."



Meanwhile the country continued to suffer from a great wave of trade depression. Gloom and discontent were throughout the land; and the Home Secretary of the new Administration afterwards stated that there was hardly a day during this period when he had not found it necessary to have personal communication with the Horse Guards, as well as with the heads of the police in the metropolis, and in the manufacturing districts. There seemed, indeed, to be no limit to the distress of the people. In Carlisle a committee of inquiry into the state of the town reported that one-fourth of their population was living in a state bordering on absolute starvation. In a population of 22,000 they found 5,561 individuals reduced to such a state of suffering that immediate relief had become necessary to save them from actual famine. Terrible accounts from other and far distant neighbourhoods showed how widespread was the evil. The manufacturers of the West of England appointed a committee to consider the distressed state of that district. Taking the town of Bradford, in Wilts, as an example, the committee reported that of the nineteen manufacturers carrying on business there in 1820, nine had failed, five had declined business from want of success, one[486] had taken another trade, and two only remained. Of 462 looms, 316 were entirely out of work, and only 11 in full employment; and this distress, it must be remembered, could not be traced to one great overwhelming cause, like that of the failure of the cotton supplies of a later day. The blight that had spread over the field of British industry was to most men a puzzle; but the West of England committee, after reporting that the same condition of things existed at Chalford, Stroud, Ulley, Wotton, Dursley, Frome, Trowbridge, etc., did not hesitate to declare that the depression of trade that was destroying capital, and pauperising the working classes was attributable to the legislation on the principle of protection. A public meeting was held at Burnley in the summer of 1842 to memorialise the Queen on the prevailing distress. At a great public conference of ministers of religion, held in Manchester in the previous autumn, it had been resolved that the existing Corn Laws were "impolitic in principle, unjust in operation, and cruel in effect;" that they were "opposed to the benignity of the Creator, and at variance with the very spirit of Christianity." This conference, which extended over an entire week of meetings, held both morning and evening, was attended by nearly 700 ministers. Their proceedings filled an entire volume, and attracted considerable attention throughout the kingdom. Similar conferences were afterwards held in a great number of towns.There remain only the trials of Hunt and his associates in the meeting at Manchester to close the events which arose out of circumstances originating under the reign of George III. These took place at York spring assizes, whither they had been prudently removed out of the district where both parties were too much inflamed for a fair verdict to be expected. During the time that they lay in prison the conduct of Hunt had greatly disgusted his humble associates. He[156] showed so much love of himself that Bamford says he began to think that he could never have really loved his country. The Government had found it necessary a second time to lower its charge against the Manchester prisoners. At first it was high treason, then it subsided to treasonable conspiracy, and now, at last, it was merely "for unlawful assembling for the purpose of moving and inciting to hatred and contempt of the Government." Of this they were all convicted, and were confined in different gaols for various periods, and were called upon to give substantial security for good behaviour in future before being set at liberty. Hunt was imprisoned for three years in Ilchester gaol. It is only justice to him to state that though, during this imprisonment, he was continually sending to the newspapers complaints of ill treatment, he was instrumental in making known to the public some flagrant malpractices going on in the gaol, and which, through these exposures, were afterwards corrected.

[See larger version]Accordingly, Charles could do nothing but maintain his position for the present in Scotland, and send off a messenger to France to announce his wonderful success, and to urge that now was the moment to hasten over troops and supplies, and secure the Crown and friendship of England for ever. He sent over Mr. Kelly to the French Court and to his father, and for a moment there was a lively disposition at Versailles to strike the blow. The king immediately despatched some supplies of money and arms, some of which were seized by English cruisers, and some of which arrived safely. There was also a talk of sending over Charles's brother, Henry, Duke of York, at the head of the Irish regiments and of others, and active preparations were made for the purpose at Dunkirk. But again this flash of enthusiasm died out, and Charles, three weeks after Kelly, sent over Sir James Stewart to aid him in his solicitations. But all was in vain. The French again seemed to weigh the peril of the expedition, and on their part complained that the Jacobites showed no zeal in England, without which the invasion would be madness. Thus the time went by, till the Dutch and English troops landed in England, and the opportunity was lost.



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