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The Ministry, as reconstructed, consisted of Lord North, First Lord of the Treasury; the Great Seal was in commission; Granby's places, the Ordnance and Commander of the Forces, were still unsupplied; so was the Duke of Manchester's old post of Lord of the Bed-Chamber. The Earl of Halifax became Lord Privy Seal; the Earl of Pembroke became a Lord of the Bed-Chamber; the Earl of Waldegrave, Master of the Horse to the queen; Sir Gilbert Elliot, Treasurer of the Navy; Charles James Fox became a junior Lord of the Admiralty; Admiral Holborne another; Mr. Welbore Ellis became one of the Vice-Treasurers of Ireland; and Thurlow was appointed Solicitor-General, in place of Dunning.
The same evening the new prison of Clerkenwell was broken open, and all the prisoners were let loose. These joined the drinking, rabid mass, and, in their turn, attacked and gutted the houses of two of the most active magistrates—Sir John Fielding and Mr. Cox. As they went along, they compelled the inhabitants to illuminate their houses, under menace of burning them down. Everywhere they seized on gin, brandy, and beer, and thus, in the highest paroxysm of drunken fury, at midnight they appeared before Lord Mansfield's house, in Bloomsbury Square. He was quickly obliged to escape with Lady Mansfield by the back door, and to take refuge in the house of a friend in Lincoln's Inn Fields. The mob broke in, and, having demolished the doors and windows, proceeded to destroy and fling out into the square the furniture, pictures, and books, of which their fellows outside made several bonfires. Then perished one of the finest libraries in England, not only of works of law but of literature, which his lordship, through a long course of years, had been collecting.
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.
Simultaneously with these proceedings, the actions commenced by Wilkes, and the printer, publishers, and others arrested under the general warrant, were being tried in the Common Pleas. All the parties obtained verdicts for damages, and that of Wilkes was for a thousand pounds. Chief-Justice Pratt, strengthened by the verdicts, made a most decided declaration of the illegality and unconstitutional nature of general warrants.The next morning London was thrown into consternation by the announcement of this conspiracy, and by a reward of one thousand pounds being offered in the Gazette for the apprehension of Thistlewood. He was captured before eight o'clock that morning, whilst in bed, at the house of a comrade, in Moorfields. But his arrest did not diminish the wild alarms which not only seized the capital but the country. This was immediately believed to be only the centre of that universal conspiracy of which Government had taken so much pains to propagate an impression. People everywhere were arming for the defence of their own neighbourhoods, and magistrates and yeomanry were turning out by night to keep watch against a surprise, whilst people in town took great care to lock and barricade their houses against the invisible foe. Thistlewood and nine others were put upon their trial on the 13th of April, and, after a trial of three days, he and eight of them were pronounced guilty, and himself and four of the most desperate were condemned to death; the others were sentenced to transportation for life; but one man, who was proved to have been amongst them without being aware of their object, was pardoned. Thistlewood and the four others were executed on the 1st of May. The next day Alderman Wood moved in the House of Commons for an inquiry into the conduct of Edwards, but it was rejected by a large majority. On the 19th he again returned to the subject, and supported his motion by producing depositions from many persons brought before him as a magistrate, demonstrating, in the plainest manner, that Edwards had recommended to them the murder of Ministers and the destruction of Parliament, had furnished plans for these objects, and had done all in his power to seduce needy men into these measures. He proved, also, from the same depositions, that Edwards himself had been living for six weeks in great affluence in the house of a schoolmaster in St. George's Street, Hanover Square, who was not aware of the occupation of Edwards till the wretch himself informed him of it. Alderman Wood called on Parliament to act on this unquestionable evidence, and purge itself of any sanction of such disgraceful transactions. But Ministers again resisted all inquiry, and their friends openly defended them in the use of such means, even ridiculing Alderman Wood, and those who supported his motion, for supposing that Lord Sidmouth would proceed against Edwards through any depositions furnished by magistrates. The motion was, of course, thrown out.
Lord Castlereagh, in recounting the aid given by Great Britain to the sovereigns of the Continent in this grand effort to put down the intolerable military dominance of Buonaparte, drew a picture of expenditure such as no country had presented since the commencement of history. He said that the nations of the north of Europe were so exhausted by their former efforts, that not one of them could move without our aid; that this year alone we had sent to Russia two million pounds; to Prussia two million pounds; to Austria one million pounds in money, and one hundred thousand stand of arms; to Spain two million pounds; to Portugal one million pounds; to Sicily four hundred thousand pounds. By these aids Russia had been able to bring up men from the very extremities of the earth, and Prussia to put two hundred thousand men into the field. We had sent during the year five hundred thousand muskets to Spain and Portugal, and four hundred thousand to other parts of the Continent. There was something sublime in the contemplation of one nation, by the force of her wealth and her industry, calling together the armies of the whole world to crush the evil genius of the earth.Meanwhile Lord Howe had been on the look-out some time for the French fleet, which, it was understood, was about to leave Brest, in order to meet a convoy of merchant ships from the West Indies, and aid it in bringing that trade fleet into port. On reaching Brest, however, he discovered that the French fleet had sailed, and it was not till the 28th of May that he caught sight of it out at sea, opposite the coast of Brittany. The French fleet, commanded by Admiral Villaret Joyeuse, was greatly superior to Howe's in ships, number of seamen, and weight of metal. Howe had twenty-five sail of the line and five frigates, carrying two thousand and ninety-eight guns, in weight of metal twenty-one thousand five hundred and nineteen pounds, and sixteen thousand six hundred and forty-seven men. Joyeuse, now joined by Admiral Neilly, had twenty-six line-of-battle ships and smaller vessels, carrying two thousand one hundred and fifty-eight guns, in weight of metal twenty-five thousand five hundred and twenty-one pounds, and nineteen thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight men. After some skirmishing, on the 1st of June—"the glorious first"—Howe came to close quarters with the enemy, who was compelled to fight by the presence of the Conventional Commissioner Bon St. André. He ordered his fleet to follow his ship, the Charlotte, in cutting right through the enemy's line. Only five ships, however, accomplished this so as to engage the French to the leeward, and prevent them from escaping. Howe afterwards complained that some of his captains had not obeyed his orders, and threatened them with a court-martial; but some replied that their ships were in such bad sailing condition that they could not effect this movement, and others that they did not understand the signal. Thus, five vessels fighting to the leeward, and the rest to the windward, the battle raged furiously from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon, when the French admiral sheered off for Brest, leaving behind seven of his finest vessels in the hands of the British. The British lost in the action two hundred and seventy-nine men, and had eight hundred and seventy-seven wounded. The French lost in six of the captured ships alone six hundred and ninety men, and had five hundred and eighty wounded. The seventh, the Vengeur, went down almost as soon as the British flag was hoisted on her, with, it is supposed, three hundred men in her. Altogether, it is likely that the French did not lose less than fifteen hundred men, besides wounded, and two thousand three hundred prisoners. The British lost a number of officers, who were either killed in the battle or died afterwards of their injuries Amongst these were Sir Andrew Douglas, second captain of Howe's own ship; Captains Montagu of the Montagu, Hutt of the Queen, and Harvey of the Brunswick; Rear-Admirals Pasley of the Bellerophon, and Bowyer of the Barfleur. Admiral Graves and Captain Berkeley were severely wounded. Howe made every effort to pursue and bring the French admiral again to action; but, owing to the bad sailing qualities of English ships at that time, and the shattered state of many of them, he could not overtake Villaret, who made the best of his way to Brest. During the remainder of the year there were various engagements between small squadrons in different quarters, in which the advantage generally remained with the British, besides the training thus afforded to the officers and sailors for the mighty victories which awaited them.
[See larger version]During the recess of Parliament there was an active contest between the new French opinions and the old constitutional ones. One called forth and provoked the other. Clubs and societies for Reform were more after the model of the wholesale proceedings of France than the old and sober ones of England. The Society of the Friends of the People was compelled to disclaim all connection with the Society for Constitutional Information in London, which was in open correspondence with the Jacobins of Paris. It was forced to disown societies in the country of the same stamp, and especially to check a branch of the Society for Constitutional Information in Sheffield, which, in May of the present year, called on the Society of the Friends of the People to establish a Convention in London. To allow of no mistake as to their principles, the Society of the Friends of the People held a great meeting on the 5th of May, in which they announced that they had no other object but to obtain Parliamentary Reform by strictly legal and constitutional means, and that after this end had been secured they should dissolve themselves. Yet, notwithstanding this, there were those in the Society who deemed that they were in connection with persons and associations whose views went farther than their own, and, on this ground, on the 9th of June, Mr. Baker, who had been the chairman at the late meeting at the Freemasons' Tavern, Lord John Russell, who had been deputy-chairman, Dudley North, Mr. Curwen, and Mr. Courtney, withdrew from it.
In Germany, Frederick of Prussia was hard put to it. A fresh army of Russians, under General Soltikow, advanced to the Oder, and another army of Austrians, under Laudohn, advanced to form a junction with them. To prevent this, Frederick sent General Wedel to encounter the Russians, but he was defeated by them on the 23rd of July, with heavy loss. Frederick himself then hastened against them, but, before his arrival, the Austrians had joined Soltikow, making a united force of sixty thousand, which Frederick attacked, on the 12th of August, with forty-eight thousand, at the village of Kunersdorf, close to Frankfort-on-the-Oder. At first he was successful; but, attempting to push his advantages, he was completely beaten, the whole of his army being killed or scattered to three thousand men. So completely did his ruin now seem accomplished, that, expecting the Russians, Austrians, Poles, Swedes, and Saxons to come down on him on all sides, he once more contemplated taking the poison that he still carried about him; wrote a letter to that effect to his Prime Minister, and directed the oath of allegiance to be taken to his nephew, and that his brother, Prince Henry, should be regent; but finding that the Russians, who had lost twenty thousand men, were actually drawing off, he again took courage, was soon at the head of thirty thousand men, and with these was hastening to the relief of Dresden, when he was paralysed by the news that General Finck, with twelve thousand men, had suffered himself to be surrounded at Maxen, and compelled to surrender. Despairing of relieving Dresden during this campaign, Frederick eventually took up his winter quarters at Freiberg, in Saxony, and employed himself in raising and drilling fresh soldiers; compelled, however, to pay his way by debasing both the Prussian coin, and the English gold which he received in subsidy, by a very large alloy.The winter of 1836-7 was marked by great commercial activity, and a strong tendency to over-trading, chiefly on the part of the banks. The result was a reaction, and considerable monetary embarrassment. In the reckless spirit of enterprise which led to these consequences, the American houses took the lead. The American speculators indulged an inordinate thirst for gain by land jobs, and over-trading in British produce. The most remarkable examples of this were afforded by three great American houses in London, called "the three W.'s." From an account of these firms, published in June, 1837, it appeared that the amount of bills payable by them from June to December, was as follows: Wilson and Co., ￡936,300; Wigan and Co., ￡674,700; Wildes and Co., ￡505,000; total acceptances, ￡2,116,000. This was upwards of one-sixth of the aggregate circulation of the private and joint-stock banks of England and Wales, and about one-eighth of the average circulation of the Bank of England. The shipments to America by Wigan and Co. amounted to ￡1,118,900. The number of joint-stock banks that started into existence at this time was remarkable. From 1825 to 1833 only thirty joint-stock banks had been established. In that year the Charter of the Bank of England being renewed, without many of the exclusive privileges it formerly enjoyed, and the spirit of commercial enterprise being active, joint-stock banks began to increase rapidly. There was an average of ten new companies annually, till 1836, when forty-five of these establishments came into existence in the course of ten months. In Ireland there were ten started in the course of two years. The consequence of this greatly increased banking accommodation produced a wild spirit of commercial adventure, which collapsed first in America, where the monetary confusion was unexampled—bankers, importers, merchants, traders, and the Government having been all flung into a chaos of bankruptcy and insolvency. This state of things in America had an immediate effect in England. Discounts were abruptly refused to the largest and hitherto most respectable houses of Liverpool and London. Trade, in consequence, became paralysed; prices suddenly dropped from thirty to forty per cent.; and the numerous share bubbles—the railway projects, the insurance companies, the distillery companies, the cemetery companies, the sperm oil, the cotton twist, zoological gardens, and other speculations—which had floated on the pecuniary tide, all suddenly collapsed, and there was an end to the career of unprincipled adventurers. It is satisfactory, however, to observe that the sound commerce of the country soon recovered the shock thus given; and in less than two years the pecuniary difficulties had passed away. Commerce had resumed its wonted activity, and flowed steadily in legitimate channels. The American banks resumed payment, and the three great American houses, which had involved themselves to such an enormous extent, were enabled to meet all their liabilities.详情
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