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On the 22nd of April Mr. O'Connell brought forward a very comprehensive motion. It was for a select committee to inquire and report on the means by which the destruction of the Irish Parliament had been effected; on the results of the union upon Ireland, and upon the labourers in husbandry and operatives in manufactures in England; and on the probable consequences of[371] continuing the Legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland. This motion originated a debate on the Repeal question which lasted four days. O'Connell himself spoke for six hours. The debate was chiefly memorable for a speech of Mr. Spring-Rice, in defence of the union, which also occupied six hours in the delivery. He concluded by proposing an amendment to the effect that an Address should be presented to the king by both Houses of Parliament, expressing their determination to maintain the Legislative union inviolate. In a very full House the amendment was carried by an overwhelming majority, the numbers being for, 523; against, 38. Mr. Spring-Rice's speech served the Government materially, while by the Conservatives it was regarded as "a damper" to their own hopes.

Meanwhile the coronation had taken place. It was fixed for the 8th of September, and the necessary alterations were made in Westminster Abbey for the occasion. On the morning of the appointed day numerous labourers, in scarlet jackets and white trousers, were busy completing the arrangements. Forty private gentlemen acted as pages of the Earl Marshal, and devised a novelty in the way of costume, clothing themselves in blue frock coats, white breeches and stockings, a crimson silk sash, and a small, ill-shaped hat, with a black ostrich feather, each provided with a gilt staff. Their duty was to conduct persons provided with tickets to their proper places. Three-fourths of the members of the House of Commons were in military uniform, and a few in Highland costume. The equipages produced for the occasion were magnificent, the Lord Chancellor rivalling the Lord Mayor in this display; but neither of them came up to the Austrian ambassador in finery. The street procession commenced on Constitution Hill, and attracted thousands of spectators. Their Majesties' carriage was drawn by eight horses, four grooms being on each side, two footmen at each door, and a yeoman of the guard at each wheel. The crowds were in good humour with the spectacle, and manifested no disposition to dispense with royalty. The presence of the queen offered a contrast to the coronation of George IV. Of the regalia, the ivory rod with the dove was borne by Lord Campbell, the sceptre and the cross by Lord Jersey, and the crown by the Duke of Beaufort. The queen followed, supported by the Bishops of Winchester and Chichester, and attended by five gentleman pensioners on each side, the train borne by the Duchess of Gordon, assisted by six daughters of earls. There was no banquet, Government having the fear of the economists before their eyes, and the nation having too lively a recollection of the coronation folly of George IV.; but the king entertained a large party of the Royal Family and nobility, with the principal officers of his household.[See larger version]

THE TOLBOOTH, EDINBURGH.A great portion of the present Session was[143] occupied with discussing the return to cash payments, which, by the Act of Parliament, ought to take place on the 5th of July of this year. It appears that no less than fifty debates and conversations in both Houses took place on this important subject during the Session. Very soon after the meeting of Parliament a secret committee of each House was appointed to inquire into the state of the Bank. These committees were, however, so managed, by delivering to the members lists of suitable persons for such committees, that scarcely any but Ministerial men were voted, though these votes were given by ballot. In the Commons this result was so evident that the Opposition declined to vote at all. The first reports of the committees went rather to close more strictly than to open the issue of gold by the Bank. It had been paying in gold its notes issued previous to January, 1817. This payment it was proposed to stop, as, at present, evidently injurious to the interests of the country. Mr. Peel, on moving for a Bill for this purpose, stated that the gold at the present price was fast finding its way abroad, and was as rapidly absorbed in re-minting a gold coinage for France. It appeared that during the first half of 1818 gold to the value of no less than one hundred and twenty-eight million francs had been coined at the French mint, of which three-fourths were derived from the gold coinage of England. A Bill was accordingly passed to stop payment altogether in gold till the necessary preparations were made by a fresh Bill. Still, the condition of the Bank was represented as flourishing. Its liabilities were stated in January, 1819, as amounting to thirty-three million eight hundred and ninety-four thousand five hundred and eighty pounds; its assets, including the debt due from Government, fifty-three million seven hundred and eighty-three thousand seven hundred pounds. The total Bank surplus appeared to be nineteen million eight hundred and eighty-nine thousand one hundred and twenty pounds; and its surplus, independent of the Government debt, and therefore available for current use, was five million two hundred and two thousand three hundred and twenty pounds. The committees adopted the scheme broached by Mr. Ricardo in his "Proposals for an Economical and Secure Currency," published in 1816. This was that the Bank, in the first instance, should not pay for its notes in gold coin, but in ingots of a certain weight, its fineness being attested by a stamp; and this degree of purity should be regulated from time to time till the gold descended to the Mint price of three pounds seventeen shillings and tenpence-halfpenny per ounce. When the Mint gold at length reached this rate of value, then the payment in coin was to be begun. Resolutions to this effect were moved by the Earl of Harrowby on the 21st of May, and they received the approval, not only of the Ministerial side, but of the leading Opposition members, Lords Grenville, Lansdowne, and King.

The king left Scotland on the 29th, taking a route different from that by which he entered. On his way to the place of embarkation he visited the Earl of Hopetoun, at whose house he conferred the honour of knighthood on Mr. Raeburn, the celebrated portrait-painter. At Queensferry the country people assembled to testify their loyalty with a last look and a parting cheer. The roar of cannon from all the surrounding hills, and the shouts of the multitude, greeted him on his embarkation at Port Edgar. The royal squadron arrived safely on the 1st of September at Greenwich, where he was cordially welcomed home.But a very different spirit displayed itself in America on the arrival of the news of the passing of the Act. Franklin's friend, Thompson, replied to him, that, instead of lighting candles, there would be works of darkness. The rage of the American public burst forth in unequivocal vigour. At New York, the odious Stamp Act was represented surmounted with a death's head instead of the royal arms, and was hawked through the streets with the title of "the folly of England and the ruin of America." At Boston the colours of the shipping were lowered half-mast high, and the bells of the city were muffled and tolled funeral knells. Everywhere there was a frenzied excitement, and the provincial Assemblies resounded with the clamour of indignant patriotism. It was the fortune of that of Virginia to give the leading idea of union and co-operative resistance, which led to the grand conflict, and to eventual victory over the infatuated mother country. There Patrick Henry, a very different man to Franklin, started up, and kindled by his fiery breath the torch of confederate resistance. But it was at once seen that, to acquire their full weight, the colonies must unite. Speeches, pamphlets, articles in newspapers, all called for co-operation. A print was published exhibiting a snake cut into a number of pieces, each piece inscribed with the name of a colony, and with the motto, "Join or die." In consequence, several of the states sent representatives to a general congress, to be held at New York in the month of October, to take measures for a general resistance to the Stamp Act.

Local Act (various) { 21 unions 320

On the 23rd, only four days after the abdication of the king, Murat entered Madrid with a numerous body of infantry and cuirassiers, attended by a splendid train of artillery. Ferdinand entered the city the same day. He had formed an administration wholly opposed to Godoy and his policy. The Ambassadors of the other Powers presented themselves to offer their congratulations; but Beauharnais, the French Ambassador, preserved a profound silence. Murat, also, though he professed himself friendly to Ferdinand, said not a word implying recognition of his title. Still more ominous, the news arrived that Buonaparte himself was on the way with another powerful army. Murat took up his residence in the Palace of the Prince of the Peace, and greatly alarmed Ferdinand and his courtiers by addressing him, not as "your Majesty," but merely as "your Royal Highness." He counselled him to wait, and do nothing till he could advise with Napoleon, and, in the meantime, to send his brother, Don Carlos, to greet the Emperor on his entrance into Spain. To this Ferdinand consented; but when Murat recommended him also to go, and show this mark of respect to his ally, Ferdinand demurred, and by the advice of Cevallos, one of his wisest counsellors, he declined the suggestion. To complicate matters, Murat opened communication with the king and queen, and, not content with that, with Godoy also, assuring him that his only hope of safety lay in the friendship of the Emperor. By this means Murat learned all the accusations that each party could make against the other, so that these things might serve Buonaparte to base his measures, or, at least, his pretences upon. Encouraged by this, Charles[552] wrote to Napoleon to declare his abdication entirely forced, and to leave everything to the decision of his good friend, the Emperor.The consequence was that the condition of the agricultural population was as debased morally as it was destitute physically—in the almost total absence of education, the very funds granted by pious testators for this end being embezzled by the clergy or squirearchy. Everything which could brutalise the people was encouraged by the aristocracy on the plea that it made them good soldiers. When the horrors and brutalities of almost universal dog-fightings, cock-fightings, bull and bear-baitings began to attract the attention of philanthropists, and it was sought by Parliamentary enactment to suppress them, they were defended by Windham, and others, on the ground that they accustomed the people to the sight of blood, and made them of the "true British bull-dog character."



As the Government was determined to persevere, and to carry the Reform Bill by means of a large creation of peers, if necessary, some of the leading members of the Opposition in the Upper House began to think seriously of their position, a sort of appeal having been made to them in a letter from the king's private secretary, suggesting the prudence of compromise and concession in order to save his Majesty from the painful alternative of a creation of peers. Accordingly, Lords Wharncliffe and Harrowby put themselves in communication with Lord Grey, and this fact was announced by the former in a letter to the Duke of Wellington, stating that he entertained good hope of being able to arrange such a plan of compromise as would prevent the necessity of a second rejection of the Bill by the Lords, and so enable them to alter and amend it when it came into committee. The Duke, in reply to this, said that he was glad of a possibility of an arrangement by mutual concession on the Reform question; and that, for his part, all that he desired to see, under the new system, was a chance of a Government for this hitherto prosperous, happy, and great country, which should give security to life and property hereafter. "The political unions," he said, "had assumed an organisation which any man who could read would pronounce to be for military purposes, and nothing else." In the meantime Lord Wharncliffe had waited by appointment upon the Prime Minister at his house, in Sheen, where he discussed the Reform question with him for two hours, without ever adverting to the political unions, and he reported the issue in a long letter to the Duke of Wellington. The result was that Lord Grey made some trifling concession in matters of detail, and in return Lord Wharncliffe gave him the assurance that he would do what he could to bring the Opposition lords to take a more favourable view of the Ministerial scheme and its probable consequences. This was followed by cordial shaking of hands, and[346] permission was given on each side to communicate with intimate friends and colleagues. The Duke of Wellington, however, declined to take any part in these deliberations. He believed that the Government could be carried on, though with difficulty, under the existing system; but under the system which the Reform Bill would introduce he doubted if the Government could be carried on at all. Nothing came of Lord Wharncliffe's negotiation with the Government, which declined to make any material concession. It had the effect, however, of splitting the Conservative party in the Upper House, breaking the phalanx of the Opposition, and thus preparing the way for the triumph of the Government.

Telford succeeded to Brindley, with all his boldness and skill, and with much extended experience. He executed the Ellesmere canal, which occupied a length of upwards of a hundred miles, connecting the rivers Severn, Dee, and Mersey. In the construction of this canal Telford introduced a bold, but successful, novelty. In aqueducts, instead of puddling their bottoms with clay, which was not proof against the effects of frost, he cased them with iron, and adopted the same means when he had to pass through quicksands or mere bog. Some of Telford's aqueducts were stupendous works. The Chirk aqueduct passed, at seventy feet above the river, on ten arches of forty feet span, and cost twenty thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight pounds. The aqueduct over the Dee passed at a height of one hundred and twenty-one feet above low water, and consisted of a great trough of cast-iron plates, supported on eighteen piers, and having a towing-path of cast-iron, supported on cast-iron pillars. This aqueduct took ten years in building, and cost, with its embankments, forty-seven thousand pounds. Tunnels much larger than that at Harecastle Hill were executed. That at Sapperton, on the Thames and Severn canal, executed by Mr. Whitworth, was nearly two miles and a half long, ran two hundred and fifty feet below the summit of the hill, and was large enough for boats of seventy tons burden. This was completed in 1788. These daring enterprises led to the design of a tunnel under the Thames, from Gravesend to Tilbury; but this was abandoned for want of capital. In 1804 a like attempt was made at Rotherhithe, but stopped from the same cause, and was not completed till 1843 by Sir Mark Isambard Brunel. Between 1758 and 1801 no fewer than sixty-five Acts of Parliament were passed for making or extending canals. At the end of that period canals extended over upwards of three thousand miles, and had cost upwards of thirteen millions sterling. In fact, the bulk of canal work was done by this time, though not some few works of great importance. The Leeds and Liverpool canal, begun in 1770, but not completed till 1816, opened up connection with a vast manufacturing district; and the Rochdale, Huddersfield, and Hull canals gave access for the Baltic traffic into the heart of Lancashire. The Paddington and Regent's Canals wonderfully promoted the intercourse between the interior and the metropolis. In the Highlands, the Caledonian Canal, connecting the[192] string of lakes between Inverness and the Atlantic, gave passage to ships of large burden. At the end of this reign the aggregate length of canals in England and Wales was two thousand one hundred and sixty miles; in Scotland, two hundred and twelve; in Ireland, two hundred and fifty; total, two thousand six hundred and twenty-two miles. The attention paid to roads and canals necessitated the same to bridges; and during this reign many new structures of this kind were erected, and much improvement attained in their formation. In 1776 a totally new kind of bridge was commenced at Coalbrook Dale, and completed in 1779; this was of cast-iron, having a single arch of one hundred feet span, and containing three hundred and seventy-eight and a half tons of metal. Telford greatly improved on this idea, by erecting an iron bridge over the Severn, at Buildwas, in 1796, having an arch of one hundred and thirty feet span.Whilst the debate was proceeding, great crowds gathered round the House, and became even more numerous and more agitated. Walpole, irritated by the persuasion that these throngs were collected by the arts of the Opposition, threw out a remark which he afterwards deeply repented. He said gentlemen might call themselves what they liked, but he knew whom the law called "Sturdy Beggars." This phrase, carried out of doors, highly incensed the crowd, who considered that it was meant to cast contempt on the people at large. At two o'clock in the morning, and after thirteen hours' debate, on division there appeared two hundred and sixty-six for the measure, and two hundred and five against. The great increase of the minority struck Walpole with surprise and alarm.But whilst England had been thus preparing for the augmentation of the navy, America had been aiming a blow at the efficiency of that navy, which must for years, if successful, have prostrated our whole maritime forces, and exposed our shores to the easiest invasion. This intended blow was nothing less than the destruction of our great naval dockyards and arsenals, and military storehouses, at Portsmouth and Plymouth. The chief agent in this infamous design, if the evidence of a miscreant can be believed, was Silas Deane. On the 7th of December the rope-house of the Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth was found to be on fire. By active exertions it was got under, after it had destroyed that building, and was imagined to be an accident. But on the 15th of January, 1777, one of the officers of the dockyard found a machine and combustibles concealed in the hemp in the hemp-house of the same dockyard. Suspicion now fell on a moody, silent artisan, who, on the day of the fire, had been looking about the dockyard, and who, by some chance, had got locked up in the rope-house the night before. His name was not known, but the[234] fact only that he was a painter, and had been called John the Painter. Government immediately offered a reward of fifty pounds for his apprehension; the same sum, with a strange simplicity, being offered to him if he would surrender himself for examination. Nothing, however, could be learned of him in Portsmouth or the country round; but fresh fires were now breaking out at Plymouth Dockyard and on the quays of Bristol. At Plymouth the fire was instantly checked, and the perpetrator was nearly seized. At Bristol the fire was laid near a narrow, deep creek, crowded with shipping, which was nearly dry at low water, so that it was impossible to get the shipping out. Six or seven warehouses were destroyed, but the shipping escaped. In another house at Bristol combustibles were discovered, and the alarm became general that the American incendiaries, having failed to burn New York, were come to England to burn our dockyards and maritime houses. Fortunately, in the beginning of February, a man was apprehended for the perpetration of a burglary at Odiham, in Hampshire; and, by the activity of Sir John Fielding, the London magistrate, he was identified as John the Painter. When brought before Sir John and other magistrates in town, the man conducted himself with tact and address. Though closely examined and cross-questioned by some of the members of the Privy Council, by Lords of the Admiralty, and other officers of the board, he maintained the scrutiny without betraying any embarrassment, or letting anything escape him that could in any degree incriminate him. A confession was, however, wormed out of him by another painter, named Baldwin. Silas Deane, John the Painter declared, according to Baldwin's evidence, had encouraged him to set fire to the dockyards of Plymouth and Portsmouth, Woolwich and Chatham, as the most effectual means of disabling Great Britain; that he gave him bills to the amount of three hundred pounds on a merchant in London, and promised to reward him according to the amount of service he should do to the American cause. Before his execution he freely admitted the truth of the charges against him. He confessed to having twice attempted to fire the dockyard at Plymouth, and to burning the warehouses at Bristol, having in vain endeavoured to deposit his combustibles on board the ships. He, moreover, stated that he had a recommendation from Silas Deane to Dr. Bancroft, in London, to whom he had declared that he would do all the harm he could to England; that the doctor did not approve of his conduct, but had, at his request, promised not to betray him.



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