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It is impossible to conceive the extent of suffering and desolation inflicted upon society, almost every family being involved, more or less, in the general calamity. Flourishing firms were bankrupt, opulent merchants impoverished, the masses of working people suddenly thrown out of employment, and reduced to destitution; and all from causes with which the majority had nothing to do—causes that could have been prevented by a proper monetary system. If Bank of England notes had been a legal tender, to all intents and purposes supplying the place of gold as currency; if these notes had been supplied to the country banks in any quantities they required, ample security being taken to have assets equal to their respective issues, then the currency would have had an elastic, self-adjusting power, expanding or contracting according to the requirements of commerce. Inordinate speculation would not have been stimulated by a reckless system of credit, and business would have been conducted in a moderate and judicious manner, instead of rushing on at a high pressure that rendered a crash inevitable. The Government, after anxious and repeated deliberations, supplied a remedy on this principle. They determined to issue one-pound and two-pound notes of the Bank of England, for country circulation, to any amount required. In the meantime the Mint was set to work with all its resources in the coining of sovereigns[244], which, for the course of a week, were thrown off at the rate of 150,000 a day. The notes could not be manufactured fast enough to meet the enormous demand for carrying on the business of the country. In this dilemma the Bank was relieved by a most fortunate discovery—a box containing £700,000, in one- and two-pound notes that had been retired, but which were at once put into circulation. The people having thus got notes with Government security, the panic subsided, and the demand for gold gradually ceased. The restoration of confidence was aided by resolutions passed at a meeting of bankers and merchants in the City of London, declaring that the unprecedented embarrassments and difficulties under which the circulation of the country laboured were mainly to be ascribed to a general panic, for which there were no reasonable grounds; that they had the fullest confidence in the means and substance of the banking establishments of the capital and the country; that returning confidence would remove all the symptoms of distress caused by the alarms of the timid, so fatal to those who were forced to sacrifice their property to meet unexpected demands. The new measures so promptly adopted and so vigorously carried into effect, raised the circulation of the Bank of England notes in three weeks from £17,477,290 to £25,611,800. Thus the regular and healthful action of the monetary system was restored by an adequate circulation of paper money, on Government security, without specie to sustain it. There were at the time of the crash 770 country bankers; 63 stopped payment, 23 of them having subsequently resumed business, and paid twenty shillings in the pound; and even those that were not able to resume, paid an average of seventeen shillings and sixpence in the pound. It was estimated that the total loss to the country by this panic was one hundred million pounds.No sooner was the conquest of Scinde completed than the Governor-General began to discern another cloud looming in the distance. In the Punjab, Runjeet Singh had organised a regular[594] and well-disciplined army of 73,000 men. He died in 1839. His heir died the next year, it was supposed of poison. The next heir was killed a few days afterwards by accident. The third, who succeeded, was an effeminate prince, who left the government in the hands of his Minister, a wicked man, who, conspiring with others, caused to be murdered several members of the Royal Family. They were, in their turn, punished by having their heads cut off, and the only surviving son of Runjeet Singh, a boy only ten years of age, was proclaimed Maharajah. This was the work of the Sikh army, now virtually masters of the country. Lord Ellenborough and his Council suspected that this army, still 40,000 strong, and very brave, was unfriendly to the British, and might some day give trouble to the Indian Government—possibly invade its territories and cut off its communications. In order to guard against such contingencies, it was necessary, they thought, to take possession of Gwalior, a powerful Mahratta State in Central India. This country lay on the flank of our line of communications with Allahabad, Benares, and Calcutta. In this country also there were, fortunately for the British, a disputed succession, royal murders, civil dissensions, and military disorganisation. A boy, adopted by the queen, was proclaimed Sovereign by the chiefs, with a regency, over which the British Government extended its protecting wing. The young Sovereign died in 1843, leaving no child; but his widow, then thirteen years of age, adopted a boy of eight, who became king under another regency. The regent Nana Sahib was deposed, notwithstanding the support of the British Government. This was an offence which Lord Ellenborough would not allow to go unpunished; and besides, the disorganised army of Gwalior was said to be committing depredations along the British frontier. Here, then, in the estimation of the Governor-General, was a clear case for military intervention, to put down disorder, and secure a good position for future defence against the possible aggressions of the warlike Sikhs of the Punjab. Lord Ellenborough explained his policy to the Company, stating that the Indian Government could not descend from its high position as the paramount authority in India.These treaties were regarded by Lord Lake, Sir John Malcolm—who had to negotiate them—and many men of eminence in Indian affairs, as based[515] on a policy which could not last; that there could be no quiet in Hindostan so long as the restless Mahrattas and Pindarrees were not broken up, nor till the Indus was made the boundary of our Indian empire towards the north-west. We shall see that a few more years justified their foresight. These treaties, however, having, for the present, restored peace to the north, Lord Lake, after giving a grand review of the army on the banks of the Hyphasis, to impress the Sikhs with a sense of our military superiority, commenced his march back to Delhi, and in February, 1807, quitted his command in India, few commanders having rendered more brilliant services in that part of our empire, or left behind them more sincere esteem and admiration.

The American Colonies and their Trade—Growing Irritation in America—The Stamp Act—The American Protest—The Stamp Act passed—Its Reception in America—The King's Illness—The Regency Bill—The Princess Dowager omitted—Her Name inserted in the Commons—Negotiations for a Change of Ministry—The old Ministry returns—Fresh Negotiations with Pitt—The first Rockingham Ministry—Riots in America—The Stamped Paper destroyed—Pitt's Speech—The Stamp Act repealed—Weakness of the Government—Pitt and Temple disagree—Pitt forms a Ministry—And becomes Lord Chatham—His Comprehensive Policy—The Embargo on Wheat—Illness of Chatham—Townshend's Financial Schemes—Corruption of Parliament—Wilkes elected for Middlesex—Arrest of Wilkes—Dangerous Riots—Dissolution of the Boston Assembly—Seizure of the Liberty Sloop—Debates in Parliament—Continued Persecution of Wilkes—His Letter to Lord Weymouth—Again expelled the House—His Re-election—The Letters of Junius—Luttrell declared elected for Middlesex—Incapacity of the Ministry—Partial Concessions to the Americans—Bernard leaves Boston—He is made a Baronet—"The Horned Cattle Session"—Lord Chatham attacks the Ministry—Resignations of Granby and Camden—Yorke's Suicide—Dissolution of the Ministry.

Parliament, having so smoothly transacted its business, was prorogued on the 14th of June, and Walpole then addressed himself to the settlement of the Spanish difference. But here he found a spirit of resistance which had undoubtedly grown from the invectives of the Opposition. The outcries against the Spanish captains, the right of search, and the payment of compensation for the ships taken by Byng, had given great offence to the proud Spaniards. They were encouraged, also, by the earnest manner in which Walpole had argued for peace. They now assumed a high tone. They complained of the continuance of the British fleet in the Mediterranean. They demanded the payment of the sixty-eight thousand pounds which they said was due from the South Sea Company,[72] though it had been stipulated in the Convention that it should not come into consideration.Another favourable circumstance would have been found in the fact that in Hutchinson, Massachusetts had a native Governor, a man of courteous manners and moderate counsels. But even out of Hutchinson's position arose offence. His brothers-in-law, Andrew and Peter Oliver, were appointed Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Justice of the province. Lord North thought that the payment of these officers should be in the hands of Government, to render them independent of the colonists; but this the colonists resented as an attempt to destroy the Charter and establish arbitrary power. The Massachusetts House of Assembly declared on this occasion, in their address to the Crown:—"We know of no commissioners of his Majesty's Customs, nor of any revenue that his Majesty has a right to establish in North America." They denounced the Declaratory Act passed at the suggestion of Chatham, and the attempt to make the governors and judges independent of the people, and the arbitrary instruments of the Crown. In Virginia the same spirit was conspicuous.

[113]Up to this point, the whole Government and magistracy seemed as much stupefied as the poor wretches who had perished in the flames of the distillery. The king was the first to awake from this fatal lethargy. He summoned a Council on the morning of the 7th of June, at which he presided, and demanded what they had to propose for the suppression of these disorders. At the king's question the Cabinet appeared dumb-foundered. It was the general opinion that no officer could proceed to extremities against a mob, however it might be breaking the law, until an hour after the Riot Act had been read by a magistrate. This was a monstrous perversion of the meaning of that Act; but, had even this been zealously followed out, the riots must have been promptly suppressed. Luckily, at this moment Wedderburn, the Attorney-General, answered the king's interrogation boldly, that the Riot Act bore no such construction as was put upon it. In his opinion, no single hour was required for the dispersion of a mob after the reading of the Riot Act; and not even the reading of the Act at all was necessary for the authorisation of military force where a mob was found actually committing a felony by firing a dwelling-house, and could not be restrained by other means. Encouraged by Wedderburn's contention, the king declared that that had always been his own opinion, and that now he would act upon it. There should be, at least, one magistrate in the kingdom who would do his duty. The Council, gathering courage, then concurred, and a proclamation was issued, warning all householders to keep within doors with their families, the king's officers being now ordered to put down the riots by military execution, without waiting for any further reading of the Riot Act.

On this day all Paris was astir. The drums were beating in all quarters; the National Guard were assembling at their different posts; the Insurrectional Committee had divided itself into three sections. One took its station in the Faubourg St. Marceau, with Fournier at its head; another in the Faubourg St. Antoine, headed by Westermann and Santerre; whilst Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and Carra, were at the Cordeliers. About twelve o'clock the tocsin began to ring out from the H?tel de Ville, and was quickly followed by the bells in every church tower in Paris. By one o'clock the palace was surrounded by vast throngs of armed people. They could be seen by the inmates of the palace through the old doors of the courts, and from the windows. Their artillery was visibly pointed at the palace, and the noise of their shouting, beating of drums, and singing of insurrectionary songs, was awful. The king had issued an order that the Swiss and Guards should not commence the attack, but should repel force by force. It was now recommended that the king also should go down, and by showing himself, and addressing a few words to them, should animate them in their duty. The queen, her eyes inflamed with weeping, and with an air of dignity, which was never forgotten by those who saw her, said also, "Sire, it is time to show yourself." She is said to have snatched a pistol from the belt of old General d'Affry, and to have presented it in an excitement that scarcely allowed her to remain behind. Could she have changed places, had she been queen in her own right, there would soon have been a change of scene. As for Louis, with that passive courage which he always possessed, and so uselessly, he went forward and presented himself to view upon the balcony. At the sight of him, the Grenadiers raised their caps on the points of their swords and bayonets, and there were cries of "Vive le Roi!" the last that saluted him in his hereditary palace. Even at this cry, numbers of the National Guard took alarm, imagining that they were to be surrendered to the knights of the dagger, and that they had been betrayed. The gunners, joining in the panic, turned their guns towards the palace, but the more faithful Guard drove them from the guns, disarmed them, and put them under watch.LOUIS BLANC.This definition of the House of Commons at this time, and for long afterwards, was too happy a definition to escape the wrath of that body. Accordingly, on the 27th of March, Mr. Lethbridge, member for Somersetshire, moved that Sir Francis Burdett should be committed to the Tower for his attack on the House. After some discussion, the question was adjourned to the 5th of April, when, by a majority of thirty-eight, Sir Francis was ordered to be committed as guilty of a libel against the House. But Sir Francis, justly regarding the House as altogether illegally constituted, and as a usurpation by the aristocracy of the functions of the people, determined not to submit to its order. The next day he addressed a letter to the Speaker of the House, declaring his contempt for it as then constituted; that he held its order to be, on that ground, illegal; and that he would resist it to the utmost. He ordered the doors and windows of his house in Piccadilly to be closed, and prepared to yield only to force.

Matters were at this pass when Lord Wellington, who had heard of the attack, at his headquarters at Lezaco, two days before, came galloping up on the morning of the 27th. He found Soult only two leagues from Pampeluna, and saw him so near that he could plainly discern his features. Wellington caused his own presence to be announced to his two bodies of troops, and they answered the announcement with loud cheers. That day the troops of Soult were pushed backwards by a regiment of the Irish, and a body of Spanish infantry, at the point of the bayonet. The next day, the 28th, the French were driven down still farther. On the 29th both armies rested, but on the 30th the fight was renewed with fury; but Picton and Dalhousie, being sent across the mountains in opposite directions, managed to turn both flanks of Soult, and the French fled precipitately as far as Olaque. There the pursuing troops fell in with the right of the French, which[60] had been worsted by Hill. In the darkness the French continued their flight, and the next morning were found in full retreat for France. The British gave chase, and made many prisoners, taking much baggage. These battles, which have been named "The Battles of the Pyrenees," Wellington describes as some of the most severe that he ever saw. He states the loss of the British in killed at one thousand five hundred, but in killed and wounded at six thousand. The French, he says, admitted that they had lost fifteen thousand men, and he therefore gave them credit for the loss being much more. On one occasion Wellington surprised Soult, and had so laid his plans for surrounding him that he felt sure of capturing him; but three drunken British soldiers, rambling carelessly beyond the outposts, were taken, and let out the secret of Wellington being hidden close at hand, behind the rocks, and thus saved the French commander. A second time he was saved by the Spanish generals, Longa and Barcenas, not being at their posts in a narrow defile near St. Estevan, where he could only pass by a slender bridge. Still the British were at his heels, and committed dreadful havoc on his troops in this pass. On the 2nd of August there was a fresh encounter with Soult's forces near the town of Echalar, where they were again beaten, and driven from a lofty mountain called Ivantelly. Soult retired behind the Bidassoa, and concentrated his routed forces; and Wellington, having once more cleared the passes of the Pyrenees of the French, gave his army some rest, after nine days of incessant and arduous action, where they could look out over the plains of France, which they were ere long to traverse. But the army had not much rest here. The French made determined efforts to raise the siege of San Sebastian, while Wellington was as active in endeavouring to force Pampeluna to capitulate. Unfortunately he had still scarcely any proper men or tools for siege-work. He had long urged on the Government the formation of companies of sappers and miners. But, after eighteen months, they had formed only one company, whilst, as Wellington informed the Government, there was no French corps d'armée which had not a battalion of them. This first British company of sappers and miners came out on the 19th of August, and were immediately set to work. Sir George Collier sent his sailors to assist, and on the 31st Wellington considered that he had made sufficient breach for storming. But that morning Soult sent across the Bidassoa a strong body of French to attack the besiegers. These were met by a division of eight thousand Spaniards, who allowed the French to ascend the heights of San Marcial, on which they were posted, and then, with a shout, charged with the bayonet down hill, at which sight the French instantly broke, and ran for it. They were pursued to the river, in which many plunged, and were drowned. In the afternoon Soult sent over again fifteen thousand men, having put across a pontoon bridge. These, under the eye and encouragement of Lord Wellington, were charged again by the Spaniards, and routed as before; many again rushing into the river, and the rest, crushing upon the bridge, broke it down, and perished in great numbers also. The Portuguese troops likewise met and defeated another detachment of French, who had come by another way. These were supported by British troops, under General Inglis, and with the same result. Wellington was highly delighted to see the Spaniards thus, at length, doing justice to their native valour under British discipline, and praised them warmly. Soult is said to have lost two thousand men.After a lengthened and toilsome Session Parliament was at length prorogued by the king in person on the 10th of September. Several important measures which had passed the Commons were rejected by the Lords. Their resistance had caused great difficulty in carrying through the imperatively demanded measures of Municipal Reform; and they had deprived the Irish Church Temporalities Act of one of its principal features. But their obstructive action was not confined to great political measures of that kind. They rejected the Dublin Police Bill, and other measures of practical reform. The consequence was that the Liberal party began to ask seriously whether the absolute veto which the Lords possessed, and which they sometimes used perversely and even factiously, was compatible with the healthful action of the legislature and the well-being of the country. It was roundly asserted that the experience of the last two years had demonstrated the necessity of reform in the House of Lords. The question was extensively agitated, it was constantly discussed in the press, public meetings were held throughout the country upon it, and numerous petitions were presented to Parliament with the same object. On the 2nd of September Mr. Roebuck, while presenting one of these petitions, announced his intention of introducing early in the next Session a Bill to deprive the House of Lords of its veto upon all measures of legislation, and to substitute for it a suspense of power, so that if a Bill thrown out by the Lords should pass the Commons a second time, and receive the Royal Assent, it might become law without the concurrence of the Peers. Mr. Ripon also gave notice of a motion to remove the bishops from the House of Peers; while Mr. Hume indignantly denounced the humiliating ceremonials observed in the intercourse between the Commons and the Lords. Although the whole proceeding at a conference between the two Houses consists of the exchange of two pieces of paper, oral discussions not being permitted, the members of the House of Commons are obliged to wait upon the Lords, standing with their hats off, the members of the Upper House, as if they were masters, remaining seated with their hats on. The state of feeling among the working classes on this subject was expressed in the strongest language in an address to Mr. O'Connell from the "non-franchised inhabitants of Glasgow." They warmly deprecated the unmanly and submissive manner in which the Ministers and the Commons had bowed bare-headed to the refractory Lords. They demanded that responsibility should be established in every department of the State; and they said, "As the House of Lords has hitherto displayed a most astounding anomaly in this enlightened age by retaining the right to legislate by birth or Court favour, and being thereby rendered irresponsible, it follows it must be cut down as a rotten encumbrance, or be so cured as to be made of some service to the State, as well as amenable to the people."

For this rebuff, to which he did not even venture an answer, Lord Palmerston speedily obtained a dexterous revenge. Kossuth, Bem, Dembinski, and some thousands of the Hungarian leaders, found refuge at Shumla, within the Turkish frontier. A joint and imperative demand was made by Austria and Russia upon the Sultan to deliver them up. This demand was enforced by two envoys from each Court. The pressure was resisted by the Sultan, who refused to yield to a demand which required him to violate his own honour, the national dignity, the dictates of humanity, and the most sacred rights of hospitality. He took this course at the risk of a rupture with Russia, and though he was pledged by treaty to refuse to shelter both Austrian and Russian malcontents. But he was strongly supported by Lord Palmerston and the French Government, who[582] having gained time by the Sultan's despatch of a special mission to St. Petersburg, ordered the British and French fleets to move up to the Dardanelles and Smyrna. Thereupon the autocratic Powers lowered their tone, Russia demanding only the expulsion of the Poles, Austria the internment of some thirty of the refugees. The refugees were removed to Kutaya, in Asia Minor, where they remained till August 22nd, 1851. On the 1st of September in that year Kossuth left Turkey. On his arrival at Marseilles he was refused permission to travel through France; but he was hospitably received at Gibraltar and Lisbon, and on the 28th of October arrived safely in England, where he was welcomed with unbounded enthusiasm. During these negotiations Palmerston had displayed a courage which raised his reputation both at home and abroad.LOUIS XVI. AND MARIE ANTOINETTE IN THE PRISON OF THE TEMPLE.

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The king attended the theatre one evening, and by his desire the drama of Rob Roy was performed. The theatre was of course crowded to excess, the boxes presenting a dazzling galaxy of rank and beauty. When the approach of the king was announced, there was a pause of deathlike stillness; then an outburst of deep, honest enthusiasm never to be forgotten. "A prolonged and heartfelt shout, which for more than a minute rent the house," a waving of handkerchiefs, tartan scarfs, and plumed bonnets, testified the joy of the assembly and delighted the ears and eyes of the "chief of chiefs." Sir Walter Scott in a letter to his son gives a vivid description of this royal visit. For a fortnight Edinburgh had been a scene of giddy tumult, and considering all that he had to do, he wondered that he had not caught fever in the midst of it. All, however, went off most happily. The Edinburgh populace behaved themselves like so many princes, all in their Sunday clothes; nothing like a mob—no jostling or crowding. "They shouted with great emphasis, but without any running or roaring, each standing as still in his place as if the honour of Scotland had depended on the propriety of his behaviour. This made the scene quite new to all who had witnessed the Irish reception." The king's stay in Scotland was protracted till the 29th of August. On the day before his departure, Mr. Peel, who accompanied him as Home Secretary, wrote the following letter to Sir Walter Scott:—"My dear sir,—The king has commanded me to acquaint you that he cannot bid adieu to Scotland without conveying to you individually his warm personal acknowledgments for the deep interest you have taken in every ceremony and arrangement connected with his Majesty's visit, and for your ample contributions to their complete success. His Majesty well knows how many difficulties have been smoothed, and how much has been effected by your unremitting activity, by your knowledge of your countrymen, and by the just estimation in which they hold you. The king wishes to make you the channel of conveying to the Highland chiefs and their followers, who have given to the varied scenes which we have witnessed so peculiar and romantic a character, his particular thanks for their attendance, and his warm approbation of their uniform deportment. He does justice to the ardent spirit of loyalty by which they are animated, and is convinced that he could offer no recompense for their services so gratifying to them as the assurance which I now convey of the esteem and approbation of their Sovereign."[See larger version]

THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON AT ALMACK'S. (See p. 440.)On the 8th of March, 1801, General Sir Ralph Abercromby landed in Egypt, where Nelson had fought the battle of Aboukir. Menou brought down against the British twelve or fourteen thousand men, including a fine body of cavalry. Sir Ralph Abercromby landed only about ten thousand in effective order, but these were men full of ardour and disciplined to perfection. On the 8th of March they landed in face of the French, five thousand being put on shore at once, these returning no single shot whilst in the boats, though assailed by fifteen pieces of artillery from the opposite hill, and by grape-shot from Aboukir Castle. They were led on by General (afterwards Sir John) Moore; and running, or climbing on hands and knees, up the steep sand-hills, they drove the French from their cannon, and seized them. The French retreated, and posted themselves on some heights between Aboukir and Alexandria. On the 19th, having compelled Fort Aboukir to surrender, General Abercromby advanced, and found Menou had concentrated all his forces between them and Alexandria. On the 21st of March a general engagement took place. It commenced as early as three o'clock in the morning, whilst quite dark, by an attack on the British left, which was meant to draw all attention to that quarter, then a desperate charge was made on the right by the main body of the French cavalry, which hoped to get into the rear of the British infantry; but the attempted surprise failed: the French were driven back with great loss. As the day dawned the battle became general, and the French found themselves opposed not only by accustomed British doggedness, but by a precision of fire and an adroitness of man?uvre which astonished them. By ten o'clock the French were in full flight for Alexandria, leaving seventeen hundred men on the field. The loss of the British was stated at fourteen hundred killed and wounded; and, unfortunately, the brave Abercromby was killed. To complete the success, the Capitan Pacha's fleet in a few days brought a Turkish army of between five and six thousand men, and the Grand Vizier, posted at El Arish, began to march towards Cairo. General Hutchinson, now chief in command of the British army, hastened to join the Grand Vizier; but before he could accomplish this, he had to drive four thousand French from a fortified camp at Ramaneeh, and meanwhile five thousand French rushed out of Cairo and attacked the Grand Vizier. On the 27th of June Cairo capitulated, General Belliard obtaining the condition that his troops should be conveyed to the ports of France on the Mediterranean with their arms and baggage; yet they left behind them three hundred and thirteen heavy cannon and one hundred thousand pounds of gunpowder. On the 8th of June General Baird had landed at Cosseir on the Red Sea with his Indian army, and was marching through the burning desert for Cairo. Menou, cooped up at Alexandria, found it useless to contend further and, before Baird could join the main army, capitulated on the same terms as Belliard, and the Egyptian campaign was at an end. The news of the French expulsion reached France sooner than it did England, and created a strong sensation.[484]

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