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Astounded by these repeated defections, Louis tried to gather some notion of the state of other bodies and troops about him. He attended a sitting of the Chamber of Deputies, and was received with acclamation; he reviewed twenty-five thousand of the National Guard, and there was the same display of loyalty; he inspected six thousand troops of the line, but there the reception was not encouraging. He finally summoned a council at the Tuileries, and there the generals declared frankly that he had no real means of resisting Buonaparte. This was on the 18th of March, and Louis felt that it was time for him to be making his retreat. At one o'clock in the morning of the 20th he was on his way towards Lille, escorted by a body of Household Troops. It was time, for that very day Buonaparte reached the camp of Mélun, where Macdonald had drawn up the troops to attack him; but Buonaparte threw himself amongst them, attended only by a slight escort of horse, and the soldiers all went over to him with a shout. Macdonald rode back to Paris, and, following the king, assumed the command of the Guard accompanying him. Louis hoped that the troops at Lille, under Mortier, would stand by him; but Mortier assured him of the contrary, and so, taking leave of Macdonald on the frontiers, Louis pursued his way to Ostend and thence to Ghent, where he established his Court. The Household Troops who had accompanied him were disbanded on the frontiers, and in attempting to regain their homes by different routes, most of them were killed, or plundered and abused.

Burnet describes the state of religion and intelligence in the nation at the period of Anne's reign as most lamentable, the clergy as "dead and lifeless: the most remiss in their labours in private, and the least severe in their lives," of all that he had seen amongst all religions at home or abroad; the gentry "the worst instructed and the least knowing of any of their rank that he ever went amongst;" and the common people beyond all conception "ignorant in matters of religion." The words of Atterbury, a high Tory, were quite as strong. A description of the state of religion in the country, drawn up by him, was presented by Convocation to the queen, which stated that "the manifest growth of immorality and profaneness," "the relaxation and decay of the discipline of the Church," the "disregard to all religious places, persons, and things," had scarcely had a parallel in any age. Dr. Calamy, a great Nonconformist, equally complains that the "decay of real religion, both in and out of the Church," was most visible. Under the Georges much the same state of affairs[143] prevailed. The episcopal bench was Whig, though very apathetic; while the clergy were Tory, and disinclined to listen to their superiors.

In the Royal Speech his Majesty recommended that, when this special object was accomplished, Parliament should take into their deliberate consideration the whole condition of Ireland, and that they should review the laws which imposed disabilities upon Roman Catholics, to see whether their removal could be effected "consistently with the full and permanent security of our establishments in Church and State, with the maintenance of the Reformed religion established by law, and of the rights and privileges of the bishops and of the clergy of this realm, and of the churches committed to their charge."

10Before the close of 1792 the French resolved to send an ambassador to the United States to demand a return of the aid given to the Americans in their revolution, by declaration of war against Great Britain. M. Genet was dispatched for this purpose at the beginning of 1793.[415] Still neutrality was maintained, though our ambassador was withdrawn from Paris, and M. Chauvelin was no longer recognised in an official capacity by the British Court. This gentleman, however, continued in London, ignoring the loss of his official character, and officiously pressing himself on the attention of Ministers as still French plenipotentiary. Lord Grenville was repeatedly obliged to remind him that he had no power to correspond with him officially. He, however, informed him privately that, if the French Government wished to be duly recognised in Great Britain, they must give up their assumed right of aggression on neighbouring countries and of interference with established Governments. The French Girondist Ministers took advantage of this letter which Chauvelin transmitted to them to send a reply, in which, however, having now invaded Holland, they gave no intimation of any intention of retiring. They even declared that it was their intention to go to war with Britain; and if the British Government did not comply with their desires, and enter into regular communication with them, they would prepare for war. Lord Grenville returned this letter, informing Chauvelin again that he could receive no official correspondence from him in a private capacity. This was on the 7th of January, 1793; Chauvelin continued to press his communications on Lord Grenville, complaining of the Alien Bill, and on the 18th presented letters of credence. Lord Grenville informed him, in reply, that his Majesty in the present circumstances could not receive them. These circumstances were the trial and conviction of Louis XVI. On the 24th arrived the news of Louis's execution, and Chauvelin immediately received passports for himself and suite, and an order to quit the kingdom within eight days. This order created the utmost exultation in the French Convention, for the Jacobins were rabid for war with all the world, and on the 1st of February the Convention declared war against Britain, and the news reached London on the 4th. Such was the Ministerial explanation.About four months passed happily away, when another event occurred which was very near furnishing a startling illustration of the truth that there is no certain tenure of human happiness. On the night of Wednesday, the 10th of June, London was agitated by a report of an attempt upon the life of the Queen. Next day an investigation took place at the Home Office, from which the public and the reporters of the daily press were excluded. The following are the facts:—At a quarter past six on Wednesday evening, the Queen, accompanied by Prince Albert, left Buckingham Palace, in a very low, open phaeton, to take her customary drive in Hyde Park before dinner. The carriage had proceeded a short distance up the road when a young man, who had been standing with his back to the Green Park fence, advanced to within a few yards of the carriage, and deliberately fired at the Queen. The postilions paused for an instant. The Prince ordered them, in a loud voice, to drive on. "I have got another!" exclaimed the assassin, who discharged a second pistol, aimed at the carriage, which also proved harmless. The Queen and the Prince went as far as Hyde Park Corner, and then turned to the Duchess of Kent's mansion, in Belgrave Square. Meanwhile, the assassin remained near the spot, leaning against the park fence, with the weapons in his hand. Several persons laid hold of him, and he was conveyed by two policemen to the Gardener's Lane station-house. After staying a short time with the Duchess of Kent, in Belgrave Square, the Queen and her husband proceeded to Hyde Park, where an immense concourse of persons, of all ranks and both sexes, had congregated. The reception of the royal pair was so enthusiastic as almost to overpower the self-possession of the Queen. They soon returned to Buckingham Palace, attended by a vast number of the nobility and gentry, in carriages and on horseback. A multitude of persons collected at the entrance to the palace, and vehemently cheered the Queen, who, though pale and agitated, repeatedly bowed and smiled in return.

CHAPTER IV. PROGRESS OF THE NATION DURING THE REIGN OF GEORGE III.

With Spain the prospect of war became every day more imminent. Stanhope quitted that country, and the Spanish Government ordered the seizure of the Prince Frederick, a ship belonging to the South Sea Company. Twenty thousand men were assembled and sent against Gibraltar. All attempts on the great fortress were as useless as former ones had been. The English regarded the attack with even an air of indifference, whilst their guns, sickness, and desertion, were fast cutting off the besiegers. In four months the investing army, being reduced to half its number, drew off with this empty but destructive result.

The coasting trade carried on by means of steamers underwent an astounding development during the twenty years now under review. In 1820 there were but nine steamers engaged in it, with a tonnage of 500. The next year there were 188 steamers, and thenceforth they went on doubling for several years. In 1830 the number of vessels was nearly 7,000, with a tonnage of more than a million; in 1840 it was upwards of 15,000, with a tonnage of nearly three millions; and in 1849 it was 18,343, with a tonnage of upwards of four millions and a quarter. This account does not include vessels arriving and departing in ballast or with passengers only, which are not required to enter the Custom House. Steam-vessels were not employed in this kingdom for conveying goods coastwise before 1820, nor in foreign trade, except for the conveyance of passengers, earlier than 1822. In the foreign trade the number of steamers increased gradually from that year till they reached the number of 4,000, with an aggregate tonnage of 800,000.

On the following morning, being Monday, the Ministers came to the resolution of entering the baronet's house by force; and, as he sat at breakfast with a considerable company of friends, an attempt was made by a man to enter by the window, which he broke in trying to raise the sash. This man was secured; but a more successful party of officers below dashed in a window on the ground floor, and soon appeared in the drawing-room. Sir Francis was seized and, still struggling and protesting, was conveyed to a carriage. Then, escorted by the military, he was taken to the Tower, amid tremendous crowds, crying "Burdett for ever!" A strong force had occupied the passage through the City, and had drawn up before the Tower before the arrival of the party with the prisoner, whom they had taken round by Pentonville and Islington. The scene during the conveyance of Sir Francis into the old fortress was indescribable for tumult and yelling. As the soldiers were returning they were hooted and pelted with stones, and at last they lost patience and fired, killing two persons and wounding several others.

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At this crisis, when an able diplomatist at Paris might have avoided a great war, the Earl of Albemarle, who never had been an able or attentive ambassador, but a mere man of pleasure, died; and though George II. was so well aware of the gathering storm that he sent a message to the House of Commons announcing the necessity for increased forces, and, consequently, increased supplies, nothing could induce him to forego his usual summer journey to Hanover. The Commons readily voted a million and a half, but made an energetic protest against the king quitting the country in the circumstances. Besides the state of affairs in France and Spain, those of Ireland were very disturbed. The Duke of Dorset, the Lord-Lieutenant, was recalled, and Lord Harrington sent in his place to endeavour to restore order. Lord Poulett, therefore, moved a resolution against George's journey; but it was overruled, and the infatuated king set out in April, attended by Lord Holderness.In the following Session Fox introduced a Bill to grant some further privileges to the Catholics, but it was rejected; but in 1793 the Catholics of Scotland were admitted, by an Act introduced by Mr. Robert Dundas, the Lord Advocate, to the same privileges as the Irish and English Catholics. The question appeared to rest till 1799, when there seems to have been a proposition on the part of the English Government to make an independent provision for the Catholic clergy of Ireland, on condition that they, on their part, should enter into certain engagements. There was a meeting of Roman Catholic prelates in Dublin at the commencement of that year on the subject, at which they agreed to accept the proposal. Pitt was favourable to the Catholic claims, though the Irish Parliament previous to the union would not hear of them. He had caused promises of Catholic Emancipation to be circulated in Ireland in order to induce the Irish to accept the union; and when he found that the king's immovable resistance to this measure would not allow him to make good his word, he resigned office. Nothing was done in it during the time that he continued out, chiefly, it is said, through his influence; and when he returned to office in May, 1804, he did so without any mention of the Catholics. In truth, he appears to have given them up for the sake of enjoying power again; for, when, on the 9th of March, 1805, the question was raised by Lord Grenville in the House of Peers, and, on the 13th, by Fox in the Commons, Pitt opposed the motion on the ground that the reasons which had occasioned him to quit office still operated against this measure, and that it was impossible for him to support it. It was negatived by three hundred and thirty-six against one hundred and twenty-four.

Notwithstanding these apprehensions, the reception actually given to Lord Anglesey was not at all so disgraceful to the country as he was led to anticipate. Mr. O'Connell kept out of the way; but a numerous assemblage of the most respectable citizens greeted his arrival at Kingstown, and escorted him to Dublin Castle, Lord Cloncurry and Lord Howth riding at the head of the procession. The populace confined the expression of their feeling to a few groans for "Dirty Doherty," whose promotion to the chief seat of the Court of Common Pleas was the alleged offence of Lord Anglesey. He was scarcely a week in Ireland, however, when O'Connell opened the Repeal campaign. A meeting of the trades of Dublin had been arranged for the 27th of December, to march in procession from Phibsborough to his residence in Merrion Square, to present him with an address of thanks for his advocacy of a domestic legislature. Sworn informations having been laid before the Lord-Lieutenant to the effect that serious disturbances were apprehended from this procession, he issued a proclamation on Christmas Day, forbidding it under the Act for the suppression of dangerous associations or assemblies. Mr. O'Connell therefore issued a notice, counter-manding the meeting. On the 4th of January Mr. O'Connell sent a deputation to Lord Cloncurry, to ask him to preside over a Repeal meeting, which he declined. "Those who knew Mr. O'Connell," writes his lordship, "who recollect what a creature of impulse he was, how impatiently he bore with any difference from his opinions, and what a storm was the first burst of his wrath, will not wonder at what followed. Three very long letters were immediately issued, especially devoted to the business of vituperating me, but with ample digressions maledictory of Lord Anglesey." In a few days, he adds, the fever was brought to a crisis by the arrest of Mr. O'Connell and his agitation staff, "after a brisk pursuit through a labyrinth of ingenious devices, whereby he sought to evade the law, in the course of which it was found necessary to discharge five or six proclamations against him. To-day, Mr. O'Connell's audience and claqueurs were termed 'The Society of the Friends of Ireland of all Religious Persuasions.' To-morrow they were 'The General Association of Ireland for the Prevention of Unlawful Meetings,' and for the protection and exercise of the sacred right of petitioning for the redress of grievances. Then, again, they were a nameless body of persons, in the habit of meeting weekly at a place called Home's Hotel; and as the hunt continued, they successively escaped from each daily proclamation under the changing appellations of 'The Irish Society for Legal and Legislative Relief'; or 'The Anti-union Association'; 'The Association of Irish Volunteers for the Repeal of the union'; 'The Subscribers to the Parliamentary Intelligence Office, Stephen Street'; until they were fairly run down at a breakfast party at Hayes Hotel."On the 9th of January, a month after their arrival, Lord Derwentwater was impeached of high treason by Mr. Lechmere in a bitter speech in the Commons. Other members, with equal acrimony, followed with impeachments against the Lords Widdrington, Nithsdale, Wintoun, Carnwath, Kenmure, and Nairn. The impeachments were carried up to the House of Lords on the same day, and on the 19th the accused noblemen were brought before the Peers, where they knelt at the bar until they were desired to rise by the Lord Chancellor, when, with the exception of Lord Wintoun, they confessed their guilt, and threw themselves on the mercy of the king. Sentence of death was immediately pronounced on those who had pleaded guilty; and Lord Wintoun was condemned after trial, but several months later he effected his escape from the Tower. Every effort was made to save the prisoners, and they were all reprieved, with the exception of Derwentwater, Kenmure, and Nithsdale. The first two were executed; but the Countess of Nithsdale, being about to take her leave of her husband, contrived, by introducing some friends, to secure his escape in female attire.

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