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Growth of Material Wealth—Condition of the Working Classes—The Charity Schools—Lethargy of the Church—Proposal to abolish Subscription to the Articles—A Bill for the further Relief of Dissenters—The Test and Corporation Acts—The Efforts of Beaufoy and Lord Stanhope—Attempts to relieve the Quakers—Further Effort of Lord Stanhope—The Claims of the Roman Catholics—Failure of the Efforts to obtain Catholic Emancipation—Lay Patronage in Scotland—The Scottish Episcopalians—Illustrious Dissenters—Religion in Wales and Ireland—Literature—The Novelists: Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne—Minor and later Novelists—Scott—Historians: Hume, Robertson, and Gibbon—Minor Historians—Miscellaneous Literature—Criticism, Theology, Biography, and Science—Periodical Literature—The Drama and the Dramatists—Poetry: Collins, Shenstone, and Gray—Goldsmith and Churchill—Minor Poets—Percy's "Reliques," and Scott's "Border Minstrelsy"—Chatterton and Ossian—Johnson and Darwin—Crabbe and Cowper—Poetasters and Gifford—The Shakespeare Forgeries—Minor Satires—Burns—The Lake School: Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey—Scott, Campbell, Byron, Shelley, and Keats—Poets at the close of the Period—Improvement of Agricultural Science—Arthur Young—Drainage and Roots—Improvements in Road-making: Telford and Macadam—Brindley's and Telford's Canals—Bridges and Harbours—Iron Railways—Application of the Steam-Engine to Railways and Boats—Improvements in Machinery—Wedgwood—Manufacture of Glass—Collieries—Use of Coal in Iron-works—Improvements in various Manufactures—Scientific Discoveries—Music—Architecture—Painting—Sculpture—Engraving—Coins and Coinage—Manners and Customs.

On the 6th of November the second reading of the Bill was carried by a majority of twenty-eight, the numbers being one hundred and twenty-three to ninety-five, which the Government considered equivalent to a finding of guilty. It appears from these numbers that a large proportion of their lordships abstained from voting. The Bishops had an insuperable objection to the divorce clause; but in committee it was sustained by a majority of one hundred and twenty-nine to sixty-two, the Opposition having nearly all voted for the clause, with a view of defeating the Bill in its last stage. Consequently, for the third reading, on the 10th of November, the majority was only nine, the numbers being one hundred and eight to ninety-nine. Upon this announcement Lord Liverpool rose and said, that upon so slender a majority he could not think of pressing the measure further, and so he begged leave to withdraw the Bill. The truth is, he had no option. It had not the slightest chance of passing through the Lower House, where ignominious defeat awaited the Government.[See larger version]Prussia having been introduced into the debate, on the 1st of March it was renewed by Mr. Martin, followed by Francis, Fox, and others, who argued that the secret was thus out; we were fighting again on account of the old mischief—German alliances. Pitt defended the policy of Ministers. He asked whether Russia was to be permitted to drive the Turks from Europe and plant herself in Constantinople, with Greece as part of her empire? In that case, Russia would become the first maritime power in the world, for her situation in the heart of the Mediterranean, and with Greeks for her sailors—the best sailors in that sea—would give her unrivalled advantages, and make her the most destructive opponent of British interests that had ever arisen. Pitt drew a dark character of the Czarina—the Messalina of the North; reminded the House of her endeavours to strike a mortal blow at us during the American war; of her arrogance and insolence on many occasions, and said that he did not envy Fox the honour of having his bust ordered by this notorious woman from Nollekens, the sculptor. Fox well deserved this hard blow, for he had shown a strange blindness to the grasping designs of Russia, and confessed that, whilst in office, he had refused to concur in remonstrances to Russia against the seizure of the Crimea. The motion of Whitbread was rejected by a majority of two hundred and forty-four against one hundred and sixteen.

A few sketches of the state of the population given by the agents of the Relief Committee of the Society of Friends, who exerted themselves nobly in relieving the distress, may help to give us a more vivid impression of the horrors of the famine. At Boyle they found numbers that had eaten nothing but cabbages or turnips for weeks. The children were in a condition of starvation, ravenous with hunger. At Carrick-on-Shannon a most painful and heartrending scene presented itself: poor wretches in the last stage of famine, imploring to be received into the house; women that had six or seven children begging that even two or three of them might be taken in, as their husbands were earning but eightpence a day. Famine was written in their faces. On bread being given to some of these poor creatures, many of them devoured it with ravenous voracity. But the mothers restrained themselves, and carried home portions to their children. The famine produced a peculiar effect on the appearance of the young. Their faces looked wan and haggard, seeming like old men and women, with an extraordinary sharpness of expression; they had lost all their natural sprightliness, making no attempt to play. In the crowded workhouses their bedding consisted of dirty straw, in which they were laid in rows on the floor, even as many as six persons being crowded under one rug—the living and the dying stretched side by side beneath the same miserable covering. The town of Westport was in itself a strange and fearful sight, like what we read of in beleaguered cities; its streets crowded with gaunt wanderers, sauntering to and fro with hopeless air and hunger-struck appearance; a mob of starved, almost naked women around the poor-house, clamouring for soup-tickets.but that with the pageantry of the hour their importance faded away?—that as their distinction vanished their humiliation returned?—and that he who headed the procession of peers to-day could not sit among them as their equal on the morrow?"The debate on Mr. Villiers's annual motion, on June 10, produced still further evidences of the decline of Protectionist principles. On that occasion Sir James Graham, who was currently believed to be better acquainted with the feelings of the Premier than any other of the Ministers, said, "He would not deny that it was his opinion, that by a gradual and cautious policy it was expedient to bring our system of Corn Laws into a nearer approximation to those wholesome principles which governed legislation with respect to other industrial departments. But it was his conviction that suddenly and at once to throw open the trade in corn would be inconsistent with the well-being of the community, and would give such a shock to the agricultural interest as would throw many other interests into a state of convulsion. The object of every Government, without distinction of party, for the last twenty years, had been to substitute protecting duties for prohibitory duties, and to reduce gradually protecting duties, where it had them to deal with. He approved of this as a safe principle, and showed that it was the keystone of the policy of Sir Robert Peel.... If they could show him that Free Trade with open ports would produce a more abundant supply to the labourer, they would make him [Sir James] a convert to the doctrine of Free Trade in corn. He confessed that he placed no value on the fixed duty of four shillings lately proposed; it would be of no avail as a protection, whilst it would be liable to all the obloquy of a protecting duty; and he therefore thought that if they got rid of the present Corn Law, they had better assent to a total repeal." Sir Robert Peel spoke more cautiously; but he began by striking away a favourite maxim of his party, in observing that experience proved that the high price of corn was not accompanied by a high rate of wages, and that wages did not vary with the price of corn. He said that he "must proceed, in pursuance of his own policy, to reconcile the gradual approach of our legislation to sound principle on this subject, with the interests which had grown up under a different state of things;" but he admitted that it would be "impossible to maintain any law on the ground that it was intended to keep up rents."

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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.SIGNATURES TO THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.The South Sea Company had immediately on the passing of the Bill proposed a subscription of one million, and this was so eagerly seized on that, instead of one, two millions were subscribed. To stimulate this already too feverish spirit in the public, the Company adopted the most false and unjustifiable means. They had eight millions and a half to pay over to Government as a douceur for granting them the management of the Funds; and, therefore, to bring this in rapidly, they propagated the most lying rumours. It was industriously circulated that Lord Stanhope had received overtures at Paris to exchange Gibraltar and Port Mahon for invaluable gold lands in Peru! The South Sea trade was vaunted as a source of boundless wealth in itself. In August the stock had risen from the one hundred and thirty of the last winter to one thousand! Men sold houses and land to become shareholders; merchants of eminence neglected their affairs and crippled their resources to reap imaginary profits. The Company flattered the delusion to the utmost. They opened a third, and even a fourth subscription, larger than the former, and passed a resolution that from next Christmas their yearly dividend should not be less than fifty per cent.! In labouring to increase the public delusion they seem to have caught the contagion themselves, for they began to act, not like men who were blowing a bubble which they knew must speedily burst, but like persons who had mounted permanently into the very highest seat of prosperous power. They assumed the most arrogant and overbearing manner, even towards men of the highest station and influence. "We have made them kings," said a member of Parliament, "and they deal with everybody as such."

On the 12th of March, 1839, Mr. Villiers again moved for a committee of the whole House to take into consideration the Act regulating the importation of foreign corn, and the Manchester delegates were once more in London to watch the progress of events. On this occasion the House again decided, by 342 votes to 195, not to take the subject into consideration. The defeat was of course expected; but the members of the Association immediately assembled again, and issued an address to the public, in which for the first time they recommended the formation of a permanent union, to be called the Anti-Corn Law League, and to be composed of all the towns and districts represented in the delegation, and as many others as might be induced to form Anti-Corn Law associations, and to join the League. Delegates from the different local associations were to meet for business from time to time at the principal towns represented; but in order to secure unity of action, it was proposed that the central office of the League should be established at Manchester, and that to its members should be entrusted the duties of engaging lecturers, obtaining the co-operation of the public press, establishing and conducting a stamped periodical publication, and keeping up a constant correspondence with the local associations. The delegates then parted, becoming so many local missionaries for spreading the doctrines of the new crusade. The Manchester Association had issued a large number of handbills and placards. It now began to publish more largely and systematically a series of pamphlets. Among these were "Facts for Farmers," in which it was shown to demonstration that, whatever might be the interest of the landowners, their tenants had no real share in the benefits of their monopoly. The cheapness of the publications secured them an extraordinary sale wherever political questions were discussed. Mr. Villiers's speech, extending to thirty-two closely printed pages, was sold at three halfpence; Mr. Poulett Thomson's speech, occupying sixteen pages, at three farthings. When the appeals were made to the electors of the kingdom during the height of the agitation, as many as half a million each of the more popular tracts were issued at a time. In accordance with the resolution passed by the League at its formation in London, a fortnightly organ of the new movement was started on the 16th of April. Its title was the Anti-Corn Law Circular. A preliminary address announced that a copy of the paper would be regularly forwarded to every newspaper, review, and magazine in the empire. The first number contained a "Modern History of the Corn Laws," by Richard Cobden, with various information on the progress of the movement. Meanwhile the work of lecturing went on. Free Trade missionaries were dispatched to all parts, and, to the annoyance of the landlords, even preached their obnoxious doctrines to audiences in smock frocks in the agricultural towns and villages, where the views of the country party had hitherto held undisputed sway. Among the most remarkable of these speakers was Colonel Perronet Thompson, who, by his celebrated "Catechism of the Corn Laws," and his other writings, had done perhaps more than any other man of his time to confute the fallacies of the Protectionist party. The clear and terse style, the shrewd reasoning power, the apt and homely illustration, and, above all, the hearty sincerity and good temper of this remarkable man, were equally acceptable among the most refined or the least educated audiences.


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The eyes of the world were now turned upon Rome. It was not to be expected that the Catholic Powers would allow the bark of St. Peter to go down in the flood of revolution without an effort to save it. Spain was the first to interpose for this purpose. Its Government invited France, Austria, Bavaria, Sardinia, Tuscany, and Naples to send plenipotentiaries to consult on the best means of reinstating the Pope. Austria also protested against the new state of things, complaining that the Austrian flag, and the arms of the empire on the palace of its ambassador at Rome, had been insulted and torn down. On the 8th of February a body of Austrian troops, under General Haynau, entered Ferrara, to avenge the death of three Austrian soldiers, and an insult offered to an Austrian consul. He required that the latter should be[587] indemnified, that the Papal colours should be again displayed, that the murderers of the soldiers should be given up, and that the city should support 10,000 Austrian troops. This was a state of things not to be endured by the French Republic, and its Government determined to interpose and overreach Austria, for the purpose of re-establishing French ascendency at Rome, even though based upon the ruins of a sister republic. The French Republicans, it is well known, cared very little for the Pope, but they were ready to make use of him to gratify their own national ambition. Their attack on the Roman Republic would therefore be fittingly described by the language which Pius IX. applied to that republic itself, as "hypocritical felony."While an impulse was thus given to the mathematical theory of light in the University of Cambridge, similar progress was being made in the sister University of Dublin, where three of her most eminent professors—Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Dr. Lloyd, and Mr. M'Cullagh—devoted themselves energetically to its improvement and verification. Sir William Hamilton, a geometer of the first order, having undertaken a more complete discussion of the wave surface of Fresnel, to the equation of which he gave a more elegant form, ascertained the exact nature of that surface, and consequently the exact direction of refracted rays in the neighbourhood of the optic axes. The beautiful and unexpected results he obtained were verified by his friend Dr. Lloyd. The names of Sir William R. Hamilton and Dr. Lloyd will be handed down to posterity in connection with this discovery. "But," says Professor Forbes, "they have other claims to our respect. The former has generalised the most complicated cases of common geometrical optics, by a peculiar analysis developed in his essays on 'Systems of Rays.' To Dr. Lloyd we are indebted for several interesting experimental papers on optics, for an impartial review of the progress of the science, and for an excellent elementary treatise on the wave theory."A strong party, not satisfied with having destroyed Lord Mansfield's town house, set off to burn that at Caen Wood, near Highgate. They were met and turned back by a detachment of cavalry. They were equally disappointed in their intended sack of the Bank of England. They found this mine of wealth guarded by infantry, who had here orders to fire, and did it without scruple, killing and wounding a great many. They were more successful against the prisons. They broke open the King's Bench, the Fleet, the Marshalsea, and all the other prisons except the Poultry Compter, and set at liberty all the prisoners. Before the day had dawned, the whole sky was glaring with the light of conflagrations. The number of separate fires burning at the same time was counted up to thirty-six. Had the weather been stormy, the whole of London must have been laid in ashes; but, providentially, the weather was perfectly calm. The scene of the greatest catastrophe was at the distillery of a Mr. Langdale, on Holborn Bridge. This gentleman was a Catholic, and his stores of spirits were a violent temptation. They broke open his premises in the evening, and destroyed everything. They staved in his hogsheads of spirits, and others collected them in pails and in their hats, and drank voraciously. The kennel ran a mingled river of gin, brandy, and pure alcohol, and men, women, and children were seen on their knees sucking up the stream as it flowed! Fire was set to the premises, and catching the spirits which flooded the floors, the flames shot up to the sky like a volcano. The unhappy wretches, who had stupefied themselves with the fiery fluid, perished like flies in the raging element. No such scene of horror had been seen in all these spectacles of violence and crime. The loss of Mr. Langdale alone was estimated at one hundred thousand pounds.




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