This was a thunderstroke to Newcastle—Legge, who had been so pliant, thus to rebel. Newcastle, in his consternation, hastened to Pitt, imploring him to use his influence with Legge, and promising him the Seals as Secretary, engaging to remove all prejudice from the king's mind. But not only Pitt, but the public, had been long asking whether, in these critical times, everything was to be sacrificed for the sake of this old grasping jobber at the Treasury? whether Newcastle was to endanger the whole nation by keeping out of office all men of talent? Pitt stood firm: no offers, no temptations, could move him. Newcastle, finding Pitt unmanageable, flew to Fox, who accepted the Seals on condition of having proper powers conceded to him, and agreed to support the treaties, against which he had been equally as violent as Pitt, having just before said to Dodington, "I am surprised you are not against all subsidies." Robinson was consoled with a pension of two thousand pounds a year and the post of Master of the Wardrobe. The king had returned from Hanover, and Fox was not to receive the Seals till two days after the meeting of Parliament, so that he might keep his place and support the Address. By his accession to office he changed the violence of the opposition of the Duke of Bedford, and brought the support of the Russells to the Ministry. This strength, however, did not prevent the certainty of a breakup of the Cabinet. Pitt was now arrayed against his former colleagues.
Napoleon also exerted himself to excite a rebellion in Ireland. He was the more bent on this, because he saw that it was hopeless to make a direct descent on England itself. He had collected a great fleet in the harbours of Boulogne, Dieppe, Havre, Dunkirk, Ostend, and other smaller ports, many of them capable only of receiving the gunboats in which he proposed to transport his soldiers. He had assembled a very fine army on the heights above Boulogne, called the Army of England, and there continually exercised it, under the inspection of Soult, Ney, Davoust, and Victor—men, the pride of his army; but he saw such powerful fleets crowding the Channel, blockading his very ports, cutting out, every now and then, some of his gunboats under the very batteries, and the war-ships of Britain even standing in and firing at him and his suite as they made observations from the cliffs, that, combined with the information that England was almost all one camp, he abandoned the project, for the present, in despair. But Ireland he deemed vulnerable, from the treason of her own children. He assembled all the Irish refugees in Paris, formed the Irish Brigade into the Irish Legion, and sent over active agents to arouse their countrymen in Ireland. Amongst these were Quigley and Robert Emmett, who had been engaged in the Rebellion of 1798. Quigley had been outlawed, and Emmett had been so deeply implicated in that Rebellion with his brother Thomas, who was banished, that he had found it necessary to quit the country. These emissaries soon collected around them, in Dublin, disaffected associates, amongst them being Dowdall, Redmond, and Russell. They formed a central committee, and corresponded with others in different towns, and especially with one Dwyer, who had also been in the former Rebellion, and had ever since maintained himself and a knot of desperate followers in the mountains of Wicklow. The Government received, from time to time, information of the proceedings of these foolish men—Emmett being a rash youth of only twenty-two or twenty-three years of age—but they took no precautions; and when, on the 23rd of July, the eve of the Festival of St. James, these desperadoes rushed, at evening, into the streets of Dublin, armed with pikes, old guns, and blunderbusses, the authorities were taken entirely by surprise. There were from two thousand to three thousand soldiers in the Castle, but neither police, soldier, nor officer appeared till the mob had murdered Colonel Brown, who was hastening to the Castle to arouse the troops, and Lord Kilwarden, the Chief Justice, whom they dragged from his carriage as it passed, and killed, along with his nephew, but, at the same time, they allowed the Chief Justice's daughter, who was with them, to depart. Soon after this—but not before the insurgents had severely wounded a Mr. Clarke, a manufacturer, who was riding to alarm the Castle—the soldiers appeared, and the mob fled at their very sight. The same day Russell had turned out at Belfast, and Quigley at Kildare, but with as little success. Emmett had escaped to the Wicklow mountains to join Dwyer; but having assumed the fatal disguise of French officers, the country people, who hated the French since their appearance under General Humbert, when they had ridiculed the Catholic religion, drove him and twelve of his companions back. In a short time, Emmett, Russell, Redmond, and others were all secured and executed. Dowdall escaped, with Allen and others, out of Ireland; Quigley and Stafford, one of his companions, were admitted as king's evidence, and thus escaped. The project of Napoleon had thus entirely failed, with the sacrifice of some of his leading agents.This succession of adverse circumstances induced Bolingbroke to dispatch a messenger to London to inform the Earl of Mar of them, and to state that, as the English Jacobites would not stir without assistance from abroad, and as no such help could be had, he would see that nothing as yet could be attempted. But when the messenger arrived in London, he learnt from Erasmus Lewis, Oxford's late secretary, and a very active partisan of the Jacobites, that Mar was already gone to raise the Highlands, if we are to believe the Duke of Berwick, at the especial suggestion of the Pretender himself, though he had, on the 23rd of September, in writing to Bolingbroke, expressed the necessity of the Scots waiting till they heard further from him. If that was so, it was at once traitorous towards his supporters and very ill-advised, and was another proof to Bolingbroke of the unsafe parties with whom he was embarked in this hopeless enterprise.
MAYNOOTH COLLEGE. (From a Photograph by Lawrence, Dublin.)Amongst the prose writers of this period a lady stands prominent, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (b. 1690; d. 1762), the daughter of the Duke of Kingston, and mother of Lady Bute, the wife of the Earl of Bute, the celebrated Minister of George III. Lady Mary derives her chief fame from her Letters, which were not published till after her death. They are as remarkable for their wit, brilliancy, and clear, thorough sense, as any of the writings of the age. In these we have a most graphic picture of life in the East, as she had lived some years at Constantinople with her husband. She thence conferred one of the greatest boons on her country, by the introduction of inoculation for the smallpox. Lady Mary translated the "Enchiridion of Epictetus," and wrote many verses, including satirical ones, called "Town Eclogues;" but her fame must always rest upon her clear and sparkling letters. She was celebrated for her wit and beauty, and was a leading figure in the fashionable as well as the literary world. Pope and she were long great friends, but quarrelled irreconcilably.
[See larger version]The next step in the increase of means of traffic was the construction of canals. The rivers had previously been rendered more navigable by removing obstructions, deepening channels, and making good towing-paths along their banks; but now it was projected to make artificial rivers. In this scheme, Richard Brindley, under the patronage of the Duke of Bridgewater, was the great engineer; and his intrepid genius dictated to him to carry these canals over hills by locks, over rivers by aqueducts, and through the heart of hills by tunnels. These enterprises at that moment appeared, to the ordinary run of civil engineers, as rash experiments, which were sure to prove abortive. As all new ideas are, these ideas, now so commonplace, were ridiculed by the wise ones as little short of madness. Mr. Brindley's first great work was the formation of the Duke of Bridgewater's canal, from Worsley to Manchester. In this he at once proved all his plans of locks, tunnels, and aqueducts. He conducted his canal by an aqueduct over the river Irwell, at an elevation of thirty-nine feet; and those learned engineers who had laughed at the scheme as "a castle in the air," might now see boats passing over the river at that height with the greatest ease, while other boats were being drawn up the Irwell against the stream and under the aqueduct with five times the labour. At Worsley the canal was conducted into the very heart of the coal-mine by a tunnel, with branches, which conducted the boats up to the different parts of the mine, so that the coal could be loaded on the spot where it was dug. The immediate effect of this canal was to reduce coals in Manchester to half the former price; and the canal being extended so as to connect it with the Mersey, at Runcorn, it reduced the freight of goods from Manchester to Liverpool to the same extent, from twelve shillings to six shillings per ton, the land carriage having been forty shillings. Brindley was next engaged to execute the Grand Trunk Canal, which united the Trent and Mersey, carrying it through Birmingham, Chesterfield, and to Nottingham. This was commenced in 1766, and exhibited further examples of his undaunted skill, and, as he had been laughed at by the pedants of the profession, he now in his turn laughed at their puny mediocrity. One of his tunnels, at Harecastle Hill, in Staffordshire, was two thousand eight hundred and eighty yards long, twelve feet wide, nine high, and in some parts seventy yards below the surface of the ground. This tunnel, after half a century's use, was found too confined for the traffic, and a new one, much wider, was made by Telford. By this time the art of tunnelling had made great progress, and whilst Brindley required eleven years to complete his tunnel, Telford made his much larger one in three. Many causes intervened to check for a time the progress of canals, so that from 1760 to 1774 only nineteen Acts were passed for them; but in the two years of 1793 and 1794 no fewer than thirty-six new Bills were introduced to Parliament, with others for extending and amending rivers, making altogether forty-seven Acts, the expenditure on the canals of these two years' projection amounting to five million three hundred thousand pounds. The work now went on rapidly, and investments in canal shares exhibited at that day, in miniature, the great fever of railway speculation at a later period. Lines of canals were made to connect the Thames, the Tweed, the Severn, and the Mersey; so that the great ports of London, Liverpool, Hull, and Bristol were connected by them, and put into communication with nearly all the great inland manufacturing towns. In 1779 a ship-canal was completed from the Forth to the Clyde—a work proposed as early as the reign of Charles II. This canal, thirty-five miles in length, had thirty-nine locks, which carried the canal to a height of one hundred and fifty-six feet above the sea, and it crossed the river Kelvin by an aqueduct eighty-three feet from the bed of the river to the top of the masonry. A few years later a much larger ship-canal united Gloucester to the Severn, and wonderfully increased the trade and growth of that city.
The Budget did not retrieve the popularity of Ministers. Sir Francis Baring proposed to make up for an estimated deficit of ￡2,421,000 by an alteration of the timber duties producing ￡600,000 a year, and an alteration of the sugar duties producing ￡700,000. Both these changes were in the direction of free trade, and a still more significant proposal was the repeal of the existing corn law, and the substitution of a low fixed duty of 8s. a quarter on wheat. The House, however, would not accept such a budget from a Government whose Premier had in the previous year declared that "the responsible advisers of the Crown would not propose any change in the Corn Laws." After a debate of eight nights the Ministry were defeated on the sugar duties by 317 votes to 281. Still they did not resign, and the Opposition in consequence had recourse to a direct vote of censure.On the 27th of March, after a powerful address from Sir Robert Peel, the Corn Importation Bill was read a second time—the House, on division, showing a majority for the second reading of 302 to 214. Three nights' debate took place on the third reading, in the course of which the Protectionists contended with undiminished obstinacy for the maintenance of the landlords' monopoly. The third reading was finally carried at four o'clock in the morning of Saturday, May 16th, the numbers being 327 for the Bill; against it, 229; leaving a majority for the Government of 98.
The first debate arose on the subject of drunkenness and gin. Drunkenness had of late years appeared to grow rapidly, and to assume more horrible features from the increasing use of gin. Sir Joseph Jekyll proposed in committee that a heavy tax should be laid on this pernicious liquor, which should put it out of the reach of the working classes—namely, a duty of twenty shillings per gallon on all sold retail, and fifty pounds yearly for the licence to every retailer. This benevolent man had not arrived at the truth, that to tax a crime is only to stop up one vent of it, and to occasion its bursting out in half a dozen other places. Sir Robert Walpole saw this clearly, and though he would not oppose the Bill for this purpose, he predicted that Parliament would soon be called upon to modify its provisions. The small duties heretofore levied on this article had brought in about seventy thousand pounds annually, and, as the Excise had been made over to the Crown, this sum went to the Civil List. Walpole demanded, therefore, that whatever deficiency of this sum should be produced by the new regulations should be made up to the Civil List. The whole measure excited great clamour out of doors. It was regarded as an invidious attempt to abridge the comforts of the people, whilst those of the wealthy remained untouched. The clause proposed by Walpole to protect the revenue was assailed with much fury both in and out of the House. It was said that the Minister was quite indifferent to the morals of the people on the one hand, or to their enjoyment on the other, so that the revenue did not suffer.
[See larger version]
Copyright © 2020