Such were the means employed by the British Government in 1817 to quiet the country under its distressa distress the inevitable result of the long and stupendous war. The only idea was to tighten the reins of Governmentto stimulate the sufferers into overt acts, and then crush them. Fortunately, with the exception of the Derby juries, the juries in general saw through the miserable farce of rebellion, and discharged the greater part of Oliver's and Lord Sidmouth's victims. Watson was acquitted of high treason in London on the 16th of June, less than a week after the Derbyshire insurrection. His son had eluded the pursuit of the police. Seventeen prisoners on the like charges were liberated in July in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and were paid seven shillings each to carry them home. On the 22nd of August, of the twenty-four persons that Oliver had entrapped in Yorkshire, twenty-two were dischargedagainst eleven of them no bills being found by the grand juryand the two left in prison were detained there because, under the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, they were not brought up for trial. The Manchester Blanketeers were, in like manner, all discharged, though the Duke of Northumberland did his utmost to stimulate Lord Sidmouth to get them punished. On the country at large the impression was that the Government had propagated a most needless alarm, and that those who had fallen on the scaffold had been exalted by them from poor, ignorant labourers into burlesque traitors, through the execrable agency of their incendiaries, Oliver, Castles, Mitchell, and others.

On the 17th of Julya week after the burial of the Kingthe Queen went in state to meet Parliament. She was received along the line of procession with extraordinary enthusiasm; and never on the accession of a Sovereign was the House of Peers so thronged by ladies of rank. A tone of kindness, mercy, and conciliation, befitting her youth and sex, marked her first Speech from the Throne. She stated that she regarded with peculiar interest the measures that had been brought to maturity for the mitigation of the criminal code, and the reduction of the number of capital punishments; promised that it should be her care to strengthen our institutions, civil and ecclesiastical, by discreet improvement, wherever improvement was required, and to do all in her power to compose and allay animosity and discord. Immediately on the delivery of the Royal Speech Parliament was prorogued in order to its dissolution. The general elections speedily followed, and were all over early in August. The Ministerial candidates were accused of making an unconstitutional use of the Queen's name in their addresses, and availing themselves of her popularity to strengthen the position of the Government, and the Conservatives asserted that the Queen had no partiality for her present advisers, whom she found in office, and bore with only till Sir Robert Peel and his colleagues should feel strong enough to take their places. The elections did not materially alter the balance of parties, the Whigs still commanding a small majority.

The next novelist who appeared was of a very different school. Richardson was an elaborate anatomist of character; Fielding and Smollett were master painters of life and manners, and threw in strong dashes of wit and humour; but they had little sentiment. In Laurence Sterne (b. 1713; d. 1768) came forth a sentimentalist, who, whilst he melted his readers by touches of pathos, could[174] scarcely conceal from them that he was laughing at them in his sleeve. The mixture of feeling, wit, double entendre, and humour of the most subtle and refined kind, and that in a clergyman, produced the oddest, and yet the most vivid, impressions on the reader. The effect was surprise, pleasure, wonder, and no little misgiving; but the novelty and charm of this original style were so great that they carried all before them, but not without the most violent censures from the press on his indecencies, especially considering his position as a clergyman. Sterne was the grandson of that Richard Sterne, a native of Mansfield, in Nottinghamshire, who was chaplain to Archbishop Laud, and attended him on the scaffold. Laurence Sterne was the son of a lieutenant in the army, and was born at Clonmel, in Ireland, his grandfather having then become Archbishop of York. Sterne, therefore, on taking orders, was on the way of preferment, and received the rectory of Stillington and the perpetual curacy of Coxwold, both in Yorkshire. There he wrote not only sermons, but satire, particularly his "History of a Watchcoat." But it was his novel of "Tristram Shandy" which brought him into sudden popularity. After this, his "Sentimental Journey" completed his reputation; and his Maria and her lamb, his uncle Toby, Corporal Trim, Yorick, Doctor Slop, the widow Wadman, and his lesser characters, usurped for a long period the tears and laughter of the nation. A number of satires and other poems appeared at this time which deserve only a mere mention. These are "The Pursuits of Literature," by Thomas James Mathias; "Anticipation," by Richard Tickell, being an anticipation of the king's Speech, and the debates of Parliament; "An Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers," by Mason, under the assumed name of Malcolm Macgregor; "The Rolliad," also a political satire, in 1785. To this succeeded "Probationary Odes," from the same party. These were eclipsed by the publications of Dr. John Wolcot, under the name of Peter Pindar, who for twenty years kept the public laughing by his witty and reckless effusions, in which the king especially was most unmercifully ridiculed. Wolcot had the merit of discovering Opie, the painter, as a sawyer in the neighbourhood of Truro, and pushing him forward by his praises. Of the Royal Academicians he was a relentless enemy, and to them addressed several odes, of the most caustic and damaging kind. Later on came the inimitable poems of the "Anti-Jacobin," written by Canning, Hookham Frere, and others, among which it is sufficient to recall the "Needy Knife-grinder," and the satires on the Addington Administration. But now there came a voice from Scotland that filled with envy the crowd of second-rate poets of London, and marked the dawn of a new era. A simple but sturdy peasantwith no education but such as is extended to every child in every rural parish of Scotland; "following the plough along the mountain side," laboriously sowing and reaping and foddering neat; instead of haunting drawing-rooms in bob-tailed coat and kid gloves, dancing on the barn-floor, or hob-nobbing with his rustic chums at the next pot-houseset up a song of youth, of passion, of liberty and equality, so clear, so sonorous, so ringing with the clarion tones of genius and truth, that all Britain, north and south, stood still in wonder, and the most brazen vendor of empty words and impudent pretensions to intellectual power owned the voice of the master, and was for a moment still. This master of song was Robert Burns (b. 1759; d. 1796). Need we say more? Need we speak of the exquisite beauty of the "Cotter's Saturday Night"?of the fun of "Tam o' Shanter"?of the satiric drollery of his laughter at antiquarian and other pretenders?of the scathing sarcasms on sectarian cant in "Holy Willie's Prayer," and a dozen other things?of the spirit of love and the spirit of liberty welling[186] up in his heart in a hundred living songs?of the law of man's independence and dignity stamped on the page of eternal memory in the few words"A man's a man for a' that"? Are not these things written in the book of human consciousness, all the world over? Do not his fellow-countrymen sing them and shout them in every climate under heaven? At the time when they appeared the poems of Robert Burns clearly showed that true poetry was not altogether extinct, and effectually put an end to that fatal rage of imitation of the artificial school of Johnson and Pope which then prevailed. Whilst Parliament was busy with the Septennial Bill, George I. was very impatient to get away to Hanover. Like William III., he was but a foreigner in England; a dull, well-meaning man, whose heart was in his native country, and who had been transplanted too late ever to take to the alien earth. The Act of Settlement provided that, after the Hanoverian accession, no reigning sovereign should quit the kingdom without permission of Parliament. George was not content to ask this permission, but insisted that the restraining clause itself should be repealed, and it was accordingly repealed without any opposition. There was one difficulty connected with George's absence from his kingdom which Council or Parliament could not so easily deal with: this was his excessive jealousy of his son. The king could not take his departure in peace if the Prince of Wales was to be made regent, according to custom, in his absence. He proposed, therefore, through his favourite, Bothmar, that the powers of the prince should be limited by rigorous provisions, and that some other persons should be joined[34] with him in commission. Lord Townshend did not hesitate to express his sense of the impolicy of the king's leaving his dominions at all at such a crisis; but he also added that to put any other persons in commission with the Prince of Wales was contrary to the whole practice and spirit of England. Driven from this, the king insisted that, instead of regent, the prince should be named "Guardian and Lieutenant of the Realm"an office which had never existed since the time of the Black Prince.

When the resolutions of the Committee were reported two days afterwards, the debate was renewed with all its vehemence, and Pulteney unveiled another view of the case, which had much real truth and warning in it. "It is well known," he said, "that every one of the public officers have already so many boroughs or corporations which they look on as their properties. There are some boroughs which are called Treasury boroughs; there are others which may be called Admiralty boroughs; in short, it may be said that nearly all the towns upon the sea-coast are already seized upon, and in a manner taken prisoners by the officers of the Crown. In most of them they have so great an influence that none can be chosen members of Parliament but such as they are pleased to recommend. But, as the Customs are confined to our seaports, as they cannot travel far from the coast, therefore this scheme seems to be contrived in order to extend the laws of Excise, and thereby to extend the influence of the Crown over all the inland towns and corporations of England."

The select committee of the Commons appointed at the instance of Lord Castlereagh, to inquire into the state of the national income and expenditure, now presented its report on the 3rd of June, and it was agreed to. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated on its authority that, since 1815, taxation had been reduced eighteen million pounds per annum; that in 1816 the revenue of Great Britain and Ireland had been consolidated, and that, at that time, the interest of the Debt of Ireland, including the Sinking Fund provided for its reduction, exceeded the entire revenue of that part of the United Kingdom by one million nine hundred thousand pounds. He then announced that supplies for the present year would be required to the amount of twenty million five hundred thousand pounds; that the existing revenue would only furnish seven million pounds towards this; and that it would be necessary to have recourse to the Sinking Fund to make up the deficiency of thirteen million five hundred thousand pounds. This Sinking Fund was fifteen million five hundred thousand pounds, so that it would leave only two million pounds; but as it was necessary to have a tolerable surplus in hand to meet exigencies, it was proposed to raise this reserve fund to five million pounds by fresh taxes to the amount of three million pounds.

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No sooner had Collot d'Herbois, Barrre, and that party triumphed over Robespierre than they summoned the members of the tribunal to their baray, on the very morning of the day of his executionand voted them honours amid much applause. The tribunal replied, that though a few traitors like Coffinhal and Dumas had found their way into the tribunal, the majority of them were sound and devoted to the Convention. Accordingly, the next day the Convention handed over to Fouquier-Tinville and his colleagues a list of fresh proscriptions of sixty-nine municipals, and a few days afterwardsnamely, the 12th of Thermidor, being the 30th of Julythey added twelve more, completing eighty-one victims! These were all executed within twenty-four hours. The Convention then fell into new divisions, some members contending for its being time to cease these tragedies, others insisting on maintaining them. Billaud-Varennes, Barrre, and Collot d'Herbois defended the guillotine and Fouquier-Tinville, but the greater number of the enemies of Robespierre denounced them, declared themselves the overthrowers of Robespierre, and assumed the name of Thermidorians, in honour of the month in which they had destroyed him. For the Thermidorians saw that the better part of the public had become sick of blood, and they set about contracting the Reign of Terror. They reduced the powers of the two governing Committees; they decreed that one-fourth of the members should go out every month; they reduced the revolutionary sections of Paris from forty-eight to twelve, and abolished the forty sous a day to the sansculotte patriots for their attendance. A month after the execution of Robespierre, Tallien made a fierce onslaught on the Terrorist system, and declared that there were numbers yet living who had been equally merciless with Robespierre, Couthon, and St. Just; and the next day Lecointre denounced by name Barrre, Billaud-Varennes, and Collot d'Herbois. To put an end to the Jacobin resistance, the Convention closed the Jacobin Club altogether, which had thus only survived the fall of Robespierre about four months. Thereupon the Jacobins began to denounce the Thermidorians as anti-Republicans, but they retorted that they were Republicans of the purest schoolthat of Marat.


On the 13th of April the Speaker read to the House a notice which he had received, that a bill would be filed against him, in the Court of King's Bench, to try the validity of his warrant in this case, and the House ordered the letter and the notice to be entered on the Journals. On the 16th Sir Samuel Romilly moved for the discharge of Gale Jones; but Windham observed that a meeting of the electors of Westminster was announced for the morrow, to take into consideration the case of their representative, and that to liberate Jones at that moment would be sure to be attributed to fear on the part of the Commons. The motion was, therefore, rejected.

This was taking a bold step in defiance of the authorities, and orderly and peaceable conduct[150] was, more than ever, necessary. On the morning of the day proposed there was little appearance of any stir amongst the artisans of the town, and it does not seem that they took any or much part in the assembly, but that it was made up of the parties marching in from the country and towns around. During the forenoon of this day, Monday, the 16th of August, large bodies came marching in from every quarter, so that by twelve o'clock it was calculated that eighty or a hundred thousand such people were congregated in and around the open space designated. Some of them had disregarded the injunctions of the general committee, and had gone extensively armed with sticks. Bamford soon heard that his eccentric friend, called "the quacking" Dr. Healey, of whom his narrative gives some ludicrous recitals, had headed the band from Lees and Saddleworth, with a black flag borne behind him, on which stared out in great white letters, "Equal Representation or Death" on the one side, and on the other, "Love," with a heart and two clasped handsbut all white on their black ground, looking most sepulchral and hideous. Presently loud shouts indicated that Hunt was approaching, who came, preceded by a band of music, seated in an open barouche, with a number of gentlemen, and on the box a woman, who, it appeared, had been hoisted up there by the crowd, as the carriage passed through it.

But these were by no means the total of the royal troubles at this period. The youngest and most beloved of George III.'s sisters, Caroline Matilda, had been married to Christian VII. of Denmark. This young man was little better than an idiot, and the poor princess was married to him at the age of sixteen. The marriage of this young couple, and their ascent to the throne, were nearly simultaneous; and, contrary to the usual custom of a monarch, it was deemed advisable that he should travel. In his tour he fell in with the celebrated Struensee, a young physician of Altona. Christian VII., like all weak monarchs, must have favourites. Struensee speedily became the perfect master of Christian's mind and actions, and on their return to Copenhagen he was raised to the rank of count, and soon after was made Prime Minister. His enemies were of course numerous, and scandal soon connected his name with that of the queen. All this especially favoured the plans of the base queen dowager, who, in league with the hostile nobles, feigned a plot against the king; obtained from him, in his bed at midnight, an order for the arrest of the queen, Struensee, and others. The queen was seized half dressed. Struensee was executed with especial barbarities; but the King of England interfered to save his sister, and to procure the succession to her son. The unhappy young queen, however, was separated for ever from her two children, and conveyed to Zell, in Hanoverthe same castle or prison where the unhappy wife of George I. had pined away her life. There she died after a few years, protesting her innocence, though Struensee had confessed his guilt.

Lord Auckland was then Governor-General of India, but the period of his tenure of office was drawing to a close. He hoped it would end brightly, that the war for the restoration of an imbecile and puppet king would have ended triumphantly, and that he would return to his native land bearing something of the reflected glory of the conquerors of Afghanistan. He had been cheered by the despatches of the too sanguine envoy in the month of October, who spoke only of the continued tranquillity of Cabul. November passed, however, without any intelligence, and all was anxiety and painful suspense. Intelligence at last came confirming the worst anticipations. Calcutta was astounded at the news that Afghanistan, believed to be prosperous and grateful for British intervention, was in arms against its deliverers. Suddenly the tranquillity of that doomed country was found to be a delusion. "Across the whole length and breadth of the land the history of that gigantic lie was written in characters of blood." Confounded and paralysed by the tidings of so great a failure, which he had not energy to retrieve, he thought only of abandoning the vicious policy of aggression that had ended so miserably, and given such a terrible blow to the prestige of British power in India, on which our dominion in the East so much depended. He had owed his appointment to the Whigs; and the Conservatives, who were now in office, had opposed the policy of the Government regarding the Afghan war. But no one seemed more sick of the policy of aggression than the Governor-General himself. He became thoroughly convinced of the folly of placing a detached force in a distant city which could be reached only through dangerous defiles occupied by an ever-watchful enemy, depending for supplies upon uncertain allies, and without any basis of operations. The expedition had proved enormously expensive, and had drained the Indian treasury of funds that should have been employed in developing the resources of our Indian possessions. When all this had ended in disastrous failure and national disgracewhen he recollected that the directors of the Company, as well as the Government, had expressed intense dissatisfaction at his policy, feeling conscious that their complaints were just, and that their worst forebodings had been realised, his spirit seems to have been completely broken; instead of any attempt at retrieving the[497] misfortunes of his Government, he thought only of saving, if possible, what remained of the forces that he had sent across the Indus. Writing to the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Jaspar Nicolls, who was then on a tour through the Upper Provinces of India, with reference to the sending forward of reinforcements, he said he did not see how the sending forward of a brigade could by any possibility have any influence on the events which it was supposed were then passing at Cabul, which they could not reach before April. In his opinion they were not to think of marching fresh armies to the reconquest of that which they were likely to lose. He feared that safety to the force at Cabul could only come from itself. The Commander-in-Chief himself had been always of opinion that the renewed efforts of the Government to support Shah Sujah on his throne, and to establish a permanent influence in Afghanistan, was a great mistake. However, owing to the energy of Mr. George Clarke, the Governor-General's agent on the north-west frontier, and his assistant, Captain, afterwards Sir, Henry Lawrence, forces were dispatched from that quarter, under the command of General Pollock, who had commanded the garrison of Agra, having been in the Indian service since 1803, and having distinguished himself under General Lake. This appointment gave the greatest satisfaction, as it was believed that he was selected solely for his merit, and not through aristocratic influence. While he was preparing to advance, Lord Auckland was recalled, and Lord Ellenborough, the new Governor-General, arrived at Calcutta.

On the 14th of September the French army came in sight of Moscow, and the soldiers, worn down and miserable with their long and severe march, shouted with joy, "Moscow! Moscow!" They rushed up the hill called the Mount of Salvation, because there the natives coming in full view of the city kneel and cross themselves. There the splendid spectacle of the widely-spread ancient capital lay before their eyes, with its spires of thirty churches, its palaces of Eastern architecture, and its copper domes glittering in the sun. Interspersed were beautiful gardens, and masses of noble trees, and the gigantic palace of the Kremlin rising above in colossal bulk. All were struck with admiration of the place which had so long been the goal of their wishes. Napoleon himself sat on his horse surveying it, and exclaimed, "Behold at last that celebrated city!" But he immediately added, in an under-tone, "It was full time!" He expected to see trains of nobles come out to throw themselves at his feet and offer submission; but no one appeared, and not a sign of life presented itself, no smoke from a single chimney, not a man on the walls. It looked like a city of the dead. The mystery was soon solved by Murat, who had pushed forward, sending word that the whole population had abandoned Moscow! Two hundred and fifty thousand people had forsaken their home in a mass! The tidings struck the invader with wonder and foreboding; but he added, smiling grimly, "The Russians will soon learn better the value of their capital." He appointed Mortier governor of the place, with strict orders that any man who plundered should be shot; he calculated on Moscow as their home for the winterthe pledge of peace with Alexanderthe salvation of his whole army. But the troops poured into the vast, deserted city, and began everywhere helping themselves, whilst the officers selected palaces and gardens for residences at pleasure.

Louis Philippe, King of the French, had been the subject of constant eulogy for the consummate ability and exquisite tact with which he had governed France for seventeen years. It was supposed that the "Citizen King" had at length taught his restless and impulsive subjects the blessings of constitutional government, and that they were perfectly contented with the free institutions under which it was now their happiness to live. Guizot, regarded as one of the greatest statesmen on the Continent, was at the head of affairs in 1847, and it was hoped that his profound wisdom and keen sagacity would enable him to guard the state against any dangers with which it might be threatened by the Legitimists on one side or the Democrats on the other. But the whole aspect of public affairs in France was deceptive, and the unconscious monarch occupied a throne which rested on a volcano. The representative government of which he boasted was nothing but a shama gross fraud upon the nation. The basis of the electoral constituency was extremely narrow, and majorities were secured in the Chambers by the gross abuse of enormous government patronage. The people, however, saw through the delusion, and were indignant at the artifices by which they were deceived. The king, who interfered with his Ministers in everything, and really directed the Government, was proud of his skill in "managing" his Ministry, his Parliament, and the nation. But the conviction gained ground everywhere, and with it arose a feeling of deep resentment, that he had broken faith with the nation, that he had utterly failed to fulfil his pledges to the people, who had erected the barricades, and placed him upon the throne in 1830. The friends of the monarchy were convinced that it could only be saved by speedy and effectual reform. But the very name of Reform was hateful to the king, and his aide-de-camp took care to make known to the members of the Chambers his opinions and feelings upon the subject. M. Odillon Barrot, however, originated a series of Reform banquets, which commenced in Paris, and were held in the principal provincial cities, at which the most eminent men in the country delivered strong speeches against political corruption and corrupters, and especially against the Minister who was regarded as their chief defenderGuizot.

The Government determined to make the most formidable preparations for the preservation of the peace, and for putting down a riot, should it occur. Troops were seen directing their march from all quarters to the metropolis, and there was not a village in the vicinity which did not display the plumed helmet. George IV., always excessively fond of show and pomp, was resolved that the ceremonial of his coronation should outshine anything in history. The nation entered into the spirit of the occasion, and the metropolis was full of excitement. As early as one o'clock on the morning of the 19th of July, Westminster, the scene of this magnificent pageant, presented a dazzling spectacle. Even at that early hour, those who were fortunate enough to obtain places were proceeding to occupy them. From Charing Cross two streams of carriages extended, one to the Abbey and the other to Westminster Hall. The streets were crowded with foot passengers eager to secure seats on the platforms erected along the way, or some standing-place. All distinctions of rank were lost in the throng of eager expectants; judges, bishops, peers, commanders, wealthy citizens, richly dressed ladies, all mingled in the moving masses that converged towards the great centre of attraction.