THE MANSION HOUSE, LONDON, IN 1760. At the end of the fortnight Lord Grenville and Lord Grey pointed out the necessity of proceeding to appoint a regent. Ministers replied that the[9] physicians were confident of the king's speedy recovery; but as there were repeated adjournments and the reports of the physicians still held the same language, the sense of Parliament prevailed. On the 17th of December Mr. Perceval moved that on the 20th they should go into committee on the question of the Regency; and on that day the same resolutions were passed as had been passed in 1788namely, that the Prince of Wales should be Regent under certain restrictions; that the right of creating peerages, and granting salaries, pensions, and offices in reversion, should be limited specifically, as in 1788. The royal dukes made a protest against these limitations; but on the 30th they were confirmed by both Houses, with additional resolutions for the care of his Majesty's person and the security of his private property, which were passed on the last day of the year 1810.

It was necessary that Roman Catholic electors should take an oath and obtain a certificate of their having done so from a magistrate. The friends of Mr. Fitzgerald insisted that this oath should be taken, which caused considerable delay; but a magistrate having been obtained, the freeholders were sworn en masse. Brought into a yard, enclosed within four walls, twenty-five voters were placed against each wall, and thus the oath was simultaneously taken. The effects of this machinery upon the poll soon became manifest. Mr. O'Connell ran ahead of his opponent, and on the second day the result was no longer doubtful. Mr. Fitzgerald would have abandoned the contest, but the landlords resolved that the last man whom they could command should be polled out. They exerted themselves to the utmost to prevent the defection of their tenantry. The most influential of them had their freeholders mustered in a body, and came forward to the hustings at their head, exhorting, promising, threatening, reminding them of past favours, and hinting at the consequences of forsaking their best friends and natural protectors; but the moment O'Connell or a priest appearedshouting: "Vote for your country, boys!" "Vote for the old religion!" "Down with Vesey!" "Hurrah for O'Connell!"they changed sides to a man, with a wild, responsive cheer. One priest, Father Coffey, adhered to Mr. Fitzgerald. "But," says Mr. Sheil, "the scorn and detestation with which he was treated by the mob clearly proved that a priest has no influence over them when he attempts to run counter to their political passions. He can hurry them on in the career in which their own feelings impel them, but he cannot turn them into another course." The generality of the orators were heard with loud and clamorous approbation; but at a late hour one evening, when it was growing rapidly dark, a priest came forward on the platform, who addressed the multitude in Irish. Ten thousand peasants were assembled before the speaker, and a profound stillness hung over the almost breathless mass. For some minutes they continued thus deeply attentive, and seemed to be struck with awe as he proceeded. Suddenly the priest and the whole multitude knelt down with[275] the precision of a regimental evolution. Priest and people were both silent, but they were offering up a mental prayer for mercy on the soul of one of Vesey Fitzgerald's voters, who had died that day, and had been accused of taking a bribe. The polling, which lasted five days, at length closed. The court-house was again crowded, as on the first day. Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald appeared again at the head of the aristocracy, and Mr. O'Connell at the head of the priests and the "Forties." The moment the latter was declared by the sheriff duly elected, the first Roman Catholic M.P. since the Revolution, a friend presented him with a letter to be franked. Addressed to a member of the House of Commons, it was posted that night, and when it arrived at its destination it was handed about amongst the members, exciting curiosity and astonishment. It was said also to have found its way to the king, who probably felt thankful that his brother, the Duke of York, did not live to see "Daniel O'Connell, M.P." Mr. O'Connell made a speech, distinguished by just feeling and good taste, and begged that Mr. Fitzgerald would forgive him if he had on the first day given him any sort of offence. Mr. Fitzgerald came forward, and unaffectedly assured him that whatever was said should be forgotten. He was again hailed with universal acclamation, and delivered an admirable speech. During the progress of the election he could not refrain from repeatedly expressing his astonishment at what he saw, and from indulging in melancholy forebodings of events of which these incidents were perhaps but the heralds. "Where is all this to end?" was a question frequently put in his presence, and from which he seemed to shrink. God's will be done! 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.

By permission, from the Picture in the Corporation of Leicester Art Gallery. This being done, Mr. Vyner suggested that the physicians should rather be examined by the House itself, a proposal supported by Fox. Pitt[344] replied that this was a matter requiring much delicacy, and that the opinions of the physicians before the Council being on oath, he imagined that they had greater force than any given before Parliament, where they would not be on oath. But, during the four days' adjournment, he had ascertained, to his satisfaction, that the majority of the physicians were of opinion that the king would pretty soon recover, and that especially Dr. Willis was of this opinion, under whose more immediate care he was; and no sooner did the Commons meet, than Pitt most judiciously acquiesced in the suggestions of Vyner and Fox; and the physicians were examined by a committee of twenty-one members, of which he himself was chairman. On the 16th of December Pitt brought up the report of the committee, in which a majority of the physicians had expressed the opinion that the malady of the king would not be of long duration; and he then moved for another committee to search for precedents as to the power to be exercised by a regent. Fox declared that Pitt knew very well that there were no precedents to be found while there existed an Heir Apparent, at the time, of full age and capacity; that he was seeking only the means of delaying what ought to be done at once; that the failure of the mind of the sovereign was a case of natural demise, and that the Heir Apparent succeeded to the exercise of the royal authority from the period of that failure, as a matter of course; that the Parliament had, indeed, the authority to decide that such failure had actually taken place, and to sanction the assumption of the powers of regency, as the other two Estates of the realm, but nothing more. When Fox made this astounding assertion, Pitt slapped his thigh and exclaimed to a colleague sitting near him, "I'll unwhig the gentleman for the rest of his life."

Instead of waiting to watch Washington, or leaving any force for that purpose, Howe now suddenly altered his plans, marched back in reality to Staten Island, and left the enemy in full command of the Jerseys. Embarking his army on the 5th of July, he left General Clinton at New York with seventeen battalions, a body of loyal American militia, and a regiment of light horse. He set sail on the 23rd of July, and stood out to sea. Washington, now supposing that he meant to make an attempt on Boston, moved slowly towards the Hudson; but he had soon information that caused him to retreat again towards the Delaware; and, news coming that Howe had been seen off Cape May, he advanced to Germantown. Instead of entering the Delaware, however, the British fleet was presently seen steering eastward, and all calculations were baffled. Washington, now believing that he was intending to return to New York, proceeded to Philadelphia, and had an interview with Congress.