On the 22nd of April Mr. O'Connell brought forward a very comprehensive motion. It was for a select committee to inquire and report on the means by which the destruction of the Irish Parliament had been effected; on the results of the union upon Ireland, and upon the labourers in husbandry and operatives in manufactures in England; and on the probable consequences of[371] continuing the Legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland. This motion originated a debate on the Repeal question which lasted four days. O'Connell himself spoke for six hours. The debate was chiefly memorable for a speech of Mr. Spring-Rice, in defence of the union, which also occupied six hours in the delivery. He concluded by proposing an amendment to the effect that an Address should be presented to the king by both Houses of Parliament, expressing their determination to maintain the Legislative union inviolate. In a very full House the amendment was carried by an overwhelming majority, the numbers being for, 523; against, 38. Mr. Spring-Rice's speech served the Government materially, while by the Conservatives it was regarded as "a damper" to their own hopes. The beacon light is quenched in smoke,

The growth of material wealth during this reign had in no degree improved the condition of the working class in any proportion to that of other classes. Landlords had greatly raised their rents, and farmers, by the high price of corn and other provisions, had grown comparatively rich, many very rich. The merchants and master manufacturers had shared liberally in the benefits of a vastly increased commerce, and the wonderful spread of manufactures; but the working manufacturers, between the high price of corn and meat, and the lowness of their wages, were in a miserable condition, and frequently, as we have seen, were driven to riot and insurrection. The handloom weavers were swamped by machinery, and those working the machinery were living in wretched houses, and in a most neglected and insanitary condition. Before the first Sir Robert Peel introduced his Bill for reforming the hours and other regulations of cotton mills, many of these worked night and day, one gang, as it was called, succeeding another at the spinning-jenny, in hot, ill-ventilated rooms. Apprentices were purchased of parishes, either children of paupers, or orphans of such, and these were kept by mill-owners, and worked long hours, one gang having to quit their beds in the morning for another gang of these poor unfortunates to turn into them. The agricultural labourers were little better off. Their habitations were of the worst description, though squires' kennels on the same estates were equal, in all sanitary conditions, to tolerable mansions. Their wages remained only some eight or ten shillings a weekwhen the wheat which they had raised was one hundred and thirty shillings per quarter, and a stone of flour of fourteen pounds cost a gold seven-shilling piece. This drove them in shoals to the workhouse, and produced a state of things that is hardly credible. Their mental and moral condition was equally deplorable. Education, either in town or country, was scarcely known. There was not a school in all the swarming region[158] of Whitechapel, and many another equally poor and populous region of London, much less in country towns and agricultural parishes. It was a settled maxim amongst the landed gentry, that education, even of the most elementary kind, would totally destroy the supply of servants; and it was gravely stated in Parliament that the plot of Thistlewood was owing to the working classes being able to read.

Among the other causes which contributed to the unpopularity of the Duke of Wellington and the weakness of his Administration was the prosecution by the Attorney-General of Mr. Alexander, the editor of the Morning Journal. A series of articles had appeared in that paper, which were considered so virulent and libellous, so far surpassing the bounds of fair discussion, that the Duke felt under the same necessity of ordering a prosecution that he had felt to fight the duel with Lord Winchilsea. It was regarded as an inevitable incident of his position, one of the things required to enable him to carry on the king's Government. He obtained a victory, but it cost him dear: a sentence of fine and imprisonment was inflicted upon his opponent, and the Morning Journal was extinguished; but, in the temper of the times, the public were by no means disposed to sympathise with the victor in such a contest. On the contrary, the victory covered him with odium, and placed upon the head of the convicted the crown of martyrdom. Mr. Alexander was visited daily in the King's Bench prison by leading politicians, and a motion was made in the House of Commons with a view to incriminate the Government who ordered the prosecution. In another instance also, but of a nature less damaging, the Government received a warning of its approaching downfall. Mr. Peel, anxious to mitigate the severity of the criminal code, and to render it less bloody, proposed to inflict the penalty of death only on persons committing such forgeries as could not by proper precautions be guarded against. It was a step in the right direction, but one too hesitating, and stopping short of the firm ground of sound policy. Sir James Mackintosh, therefore, on the third reading of the Bill, moved a clause for the abolition of the penalty of death in all cases of forgery, which was carried by a majority of 151 against 138. Thus the Session wore on, in a sort of tantalising Parliamentary warfare, with no decisive advantages on either side till the attention and interest of Parliament and the nation were absorbed by the approaching dissolution of George IV. and the dawning light of a new reign. EARL GREY STREET, NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE. (From a Photograph by Poulton & Son, Lee.)

The whole mode of coming into possession of these papers has something in it revolting to all honourable minds. Franklin, aware of this, insisted that they should not be printed nor made public, but only circulated amongst a select few. But the same motives which had induced Franklin to break his pledged secrecy, operated on the Assembly. They determined to make them public, and therefore pretended that other copies of them had reached them from England, and that they were thus absolved from all conditions of secrecy. This was totally false. The story was invented for the occasion, and the letters, without the name of Whately, to whom they had been addressed, were published by the Assembly. It was left to be inferred by the public, that they had been sent officially to England by the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, and the Assembly voted the writing of them ample evidence of a fixed design on the part of the British Government to destroy the Constitution and establish arbitrary power. A petition was dispatched to be presented by Franklin to the king, calling for the removal of Hutchinson and Oliver from their posts. When these letters were read under these false impressions, sentiments were found in them which assumed a wholly exaggerated character, and the flame produced was, as Franklin and the Assembly intended, of the most furious kind.

Munster 2,396,161 3,777,103 1,013,826 671,554


The campaign in Flanders opened in April. The British faithfully furnished their stipulated number of men (twenty-eight thousand), but both Austria and Holland had most disgracefully failed. Holland was to send fifty thousand into the field, and keep the other ten thousand in her garrisons; but she had sent less than half that number, and Austria only eight squadrons. The French had a fine army of seventy-five thousand men under the able general, Marshal Saxe; and the King of France and the Dauphin had come to witness the conflict, which gave a wonderful degree of spirit to their troops. On the part of the Allies, the Duke of Cumberland was chief in command, but, from his youth, he was not able to set himself free from the assumptions of the Austrian general, old Marshal K?nigsegg, and the Dutch general, the Prince of Waldeck. As it was, to march against the French before Tournay was to rush into a certain contest with the whole French army of nearly eighty thousand men, whilst the Allies could have only about fifty thousand. Saxe made the ablest arrangements for the coming fight. He left fifteen thousand infantry to blockade Tournay, drew up his army in a very strong position a few miles in advance, and strengthened it by various works.

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."