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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.

RICHARD COBDEN. (From a Photograph by Messrs. W. and D. Downey.) On the 19th of June Paris was excited by the announcements of Buonaparte's bulletin that terrible defeats had been inflicted on the Prussians at Ligny, and on the British at Quatre Bras. A hundred cannon and thousands of prisoners were declared to be taken. The Imperialists were in ecstasies; the Royalists, in spite of the notorious falsehood of Buonaparte on such occasions, were dejected. On the 21st whispers were busily circulating that not only had a most dreadful pitched battle been fought, but that the fine French army which had so lately left France was utterly annihilated or dispersed. It was soon added that, instead of being at the head of victorious forces, as he had represented, Buonaparte had again fled from his army, and was in the Palace of the Elyse-Bourbon. And this last news was true. Napoleon had never stopped in his own flight till he reached Philippevill. There he proposed to proceed to Grouchy, and put himself at the head of his division; but he heard that that too was defeated, and he hurried on to Paris, fearful of the steps that the two legislative Chambers might take.

The king, in the first instance, applied to Lord Shelburne to form a Ministry; but he was bound by engagements to Wentworth House, and honourably refused to take the lead. George then tried Lord Gower as ineffectually, and so was compelled to send for Lord Rockingham, who accepted office, on the condition that peace should be made with America, including the acknowledgment of its independence, if unavoidable; administrative reform, on the basis of Mr. Burke's three Bills; and the expulsion of contractors from Parliament, and revenue officers from the exercise of the elective franchise. The king stood strongly on the retention of Lord Chancellor Thurlow and Lord Stormont in their offices. Rockingham, with reluctance, conceded the retention of Thurlow, but refused that of Stormont. The choice of Lord Rockingham was such as could only have been made where family influence and party cliques had more weight than the proper object of a Ministerthe able management of national affairs. Rockingham, though a very honourable man, was never a man of any ability, and though now only[288] fifty-two, his health and faculties, such as they were, were fast failing. Besides this, there was a violent jealousy between him and Lord Shelburne, who became his colleague, and brought in half of the Cabinet. The shape which the Ministry eventually assumed was this:Lord Rockingham became First Lord of the Treasury and Premier; the Earl of Shelburne and Charles Fox, Secretaries of State; Thurlow, Lord Chancellor; Camden, notwithstanding his age, President of the Council; Duke of Grafton, Privy Seal; Lord John Cavendish, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Keppelmade a viscountFirst Lord of the Admiralty; General Conway, Commander of the Forces; the Duke of Richmond, Master-General of Ordnance; Dunningas Lord AshburtonChancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Burke was not admitted to the Cabinet, for the Whigs were too great sticklers for birth and family; but his indispensable ability insured him the Paymastership of the Forcesby far the most lucrative office in the hands of Government, but the salary of which he was pledged to reduce by his Bill. Pitt was offered a place as Lord of the Treasury; but he had already declared, on the 8th of March, on the debate on Lord John Cavendish's motion, that he would never accept a subordinate situation. Dundas remained in office, as Lord Advocate, and John Lee was made Solicitor-General. Such was the new Administration: it embraced, as leaders, five Rockinghamites and five Shelburnites. The eleventh member of the Cabinet, Thurlow, belonged to neither side, but was the king's man. Fox saw himself in office with him with great repugnance, and Burke felt the slight put upon him in excluding him from the Cabinet. The British Cabinet having come to the conclusion that the Duke of Wellington ought not to abstain from attending the Congress because of its meeting in an Italian city, and thinking so himself, he set out for Verona, after a fortnight's sojourn in Vienna.

When the Peers assembled on the 7th it became quite evident that in allowing the Bill to go into committee they were only practising a man?uvre. In the first place they wished to prevent the creation of peers, and in the second they were resolved to mutilate the Bill in committee. They were aware that they had the sympathy of the king in this plot, and that he would have been glad of their success, irritated as he was by the coercion and pressure put upon him by his Ministers. The first step was taken by Lord Lyndhurst, who proposed in committee to defer the consideration of the disfranchising clauses till the enfranchising clauses had been considered. "Begin," he said, "by conferring rights and privileges, by granting boons and favours, and not by depriving a portion of the community of the privileges which they at present enjoy." This ostentatious preference of boons and favours for the people, postponing disfranchisement to enfranchisement, ringing changes on the words, was a mere artifice, but it was at once seen through by the indignant people. Lord Grey and Lord Brougham promptly exposed the attempted imposition; the former hoped the noble lords would not deceive themselves. He would not say that the proposal was insidious, but its object was utterly to defeat the Bill. He declared that if the motion were successful it would be fatal to the whole measure. It would then be necessary for him to consider what course he should take. He dreaded the effect of the House of Lords opposing itself, as an insurmountable barrier, to what the people thought necessary for the good government of the country. The noble earl's warning was on this occasion disregarded. The House being in committee proxies could not be counted, and the amendment of Lord Lyndhurst was carried after an angry debatecontents, 151; non-contents, 116; majority, 35. This division put a sudden stop to the proceedings in committee. Lord Grey at once proposed that the chairman should report progress, and asked leave to sit again on the 10th. Lord Ellenborough endeavoured to dissuade him from this course, and proceeded to give a description of the measure which he was prepared to substitute for the Ministerial Bill, and which he presumed to hope would be satisfactory to the country. This was a critical moment in the destiny of England, and the awful nature of the crisis seemed to be felt by all present, except those who were blinded by faction. Lord Grey had now but one alternative, a large creation of peers or resignation. With a majority against him in the Lords so refractory, nothing could be done; but the king declined to create the fifty peerages which the Ministry demanded. Accordingly, on Wednesday,[350] the 9th of May, the resignation of the Ministers (and the king's acceptance of it) was formally announced by Lord Grey in the House of Lords, and by Lord Althorp in the House of Commons. Lord Ebrington immediately rose, and gave notice that he would next day move a call of the House, and then an Address to his Majesty on the present state of public affairs. In the course of the debate which ensued, attempts were made by Mr. Baring and Sir Robert Peel to excite sympathy for the Lords, as taking a noble stand against the unconstitutional pressure upon the king for the creation of peers, but in vain. Neither the House of Commons nor the country could be got to give them credit for any but the most selfish motives. They considered their obstinacy to be nothing better than the tenacity of the monopolists in power. Mr. Macaulay indignantly denounced their inconsistency in pretending that they wished to carry a measure of Reform. The influence of the Crown, always powerful, was visible in the division on Lord Ebrington's motion. The "ayes" were only 288 instead of the 355 that carried the third reading of the Reform Bill. There were evidently many defaulters; but woe to them at the next general election! Rigid scrutiny was instituted, and a black list made out of those who had deserted their constituents on this momentous question. In the meantime the most angry remonstrances came to absent members from their constituents. The motion, however, was carried by a majority of 80. It was evidently a relief to the king to get rid of the Whigs; and he knew so little of the state of public feeling as to suppose that a modified Reform measure, a mere pretence of Reform, would satisfy the country. He therefore sent for Lord Lyndhurst in order to consult him, assigning the reason, that being now Chief Baron, he was removed from the vortex of politics, although he had led the Opposition in their successful attack upon the Ministerial measure. The first thing Lord Lyndhurst did was to wait upon the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, to both of whom he stated the views of the king. His Majesty insisted that some extensive measures of Reform should be carried. "My advice to the king," said the Duke, "was not to reappoint his late Ministry, nor was it to appoint myself. I did not look to any objects of ambition. I advised him to seek the assistance of other persons well qualified to fill the high situations of the State, expressing myself willing to give his Majesty every assistance, whether in office or out, to enable him to resist the advice which had been given him." The Premiership was offered to Sir Robert Peel, but he peremptorily declined to take such a perilous position, declaring that "no authority nor example of any man, nor any number of men, could shake his determination not to accept office, under existing circumstances, upon such conditions." On the 12th of May the Duke undertook to form an Administration, taking the post of Prime Minister himself. Mr. Manners Sutton was to be leader of the Commons, Lord Lyndhurst Chancellor, and Mr. Baring Chancellor of the Exchequer. For five days the courageous Duke was engaged in a desperate effort to form a Cabinet. But no sooner was it known throughout the country than a terrific storm of popular fury burst forth, which threatened to blow down the House of Peers and sweep away the Throne. The king, from being the popular idol, became suddenly an object of popular execration. The queen, who had also been a great favourite with the people, attracted a large share of the odium excited against the Court. It was understood that her influence had much to do in causing the king to desert Lord Grey, and to break faith with him with regard to the creation of peers. The king and queen were groaned at and hissed, and pursued with tremendous noises by the people, while passing through the town of Brentford. Dirt was hurled at the royal carriage; and if the military escort had not kept close to the windows, it is probable their majesties would have sustained personal injury. Along the road to London the people expressed their feeling in a similar manner; and when the carriage entered the Park the mob saluted their majesties with yells and execrations of every description. H. D. Massey, 4,000 in cash.

LORD COLLINGWOOD.

DEFEAT OF GENERAL BRADDOCK IN THE INDIAN AMBUSH. (See p. 119.)