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    Slider 1 Meanwhile, Sir Robert Peel applied himself with great energy and diligence to the legislative work that he had proposed for his Government. On the 17th he moved for leave to bring in a Bill to relieve Dissenters from the disabilities under which they laboured with regard to the law of marriage. It was felt to be a great grievance that Nonconformists could not be married except according to the rites of the Established Church, to which they had conscientious objections. Attempts had been made by the Whigs to relieve them, but in a hesitating manner, and with only a half recognition of the principle of religious equality. Sir Robert Peel took up the subject in a more liberal spirit and with more enlightened views. He proposed that, so far as the State had to do with marriage, it should assume the form of a civil contract only, leaving the parties to solemnise it with whatever religious ceremonies they chose. The Bill for this purpose met the approval of the House, and would have satisfied the Dissenters if Sir Robert Peel had remained in office long enough to pass it. All the committees of the preceding year were reappointed, in order to redeem, as far as possible, the time lost by the dissolution. A measure was brought forward for the improvement of the resources of the Church of England, by turning some of the larger incomes to better account, and by creating two additional bishoprics, Ripon and Manchester. The Premier did not act towards the Dissenters in the same liberal spirit with regard to academic education as he did with regard to marriage. They were excluded from the privileges of the Universities; and yet when it was proposed to grant a charter to the London University, that it might be able to confer degrees, the Government opposed the motion for an Address to the king on the subject, and were defeated by a majority of 246 to 136.
    Slider 2 This action was the height of imprudence. The true wisdom would have been to have taken no notice of such a discussion by an obscure association. On the 13th of March Sir Francis Burdett moved that Mr. John Gale Jones should be discharged, questioning the legality of his commitment, and declaring that, if the proceedings of Parliament were not to be criticised like everything else, there was an end of liberty of speech and of the press. This motion was rejected by one hundred and fifty-three against fourteen. The speech of Sir Francis was printed by Cobbett in his Weekly Register, a publication possessing high influence with the people. It was also accompanied by a letter of Sir Francis, commenting in strong language upon this arbitrary act, and[596] questioning the right of such a House to commit for breach of privilege, seeing that it consisted of "a part of our fellow-subjects, collected together by means which it is not necessary to describe."
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    In the course of this commercial madness the imports greatly exceeded the exports, and there was consequently a rapid drain of specie from the country. The drain of bullion from the Bank of England was immense. In August, 1823, it had 12,658,240, which in August, 1825, was reduced to 3,634,320, and before the end of the year it ran as low as 1,027,000. Between July, 1824, and August, 1825, twelve millions of cash were exported from Great Britain, chiefly to South America. During the Revolutionary war, which had lasted for fourteen years, the capital of the country had been completely exhausted, while all productive labour had been abandoned. The unworked mines were filled with water. They were accessible, it is true, to English speculators, but they were worked exclusively with English capital. The South American mining companies were so many conduits through which a rapid stream of gold flowed from Great Britain. The catastrophe that followed took the commercial world by surprise; even the Chancellor of the Exchequer failed to anticipate the disaster. On the contrary, his Budget of 1825 was based upon the most sanguine expectations for the future, and on the assurance that the public prosperity was the very reverse of what was ephemeral and peculiar, and that it arose from something inherent in the nation. Even at the prorogation of Parliament in July, the Royal Speech referred to the "great and growing" prosperity on which his Majesty had the happiness of congratulating the country at the beginning of the Session. The commercial crisis, however, with widespread ruin in its train, was fast coming upon Britain. Vast importations, intended to meet an undiminished demand at high prices, glutted all the markets, and caused prices to fall rapidly. Merchants sought accommodation from their bankers to meet pressing liabilities, that they might be enabled to hold over their goods till prices rallied. This accommodation the bankers were unable to afford, and sales were therefore effected at a ruinous loss. The South American mines, it was found, could not be worked at a profit, and they made no return for the twenty million pounds of British money which they had swallowed up. The effect was a sudden contraction of the currency, and a general stoppage of banking accommodation. The country banks, whose issues had risen to 14,000,000, were run upon till their specie was exhausted, and many of them were obliged to stop payment. The Plymouth Bank was the first to fail, and in the next three weeks seventy banks followed in rapid succession. The London houses were besieged from morning to night by clamorous crowds, all demanding gold for their notes. Consternation spread through all classes. There was a universal pressure of creditors upon debtors, the banks that survived being themselves upon the edge of the precipice; and the Bank of England itself, pushed to the last extremity, peremptorily refused accommodation even to their best customers. Persons worth one hundred thousand pounds could not command one hundred pounds; money seemed to have taken to itself wings and fled away, reducing a state of society in the highest degree artificial almost to the condition of primitive barbarism, which led Mr. Huskisson to exclaim, "We were within twenty-four hours of barter."

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    SIR SAMUEL ROMILLY.

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    The success of the Scottish courts in sentencing Reformers encouraged the Ministers to try the experiment in England; but there it did not succeed so well. First, one Eaton, a bookseller, of Bishopgate, was indicted for selling a seditious libel, called "Politics for the People; or, Hog's-wash." On the 2nd of April, Thomas Walker, a merchant of Manchesterwas, with six others, indicted at the Lancaster assizes; but Eaton, in London, and these Manchester men, were acquitted. Rather irritated than discouraged by these failures, Pitt and Dundas made a swoop at the leaders of the Corresponding Society, and the Society for Constitutional Information in London; and, in the month of May, Horne Tooke, John Thelwalla celebrated political lecturerThomas Hardy, Daniel Adams, and the Rev. Jeremiah Joyceprivate secretary to the Earl of Stanhope, and tutor to his son, Lord Mahonwere arrested and committed to the Tower on a charge of high treason. No sooner was this done, than, on the 12th of May, Dundas announced to the House of Commons that, in consequence of the Government having been informed of seditious practices being carried on by the above-named societies, they had seized their papers, and he now demanded that a committee of secrecy should be appointed to examine these papers. This was agreed to; and on the 16th Pitt brought up the report of this committee, which was so absurd in its results that nothing but the most blind political desperation could have induced the Government to make it known. The committee found nothing amongst these papers but the reports of the societies since the year 1791, which had been annually published and made known to every one. Yet on this miserable evidence Pitt called for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and it was accordingly granted, Burkewho now seems to have grown quite politically mad by dwelling on the horrors of the French Revolutionbelieving it the only measure to insure the safety of the country. Windham and others asserted that the mere suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act was hardly[430] sufficient: there required yet more stringent measures. Similar language was held in the Lords, but did not pass without some severe comments from the Duke of Bedford, and the Lords Stanhope, Lauderdale, and Albemarle, who declared that Ministers, instead of suppressing, were creating a veritable reign of terror. The Bill was, notwithstanding, readily passed; and on the 13th of June an Address was carried to his Majesty, expressing the determination of their lordships to punish the men who had been concerned in the so-called conspiracy. Fox and Lambton condemned this course energetically in the Commons, declaring that, if there were any conspiracy, the ordinary laws and tribunals were amply sufficient for their punishment. Fox moved that all that part of the Address which expressed a conviction of the existence of a conspiracy should be struck out, but it was carried entire; and such was the alarm of the country at the reverses of the Allies on the Continent and the successes of France, that far more violent measures would have been readily assented to.

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    INVASION OF CANADA: RED MEN ON THE WAR PATH. (See p. 35.)

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    LOUIS XVI. AND MARIE ANTOINETTE IN THE PRISON OF THE TEMPLE.

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    On the 13th of February the Opposition in the Commons brought on the question of the validity of general warrants. The debate continued all that day and the next night till seven o'clock in the morning. The motion was thrown out; but Sir William Meredith immediately made another, that a general warrant for apprehending the authors, printers, and publishers of a seditious libel is not warranted by law. The combat was renewed, and Pitt made a tremendous speech, declaring that if the House resisted Sir William Meredith's motion, they would be the disgrace of the present age, and the reproach of posterity. He upbraided Ministers with taking mean and petty vengeance on those who did not agree with them, by dismissing them from office. This charge Grenville had the effrontery to deny, though it was a notorious fact. As the debate approached its close, the Ministers called in every possible vote; "the sick, the lame were hurried into the House, so that," says Horace Walpole, "you would have thought they had sent a search warrant into every hospital for Members of Parliament." When the division came, which was only for the adjournment of Meredith's motion for a month, they only carried it by fourteen votes. In the City there was a confident anticipation of the defeat of Ministers, and materials had been got together for bonfires all over London, and for illuminating the Monument. Temple was said to have faggots ready for bonfires of his own.

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    [83]

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    Soult sent on Marshal Victor, without delay, to surprise and seize Cadiz. But the Duke of Albuquerque, with eight or ten thousand men, had been called at the first alarm, and, making a rapid march of two hundred and sixty English miles, reached the city just before him. The garrison now consisted of twenty thousand menBritish, Spanish, and Portuguesecommanded chiefly by General Graham, an officer who had distinguished himself at Toulon, at the same time that Buonaparte first made his merit conspicuous. The British troops had been offered by Lord Wellington, and, though insolently refused by the Junta before, were now thankfully accepted.[602] Some were hastened from Torres Vedras, under command of the Hon. Major-General Stewart, and some from Gibraltar. The British, independent of the Portuguese under their command, amounted to six thousand. The Spanish authorities, having their eyes opened at length to the value of the British alliance, now gave the command of their little fleet to Admiral Purvis, who put the ships, twenty in number, into tolerable order, and joined them to his own squadron. With these moored across the harbour, he kept the sea open for all necessary supplies; and though Soult, accompanied by King Joseph, arrived on the 25th of February, and sat down before the place, occupying the country round from Rota to Chiclano, with twenty-five thousand men, he could make no impression against Cadiz, and the siege was continued till the 12th of August, 1812, when the successes of Wellington warned them to be moving. It was an essential advantage to Wellington's campaign that twenty-eight thousand French should thus be kept lying before this place.

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    The town of Charleston being now in his[274] possession, Sir Henry Clinton proceeded to reduce the whole province to obedience. He issued proclamations, calling on the well-affected young men to form themselves into military bodies, and to act in support of the king's troops, pledging himself that they should never be called upon to march beyond the frontiers of North Carolina on the one side, or those of Georgia on the other; and he assured the inhabitants at large of the utmost protection of person and property, so long as they continued peaceable and loyal subjects of the Crown. In the meantime, Lord Cornwallis continued to enforce these proposals by the movements of his troops. Could Sir Henry Clinton have remained in this quarter, he would without doubt have steadily carried his victorious arms northward till he had everywhere restored the rule of England. But he was completely crippled by the wretched management of the miserable Government at home, who seemed to expect to reconquer America without an army. At this crisis he received news that the Americans were mustering in strong force on the Hudson, and that a French fleet was daily expected on the coast of New England to co-operate with them. He was now compelled to embark for New York, leaving Lord Cornwallis to maintain the ground obtained in South Carolina as well as he could with a body of four thousand men. His second in command was Lord Rawdon, a young officer who had distinguished himself greatly at the battle of Bunker's Hill, and who, like Cornwallis, his chief, was destined, in after years, to occupy the distinguished post of Governor-General of India, with the successive titles of Earl Moira and Marquis of Hastings. The chief business of Cornwallis was to maintain the status gained in South Carolina, but he was at liberty to make a move into North Carolina if he thought it promising.

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    The Year of RevolutionsLord Palmerston's Advice to SpainIt is rejected by the Duke of SotomayorDismissal of Sir H. BulwerThe Revolution in GermanyCondition of PrussiaThe King's OrdinanceHe disclaims a Desire to become German EmperorThe National Assembly dispersed by ForceA New ConstitutionThe King declines the German CrownThe Revolution in ViennaFlight of Metternich and of the EmperorAffairs in BohemiaCroats and HungariansJellachich secretly encouragedRevolt of HungaryMurder of LambergDespotic Decrees from ViennaThe second Revolution in ViennaBombardment of ViennaAccession of Francis JosephCommencement of the WarDefeats of the AustriansQuarrel between Kossuth and G?rgeiRussian InterventionCollapse of the InsurrectionThe Vengeance of AustriaDeath of Count BatthyaniLord Palmerston's ProtestSchwartzenberg's ReplyThe Hungarian RefugeesThe Revolution in ItalyRevolt of VeniceMilan in ArmsRetreat of RadetzkyEnthusiasm of the ItaliansRevolution and counter-Revolution in Sicily and NaplesDifficulties of the PopeRepublic at RomeThe War in LombardyAustrian OverturesRadetzky's SuccessesFrench and British MediationArmistice arrangedResumption of HostilitiesBattle of NovaraAbdication of Charles AlbertTerms of PeaceSurrender of Venice, Bologna, and other Italian CitiesForeign Intervention in RomeThe French ExpeditionTemporary Successes of the RomansSiege and Fall of RomeRestoration of the PopeParliamentary Debates on Italian AffairsLord Palmerston's Defence of his Policy.

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