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The second reading of the Bill was not opposed, but Lord Francis Egerton, with Sir Robert Peel's concurrence, moved that the committee should be empowered to make provision for the abolition of corporations in Ireland, and for securing the efficient and impartial administration of justice, and the peace and good government of the cities and towns in that country. The Tories thought it better that there should be no corporations at all, than that their privileges should be enjoyed by the Roman Catholics. The motion was lost by a majority of 307 to 64, and the Bill ultimately passed the Lower House by a majority of 61. In the Upper House a motion similar to that of Lord Francis Egerton was moved by Lord Fitzgerald, and carried in a full House by a majority of 84. Other amendments were carried, and it was sent back to the Commons so changed that it was difficult to trace its identity. Lord John Russell said that it contained little or nothing of what was sent up: out of 140 clauses, 106 had been omitted or altered, and 18 new ones introduced. He moved that the amendments of the Lords be rejected, and that the Bill be sent back to the Upper House. The motion was carried by a majority of 66, the numbers being 324 to 258. But the Lords refused by a majority of 99 to undo their work; and upon the Bill being returned to the Lower House in the same state, Lord John Russell got rid of the difficulty by moving that the Bill should be considered that day three months.Serious differences between Great Britain and the United States of America occupied the attention of both Governments during the years 1841 and 1842, and were brought to a satisfactory[492] termination by the Ashburton Treaty, referred to in the Royal Speech at the opening of Parliament in 1843. The questions at issue, which were keenly debated on both sides, related to the right of search, the Canadian boundary, and the McLeod affair. The Government of Great Britain regarding the slave-trade as an enormous evil and a scandal to the civilised world, entered into arrangements with other nations for its suppression. For that purpose treaties were concluded, securing to each of the contracting parties the mutual right of search under certain limitations. The United States Government declined to be a party to these treaties, and refused to have their vessels searched or interfered with in time of peace upon the high seas under any pretence whatever. Notwithstanding these treaties, however, and the costly measures which Great Britain had recourse to for suppressing the nefarious traffic in human beings, the slave trade was carried on even by some of the nations that had agreed to the treaties; and in order to do this more effectually, they adopted the flag of the United States. For the purpose of preventing this abuse, Great Britain claimed the right of search or of visitation to ascertain the national character of the vessels navigating the African seas, and detaining their papers to see if they were legally provided with documents entitling them to the protection of any country, and especially of the country whose flag they might have hoisted at the time. Lord Palmerston, as Foreign Secretary, argued that while his Government did not claim the right to search American merchantmen in times of peace, a merchantman could not exempt itself from search by merely hoisting a piece of bunting with the United States emblems and colours upon it. It should be shown by the papers that the vessel was entitled to bear the flagthat she was United States property, and navigated according to law. Mr. Stevenson, the American Minister, protested strongly against this doctrine, denying that there was any ground of public right or justice in the claim put forth, since the right of search was, according to the law of nations, a strictly belligerent right. If other nations sought to cover their infamous traffic by the fraudulent use of the American flag, the Government of the United States was not responsible; and in any case it was for that Government to take such steps as might be required to protect its flag from abuse.

Before Lord Howe advanced farther, he received a deputation from Congress. He had sent the captured American General, Sullivan, on his parole to Philadelphia to endeavour to induce Congress to come to terms, and save the further effusion of blood. He assured them that he was not at liberty to treat with them as a Congress, but he would willingly meet some of them as private gentlemen, having full powers, with his brother, General Howe, to settle the dispute between them and Great Britain, on advantageous terms; that, on finding them disposed to agree to honourable conditions, he would seek for the acknowledgment of their authority to treat with him, so as to make the compact valid. The delegates appointed were sufficiently indicative of the little good that was to be hoped from the interview. They were Dr. Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge. Franklin had returned a most insulting answer to a private letter sent to him by Lord Howe. It was in vain that Lord Howe assured the deputies that England was disposed to forget all, to pardon all, and to repeal all the obnoxious taxes, and that inexpressible calamities would be avoided by the Colonies simply returning to their allegiance. The deputies replied, that the only terms on which America could make peace was as independent states. This put the matter beyond accommodation.[See larger version]The Duke of York did not long survive his vehement declaration against the concession of the Catholic claims. His vow that he would never permit the Emancipation to take place, whatever might be his future positionalluding to his[255] probable accession to the Throneembittered the feelings of the Irish Roman Catholics against him. His disease was dropsy, and Mr. Sheil, at a public dinner, jeeringly referred to the "rotundity of his configuration." Mr. O'Connell, with equally bad taste, exulted in the prospect of his dissolution, and said, "I wish no physical ill to the royal duke; but if he has thrown his oath in the way of our liberties, and that, as long as he lives, justice shall not be done to the people of Ireland, it is a mockery to tell me that the people of Ireland have not an interest in his ceasing to live. Death is the corrector of human errors; it is said to be man's hour for repentance, and God's opportunity. If the royal duke should not become converted from his political errors, I am perfectly resigned to the will of God, and shall abide the result with the most Christian resignation." The duke's bodily sufferings increased very much towards the end of 1826, and in December the disease manifested the most alarming symptoms. He continued to the last to discharge his duties as Commander-in-Chief. His professional zeal flashed out even on his death-bed. At a time when his breathing was so oppressed that it was necessary to support him with pillows in an upright position, he personally gave all the orders, and directed all the arrangements, for the expedition which left England in the middle of December, when the peace of Europe was in imminent danger from the threatened invasion of Portugal. Notwithstanding his dislike to Canning, in consequence of their difference on the Catholic question, he co-operated with him in this matter with an earnestness and vigour which the Duke of Wellington himself could not have surpassed. On the 5th of January, 1827, he died.

In the midst of this prosperous career the two brothers-in-law, the Ministers, began to differ in their views, and Lord Townshend was soon driven by the overbearing conduct of Walpole to resign. Lady Townshend, the sister of Walpole, and even Queen Caroline, exerted their influence for some time to put an end to these feuds; but Lady Townshend soon died, and the queen, finding the breach inevitable, took the side of Walpole as the more indispensable servant of the Crown. There were serious topics on which Townshend and Walpole differed, both domestic and foreign. Townshend did not approve of the length to which matters were carried against the Emperor, and he was weary of the timid temper of the Duke of Newcastle, and strongly urged his dismissal, and the employment of Lord Chesterfield in his place; but a Pension Bill brought the quarrel to a crisis. The object of the Bill, which was warmly supported by the Opposition, was to prevent any man holding a pension, or who had any office held in trust for him, from sitting in Parliament. The king privately styled it "a villainous Bill, which ought to be torn to pieces in every particular." Both Walpole and Townshend were of the same opinion; but Townshend was for openly opposing it, Walpole for letting it pass the Commons, and be thrown out in the Lords. Townshend, to whom the odium of rejecting it was thus carried in the Lords, protested against this disingenuous conduct on the part of Walpole, and assured him that the trick would soon be fully observed, and bring more unpopularity on him in the end than a manly, open oppositionwhich it did.

At the opening of 1841 the country might be said to be free from all excitement on the subject of politics. There was no great question at issue, no struggle between rival parties seemed impending. Many of the principal topics which in former years had agitated the public mind had been settled or laid to rest. The Chartist riots seemed to have abated the desire of the leading Reformers to extend the suffrage to the working classes. Still the Government was lamentably weak, and only existed on sufferance. Nor did the conduct of affairs in the House of Commons tend to strengthen their position. The reintroduction by Lord Stanley of his Bill to regulate the registration of voters in Ireland led to much angry discussion with damaging results to the Government, who had already suffered grievous defeats in attempting to arrest the progress of the measure during the previous Session. Two days later Lord Morpeth brought in a Government Bill for the same object. The main features of the plan were to abolish certificates; to make the register conclusive of the right to vote, except where disqualification afterwards appeared; to establish an annual revision of the registers, and to give a right of appeal equally to the claimant and the objector. The main point of difference between this and Lord Stanley's Bill consisted in the tribunal to which the appeal was to be made. The Government proposed for this purpose the creation of a new court, consisting of three barristers of a certain standing. An additional feature of the Government Bill was a proposal to settle the question of the basis of the franchise by fixing upon the Poor Law valuation as the standard; and the Bill proposed to enact that every occupier of a tenement under a holding of not less than fourteen years, of the annual value of 5, should have the right of voting previously enjoyed by persons who had a beneficial interest of 10. The Conservatives complained of the unfairness of thus introducing by surprise a fundamental alteration in the elective franchise of Ireland, founded upon principles unknown both in England and Scotland. It was represented as a new Reform Bill for Ireland, tacked on as a postscript to a Bill for amending the registration. The 5 franchise, it was argued, would in effect be little short of the introduction of universal suffrage. The House divided on the respective merits of the rival Bills, when the Government measure was carried by a majority of five. The result was hailed with cheers from both sides of the House, the Opposition regarding the victory as little better than a defeat. Lord John Russell at first announced that he would proceed immediately with the measure, but he afterwards moved its postponement till the 23rd of April. During the interval Lord Morpeth announced the conversion of the Ministry to the principle of an 8 rating. When the question was introduced again, on the 26th of April, it gave rise to a party debate. While the House was in committee on Lord Morpeth's Bill, Lord Howick proposed an amendment to the effect that the tenant, in order to entitle him to the franchise, should have a beneficial interest in his holding of 5 a year over and above the rent. Lord Morpeth proposed as a qualification for the franchise a lease of fourteen years, and a low rating of 8. Lord Howick proposed that the yearly tenant should be entitled to vote as well as the leaseholder if he had an annual interest of 5 in it; but Lord Morpeth contended, and showed from statistics, that this principle would disfranchise more than three-fourths of the 10 tenant voters in several of the counties. In short, it would have the effect of almost entirely disfranchising the existing occupying constituency of Ireland. On a division, Lord Howick's amendment was carried by 291 to 270. Finally the Bill was reduced to such a jumble of[477] contradictory amendments that it was impossible to proceed with it. Thus ended the great struggle of the Session. Much time had been wasted in party debates and fruitless discussions, and the proposal to give the Irish people the benefit of the Reform Act by putting its perishing constituencies on a proper basis, simple as it may seem, utterly failed. Lord Stanley also abandoned his measure, and there the matter ended. The whole of the proceedings plainly indicated that the doom of Lord Melbourne's feeble Cabinet was at hand.

At the commencement of the Session a notice of a motion of want of confidence in the Ministry was given by Sir John Yarde Buller. He assigned as reasons for bringing forward the motion the disturbed and unsatisfactory state of the country, which he ascribed to the system of popular agitation, "nurtured and fostered," as he alleged, by the Ministers during the preceding two years. After a debate of four consecutive nights the motion was rejected by 308 votes to 287. The division was fairly satisfactory, and another source of gratification to the Ministry was the passing of the Irish Municipal Bill, which became law in spite of a characteristic protest from Bishop Phillpotts, who regarded the measure "as a deliberate and wilful abandonment of the cause of true religion which had provoked the justice of Almighty God and given too much reason to apprehend the visitation of Divine vengeance for this presumptuous act of national disobedience." In this Session Sir Robert Peel at last terminated the scandals connected with election committees by a plan which authorised the Speaker to appoint a general committee of elections, with the duty of selecting election committees to try each particular[471] case. Sir Francis Baring's Budget was a considerable improvement upon those of his indifferent predecessor, Mr. Spring-Rice, whose careless finance had produced no less than four successive deficits. He acknowledged a deficit of 850,000, and asked for a vote of credit. He further imposed an additional tax of 4d. a gallon on spirits, increased the customs and excise by 5 per cent., and the assessed taxes by 10 per cent.On the 6th of January there landed at Greenwich an illustrious visitor to the Court on an unwelcome errandnamely, Prince Eugene. The Allies, justly alarmed at the Ministerial revolution which had taken place in England, and at the obvious design of the Tories to render abortive all the efforts of the Whigs and the Allies through the war, from mere party envy and malice, sent over Eugene to convince the queen and the Government of the fatal consequences of such policy. Harley paid obsequious court to the prince as long as he hoped to win him over. He gave a magnificent dinner in his honour, and declared that he looked on that day as the happiest of his life, since he had the honour to see in his house the greatest captain of the age. The prince, who felt that this was a mean blow at Marlborough, replied with a polite but cutting sarcasm, which must have sunk deep in the bosom of the Lord Treasurer, "My lord, if I am the greatest captain of the age, I owe it to your lordship." That was to say, because he had deprived the really greatest captain of his command. The queen, though she was compelled to treat Eugene graciously, and to order the preparation of costly gifts to him as the representative of the Allies, regarded him as a most unwelcome guest, and in her private circle took no pains to conceal it. The whole Tory party soon found that he was not a man to be seduced from his integrity, or brought to acquiesce in a course of policy which he felt and knew to be most disgraceful and disastrous to the peace of Europe; and being fully convinced of this, they let loose on the illustrious stranger all the virulence of the press. Eugene returned to the Continent, his mission being unaccomplished, on the 13th of March.

But the Peace of Vienna was now concluded, and, on the 30th of October, Baron Lichtenthurm appeared in the camp of the Tyrolese, and delivered a letter to the leaders from the Archduke John, requesting them peaceably to disperse, and surrender the country to the Bavarians. This was a terrible blow to these brave men. They appeared prostrated by the news, and Hofer announced to Spechbacher, who was still fighting with the Bavarians, that peace was made with France, and that the Tyrol was forgotten! Hofer returned to his native vale of Passeyr, and still held out against the French, and the Italian mercenaries under Rusca, whom he defeated with great slaughter. But traitors were amongst them, who guided the French to their rear. Hofer escaped into the higher Alps, but thirty of the other leaders were taken and shot without mercy. Another traitor guided the French to Hofer's retreat in the high wintry Alps. He had been earnestly implored to quit the country, but he refused. As the French surrounded his hut, on the 17th of February, 1810, he came out calmly and submitted. He was carried to the fortress of Mantua, and Napoleon sent an order that he should be shot within four-and-twenty hours. He would not suffer himself to be blindfolded, nor would he kneel, but exclaimed"I stand before my Creator, and, standing, I will restore to Him the spirit He gave!" Thus died, on the 20th of February, 1810, the brave Hoferanother murdered man, another victim of the sanguinary vengeance of Buonaparte against whatever was patriotic and independent.

Fox, on this occasion, also introduced the subject of the Prince of Wales's allowance, who, he contended, had far less than had been granted to a Prince of Wales since the accession of the House of Hanover, that allowance being one hundred thousand pounds a-year; and the present parsimony towards the prince being grossly aggravated by the royal Civil List having been raised, in this reign, from six hundred thousand pounds to nine hundred thousand pounds, and the Privy Purse from six thousand pounds to sixty thousand pounds. Fox's remarks were rendered all the more telling because, when the House went into committee on the finances, Pitt had made a most flourishing statement of the condition of the Exchequer. He took off the taxes which pressed most on the poorer portion of the populationnamely, on servants, the late augmentations on malt, on waggons, on inhabited houses, etc.,to the amount of two hundred thousand pounds and appropriated four hundred thousand pounds towards the reduction of the National Debt. Still blind to the storm rising across the strait of Dover, he declared that these were mere trifles compared with what he should be able to do shortly, for never was there a time when a more durable peace might be expected!Alberoni now found himself in turn attacked by France. Whilst busying himself to repair a few of the shattered ships which had escaped from the tempest, in order to harass the coast of Brittany in conjunction with the malcontents there, he beheld an army of thirty thousand French menacing the Pyrenean frontier. War having begun, the Spaniards were utterly defeated by the French in Spain and by the Austrians in Sicily, thanks to the zealous co-operation of the British fleet under Admiral Byng. At length Philip was compelled to dismiss Alberoni.

[463]Fox saw the growing change with alarm. He saw that all their resolutions and addresses produced no effect on the Ministerial party; and he did not dare to go further and pass a Bill, either legislative or declaratory, for he felt that the Lords would throw it out; and to stop the supplies, or delay the Mutiny Bill would probably disgust and annihilate the very majority on which he depended. In these circumstances, he probably saw with satisfaction an attempt at coalition. Mr. Grosvenor, the member for Chester, during the three days of the adjournment, called a meeting of members of both parties for the purpose of seeing whether a coalition could not be formed, and thus put an end to this violent contest. About seventy members met, and an address to the Duke of Portland and Mr. Pitt was signed by fifty-four. Pitt expressed his readiness to co-operate in such a plan, but the Duke of Portland declared that the first indispensable step towards such a measure must be the resignation of Ministers. This put an end to all hope of success.

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While thus tottering on the verge of revolution the Orleanist monarchy had the misfortune to affront the British Court. The reason of the rupture is known to history as the affair of the Spanish marriages, of which it is enough to say here that Louis Philippe succeeded in marrying the young Queen of Spain to her cousin, the Duke of Cadiz, who was imbecile, while at the same time he secured the hand of her sister for his youngest son, the Duc de Montpensier. Thus he apparently acquired the reversion of the throne for his family, but the coup was effected in defiance of pledges made repeatedly to Lord Aberdeen and continued to his successor at the Foreign Office, Lord Palmerston. It was undoubtedly the advent of the latter to power which hurried on the conclusion of the intrigue. Louis Philippe and Guizot suspected him of trying to secure the hand of the Queen of Spain for a prince of the House of Coburg, and was justified to a certain extent by an imprudent despatch sent by the English Foreign Secretary to our Minister at Madrid. Thereupon the King of the French frightened the Queen-Mother of Spain into giving her consent to the marriages, which were celebrated simultaneously on the 10th of October, 1846. The calculating cunning displayed by Louis Philippe and the deliberate sacrifice of a young girl to sordid requirements of State aroused a feeling of universal disgust. From Queen Victoria the proceedings provoked a letter to Louis Philippe's queen, which[549] concluded with the scathing remark"I am glad that I can say for myself that I have always been sincere with you." It was in fact, as her Foreign Minister wrote to his brother, "a twister."At length Mar, who was kept back by the absence of the Pretender, determined to outwit Argyll by sending a detachment under Brigadier Mackintosh across the Firth of Forth below Stirling, whilst another body, under General Gordon, was despatched to seize on Inverary, and keep the clan Campbell in check. Mackintosh had about two thousand men under his command, chiefly from his own clans, but supported by the regiments of the Lords Nairn, Strathmore, and Charles Murray. To prevent these forces from crossing, three English ships of war ascended the Forth to near Burntisland; but whilst a detachment of five hundred men held the attention of the ships at that point, the main body were embarking on the right in small boats lower down, and the greater part of them got across the Firth, and landed at Aberlady and North Berwick. The city of Edinburgh was in consternation at this daring man?uvre, and at the proximity of such a force; and Mackintosh, hearing of this panic, and of the miserable state[30] of defence there, determined to attempt to surprise it. He stayed one night at Haddington to rest his men, and on the 14th appeared at Jock's Lodge, within a mile of Edinburgh. But on the very first appearance of Mackintosh's troops, Sir George Warrender, the Provost of Edinburgh, had despatched a messenger to summon the Duke of Argyll from Stirling to the aid of the capital. The duke was already approaching Edinburgh, and therefore Mackintosh, perceiving that he had no chance of surprising the town, turned aside to Leith.

No sooner was the conquest of Scinde completed than the Governor-General began to discern another cloud looming in the distance. In the Punjab, Runjeet Singh had organised a regular[594] and well-disciplined army of 73,000 men. He died in 1839. His heir died the next year, it was supposed of poison. The next heir was killed a few days afterwards by accident. The third, who succeeded, was an effeminate prince, who left the government in the hands of his Minister, a wicked man, who, conspiring with others, caused to be murdered several members of the Royal Family. They were, in their turn, punished by having their heads cut off, and the only surviving son of Runjeet Singh, a boy only ten years of age, was proclaimed Maharajah. This was the work of the Sikh army, now virtually masters of the country. Lord Ellenborough and his Council suspected that this army, still 40,000 strong, and very brave, was unfriendly to the British, and might some day give trouble to the Indian Governmentpossibly invade its territories and cut off its communications. In order to guard against such contingencies, it was necessary, they thought, to take possession of Gwalior, a powerful Mahratta State in Central India. This country lay on the flank of our line of communications with Allahabad, Benares, and Calcutta. In this country also there were, fortunately for the British, a disputed succession, royal murders, civil dissensions, and military disorganisation. A boy, adopted by the queen, was proclaimed Sovereign by the chiefs, with a regency, over which the British Government extended its protecting wing. The young Sovereign died in 1843, leaving no child; but his widow, then thirteen years of age, adopted a boy of eight, who became king under another regency. The regent Nana Sahib was deposed, notwithstanding the support of the British Government. This was an offence which Lord Ellenborough would not allow to go unpunished; and besides, the disorganised army of Gwalior was said to be committing depredations along the British frontier. Here, then, in the estimation of the Governor-General, was a clear case for military intervention, to put down disorder, and secure a good position for future defence against the possible aggressions of the warlike Sikhs of the Punjab. Lord Ellenborough explained his policy to the Company, stating that the Indian Government could not descend from its high position as the paramount authority in India.When the committee on the petitions next met, on the 10th of April, Dunning, elated with his success, was ready with fresh resolutions. His first was that it was necessary for the purity and independence of Parliament that the proper officer should, within ten days of the meeting of Parliament in each Session, lay before the House an account of moneys paid out of the Civil List, or out of any part of the public revenue, to any member of Parliament. This, too, was triumphantly carried, only to be followed by another from Dunning, that the persons holding the offices of Treasurer of the Chamber, Treasurer of the Household, or clerkships of the Green Cloth, with all their deputies, should be incapable of sitting in the House of Commons. Here the[266] confounded Ministerial members began to recover their spirit under the sweeping sentences passed against them, and Dunning only carried this resolution by a majority of two. Either they thought they had done enough by their late votes to satisfy their constituents, or Ministers had found means to render them obedient by menacing losses from their side, for when Dunning proposed a resolution that his Majesty should be requested not to dissolve or prorogue Parliament until proper measures had been taken to secure to the people the benefits prayed for in their petitions, the motion was rejected by a majority of fifty-one in a very full House. Fox and Dunning vented their indignation at this result on the Ministerial phalanx, whom they declared to be the worst of slavesslaves sold by themselves into the most contemptible thraldom. But their castigation was in vain; the troop was brought back to its primitive compliance, and defeated every future motion from the Opposition.

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