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    The prorogation of Parliament, on the 21st of June, liberated both Sir Francis and the unfortunate president of the debating society, Mr. John Gale Jones. On the morning of this day vast crowds assembled before the Tower to witness the enlargement of the popular baronet. There was a great procession of Reformers with banners and mottoes, headed by Major Cartwright, and attended by Mr. Sheriff Wood and Mr. Sheriff Atkins; but as Sir Francis apprehended that there might be some fresh and fatal collision between the military and the people, he prudently resolved to leave the Tower quietly by water, which he effected, to the deep disappointment of the populace. No such excitement as this had taken place, on a question of right between the House of Commons and an individual member, since the days of Wilkes.In consequence of the difficulty of getting impartiality combined with local information, the Commissioners determined to unite in the inquiry "a native of Great Britain with a resident native of Ireland." They were very slow in their investigations, and complaints were made in Parliament and by the public of the time and money consumed in the inquiry. In the early part of 1836 they made a second report, in which they gave an account of the various institutions that had been established for the relief of the poor, such as infirmaries, dispensaries, fever hospitals, lunatic asylums, foundling hospitals, houses of industry, the total charge of which amounted to about 205,000, of which 50,000 consisted of Parliamentary grants, the remainder being derived from grand jury presentments, voluntary contributions, and other local sources. This second[403] report, which added little or nothing to the knowledge of the public on the subject, and suggested no general plan for the relief of the poor, was by no means satisfactory to the public. Mr. Nicholls was then a member of the English Poor Law Commission; and the state of the Irish poor being pressed upon his attention, he prepared for the consideration of Government a series of suggestions, founded upon a general view of social requirements and upon his experience of the English Poor Law, coupled with the evidence appended to the Irish Commissioners' first report. These suggestions were presented to Lord John Russell in January, 1836, about the same time as the Commissioners' second report. In due time that body published their third report, containing the general results of their inquiry upon the condition of the people, which may be summed up as follows:There is not the same division of labour which exists in Great Britain. The labouring class look to agriculture alone for support, whence the supply of agricultural labour greatly exceeds the demand for it, and small earnings and widespread misery are the consequences. It appeared that in Great Britain the agricultural families constituted little more than one-fourth, whilst in Ireland they constituted about two-thirds of the whole population; that there were in Great Britain, in 1831, 1,055,982 agricultural labourers; in Ireland, 1,131,715, although the cultivated land of Great Britain amounted to about 34,250,000 acres, and that of Ireland only to about 14,600,000. So that there were in Ireland about five agricultural labourers for every two that there were for the same quantity of land in Great Britain. It further appeared that the agricultural progress of Great Britain was more than four times that of Ireland; that agricultural wages varied from sixpence to one shilling a day; that the average of the country is about eightpence-halfpenny; and that the earnings of the labourers come, on an average of the whole class, to from two shillings to two and sixpence a week or thereabouts for the year round. The Commissioners state that they "cannot estimate the number of persons out of work and in distress during thirty weeks of the year at less than 585,000, nor the number of persons dependent upon them at less than 1,800,000, making in the whole 2,385,000. This, therefore," it is added, "is about the number for which it would be necessary to provide accommodation in workhouses, if all who required relief were there to be relieved;" and they consider it impossible to provide for such a multitude, or even to attempt it with safety. The expense of erecting and fitting up the necessary buildings would, they say, come to about 4,000,000; and, allowing for the maintenance of each person twopence-halfpenny only a day (that being the expense at the mendicity establishment of Dublin), the cost of supporting the whole 2,385,000 for thirty weeks would be something more than 5,000,000 a year; whereas the gross rental of Ireland (exclusive of towns) is estimated at less than 10,000,000 a year, the net income of the landlords at less than 6,000,000, and the public revenue is only about 4,000,000. They could not, therefore, recommend the present workhouse system of England as at all suited to Ireland.The Virginians were the first to move to lead the agitation. Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson took the initiative in a measure which would have better suited the character of the religious New Englanders. A fast was ordered on account of the Boston Port Act. The next day, however, being the 25th of May, Lord Dunmore, the governor of the province, dissolved the Assembly. The members, nothing daunted, retired to the "Raleigh" Tavern, and passed a series of resolutions. The chief of these were to purchase nothing of the East India Company, except saltpetre and spices, until their injuries were redressed; to request the members of all Corresponding Committees to take measures for the appointment of members to a General Congress; to summon the new members of the Assembly (the writs for which were already in course of issue) to meet at Williamsburg to elect delegates from that colony to the Congress.

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    Sir Cecil Wray. Sam House (Publican on the side of Fox). Charles James Fox.

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    But in the midst of all this strife and turmoil the work of real amelioration steadily proceeded. The tithe proctor system was a great and galling grievance to Protestants as well as Roman Catholics, but especially to the latter, who constituted the mass of the tillers of the soil. Such an odious impost tended to discourage cultivation, and throw the land into pasture. The Tithe Commutation Act was therefore passed in order to enable the tenant to pay a yearly sum, instead of having the tenth of his crop carried away in kind, or its equivalent levied, according to the valuation of the minister's proctor. It was proposed to make the Act compulsory upon all rectors, but this was so vehemently resisted by the Church party that it was left optional. If the measure had been compulsory, the anti-tithe war, which afterwards occurred, accompanied by violence and bloodshed, would have been avoided. It was, however, carried into operation to a large extent, and with the most satisfactory results. Within a few months after the enactment, more than one thousand applications had been made from parishes to carry its requirements into effect. In 1824, on the motion of Mr. Hume for an inquiry into the condition of the Irish Church Establishment, with a view to its reduction, Mr. Leslie Foster furnished statistics from which it appeared that the proportion of Roman Catholics to Protestants was four to one. In Ulster, at that time, the Roman Catholic population was little more than half the number of Protestants.

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    The first debate arose on the subject of drunkenness and gin. Drunkenness had of late years appeared to grow rapidly, and to assume more horrible features from the increasing use of gin. Sir Joseph Jekyll proposed in committee that a heavy tax should be laid on this pernicious liquor, which should put it out of the reach of the working classesnamely, a duty of twenty shillings per gallon on all sold retail, and fifty pounds yearly for the licence to every retailer. This benevolent man had not arrived at the truth, that to tax a crime is only to stop up one vent of it, and to occasion its bursting out in half a dozen other places. Sir Robert Walpole saw this clearly, and though he would not oppose the Bill for this purpose, he predicted that Parliament would soon be called upon to modify its provisions. The small duties heretofore levied on this article had brought in about seventy thousand pounds annually, and, as the Excise had been made over to the Crown, this sum went to the Civil List. Walpole demanded, therefore, that whatever deficiency of this sum should be produced by the new regulations should be made up to the Civil List. The whole measure excited great clamour out of doors. It was regarded as an invidious attempt to abridge the comforts of the people, whilst those of the wealthy remained untouched. The clause proposed by Walpole to protect the revenue was assailed with much fury both in and out of the House. It was said that the Minister was quite indifferent to the morals of the people on the one hand, or to their enjoyment on the other, so that the revenue did not suffer.
    It was no wonder that Spain, feeling the serious effects of this state of things, should resist it; and when she did so, and exerted an unusual degree of vigilance, then the most terrible outcries were raised, and wonderful stories were circulated of Spanish cruelties to our people beyond the Atlantic. At this time the Opposition got hold of one of these, and made the House of Commons and the nation resound with it. It was, that one Captain Robert Jenkins, who had been master of a sloop trading from Jamaica, had been boarded and searched by a Coastguard, and treated in a most barbarous manner, though they could detect no proof of smuggling in his vessel. He said that the Spanish captain had cut off one of his ears, bidding him carry it to his king, and tell his Majesty that if he were present he would treat him in the same manner. This story was now seven years old, but it was not the less warmly received on that account. It excited the utmost horror, and Jenkins was ordered to appear at the bar of the House of Commons on the 16th of March, to give an account of the outrage himself; and it would appear that both he and other witnesses were examined the same day. Jenkins carried his ear about with him wrapped in cotton, to show to those to whom he related the fact, and the indignation was intense. He was asked by a member how he felt when he found himself in the hands of such barbarians, and he replied, "I recommended my soul to God, and my cause to my country." The worthy skipper had probably been crammed with this dramatic sentiment by some of his clever Parliamentary introducers; but its effect was all the same as if it had been a genuine and involuntary expression of his own mind. Researches made at the Admiralty in 1889 proved that he really had lost an ear.