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There is in all this much of the splenetic jealousy of an aged invalid towards a vigorous competitor, who has outstripped him in the race. O'Connell excited much hostility amongst the friends of Emancipation by his opposition to the veto which they were willing to give to the British Crown on the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops by the Court of Rome. But the more antagonists he had, and the more battles he fought, the greater was his hold on the Roman Catholic priests and people. His power had arrived at its greatest height when the Canningites left the Ministry, and Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald came to Ireland to seek the suffrages of the Clare electors as an influential member of the Government. At first, no one had the least doubt of his triumphant return. He had been popular as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland; he was a steady friend of Catholic Emancipation, for which he had always voted; he was personally popular; the gentry of the county were almost to a man devoted to him. It appears that O'Connell had at first no idea of starting against him. The proposal is said to have originated with Sir David Roose, who, having accidentally met Mr. P. V. Fitzpatrick on the 22nd of June, remarked that O'Connell ought to offer himself for Clare. Mr. Fitzpatrick then recollected having often heard Mr. John Keogh, of Mount Jerome, who had been the Catholic leader for many years, express his conviction that Emancipation would never be granted till a Catholic was elected a member of Parliament. If, when returned by a constituency, he was not permitted to take his seat because he would not violate his conscience by swearing what he did not believe, John Bull, who is jealous of constitutional rights, would resent this wrong, and would require the oath to be altered for the sake of the constituency. The moment this thought occurred to Mr. Fitzpatrick, he ran to O'Connell and begged of him to stand for Clare. They went to the office of the Dublin Evening Post, and there, in presence of Mr. F. W. Conway, the address to the electors was written. Still O'Connell shrank from the contest on account of the enormous cost. "You know," he said, "that, so far from being in circumstances to meet that outlay from my own resources, I am encumbered with heavy liabilities beyond my power of discharging. You are the only person with whom I am acquainted who knows intimately the Catholic aristocracy and men of wealth. Would[272] you undertake to sound them as to funds for the contest?" Fitzpatrick answered, "I will undertake it, and I am confident of success." Within an hour he got three men of wealth to put down their names for 100 each. The four then went round to the principal Catholics of Dublin, and during the day they got 1,600 from sixteen persons. The country followed the example of the metropolis so liberally that 14,000 was raised within a week, and money continued to flow in during the contest. The supplies, however, were not sufficient for the enormous demand, and in the heat of the contest a messenger was sent posthaste to Cork, and in an incredibly short space of time returned with 1,000 from Mr. Jerry Murphy, who himself subscribed 300, and got the remainder from its patriotic inhabitants. The sum of 5,000 had been voted by the Association for the expenses of the election. They had been very anxious to get a candidate to oppose Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald, and a popular Protestant, Major Macnamara, had been requested to come forward, but he declined on the ground of his personal obligations to the Ministerial candidate. Indeed, there were few of the smaller gentry in the county on whom he had not conferred favours by the liberal distribution of places among their sons. The Roman Catholic gentry were quite as much indebted to him as the Protestants, and they were not ungrateful, for they stood by him on the hustings almost to a man. Mr. O'Connell was preceded by two friends, Tom Steel and O'Gorman Mahon; the former a Protestant, the other a Roman Catholic: both men remarkable for their chivalrous bearing, and a dashing, reckless spirit, which takes with the Irish peasantry. A third agitator entered the field in the person of honest Jack Lawless, another leading member of the Association, and one of its most effective speakers. This band was soon joined by Father Tom Maguire, a famous controversialist, from the county of Leitrim, who had just been engaged in a discussion with the Rev. Mr. Pope, and was hailed by the peasantry as the triumphant champion of their faith. There was also a barrister, Mr. Dominick Ronayne, who spoke the Irish language, and who, throwing an educated mind into the powerful idiom of the country, produced great effects upon the passions of the people. Mr. Sheil, second only to O'Connell in energy and influence, and superior to him in the higher attributes of the orator, in the fiery temperament and imaginative faculty which constitute genius, flung himself into the arena with the greatest ardour. On the Sunday previous to the election each of these agitators was dispatched to a chapel situated in a district which was the stronghold of one or other of the most popular landlords, for the purpose of haranguing the people after mass, and rousing their enthusiasm to the highest pitch. Mr. Sheil went to a place called Corrofin, situated in a mountainous district, the property of Sir Edward O'Brien, father of Mr. Smith O'Brien, who drove to the place in his carriage, drawn by four horses. There he saw the whole population congregated, having advanced from the rocky hills in large bands, waving green boughs, and preceded by fifes and pipers. The hitherto popular landlord was received in solemn silence, while his antagonist, Mr. Sheil, was hailed with rapturous applause. Sir Edward O'Brien consequently lost heart, and, leaving his phaeton opposite the chapel-door, went to church. Mr. Sheil gives a graphic description of Father Murphy, the priest of this rudely constructed mountain chapel. His form was tall, slender, and emaciated; "his ample hand was worn to a skinny meagretude; his face was long, sunken, and cadaverous, but was illuminated by eyes blazing with all the fire of genius and the enthusiasm of religion; his lank black hair fell down in straight lines along a lofty forehead. The sun was shining with brilliancy, and rendered his figure, attired as it was in white garments, more conspicuous. The scenery about was in harmonyit was wild and desolate." This priest met the envoy of the Association on the threshold of his mountain temple, and hailed him with a solemn greeting. After mass the priest delivered an impassioned harangue. The spirit of sarcasm gleamed over his features, and shouts of laughter attended his description of a miserable Catholic who should prove recreant to the great cause by making a sacrifice of his country to his landlord. "The close of his speech," says Mr. Sheil, "was peculiarly effective. He became inflamed by the power of his emotions, and, while he raised himself into the loftiest attitude to which he could ascend, he laid one hand on the altar and shook the other in the spirit of almost prophetic admonition, and, while his eyes blazed and seemed to start from his forehead, thick drops fell down his face, and his voice rolled through lips livid with passion and covered with foam. It is almost unnecessary to say that such an appeal was irresistible. The multitude burst into shouts of acclamation, and would have been ready to mount a battery roaring with cannon at his command. Two days[273] afterwards the results were felt at the hustings, and while Sir Edward O'Brien stood aghast, Father Murphy marched into Ennis at the head of his tenantry, and polled them to a man in favour of Daniel O'Connell."


But Joseph did not live to see the full extent of the alienation of the Netherlands. He had despatched Count Cobentzel to Brussels on the failure of Trautmansdorff's efforts. Cobentzel was an able diplomatist, but all his offers were treated with indifference. On the last day of 1789 the States of Brabant, in presence of the citizens of Brussels, swore to stand by their new freedoman act which was received by the acclamations of the assembled crowds. They soon afterwards ratified their league with the other States, and entered into active negotiation with the revolutionists of France for mutual defence. On the 20th of February, 1790, Joseph expired, leaving a prospect full of trouble to his brother Leopold, the new Emperor.Walpole ridiculed the notion which had gone abroad that the revenue officers would be increased into quite a standing army, and would endanger the common liberty by their being empowered to enter private dwellings to search for concealed excisable articles. He said the increase would be only a hundred and twenty-six persons and that the Customs now possessed more searching power than he proposed to give to the Excise.

The elections for the new Parliament were carried on with much vigour, and there were upwards of a hundred contested ones. In some cases the contest was extremely violent, considering the death of the king was almost daily expected, and that the term of the Parliament must necessarily be a short one. In Westminster there were no less than six candidates. Lord Cochrane was about to depart for Chili to take the command of[137] the naval forces of that state, and therefore did not offer himself again. There were Sir Francis Burdett again, the Honourable Douglas Kinnaird, Sir Murray Maxwell, Sir Samuel Romilly, Major Cartwright, and Mr. Henry Hunt, commonly called Orator Hunt. Of these Sir Murray Maxwell was a Tory, and received severe treatment. Major Cartwright and Hunt obtained very little support, and soon withdrew from the contest. The members returned were Romilly and Burdett, a Whig and a Radical. For London were returned four new members, all Whigs, Wood, Wilson, Waithman, and Thorpe. Brougham patriotically stood for Westmoreland, to break, if possible, the influence of the Lowther family; but he was compelled to retire on the fourth day, and two of the Lowther family were returned. A hundred and ninety new members were returned, and the Opposition gained considerably by the election. An acute observer, well accustomed to party battles, remarked that Government did not appear much beloved, and that they had almost spent all their war popularity; and they were not destined to recover it in the coming year.

The Association had become so formidable, and was yet so carefully kept within the bounds of law by "Counsellor O'Connell," in whose legal skill the Roman Catholics of all classes had unbounded confidence, that the Government resolved to procure an Act of Parliament for its suppression. Accordingly, on the 11th of February, 1825, a Bill was brought into the House of Commons by the Irish Chief Secretary, Mr. Goulburn, under the title of Unlawful Societies in Ireland Bill. The plural form caused a great deal of debating. The Government declared they wished to include the Orange Society as well as the Catholic Association. But the Opposition had no faith in this declaration, and Mr. Brougham stated that they would put down the Catholic Association with one hand and pat the Orange Society on the back with the other. The debates on the subject were very animated, and touched upon constitutional questions of the widest interest to the public. The Irish Attorney-General said he did not deny that if a set of gentlemen thought fit to unite for those purposes, it was in their power to do so; but then came the question as to the means which they employed, and those means he denied to be constitutional. "They have," he said, "associated with them the Catholic clergy, the Catholic nobility, many of the Catholic gentry, and all the surviving delegates of 1791. They have established committees in every district, who keep up an extensive correspondence through the country. This Association, consisting originally of a few members, has now increased to 3,000. They proceeded to establish a Roman Catholic rent; and in every single parish, of the 2,500 parishes into which Ireland is divided, they appointed twelve Roman Catholic collectors, which make an army of 30,000. Having this their army of collectors, they brought to their assistance 2,500 priests, and the whole ecclesiastical body. And thus provided, they go about levying contributions on the peasantry." This Mr. Plunket pronounced to be unconstitutional, though not in the strict sense illegal; the Association was a representative and a tax-levying body. He denied that any portion of the subjects of this realm had a right to give their suffrages to others, had a right to select persons to speak their sentiments, to debate upon their grievances, and to devise measures for their removal. This was the privilege alone of the Commons of the United Kingdom. He would not allow that species of power to anybody not subjected to proper control. But to whom were those individuals accountable? Where was their responsibility? Who was to check them? Who was to stop their progress? By whom were they to be tried or rebuked if found acting mischievously? People not acquainted with Ireland were not aware of the nature of this formidable instrument of power, greater than the power of the sword. Individuals connected with it went into every house and every family. They mixed in all the relations of private life, and afterwards detailed what they heard with the utmost freedom. The Attorney-General could not conceive a more deadly instrument of tyranny than it was when it interfered with the administration of justice. Claiming to represent six millions of the people of Ireland, it denounced as a public enemy, and arraigned at the bar of justice, any individual it chose to accuse of acting contrary to the popular interest. Thus the grand inquest of the people were the accusers, and there was an unlimited supply of money to carry on the prosecution. The consequence was that magistrates were intimidated, feeling that there was no alternative but to yield, or be overwhelmed by the tide of fierce popular passions.[See larger version]

The Home Secretary thus refers to a letter of Lord Eldon, written to his daughter soon after the event, as follows:"After observing, 'Nothing is talked of now which interests anybody the least in the world, except the election of Mr. O'Connell,' he makes these memorable remarks:'As Mr. O'Connell will not, though elected, be allowed to take his seat in the House of Commons unless he will take the oaths, etc. (and that he won't do unless he can get absolution), his rejection from the Commons may excite rebellion in Ireland. At all events, this business must bring the Roman Catholic question, which has been so often discussed, to a crisis and a conclusion. The nature of that conclusion I do not think likely to be favourable to Protestantism.' It is clear, therefore," continues Mr. Peel, "that Lord Eldon was fully alive to the real character and magnitude of the event."The year, gloomy in itself from the dislocation of trade and the discontent of the people, terminated still more gloomily from another causethe death of the Princess Charlotte. This event, wholly unexpected, was a startling shock to the whole nation. This amiable and accomplished princess was not yet twenty-two. She had been married only in May, 1816, to Prince Leopold of Coburg, and died on the 6th of November, 1817, a few hours after being delivered of a stillborn child. What rendered the event the more painful was that her death was attributed to neglect by her accoucheur, Sir Richard Croft. Dr. Baillie, who saw her soon after her confinement, refused to join in the issue of a bulletin which the other medical men had prepared, stating that she was going on well, and a few hours proved the fatal correctness of his opinion. Sir Richard, overwhelmed by the public indignation and his own feelings, soon afterwards destroyed himself. No prince or princess had stood so well with the nation for many years. The people saw in her a future queen, with the vigour, unaccompanied by the vices and tyrannies, of Elizabeth. She had taken the part of her mother against the treatment of her father, and this was another cause which drew towards her the affections of the people. All these hopes were extinguished in a moment, and the whole nation was plunged into sorrow and consternation, the more so that, notwithstanding the twelve children of George III., there had only been this single grandchild, and several of his sons remained unmarried."The Clare election supplied the manifest proof of an abnormal and unhealthy condition of the public mind in Irelandthe manifest proof that the sense of a common grievance and the sympathies of a common interest were beginning to loosen the ties which connect different classes of men in friendly relations to each other, to weaken the force of local and personal attachments, and to unite the scattered elements of society into a homogeneous and disciplined mass, yielding willing obedience to the assumed authority of superior intelligence hostile to the law and to the Government which administered it. There is a wide distinction (though it is not willingly recognised by a heated party) between the hasty concession to unprincipled agitation and provident precaution against the explosion of public feeling gradually acquiring the strength which makes it irresistible. 'Concede nothing to agitation,' is the ready cry of those who are not responsiblethe vigour of whose decisions is often proportionate to their own personal immunity from danger, and imperfect knowledge of the true state of affairs. A prudent Minister, before he determines against all concessionagainst any yielding or compromise of former opinionsmust well consider what it is that he has to resist, and what are his powers of resistance. His task would be an easy one if it were sufficient to resolve that he would yield nothing to violence or to the menace of physical force. In this case of the Clare election, and of its natural consequences, what was the evil to be apprehended? Not force, not violence, not any act of which law could take cognisance. The real danger was in the peaceable and legitimate exercise of a franchise according to the will and conscience of the holder. In such an exercise of that franchise, not merely permitted, but encouraged and approved by constitutional law, was involved a revolution of the electoral system in Irelandthe transfer of political power, so far as it was connected with representation, from one party to another. The actual transfer was the least of the evil; the process by which it was to be effectedthe repetition in each county of the scenes of the Clare electionthe fifty-pound free-holders, the gentry to a man polling one way, their alienated tenantry anotherall the great interests of the county broken down'the universal desertion' (I am quoting the expressions of Mr. Fitzgerald)the agitator and the priest laughing to scorn the baffled landlordthe local heaving and throes of society on every casual vacancy in a countythe universal convulsion at a general electionthis was the danger to be apprehended; those were the evils to be resisted. What was the power of resistance? 'Alter the law, and remodel the franchise,' was the ready, the improvident response. If it had been desired to increase the strength of a formidable confederacy, and, by rallying round it the sympathies of good men and of powerful parties in Great Britain, to insure for it a signal triumph, to extinguish the hope of effecting an amicable adjustment of the Catholic question, and of applying a corrective to the real evils and abuses of elective franchise, the best way to attain these pernicious ends would have been to propose to Parliament, on the part of the Government, the abrupt extinction of the forty-shilling franchise in Ireland, together with the continued maintenance of civil disability."

These things did not pass without remark by the Opposition. Pulteney and Bolingbroke discussed them with much vigour and acrimony in The Craftsman. It was asserted in the House that the public burthens had increased instead of diminished since 1716; but Walpole contended that there had been a reduction of debt to the amount of two million five hundred thousand pounds; and his statement was supported by a large majority, and it was laid before the king. The Opposition then demanded an explanation of the expenditure of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds for secret service money. It was well understood that Walpole had used the greater part of it in buying up that triumphant majority which enabled him to carry the most[59] obnoxious measures. The demands of the Opposition were so vehement, and the abuse was so glaring, that even Walpole was embarrassed how to get rid of the question. He could only recur to the old plea, that the money had been spent on services highly advantageous to the State, but which could not properly be made public. Suddenly events lifted him out of his difficulty. News arrived that the King of Spain, who declined to ratify the preliminaries of peace entered into at Vienna, on hearing of the death of George I., hoping for a revolution, had now given way, and had issued what was called the Act of Pardo, ratifying the preliminaries, and referring all remaining difficulties to be settled at a congress to be held at Soissons.The first steamboat that was worked for hire in Britain was the Comet, a small vessel with an engine of three horse-power. Two years later the Elizabeth, of eight horse-power, and the Clyde, of fourteen horse-power, were placed upon the river Clyde. Thus Scotland has had the honour of leading the way in this great line of improvement. In 1820 there were but three steam-vessels built and registered in England, four in Scotland, and one in Ireland. In 1826 there were fifty in England, and twenty-two in Scotland, with 9,000 tons burden. The building of steamers proceeded regularly, with an increasing amount of tonnage, till the number rose in 1849 to 1,296 steam-vessels, the aggregate burden of which was 177,310 tons. They were distributed as follows:In the ports of England, 865 vessels, 103,154 tons; Scotland, 166 vessels, 29,206 tons; Ireland, 111 vessels, 26,369 tons; the Channel Islands, 7 vessels, 955 tons; the colonies, 147 vessels, 17,626 tons. A Committee of the House of Commons was appointed in June, 1837, to inquire into the best means of establishing communication by steam with India by way of the Red Sea. During the year arrangements were made for the establishment of a regular monthly steam communication between Great Britain and India by way of the Red Sea upon the following basis:"The Government undertakes the transmission of the monthly mails between Great Britain and Alexandria at the sole charge of the public; and the East India Company undertakes the transmission of these[422] mails between Alexandria and Bombay, upon condition that one-half of the expense incurred in the purchase and navigation of steam-vessels, and of any other expense incurred in the service, is defrayed by the Government, which is to receive the whole money connected with postage of letters between London and Bombay." This arrangement was carried out, and a further economy of time was obtained by the overland route to Marseilles, instead of transmitting the mails by steam-packets from Falmouth through the Strait of Gibraltar. In this way the journey was shortened to the extent of more than 1,000 miles, the direct distance by Marseilles and Malta being 5,238 miles, and by way of Falmouth, 6,310 miles. This system of conveyance was maintained till 1841, when the Government entered into a contract with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which undertook to employ powerful steam-vessels for the carrying of letters and passengers between England and Egypt, and between Suez, Ceylon, Madras, and Calcutta, towards the expenses of which the East India Company undertook to contribute 20,000 per annum for five years. After some time there was a further extension of the plan, by which the Government engaged to contribute 50,000 per annum towards the expense of the line of steam-packets between Bombay and Suez, 115,000 per annum for the service between Calcutta and Suez, and 45,000 for the service between Ceylon and Hong Kong, making a total of 210,000 per annum, of which one-third was to be repaid by the East India Company. By these arrangements was obtained a regular and safe steam communication twice a month to India, and once a month to China. We may judge of the extent of the intercourse thus carried on by the fact that in 1836 Great Britain received from Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, and Ceylon about 180,000 letters, and sent to those places in the same year nearly 112,000 letters.

At length, on the 22nd of September, Lord John Russell, attended by Lord Althorp, and a great body of the most distinguished Reformers, appeared at the bar of the House of Lords, and handed the English Reform Bill to the Lord Chancellor, praying the concurrence of their Lordships. This scene has been made the subject of a great historical painting. The Bill, without any opposition or remark from any Conservative peer, was read a first time on the motion of Earl Grey, and ordered to be read a second time on Monday week. The debate on the second reading commenced on the 3rd of October, with a speech from Lord Greygrave, elaborate, earnest, and impressive; simple, yet dignified. He described his own efforts in regard to Parliamentary Reform, spoke of the changes which had of necessity attended his opinions on the subject, and of the circumstances which, at the close of his long career, when the conservative spirit is naturally strongest in every man, had led him to endeavour to put in practice the theories and speculations of his youth and manhood. Lord Eldon described the progress of the debate from day to day in letters to members of his family. Lord Dudley and Lord Haddington quite surprised and delighted the zealous old manthey spoke so admirably against the Bill. Lord Carnarvon delivered a most excellent speech; but Lord Plunket's speaking[339] disappointed him. The fifth night of the debate was occupied by the lawyers. Lord Eldonfollowing Lord Wynford and Lord Plunketsolemnly delivered his conscience on this momentous occasion. He was ill and weak, and being an octogenarian, he might be said to be speaking on the edge of the grave. He expressed his horror of the new doctrines which had been laid down with respect to the law of the country and its institutions. He could not consent to have all rights arising out of Charters, and all the rights of close boroughs, swept away. Boroughs, he contended, were both property and trust. Close corporations had as good a right to hold their charters under the Great Seal as any of their lordships had to their titles and their peerages. He said that he was a freeman of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; he had received his education in the corporation school of that town on cheap terms, as the son of a freeman; he had a right to it; and he had hoped that, when his ashes were laid in the grave, he might have given some memorandum that the boys there, situated as he was, might rise to be Lord Chancellors of England, if, having the advantage of that education, they were honest, faithful, and industrious. The closing night of the debate brought out the two most illustrious law lords in the House, who had long been rivals and competitors in the arenas of professional and political lifeLord Brougham and Lord Lyndhurst. Each was holding back in order to have the opportunity of replying to the other; but Lord Lyndhurst managed to have the last word, the more excitable Lord Chancellor having lost patience, and flung himself into the debate. He implored the House on his knees to pass the Bill. But the coup de thatre miscarried, owing to the obvious anxiety of his friends lest he should be thought to be suffering from too much mulled port.



All Europe was astonished by the news of the French Revolution. The successful insurrection of the working classes in Paristhe flight of the kingthe abolition of monarchythe establishment of a Republic, all the work of two or three days, were events so startling that the occupants of thrones might well stand aghast at their recital, and tremble for their own possessions. It would not have been surprising if the revolutionary spirit emanating from Paris had, to a large extent, invaded Great Britain and Ireland. The country had just passed through a fearful crisis; heavy sacrifices had been made by all classes to save the people from starvation; many families had been utterly ruined by gigantic failures, and there was still very general privation prevailing in all parts of the United Kingdom. In such circumstances the masses are peculiarly liable to be excited against the Government by ignorant or unprincipled agitators, who could easily persuade[555] them that their sufferings arose from misgovernment, and that matters could never go right till the people established their own sovereigntytill they abolished monarchy and aristocracy, and proclaimed a republic. The Chartist agitation, though not formally proposing any such issue of the movement, had, nevertheless, familiarised the minds of the working classes with the idea of such a revolution. The points of their charter comprised vote by ballot, universal suffrage, annual parliaments, payment of the members, and the abolition of the property qualification. Besides, the Chartist leaders had been in the habit of holding what was called a National Convention, which was a kind of parliament of their own, in which the leaders practised the art of government. The train was thus laid, and it seemed to require only a spark to ignite it; but a thick shower of sparks came from Paris, as if a furnace had been emptied by a hurricane. It would have been almost miraculous if there had been no explosions of disaffection in Great Britain in such circumstances as these.In America, such was the state of things, that a British commander there, of the slightest pretence to activity and observation, would have concluded the war by suddenly issuing from his winter quarters, and dispersing the shoeless, shirtless, blanketless, and often almost foodless, army of Washington. His soldiers, amounting to about eleven thousand, were living in huts at Valley Forge, arranged in streets like a town, each hut containing fourteen men. Such was the destitution of shoes, that all the late marches had been tracked in bloodan evil which Washington had endeavoured to mitigate by offering a premium for the best pattern of shoes made of untanned hides. For want of blankets, many of the men were obliged to sit up all night before the camp fires. More than a quarter of the troops were reported unfit for duty, because they were barefoot and otherwise naked. Provisions failed, and on more than one occasion there was an absolute famine in the camp. It was in vain that Washington sent repeated and earnest remonstrances to Congress; its credit was at the lowest ebb. The system of establishing fixed prices for everything had totally failed, as it was certain to do; and Washington, to prevent the total dispersion of his army, was obliged to send out foraging parties, and seize provisions wherever they could be found. He gave certificates for these seizures, but their payment was long delayed, and, when it came,[248] it was only in the Continental bills, which were fearfully depreciated, and contrasted most disadvantageously with the gold in which the British paid for their supplies.



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