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In literature, and the amount of genius in every branch of it, as well as in mechanical skill, few ages ever transcended that of George III. Though he and his Ministers did their best to repress liberty, they could not restrain the liberty of the mind, and it burst forth on all sides with almost unexampled power. In fact, throughout Europe, during this period, a great revolution in taste took place. The old French influence and French models, which had prevailed in most countries since the days of Louis XIV., were now abandoned, and there was a return to nature and originality. "The Reliques of Ancient English Poetry," collected by Percy, the Bishop of Dromore, and the publication of the old Scottish ballads by Walter Scott, snapped the spell which had bound the intellect since the days of Pope, and opened the sealed eyes of wondering scholars; and they saw, as it were, "a new heaven and a new earth" before them. They once more felt the fresh breath of the air and ocean, smelt the rich odour of the heath and the forest, and the oracles of the heart were reopened, as they listened again to the whispers of the eternal winds. Once more, as of old to prophets and prophetic kings, there was "a sound of going in the tops of the trees." In Great Britain, Scott, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, Byron, Shelley—in Germany, Goethe, Schiller, Wieland, Richter—in Scandinavia, Tegner, Oehlenschl?ger, Stagnelius—with a world of lesser lights around them, stood in the glowing beams of a new morning, casting around them the wondrous wealth of a poetry as fresh as it was overflowing. As in poetry, so in prose invention. The novel and romance came forth in totally new forms, and with a life and scope such as they had never yet attained. From Fielding and Sterne to Godwin and Scott, the list of great writers in this department shed a new glory on the English name. In works of all other kinds the same renewal of mind was conspicuous; history took a prominent place, and science entered on new fields.Melville was now permitted by the House of Peers to go down to the House of Commons, notwithstanding their conclusion on the subject, to make his defence, and he made a very long speech, contending that he had not embezzled a farthing of the public money, and exalting his services to the country, especially in his India administration. But on the head of Secret Service Money he was as close as the grave. He declared that "if he had disclosed any of these transactions he should have felt himself guilty not only of a breach of public duty, but of a most unwarrantable breach of private honour." There were twenty thousand pounds which he never did, and never could, account for on this ground, and there were forty thousand pounds drawn at once by Pitt from the Navy Fund. He said he knew very well for what purposes these sums had been paid, but that nothing would compel him to disclose it. When it was asked him whether Mr. Trotter had not kept large sums belonging to the Navy Fund in Coutts's Bank, and speculated with them to his own great enrichment, he admitted that Trotter had had such sums for considerable times in Coutts's Bank, but that they were always forthcoming when wanted, and that no single payment had been delayed on that account; and that out of the one hundred and thirty-four millions which had passed through his hands, nothing had been lost. He praised Trotter in the highest manner, but was silent as to the private use that he had so long, and to such advantage to himself, made of the public money. He admitted that he had himself held considerable sums of this money at different times in his own hands, but had repaid the whole before quitting[503] office, and this was all that the Act of 1785 required. He seemed to admit that he had paid money out of the Navy Fund for other than naval objects, and for these secret service purposes. Some of these were in Scotland, of which, also, he had the administration to a certain degree. And here the public called to mind that Watt, the spy and informer against the Scottish Reformers, had acknowledged to have been employed and paid by Dundas, so that it was clear whither some of the Navy Fund had gone. Melville entered into long explanations regarding a written release which had passed reciprocally between him and Trotter on winding up their affairs, in which they agreed to destroy all their vouchers for the sums paid away. This looked very black, but Melville contended that it was only a matter of course—a thing constantly done by officials in like circumstances, which, if true, made the matter all the worse for the country. But Melville contended that this clause in the release was merely a form; that it did not mean that they should literally destroy the vouchers, but only that they should be rendered invalid as evidence in any prosecution, which very little mended the matter. Melville declared that he had not, in consequence of the clause, destroyed a single paper.

But the public attention was now freely withdrawn from Warren Hastings to much more exalted personages. On the 11th of July the king in person prorogued Parliament. He then appeared in his usual health, but soon afterwards it was whispered about that he was far from well, and had gone to Cheltenham by the advice of his physicians. When he returned in the autumn, the opinion of his derangement had gained ground, and, to remove this, a Drawing-room was held at St. James's on the 24th of October. Every means had been taken to secure the impression of his Majesty's saneness, but they failed, and the contrary impression was confirmed. Still, the king returned to Windsor, and the endeavours were strenuously maintained by the queen to conceal the melancholy fact from the public; but this was too positive to be long suppressed. On the 5th of November he met his son, the Duke of York, after he had been riding about Windsor Forest for five hours in a state of frenzy, and, bursting into tears, wished that he was dead, for that he felt he should go mad. No doubt he remembered his old sensations when he had a short but sharp fit of lunacy in 1764. The time was hurrying on which must reveal the whole truth; the prorogation of Parliament terminated on the 20th of November; the House would meet, and the king would not be able to attend and open the Session. Pitt was in a state of indescribable anxiety, having no precedents to guide him.

In the meantime, General Gage landed at Boston on the 13th of May. The Port Bill had preceded him a few days, and the tone of the other colonies rendered the Bostonians firmer in their temper than ever. On the 25th of May General Gage announced to the Assembly at Boston the unpleasant fact, that he was bound to remove, on the 1st of June, the Assembly, the courts of justice, and all the public offices, to Salem, in conformity with the late Act. As they petitioned him to set apart a day for fasting, he declined that, and, to prevent further trouble, adjourned them to the 7th of June, to meet at Salem.As soon as this news reached France the Pretender hastened to St. Malo in order to embark for Scotland, and Ormonde hastened over from Normandy to Devonshire to join the insurgents, whom he now expected to meet in arms. He took with him only twenty officers and as many troopers from Nugent's regiment. This was the force with which Ormonde landed in England to conquer it for the Pretender. There was, however, no need of even these forty men. The English Government had been beforehand with him; they had arrested all his chief coadjutors, and when he reached the appointed rendezvous there was not a man to meet him. On reaching St. Malo, Ormonde there found the Pretender not yet embarked. After some conference together, Ormonde once more went on board ship to reach the English coast and make one more attempt in the hopeless expedition, but he was soon driven back by a tempest. By this time the port of St. Malo was blockaded by the English, and the Pretender was compelled to travel on land to Dunkirk, where, in the middle of December, he sailed with only a single ship for the conquest of Scotland, and attended only by half a dozen gentlemen, disguised, like himself, as French naval officers.

Attention was now turned to a matter of the highest importance in a commercial, an intellectual, and a moral point of view. The stamp duty on newspapers had been the subject of keen agitation for some months, and newspaper vendors had incurred repeated penalties for the sale of unstamped newspapers; some of them having been not only fined, but imprisoned. A general impression prevailed that such an impost was impolitic, if not unjust, and that the time had come when the diffusion of knowledge must be freed from the trammels by which it had been so long restrained. A deputation, consisting of Dr. Birkbeck, Mr. Hume, Colonel Thompson, Mr. O'Connell, Mr. Grote, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Brotherton, Mr. Wallace, and Mr. Buckingham, having, on the 11th of February, waited upon Lord Melbourne, to ask for an entire abolition of the stamp on newspapers, he promised to give his most serious attention to the matter; and he kept his word, for on the 15th of the next month the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought the subject before Parliament, and announced the intentions of Government with regard to it. He stated that it was proposed to revise the whole of the existing law respecting stamp duties, first by consolidating into one statute the 150 Acts of Parliament over which the law was at present distributed; secondly,[402] by the apportionment of the various rates on a new principle—namely, by the simple and uniform rule of making the price of the stamp in every case correspond to the pecuniary value involved in the transaction for which it is required. The effect of this change would be to reduce the stamp duty upon indentures of apprenticeship, bills of lading, and many others of the more common instruments, and to increase it upon mortgages and conveyances of large amounts of property. It was intimated that the proposed Consolidation Act would contain no less than 330 sections. With regard to the stamp on newspapers, then fourpence with discount, it was proposed to reduce it to one penny without discount. This would be a remission of a proportion, varying according to the price of the newspaper, of between two-thirds and three-fourths of the tax. To this remission Parliament assented, and the illicit circulation of unstamped papers was in consequence abandoned. Some of the members very reasonably objected to any stamp whatever on newspapers; but the time was not yet come when Government would venture entirely to remove it, although the advantages which must necessarily arise from such a proceeding could not but have been foreseen. It was considered unfair that the public at large should pay for the carriage of newspapers by post; and it does not seem to have been remembered that, as only a portion of them would be transmitted in this way, an injustice would be committed by demanding payment for all. The difficulty of the case was, however, in due time, easily surmounted; and political knowledge was, by the change even then made, in a great degree exempted from taxation—a good preparation for the time, which was not very far off, when a newspaper of a high order might be obtained, even for the reduced price of the stamp.Mr. William Johnson, ditto 3,300

The Attorney-General, Sir R. Gifford, was then called in, when he proceeded to state the case against the queen. He traced her Majesty's conduct from the time at which she left England, in 1814. Her suite consisted of Lady Charlotte Lindsay and Lady Elizabeth Forbes, and the Hon. Keppel Craven; Sir William Gell and a Mr. Fitzgerald as chamberlains, with Captain Hash as equerry; Dr. Holland as physician; and other persons, in various capacities. She went first to Brunswick, her native place, and thence to Milan, where she remained three weeks. There Bartolomeo Bergami was received into her service as a courier, having been a servant in a similar capacity to a General Picco. The princess went next to Rome, and thence to Naples, where she arrived on the 8th of November, 1814. Her adopted child, William Austin, then only six or seven years of age, to whom she was particularly attached, had been in the habit of sleeping in a bed in the same room with her, while, according to the domestic arrangements that had been adopted, Bergami slept, among other menial servants, at a distance. On the 9th of November, three weeks after his appointment, an apartment was assigned to Bergami near her own bedroom, and communicating with it by means of a corridor. The surprise occasioned by this alteration was increased when the princess directed that the child Austin should no longer sleep in her room. There was an air of hurry, agitation, and embarrassment about her manner which awakened suspicion, which was increased in the morning, according to the story of the witnesses, when they found that her own bed had not been occupied, and instead of summoning her female attendants at the usual time, she remained in the apartment of Bergami until a late hour. Her recent arrival at Naples naturally induced persons of consequence to pay their respects to her, but she was not accessible. The Attorney-General thought their lordships could[211] have no doubt that "this was the commencement of that most scandalous, degrading, and licentious intercourse which continued and increased." The natural effect of this was that Bergami assumed airs of importance, and became haughty and arrogant with the other servants. A few days afterwards the princess gave a masked ball to the person then filling the Neapolitan throne. She first appeared as a Neapolitan peasant, but soon retired to assume another character, taking the courier with her, for the purpose of changing her costume. She then came forth as the genius of history, in a dress, or rather want of dress, of a most indecent and disgusting kind. The Attorney-General referred to a number of facts of a similar kind to those already detailed; also to instances of indelicacy and indecency, in which the queen was said to have indulged in the presence of her attendants and of strangers. On the fourth day, after the conclusion of his address, he proceeded to call his witnesses, and for more than a month the House was occupied in hearing their evidence.

Besides those already mentioned as distinguished in various branches of literature, there was a host of others whom we can only name. In theology there were Warburton, South, Horsley, Jortin, Madan, Gerard, Blair, Geddes, Lardner, Priestley; in criticism and philology, Harris, Monboddo, Kames, Blair, Sir William Jones, Walpole; in antiquarian research, Hawkins, Burney, Chandler, Barrington, Stevens, Pegge, Farmer, Vallancey, Grose, Gough; in belles-lettres and general literature, Chesterfield, Hawkesworth, Brown, Jenyns, Bryant, Hurd, Melmoth, Potter, Francklin, etc.; in mathematical and physical science, Black, the discoverer of latent heat, Cavendish, the discoverer of the composition of water, Priestley, Herschel, Maskelyne, Horsley, Vince, Maseres, James Hutton, author of "The Huttonian Theory of the Earth," Charles Hutton, Cullen Brown, the founder of the Brownian theory of medicine, John and[179] William Hunter, the anatomists, Pennant, the zoologist, etc.; discoverers of new lands, plants, and animals, Commodore Byron, Captains Wallis, Cook, Carteret, Flinders, etc., Dr. Solander, Sir Joseph Banks, Mr. Green.

HENRY FIELDING. (The Portrait by Hogarth; the Border by James Basire.)Besides the flattering assurances of the steady improvement in commerce and manufactures, and, consequently, in the revenues, the Regent's Speech, read, as usual, by the Lord Chancellor, justly congratulated the country on the successful termination of the Pindarree war by the Marquis of Hastings. It informed the two Houses that a new treaty had been entered into with the United States for adjusting the different points at issue between the two nations, not settled by the treaty of peace, and also for regulating the commerce between them. It announced the results of the Congress at Aix-la-Chapelle, and stated that some new measures were needed for the care of his Majesty's person in consequence of the death of the queen. The Address, in both Houses, was carried almost pro forma. Mr. Manners Sutton was elected Speaker of the Commons by acclamation.

In this awkward dilemma the king resolved to cut his way through the French, superior as they were, and regain communication with their magazines and their auxiliaries at Hanau. But Noailles was closely watching their movements; and, being aware of what was intended, took instant measures to prevent the retreat. He immediately advanced from their front to their rear, threw two bridges over the Main at Selingenstadt, and[84] despatched his nephew, the Duke de Gramont, to secure the defile of Dettingen, through which the English must pass in their retreat. He also raised strong batteries on the opposite bank of the Main, so as to play on the English as they marched along the river. These preparations being unknown to the English, and still supposing Noailles' principal force lay between them and Aschaffenberg, instead of between them and Dettingen, on the 27th of June, at daybreak, the king struck his tents, and the march on Dettingen began. George showed a stout heart in the midst of these startling circumstances, and the soldiers, having the presence of their king, were full of spirits. George took up his position in the rear of his army, expecting the grand attack to come from that quarter; but presently he beheld his advanced posts repulsed from Dettingen, and the French troops pouring over the bridge of the Main. He then perceived that Noailles had anticipated their movements, and, galloping to the head of his column, he reversed the order of his march, placing the infantry in front and the cavalry in the rear. His right extended to the bosky hills of the Spessart, and his left to the river. He saw at once the difficulty of their situation. Gramont occupied a strong position in the village of Dettingen, which was covered by a swamp and a ravine. There was no escape but by cutting right through De Gramont's force—no easy matter; and whilst they were preparing for the charge, the batteries of the French on the opposite bank of the Main, of which they were previously unaware, began to play murderously on their flank. With this unpleasant discovery came at the same instant the intelligence that Noailles had secured Aschaffenberg in their rear with twelve thousand men, and was sending fresh reinforcements to De Gramont in front. Thus they were completely hemmed in by the enemy, who were confidently calculating on the complete surrender of the British army and the capture of the king.The style of ladies' dresses in the days of George IV. forms a striking contrast to the fashions of the present day. The ordinary walking dresses were made loosely and simply—not high to the throat, as they were afterwards, nor yet low; the waist, with utter disregard to its natural length, was portioned off by a belt coming almost immediately under the arms, from which descended a long, straight, ungraceful skirt, without any undulation or fulness whatever, reaching to the feet, but short enough to leave them visible. The sleeves were plain and close to the arms, and fastened at the wrist with a frill. The same scantiness of material was observed in the evening dresses; they wore low bodices and short sleeves, with long gloves reaching to the elbow. The trimmings varied according to the taste of the wearer, as in our own day. Small flowers at the bottom of the skirt seem to have been the prevailing style. The hair was generally arranged in short curls round the face; but this was also subject to variations, of course, and some wore it plaited. The head-dress was composed of a bouquet of flowers placed on the top of the head. But the ugliest and the most uncouth part of the dress and the most irreconcilable with modern ideas of taste was the bonnet. The crown was in itself large enough for a hat of reasonable proportions; and from it, the leaf grew out, expanding round the face, in shape somewhat like a coal-scuttle, and trimmed elaborately with feathers and flowers.The winter of 1836-7 was marked by great commercial activity, and a strong tendency to over-trading, chiefly on the part of the banks. The result was a reaction, and considerable monetary embarrassment. In the reckless spirit of enterprise which led to these consequences, the American houses took the lead. The American speculators indulged an inordinate thirst for gain by land jobs, and over-trading in British produce. The most remarkable examples of this were afforded by three great American houses in London, called "the three W.'s." From an account of these firms, published in June, 1837, it appeared that the amount of bills payable by them from June to December, was as follows: Wilson and Co.,[411] £936,300; Wigan and Co., £674,700; Wildes and Co., £505,000; total acceptances, £2,116,000. This was upwards of one-sixth of the aggregate circulation of the private and joint-stock banks of England and Wales, and about one-eighth of the average circulation of the Bank of England. The shipments to America by Wigan and Co. amounted to £1,118,900. The number of joint-stock banks that started into existence at this time was remarkable. From 1825 to 1833 only thirty joint-stock banks had been established. In that year the Charter of the Bank of England being renewed, without many of the exclusive privileges it formerly enjoyed, and the spirit of commercial enterprise being active, joint-stock banks began to increase rapidly. There was an average of ten new companies annually, till 1836, when forty-five of these establishments came into existence in the course of ten months. In Ireland there were ten started in the course of two years. The consequence of this greatly increased banking accommodation produced a wild spirit of commercial adventure, which collapsed first in America, where the monetary confusion was unexampled—bankers, importers, merchants, traders, and the Government having been all flung into a chaos of bankruptcy and insolvency. This state of things in America had an immediate effect in England. Discounts were abruptly refused to the largest and hitherto most respectable houses of Liverpool and London. Trade, in consequence, became paralysed; prices suddenly dropped from thirty to forty per cent.; and the numerous share bubbles—the railway projects, the insurance companies, the distillery companies, the cemetery companies, the sperm oil, the cotton twist, zoological gardens, and other speculations—which had floated on the pecuniary tide, all suddenly collapsed, and there was an end to the career of unprincipled adventurers. It is satisfactory, however, to observe that the sound commerce of the country soon recovered the shock thus given; and in less than two years the pecuniary difficulties had passed away. Commerce had resumed its wonted activity, and flowed steadily in legitimate channels. The American banks resumed payment, and the three great American houses, which had involved themselves to such an enormous extent, were enabled to meet all their liabilities.

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On the 3rd of February Mr. Darby brought forward a motion that the sheriffs should be discharged from the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms. This gave rise to a long and animated debate. The Attorney-General opposed the motion, contending that until they made their submission the House could not dismiss them with due regard to its dignity. Sir William Follett replied to the arguments of the Attorney-General, and was answered by the Solicitor-General. The debate was adjourned, and was resumed on the 7th. At its conclusion the House divided on the question that the sheriffs be discharged, which was negatived by a majority of 71. On the 12th Mr. Sheriff Wheelton was discharged on account of ill-health, a motion for the release of the other sheriff having been rejected.Anglesey, K.G."

The Irish delegates described the condition of Ireland as most deplorable. They said that the Government interest, through the landed aristocracy, was omnipotent; that the manufacturers were unemployed; that an infamous coalition had taken place between the Irish Opposition and Ministry; that the Catholics had been bought up so that all parties might combine to crush Reform; that the United Irishmen were everywhere persecuted, and that one of them had only just escaped from a six months' imprisonment.[See larger version]

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