While the Irish Government was in this state of miserable trepidation, the Dublin confederates carried on their proceedings with the most perfect unconcern and consciousness of impunity. Among these proceedings was the sending of a deputation to Paris to seek the aid of the republican Government on behalf of the "oppressed nationality of Ireland." The deputation consisted of Messrs. O'Brien, Meagher, and O'Gorman. They were the bearers of three congratulatory addresses, to which Lamartine gave a magniloquent reply about the great democratic principle—"this new Christianity bursting forth at the opportune moment." The destinies of Ireland had always deeply moved the heart of Europe. "The children of that glorious isle of Erin," whose natural genius and pathetic history were equally symbolic of the poetry and the heroism of the nations of the North, would always find in France under the republic a generous response to all its friendly sentiments. But as regarded intervention, the Provisional Government gave the same answer that they had given to Germany, to Belgium, and to Italy. "Where there is a difference of race—where nations are aliens in blood—intervention is not allowable. We belong to no party in Ireland or elsewhere except to that which contends for justice, for liberty, and for the happiness of the Irish people. We are at peace," continued Lamartine, "and we are desirous of remaining on good terms of equality, not with this or that part of Great Britain, but with Great Britain entire. We believe this peace to be useful and honourable, not only to Great Britain and to the French Republic, but to the human race. We will not commit an act, we will not utter a word, we will not breathe an insinuation, at variance with principles of the reciprocal inviolability of nations which we have proclaimed, and of which the continent of Europe is already gathering the fruits. The fallen monarchy had treaties and diplomatists. Our diplomatists are nations—our treaties are sympathies." The sympathies felt for the Irish revolutionists, however, were barren. Nevertheless the deputation who were complimented as "aliens in blood" shouted "Vive la République," "Vive Lamartine," who had just declared that the French would be insane were they openly to exchange such sympathy for "unmeaning and partial alliance with even the most legitimate parties in the countries that surrounded them."The earliest martial event of the year 1760 was the landing of Thurot, the French admiral, at Carrickfergus, on the 28th of February. He had been beating about between Scandinavia and Ireland till he had only three ships left, and but six hundred soldiers. But Carrickfergus being negligently garrisoned, Thurot made his way into the town and plundered it, but was soon obliged to abandon it. He was overtaken by Captain Elliot and three frigates before he had got out to sea, his ships were taken, he himself was killed, and his men were carried prisoners to Ramsey, in the Isle of Man.[See larger version]
Amongst these, for the most part working men, sat a number of gentlemen, and even one lord, Lord Dacre, who had lived in Paris and was a regular Revolutionist. The Convention sat unmolested till the 5th of December, arranging for a future meeting in England, and organising committees and correspondents in different towns. They also recommended to all Reform clubs and societies to invoke Divine aid on their endeavours for just reform. On meeting on the morning of the 5th, the president, Paterson, announced that himself, Margarot, and the delegates had been arrested, and were only out on bail. Immediately after this, the Lord Provost appeared with a force to disperse the meeting, and though Skirving informed him that the place of meeting was his own hired house, and that they had met for a purely constitutional purpose, the Lord Provost broke up the meeting and drove out the members. That evening they met again at another place, but only to be turned out again. Still they did not disperse before Gerald had offered up a fervent prayer for the success of Reform. Mr. Skirving then issued a circular inviting the delegates to meet in his private house, and for this he was arrested on the 6th of January, 1794, brought before the Court of Justiciary, and sentenced to fourteen years' transportation. On the 13th Margarot received the same sentence; and, in the month of March, Gerald likewise.The Duke of Cumberland, being called southward, had got General Hawley appointed to the command of the army sent after the Young Pretender. Wade was become too old and dilatory, but Hawley was much fitter for a hangman than a general. Horace Walpole says he was called "the Lord Chief Justice," because, like Jeffreys, he had a passion for executions; that when the surgeons solicited the body of a deserter, which was dangling before Hawley's windows, for dissection, he would only consent on condition that he had the skeleton to ornament the guard room. Hearing of his approach, Charles drew in his forces from Falkirk under Lord George, left a few hundred men to blockade Stirling, and concentrated his army on the renowned field of Bannockburn. On the 16th of January Charles, expecting Hawley, drew up his forces, but no enemy appeared. The next day, still perceiving no Hawley, he advanced to Pleanmuir, two miles east of Bannockburn, and on the way to Torwood. No enemy yet appearing, the prince determined to advance and find him out. Hawley was so confident of dispersing the Highland rabble at any moment that he chose, that he had neglected every military precaution, had fixed no outposts, and was away at Callander House, at some distance from the field, comfortably taking luncheon with Lady Kilmarnock, whose husband was in the rebel army, and who was exerting all her powers of pleasing to detain the foolish general as long as possible. At length, when the rebels had come up so near that there was only Falkirk Moor between the armies, Hawley, roused by fresh messengers, came galloping up without his hat, and in the utmost confusion. In the middle of this rugged and uneven moor, covered with heath, rose a considerable ridge, and it appeared to be a race between the two enemies which should gain the advantage of the summit. On the one side galloped the English cavalry, on the other sped the Highlanders, straining for this important height; but the fleet-footed Gael won the ground from the English horse, and Hawley's horse halted a little below them. Neither of the armies had any artillery, for the Highlanders had left theirs behind in their rapid advance, and Hawley's had stuck fast in the bog. So far they were equal; but the prince, by taking a side route, had thrown the wind in the teeth of the English, and a storm of rain began with confounding violence to beat in their faces. The English cavalry remained, as it had galloped up, in front, commanded, since the death of Gardiner, by Colonel Ligonier, and the infantry formed, like the Highlanders, in two lines, the right commanded by General Huske, and the left by Hawley. Behind, as a reserve, stood the Glasgow regiment and the Argyll militia. The order being given, the cavalry under Ligonier charged the Macdonalds, who coolly waited till the English horse was within ten yards of them, when they poured such a murderous volley into them as dropped a frightful number from their saddles, and threw the whole line into confusion. The Frasers immediately poured an equally galling cross-fire into the startled line, and the two dragoon regiments which had fled at Coltbridge and Prestonpans waited no longer, but wheeling round, galloped from the field at their best speed. The Macdonalds, seeing the effect of their fire, in spite of Lord George Murray's endeavours to keep them in order, rushed forward, loading their pieces as they ran, and fell upon Hawley's two columns of infantry. Having discharged their pieces, they ran in upon the English with their targets and broadswords. The left soon gave way, and Hawley, who had got involved in the crowd of flying horse, had been swept with them down the hill, and thus had no means of keeping them to their colours. On the right of the royal army, however, the infantry stood firm, and as the Highlanders could not cross the ravine to come to close quarters with sword and target, they inflicted severe slaughter upon them; and Cobham's cavalry rallying, soon came to their aid and protected their flank, and increased the effect on the Highlanders, many of whom began to run, imagining that the day was lost. Charles, from his elevated position observing this extraordinary state of things, advanced at the head of his second line, and checked the advance of the English right, and, after some sharp fighting, compelled them to a retreat. But in this case it was only a retreat, not a flight. These regiments retired, with drums beating and colours flying, in perfect order. A pursuit of cavalry might still have been made, but the retreat of the English was so prompt, that the Highlanders suspected a stratagem; and it was only when their scouts brought them word that they had evacuated Falkirk that they understood their full success (January 18, 1746).It was in these peculiar circumstances that the extraordinary measure was adopted of sending out a commission. The king, however, was furious at what he regarded as a breach of his prerogative. He told Sir George Grey, one of the Commission, in the presence of his Ministers, that he was to assert the prerogative of the Crown, which persons who ought to have known better had dared to deny, and that he was to recollect that Lower Canada had been conquered by the sword. A week later he favoured Lord Gosford with this outburst—"By God I will never consent to alienate the Crown lands, nor to make the Council elective. Mind, my lord, the Cabinet is not my Cabinet. They had better take all, or by God I will have them impeached." As Lord Glenelg, the Colonial Secretary, was the person alluded to in the first sally, the Ministry drew up a strongly worded remonstrance which was read to the king by Lord Melbourne. But Lord Glenelg's instructions to Lord Gosford were toned down, and his mission was therefore foredoomed to failure. It was found that the sense of grievance and the complaints of bad government prevailed in both provinces, though of a different character in each. The habitants of the Lower Province complained of the preference shown by the Government to the British settlers and to the English language over the French. Englishmen, they said, monopolised the public offices, which they administered with the partiality and injustice of a dominant race. They complained also of the interference of the Government in elections, and of its unreasonable delay in considering or sanctioning the Bills passed by the Assembly. They insisted, moreover, that the Upper House, corresponding to the House of Peers, should be elective, instead of being appointed by the Crown and subject to its will. In the Upper Province the chief grounds of discontent arose from the want of due control over the public money and its expenditure. Many of the electors had gone out from Great Britain and Ireland during the Reform agitation, bearing with them strong convictions and excited feelings on the subject of popular rights, and they were not at all disposed to submit to monopoly in the colony of their adoption, after assisting to overthrow it in the mother country. Lord Gosford opened the Assembly in November, 1835, and in the course of his speech he said, "I have received the commands of our most gracious Sovereign to acquaint you that his Majesty is disposed to place under the control of the representatives of the people all public moneys payable to his Majesty or to his officers in this province, whether arising from taxes or from any other source. The accounts which will be submitted to your examination show the large arrears due as salaries to public officers and for the ordinary expenditure of the Government; and I earnestly request of you to pass such votes as may effect the liquidation of these arrears, and provide for the maintenance of the public servants, pending the inquiry by the Commissioners."
During this period a vast empire was beginning to unfold itself in the East Indies, destined to produce a vast trade, and pour a perfect mine of wealth into Great Britain. The victories of Clive, Eyre Coote, and others, were telling on our commerce. During the early part of this period this effect was slow, and our exports to India and China up to 1741 did not average more than ￡148,000 per annum in value. Bullion, however, was exported to pay expenses and to purchase tea to an annual amount of upwards of half a million. Towards the end of this period, however, our exports to India and China amounted annually to more than half a million; and the necessity for the export of bullion had sunk to an annual demand for less than ￡100,000. The amount of tea imported from China during this period rose from about 140,000 pounds annually to nearly 3,000,000 pounds annually—an enormous increase.
Iron suspension bridges were also introduced towards the end of this reign. Chain bridges had been erected in China for nearly two thousand years, and rope bridges in India and South America still earlier. In England a foot-bridge of iron chains was erected at Middleton, over the Tees, in the middle of the eighteenth century. In 1816 a bridge of iron wire was thrown across the Gala Water; and another, on a different principle, the following year, was erected over the Tweed, at King's Meadows. But now much greater and more complete works of the kind were to be executed. Captain (afterwards Sir Samuel) Brown introduced many improvements into these structures. He substituted iron ropes for hempen ones, thereby forming cable-chains, like those used in Wales on quarry tram-roads, and these he applied to suspension bridges. In 1819 he was commissioned to construct an iron suspension bridge over the Tweed, near Kelso, called the union Bridge, which he completed in 1820, at a cost of five thousand pounds. In 1827 the first suspension bridge was thrown over the Thames by Mr. William Tierney Clarke; and in 1818 Telford commenced his great work of throwing a suspension bridge over the Menai Strait, near Bangor, which he completed in 1825. The main opening of this stupendous work is five hundred and sixty feet wide, and one hundred feet above high-water mark. The length of the roadway of the bridge is one thousand feet. The cost was one hundred and twenty thousand pounds. This was Telford's chef-d'?uvre. But the same neighbourhood was destined to see a more stupendous structure span the Strait from the Welsh shore to Anglesey. This was the tubular railway bridge, connecting the London and Holyhead line, within view of Telford's elegant suspension bridge. This was erected by Robert Stephenson, from his own design, greatly improved by suggestions from William Fairbairn of Manchester. It was completed in October, 1850, at a cost of six hundred and twenty-five thousand eight hundred and sixty-five pounds. Further description of this great work is not proper here, as it belongs to a later date, but it seemed fit to mention it in passing, as an evidence of the progress of the engineering science in the reign of Victoria.
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But there was a circumstance taken for granted in such a scheme which would never have been realised—the consent of the queen. Anne, like most other sovereigns, abhorred the idea of a successor. She never liked the contemplation of the occupation of her throne after death, much less did she relish the presence of a competitor during her lifetime. Besides in her days of disease and weakness she had enough to do to manage her Ministry, without adding to her anxieties by a rival authority either from Hanover or St. Germains. There was still another obstacle—the unsatisfactory conduct of Oxford, who had professed great zeal for the Pretender till he got the Peace of Utrecht signed, because this secured him the vote of the Jacobites, but who since then had trifled with them, and never could be brought to any positive decision. Berwick had sent over the Abbé Gualtier to endeavour to bring Oxford to a point. Gualtier soon informed his employer that Oxford was actively corresponding with the House of Hanover and therefore Berwick and De Torcy wrote a joint letter to him, putting the plain question, what measures he had taken to secure the interests of the Pretender in case of the death of the queen, which no one could now suppose to be far off. Oxford, with unwonted candour this time, replied that, if the queen died soon, the affairs of the Prince and of the Cabinet too were ruined without resource. This satisfied them that he had never really been in earnest in the Pretender's cause, or he would long ago have taken measures for his advantage, or would have told them that he found it impossible. They determined, therefore, to throw the interests of the Jacobites into the party of Bolingbroke; and this was another step in Oxford's fall. They managed to set Lady Masham warmly against him, and this undermined him more than ever with the queen.
The year 1771 opened in circumstances which greatly diminished the interest in Parliamentary proceedings. As all reporting was excluded from the House of Lords, the chief speakers there felt that they were no longer addressing the nation, but merely a little knot of persons in a corner, and consequently the stimulus of both fame and real usefulness was at an end. In the Commons, the desire of the Ministry to reduce that popular arena to the same condition of insignificance produced a contest with the City as foolish and mischievous in its degree as the contests then going on with Wilkes and America. George Onslow, nephew of the late Speaker, and member for Guildford, moved that several printers, who had dared to report the debates of the House of Commons, should be summoned to the bar to answer for their conduct. Accordingly, these mediums of communication between the people and their representatives were summoned and reprimanded on their knees. One of their number, named Miller, however, declared that he was a liveryman of London, and that any attempt to arrest him would be a breach of the privileges of the City. The Serjeant-at-Arms dispatched a messenger to apprehend this sturdy citizen, and bring him before the House; but, instead of succeeding, the Parliamentary messenger was taken by a City constable, and carried before Brass Crosby, the Lord Mayor. With the Lord Mayor sat Alderman Wilkes and Alderman Oliver. It was delightful work to Wilkes thus to set at defiance the House of Commons, which had made such fierce war on him. The Lord Mayor, accordingly, was fully confirmed in his view that the messenger of the Commons had committed a flagrant violation of the City charter, in endeavouring to lay hands on one of its liverymen within its own precincts, and they held the messenger accordingly to bail. The House of Commons was fired with indignation at this contemptuous disregard of their dignity. They passed a resolution, by a large majority, ordering the Lord Mayor and the two aldermen to appear at their bar. Wilkes bluntly refused to attend the House in any shape but as a recognised member of it. Crosby pleaded a severe fit of the gout; and Oliver, though he appeared in his place, refused to make any submission whatever, but told them he defied them. The House, in its blind anger, resolved that Oliver should be committed to the Tower, and Crosby to the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms. But Crosby declared that he would not accept this indulgence at the hands of the House, but would share the incarceration of his honourable friend; and he was accordingly sent also to the Tower. The people out of doors were in the highest state of fury. They greeted the City members on their way to and from the House, but they hooted and pelted the Ministerial supporters. Charles James Fox, still a Government man, as all his family had been, was very roughly handled; Lord North's carriage was dashed in, and himself wounded; and had he not been rescued by a popular member, Sir William Meredith, he would probably have lost his life. The Commons had engaged in a strife with the City, in which they were signally beaten, and no further notice being taken of the printers, from this time forward the practice of reporting the debates of Parliament became recognised as an established privilege of the people, though formally at the option of the House; and so far now from members or Ministers fearing any evil from it, the most conservative of them would be deeply mortified by the omission of their speeches in the reports. The termination of the Session also opened the doors of the Tower, and liberated the Lord Mayor and Alderman Oliver. They were attended from the Tower to the Mansion House by the Corporation in their robes, where a banquet celebrated their restoration to freedom, and the populace displayed their sympathy by bonfires and illuminations.On the 19th of June Paris was excited by the announcements of Buonaparte's bulletin that terrible defeats had been inflicted on the Prussians at Ligny, and on the British at Quatre Bras. A hundred cannon and thousands of prisoners were declared to be taken. The Imperialists were in ecstasies; the Royalists, in spite of the notorious falsehood of Buonaparte on such occasions, were dejected. On the 21st whispers were busily circulating that not only had a most dreadful pitched battle been fought, but that the fine French army which had so lately left France was utterly annihilated or dispersed. It was soon added that, instead of being at the head of victorious forces, as he had represented, Buonaparte had again fled from his army, and was in the Palace of the Elysée-Bourbon. And this last news was true. Napoleon had never stopped in his own flight till he reached Philippevillè. There he proposed to proceed to Grouchy, and put himself at the head of his division; but he heard that that too was defeated, and he hurried on to Paris, fearful of the steps that the two legislative Chambers might take.
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