On the 17th of March, a few nights after Mr. Cobden's motion, Mr. Miles brought forward a motion for relief to the agricultural interest in the reduction or remission of taxation. He complained that there had been an importation of wheat during the last thirty-two months seven or eight times greater in amount than in the thirty-six months immediately subsequent to the introduction of the Corn Law of 1828. The abundance of meat in Leadenhall, Smithfield, and Newgate Markets, through the importation of foreign cattle, was also made a subject of reproach against the Ministry, and he told the House, as the spokesman of the agricultural party, "that they had no confidence in the measures which the Government proposed." They thought that anything would be better than their present position. They saw that the tariff which was passed three years ago was now going to be revised again, and that the shield of protection which was thrown over some of the productions of their industry was about to be removed still farther from them. In such circumstances they could not refrain from asking themselves what there was to prevent the Corn Laws from going next? Mr. Disraeli then, in a strain of sarcasm which is stated to have elicited cheers and laughter from the House, assailed the consistency of the Premier, and the tone in which he rebuked the mutinous and rebellious members of his party. He believed, he said, Protection to be in the same condition now as Protestantism had been in 1828, and he, who honoured genius, would rather see the abolition of all Protection proposed by Mr. Cobden than by any right honourable gentleman or by any noble lord on either side of the House. It might be necessary, before such an abolition was accomplished, for the Premier to dissolve the Parliament for the benefit of the party which he had betrayed, and to appeal to the country, which universally mistrusted him. His solemn and deliberate conviction was that a Conservative Government was an organised hypocrisy. In electricity great strides were made. Between the years 1705 and 1711 Francis Hawksbee published in the Transactions of the Royal Society several experiments, in which he had, for the first time, discovered the production of the electric spark by friction, and electrical attraction and repulsion. In 1720 Stephen Gray, a pensioner of the Charterhouse, published the result of his experiments on this subject, with a list of the substances which showed electricity under friction; and in 1732 he discovered the conducting property of non-electrical bodies. Before 1739, Dufray, keeper of the King's Garden at Paris, discovered the repellent power of two similarly-electrified bodies, and the attraction of these positively and negatively electrifiedor, as he termed it, possessing the vitreous and the resinous electricity. Cuneus and Lallemand discovered the mode of accumulating the electric fluid in what was called the Leyden jar in 1745. This discovery gave a new impetus to inquiry, and Nollet, in France, and Watson, in England, conceived the hypothesis of the jar being overcharged on one side and undercharged on the other. This growing perception of the positive and negative conditions of the electric fluid received confirmation from the experiments of Benjamin Franklin, in America. Franklin soon improved the Leyden jar into an electrical battery; and, in 1752, he proved the identity of electricity and lightning by his grand experiment of the kite. On this he recommended lightning conductors, which, however, were not used in England till ten years afterwards.

[483] This was an attempt as constitutional as it was ignorantly and hopelessly planned by suffering people; but more criminal speculations were on foot. A second report of the Lords' secret committee, recommending the renewal of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, stated that a general insurrection was planned to take place at Manchester, on the 30th of Marchto seize the[125] magistrates, to liberate the prisoners, burn the soldiers in their barracks, and set fire to a number of factories; and that such proposals were really in agitation is confirmed by Bamford and other of the Radical leaders. The report says that the design was discovered by the vigilance of the magistrates, a few days before its intended taking place; but it is far more probable that the magistrates had received some intimation of what was in progress from those who had misguided the ignorant multitude. Bamford tells us that both he and his friends had been applied to to engage in the design, but they had condemned it as the work of incendiaries, who had availed themselves of the resentment of the Blanketeers at their treatment, to instigate them to a dreadful revenge. The truth was, a number of spies in the pay of Government, with the notorious Oliver at their head, were traversing the manufacturing districts of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, to stimulate the suffering population into open insurrection, that they might be crushed by the military. Bamford and the more enlightened workmen at once saw through the snare, and not only repulsed the tempters, but warned their fellows against their arts. The failure of the first design, however, did not put an end to the diabolical attempt on the part of the spies. They recommended the most secret meetings for the purpose; that another night attack should be prepared for Manchester, and that Ministers should be assassinated. Such proposals were again made to Bamford and his friends, but they not only indignantly repelled them, but sought safety for their own persons in concealment, for continual seizures of leading Reformers were now made.


A second question regarding the late Minister became immediately necessary. He had died deeply in debt. It was one of the fine qualities of Pitt that he never had a love of money, or an ambition to create a great estate at the expense of the country, like too many statesmen. At an early period of Pitt's ministerial career, though a bachelor, he was so hopelessly in debt, that his friend, Robert Smith, afterwards Baron Carrington, had looked into his affairs, and declared that, of all scenes of domestic robbery by servants, and wild charges by tradesmen, he had never witnessed anything to compare with it. The financial management of his own income and that of the nation were just on a par in Pitt's case. He let his own money go like water, and he would have flung any quantity of the nation's property away on his quixotic scheme of propping up the thoroughly rotten and hopeless condition of the Continental governments. A strong effort was now made by such of Pitt's creditors as had advanced money to him, to be repaid by the nation. In this endeavour none were more eager than his great friends and relatives, who had been enabled by him to draw a hundredfold from the nation what they had lent him. Wilberforce, however, proposed that they should not only forego their individual claims, but should contribute each a moderate sum towards the raising of forty thousand pounds, which would pay his tradesmen; but here the great relatives and friends became dumb and motionless. Spencer Perceval offered a thousand pounds, and one or two others made some offers; but the appeal was in vain, and a motion was proposed by Mr. Cartwright, on the 3rd of February, that the nation should pay this sum. This was carried at once.

This style of verse was thought very magnificent by Anna Seward, of Lichfield, who was intimate with Darwin when he lived there in his earlier career, and who herself was a poetess of some pretension. Miss Seward, however, showed better judgment in being amongst the first to point out the rising fame of Southey and Scott. The verse of Darwin brought Pope's metre to the highest pitch of magniloquence; and the use of the c?sura gives it a perfectly Darwinian peculiarity.

During this campaign Catherine had made great progress in her road to Constantinople. Suvaroff had reduced Ismail, a remarkably strong place, which was the key of the lower Danube and the only obstruction of any importance to the Russian advance to the Balkan mountains and to Constantinople. This city had been taken by storm, after a most desperate defence, on the 25th of December, and when, with a little more resistance, the Russians would have been compelled to quit the field by the severity of the season. The carnage on this occasion was of the most frightful kind. The Russians themselves lost nearly ten thousand men, and the Turks thirty thousand peoplemen, women, and children, who were indiscriminately butchered by the orders of Suvaroff, who said to his soldiers, "Brothers, no quarter to-day, for bread is scarce." Every horror possible[375] in war, especially between barbarians, was perpetrated by the Russian hordes in Ismail, who were guilty of the most diabolical atrocities, such as burning whole streets, mosques, and serais. Suvaroff sat down and wrote in Russian rhyme the words quoted by Lord Byron in "Don Juan," "Glory to God and the Empress, Ismail is ours." When Sir Charles Whitworth, the British ambassador, next saw Catherine, she said, in allusion to some strong remonstrances from Britain and Prussia, which took care not to go beyond remonstrances, which were cheap"Since the king, your master, wishes to drive me out of Petersburg I hope he will permit me to retire to Constantinople." The Czarina Catherine still continued her war on the Ottoman empire. The Turks gained several advantages over the Russians on the shores of the Black Sea, and near the Danube, but they were severely repulsed in an attempt to drive the Russians from their conquests between the Black and Caspian Seas, and suffered a terrible slaughter on the banks of the River Kuban. Then Britain, Prussia, Holland, and Austria, from the Congress of Reichenbach, announced to Catherine that they were resolved not to permit further encroachments on Turkey, but Catherine paid not the slightest attention to their remonstrances.

The earliest idea of a steam-engine was that given by the Marquis of Worcester, in his "Century of Inventions," in 1663, which idea he obtained from De Caus, and reduced to action in London. The next step was to Papin's Digester, and then to Savery's so-called "Atmospheric Engine." This, improved by Newcomen in 1711,[195] was introduced to drain mines in all parts of the kingdom, but especially in the coal-mines of the north and midland counties, and the copper mines of Cornwall. By its means many mines long disused through the accumulation of water were drained and made workable, and others were sunk much deeper. Smeaton, in 1769, greatly improved this engine, which, from its rapid working of a horizontal beam, was called by the miners a "Whimsey," as having a whimsical look. Watt, then a student in the University of Glasgow, commenced a series of experiments upon it, which, between 1759 and 1782, raised the engine to a pitch of perfection which made it applicable not only to draining water out of mines, but, by the discovery of the rotatory motion, enabled it to propel any kind of machinery, spin cotton, grind in mills of all kinds, and propel ships and carriages. Watt was greatly aided in his efforts by Mr. Matthew Boulton, and their engines were manufactured at Soho Works, near Birmingham. They did not, however, enjoy the fruits of their patents for protecting their inventions without many most unprincipled attempts to invade their rights by masters of mines and others, by which they were involved in very harassing law-suits. The first application of the steam-engine to the machinery of a cotton-mill was at Papplewick, in Nottinghamshire, in 1785, and the first mill built for the employment of machinery driven by an engine was in Manchester, in 1789. The first application of the engine to propel a vessel was at Dalswinton, on the Clyde, in 1788, the boat being constructed by Patrick Miller, James Taylor, and William Symington. In the following year these inventors made a second experiment on the Forth and Clyde Canal at the Carron Works, with perfect success, the vessel going at the rate of nearly seven miles an hour. Symington was probably the real machinist in this firm, and in 1802 he made a tug-boat on the Forth and Clyde Canal, under the patronage of Lord Dundas, which was worked extremely well by its engine. In 1807 Fulton followed up these experiments by launching a steam-boat on the Hudson, in America, after having in vain solicited the patronage of the British and French Governments for his enterprise. The proposal of Fulton, submitted to the Academy of Paris, was received with a burst of laughter, and Napoleon abandoned the project in deep disgust at having been, as he supposed, made a dupe of by Fulton. We have pointed out on the preceding page the period of the first application of the steam-engine to railways.

(From the Picture by Franz Defregger.)

This open breach of the Royal Family was quickly followed by the death of the queen. Besides the misery of seeing her son and husband so awfully at variance, she had long been struggling with a complaint which, out of false delicacy, she had carefully concealed. "The queen's great secret," says Horace Walpole, "was her own rupture, which, till her last illness, nobody knew but the king, her German nurse, Mrs. Mailborne, and one other person, Lady Sundon."


On the 1st of March Mr. Villiers, adhering to his principle, brought forward the last of those annual motions for immediate repeal which had contributed so powerfully to undermine the Corn Laws. After a spirited debate of two evenings, in the course of which Mr. Cobden warned the monopolist party that a protracted resistance would compel the Anti-Corn-Law League to maintain its agitation and concentrate its energies, the House rejected the motion by a majority of 267 to 78.

It was necessary that Roman Catholic electors should take an oath and obtain a certificate of their having done so from a magistrate. The friends of Mr. Fitzgerald insisted that this oath should be taken, which caused considerable delay; but a magistrate having been obtained, the freeholders were sworn en masse. Brought into a yard, enclosed within four walls, twenty-five voters were placed against each wall, and thus the oath was simultaneously taken. The effects of this machinery upon the poll soon became manifest. Mr. O'Connell ran ahead of his opponent, and on the second day the result was no longer doubtful. Mr. Fitzgerald would have abandoned the contest, but the landlords resolved that the last man whom they could command should be polled out. They exerted themselves to the utmost to prevent the defection of their tenantry. The most influential of them had their freeholders mustered in a body, and came forward to the hustings at their head, exhorting, promising, threatening, reminding them of past favours, and hinting at the consequences of forsaking their best friends and natural protectors; but the moment O'Connell or a priest appearedshouting: "Vote for your country, boys!" "Vote for the old religion!" "Down with Vesey!" "Hurrah for O'Connell!"they changed sides to a man, with a wild, responsive cheer. One priest, Father Coffey, adhered to Mr. Fitzgerald. "But," says Mr. Sheil, "the scorn and detestation with which he was treated by the mob clearly proved that a priest has no influence over them when he attempts to run counter to their political passions. He can hurry them on in the career in which their own feelings impel them, but he cannot turn them into another course." The generality of the orators were heard with loud and clamorous approbation; but at a late hour one evening, when it was growing rapidly dark, a priest came forward on the platform, who addressed the multitude in Irish. Ten thousand peasants were assembled before the speaker, and a profound stillness hung over the almost breathless mass. For some minutes they continued thus deeply attentive, and seemed to be struck with awe as he proceeded. Suddenly the priest and the whole multitude knelt down with[275] the precision of a regimental evolution. Priest and people were both silent, but they were offering up a mental prayer for mercy on the soul of one of Vesey Fitzgerald's voters, who had died that day, and had been accused of taking a bribe. The polling, which lasted five days, at length closed. The court-house was again crowded, as on the first day. Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald appeared again at the head of the aristocracy, and Mr. O'Connell at the head of the priests and the "Forties." The moment the latter was declared by the sheriff duly elected, the first Roman Catholic M.P. since the Revolution, a friend presented him with a letter to be franked. Addressed to a member of the House of Commons, it was posted that night, and when it arrived at its destination it was handed about amongst the members, exciting curiosity and astonishment. It was said also to have found its way to the king, who probably felt thankful that his brother, the Duke of York, did not live to see "Daniel O'Connell, M.P." Mr. O'Connell made a speech, distinguished by just feeling and good taste, and begged that Mr. Fitzgerald would forgive him if he had on the first day given him any sort of offence. Mr. Fitzgerald came forward, and unaffectedly assured him that whatever was said should be forgotten. He was again hailed with universal acclamation, and delivered an admirable speech. During the progress of the election he could not refrain from repeatedly expressing his astonishment at what he saw, and from indulging in melancholy forebodings of events of which these incidents were perhaps but the heralds. "Where is all this to end?" was a question frequently put in his presence, and from which he seemed to shrink.