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Meanwhile, Bute was sedulously at work to clear the way for his own assumption, not merely of office, but of the whole power of the Government. He acted as already the only medium of communication with the king, and the depositary of his secrets. He opened his views cautiously to Bubb Dodington, who was a confidant of the Lichfield House party, and still hungering after a title. Dodington advised him to induce Lord Holderness to resign and take his place, which, at first, Bute affected to disapprove of, but eventually acted upon. The first object was to get rid of Pitt, who, by his talents and haughty independence of manner, was not more acceptable to the king and his counsellor, Bute, than by his policy, which they desired to abandon. Pamphlets were therefore assiduously circulated, endeavouring to represent Pitt as insatiable for war, and war as having been already too burdensome for the nation.

The effect was immediately shown by a rapid rise of prices, wheat becoming one hundred and three shillings a quarter. But this did not satisfy the land-owners, and Mr. Western, in 1816, introduced no less than fourteen resolutions to make more stringent the exclusion of foreign corn. It was openly declared "that excessive taxation renders it necessary to give protection to all articles, the produce of our own soil, against similar articles, the growth of foreign countries." Mr. Barham declared that "the country must be forced to feed its own population. No partial advantage to be derived from commerce could compensate for any deficiency in this respect. The true principle of national prosperity was an absolute prohibition of the importations of foreign agricultural produce, except in extreme cases;" and on this ground it was proposed to exclude foreign rape-seed, linseed, tallow, butter, cheese, etc.

The king now announced to Ministers his fixed resolve to call in another Cabinet, though the Whigs had endeavoured to keep office by dropping the Bill, and on the 25th of March they delivered to the king their seals of office. Erskine alone retained his for a week, that he might pronounce his decrees on the Chancery suits which had been heard by him; and two days before he parted with the Seal, he took the opportunity to make his son-in-law, Edmund Morris, a Master in Chancery. This was regarded as a most singular act, Erskine being no longer bona fide Chancellor, but only holding the Seal for a few days after the resignation of his colleagues, to complete necessary business. The House adjourned to the 8th of April, and before this day arrived the new appointments were announced. They werethe Duke of Portland, First Lord of the Treasury; Lord Hawkesbury, Secretary of the Home Department; Canning, Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Lord Castlereagh, Secretary for War and the Colonies; the Earl of Chatham, Master of the Ordnance; Spencer Perceval, Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of the Exchequer; Lord Camden, Lord President of the Council; Lord Bathurst, President of the Board of Trade, with George Rose as Vice-President; the Earl of Westmoreland, Keeper of the Privy Seal; Lord Eldon, Lord Chancellor; and the Duke of Richmond, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. As the Duke of Portland's health was bad, the real Prime Minister was Mr. Perceval. Under Sir Joshua Reynolds a perfect revolution in the art of painting, as practised in England, was effected. He threw aside past traditional fashions, and returned to nature; and his portraits at once excited the consternation of the painters of the day, and placed him in the very first rank of artists. In 1768 was established the Royal Academy, and amongst its foreign members were Benjamin West and Angelica Kauffmann. West produced all his great works in England, and, however much they may now be criticised, they showed an advance on past art in England, and had the merit of introducing modern costume for modern heroes, as in the "Death of General Wolfe," contrary to the advice of even Reynolds himself. Barry made a spasmodic attempt to lead the public back to what he deemed the classical, but in vain; and the successive appearance of Wilson, Gainsborough, and Opie, in different styles, but all genuinely English, established the public in its attachment to the true English school. Wilson, during his lifetime, indeed, was neglected, and died in poverty; but the next generation made the amende to his fame, though too late for his own enjoyment of it. To[202] Paul Sandby we owe the origin of the water-colour school, which afterwards grew so extensive and so rich in production. Amongst eminent painters of this portion of the reign we must mention Wright of Derby, Mortimer, Stubbs and Sawrey, animal painters, and Copley, who, though an American by birth, produced most of his works in England. In the Parliamentary session of 1733 Walpole produced another scheme for increasing the revenue and lessening the burdens upon land, which was an extension of the Excise. The Excise duties were first levied under the Commonwealth; they had now reached three millions two hundred thousand pounds annually. It was whilst the public were feeling the gradual increase of this item of taxation very sensibly, that they were alarmed by the news, which the Opposition sounded abroad with all diligence, that Ministers were about immediately to bring fresh articles under the operation of this tax, which was levied on articles of popular consumption. "A general crisis is coming!" was the cry. "A tax on all articles of consumption! a burthen to grind the country to powder! a plot to overthrow the Constitution and establish in its place a baleful tyranny!" The Opposition had now got a most popular subject of attack on the Ministry, and it prosecuted it vigorously.

SIR DAVID BAIRD. But it was not till 1766 that the public became possessed of what may be called the first domestic novel, in the "Vicar of Wakefield" of Oliver Goldsmith (b. 1728; d. 1774). The works of Richardson, Fielding, and Smollett had been rather novels of general life than of the home life of England, but this work was a narrative of such every-day kind as might occur in any little nook in the country. It was a picture of those chequered scenes that the lowliest existence presents: the simple, pious pastor, in the midst of his family, easily imposed on and led into difficulties; the heartless rake, bringing disgrace and sorrow where all had been sunshine before; the struggles and the triumphs of worth, which had no wealth or high rank to emblazon it; and all mingled and quickened by a humour so genial and unstudied that it worked on the heart like the charms of nature herself. No work ever so deeply influenced the literary mind of England. The productions which it has originated are legion, and yet it stands sui generis amongst them all. The question may seem to lack sequence, yet we may ask whether there would have been a "Pickwick" if there had not been a "Vicar of Wakefield?"

Various inquiries had been instituted from time to time by royal commissions and Parliamentary committees into the state of education in Ireland. One commission, appointed in 1806, laboured for six years, and published fourteen reports. It included the Primate, two bishops, the Provost of Trinity College, and Mr. R. Lovell Edgeworth. They recommended a system in which the children of all denominations should be educated together, without interfering with the peculiar tenets of any; and that there should be a Board of Commissioners, with extensive powers, to carry out the plan. Subsequent commissions and committees adopted the same principle of united secular education, particularly a select committee of the House of Commons appointed in 1824. These important reports prepared the way for Mr. Stanley's plan, which he announced in the House of Commons in July, 1832. His speech on that occasion showed that he had thoroughly mastered the difficult question which he undertook to elucidate. It was remarkable for the clearness of its statements, the power of its arguments, and for the eloquence with which it enforced sound and comprehensive principles. Mr. Spring-Rice having moved that a sum of 30,000 be granted for enabling the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland to assist in the education of the people, and the House having agreed to the motion without a division, Mr. Stanley, in the following month, wrote a letter to the Duke of Leinster, in which he explained "the plan of national education," which afterwards bore his name. The first Commissioners were the Duke of Leinster, Archbishop Whately, Archbishop Murray, the Rev. Dr. Sadleir, Rev. James Carlile (Presbyterian), A. R. Blake (Chief Remembrancer, a Roman Catholic), and Robert Holmes, a Unitarian barrister. Mr. Carlile, minister of Mary's Abbey congregation in Dublin, was the only paid commissioner, and to him, during seven years, was committed a principal share in working the system. He selected the Scripture lessons, directed the compilation of the schoolbooks, aided in obtaining the recognition of parental rights, apart from clerical authority; in arranging the machinery and putting it in working order. So soon as the House of Commons assembled, and before the Speaker read the Speech which had been delivered from the Throne, Mr. Brougham made the first significant move in the game that was about to be played, by announcing[322] that he would that day fortnight submit to the House a proposition on the great question of Parliamentary Reform. Having determined to give notice of his intention when there was a question before the House, he was enabled to accompany his notice with an explanation. This was his explanation:"He had," he said, "by one party been described as intending to bring forward a very limited, and therefore useless and insignificant, plan; by another, he was said to be the friend of a radical, sweeping, and innovating, and, I may add, for I conscientiously believe it would prove so, a revolutionary reform." Both these imputed schemes he disavowed. "I stand on the ancient way of the Constitution." To explain at that moment what the details of this plan were to be would have then been inconvenientwas, indeed, impossible. "But," said Mr. Brougham, "my object in bringing forward this question is not revolution, but restorationto repair the Constitution, not to pull it down." This notice was a master-stroke of policy.

The minute subdivision of land which placed the population in a state of such complete dependence upon the potato was first encouraged by the landlords, in order to multiply the number of voters, and increase their Parliamentary interest; but subsequently, as the population increased, it became in a great measure the work of the people themselves. The possession of land afforded the only certain means of subsistence, and a farm was therefore divided among the sons of the family, each one, as he was marriedwhich happened earlyreceiving some share, and each daughter also often getting a slice as her marriage-portion. In vain were clauses against subletting inserted in leases; in vain was the erection of new houses prohibited; in vain did the landlord threaten the tenant. The latter relied upon the sympathy of his class to prevent ejectment, and on his own ingenuity to defeat the other impediments to his favourite mode of providing for his family. This process was at length carried to an extreme that became perfectly ludicrous. Instead of each sub-tenant or assignee of a portion of the farm receiving his holding in one compact lot, he obtained a part of each particular quality of land, so that his tenement consisted of a number of scattered patches, each too small to be separately fenced, and exposed to the constant depredations of his neighbours' cattle, thus affording a fruitful source of quarrels, and utterly preventing the possibility of any improved system of husbandry. These small patches, however, were not numerous enough to afford "potato gardens" for the still increasing population, and hence arose the conacre system, by which those who occupied no land were enabled to grow potatoes for themselves. Tempted by the high rent, which varied from 8 to 14 an acre without manure, the farmers gave to the cottiers in their neighbourhood the use of their land merely for the potato crop, generally a quarter of an Irish acre to each. On this the cottier put all the manure he could make by his pig, or the children could scrape off the road during the year, and "planted" his crop of potatoes, which he relied upon as almost the sole support of his family. On it he also fed the pig, which paid the rent, or procured clothes and other necessaries if he had been permitted to pay the rent with his own labour. The labourer thus became a commercial speculator in potatoes. He mortgaged his labour for part of the ensuing year for the rent of his field. If his speculation proved successful, he was able to replace his capital, to fatten his pig, and to support himself and his family, while he cleared off his debt to the farmer. If it failed, his former savings were gone, his heap of manure had been expended to no purpose, and he had lost the means of rendering his pig fit for the market. But his debt to the farmer still remained, and the scanty wages which he could earn at some periods of the year were reduced, not only by the increased number of persons looking for work, but also by the diminished ability of the farmers to employ them. Speculation in potatoes, whether on a large or small scale, had always been hazardous in the southern and westerly portions of Ireland. There had been famines from the failure of that crop at various times, and a remarkably severe one in 1822, when Parliament voted 300,000 for public works and other relief purposes, and subscriptions were raised to the amount of 310,000, of which 44,000 was collected in Ireland. In 1831 violent storms and continual rain brought on another failure of the potato crop in the west of Ireland, particularly along the coast of Galway, Mayo, and Donegal. On this occasion the English public, with ready sympathy, again came forward, and subscriptions were raised, amounting to about[537] 75,000. On several other occasions subsequently, the Government found it necessary to advance money for the relief of Irish misery, invariably occasioned by the failure of the potatoes, and followed by distress and disease. The public and the Legislature had therefore repeated warnings of the danger of having millions of people dependent for existence upon so precarious a crop.

The news of the invasion brought George from Hanover. He arrived in London on the last day of August, by which time the Young Pretender had already been entertained by Lord Tullibardine at Blair Castle; but he seemed to feel no great alarm. He thought the forces of Cope were sufficient to compete with the insurgents, and Lord Granville and his party did their best to confirm him in this opinion. On the 20th of September three battalions of the expected Dutch forces landed, and received orders to march north. But what contributed more than anything to the security of the kingdom was the activity of the fleet. The seamen all round the coasts showed as much spirit and life as the soldiers had shown cowardice. Privateers as well as men-of-war vied with one another in performing feats of bravery. A small ship off Bristol took a large Spanish ship, bound for Scotland, with arms and money. Another small ship took the Soleil, from Dunkirk, carrying twenty French officers and sixty men, to Montrose; and a small squadron of privateers, which volunteered to serve under a brave naval captain, took a vast number of French vessels, and drove still more upon their own shores. Charles's younger brother, Henry, was waiting to bring over the Irish regiments to his aid, but Louis would not hazard their appearance at sea in the face of such a dangerous fleet. Charles made an attempt to corrupt Captain Beavor, of the Fox man-of-war, by offering him splendid rewards in case of his success, but the gallant officer sent him word that he only treated with principals, and that, if he would come on board, he would talk with him.

In pursuance of this convention the garrison retired, and began their fatal march on the 6th of January, 1842. The army consisted of 4,500 fighting men, with 12,000 camp-followers, besides women and children. The snow lay deep upon the ground; they had scarcely commenced their march when they were attacked by the Afghans, the guns were captured, and they were obliged to fight their way, sword in hand, defending the women and children as well as they could. During the whole way through the snow the road was strewn with bodies and stained with blood. The dead and dying were immediately stripped naked by the enemy, and their corpses hacked to pieces with long knives. During all this time the perfidious Akbar Khan sent messages, professing his regret at not being able to restrain the Ghilzai tribe; and after they had got through the Pass, he made a proposal, which was accepted, to take the ladies under his protection. Accordingly, Lady Sale and Lady Macnaghten, with six others, accompanied by their husbands, were left under his charge. The British troops then halted for a day, bivouacking on the snow. The cold was so intense that the Sepoys became benumbed and paralysed, in which state the whole of them were next day attacked and cut to pieces. The Europeans managed to hold together, but when they arrived at Jugduluk, thirty-five miles distant from Cabul, only 300 out of 16,500 persons who left that city remained alive. At this place a halt was ordered, and through the interference of Akbar Khan the miserable remnant were permitted to occupy a ruined enclosure, where, worn out by fatigue and utterly helpless, they lay down to rest in the snow. General Elphinstone was detained a prisoner by Akbar Khan in a small fort, whence he dispatched a note to Brigadier Anketell, advising him to march that night, as there was treachery afoot. The wearied band, aroused from their slumbers, accordingly moved on in the dark; but their departure was noticed, they were attacked in the rear, they broke into disorder, threatened to shoot their officers, separated in small parties, and thus, scattered and confused, they were cut down almost to a man. Of the officers, however, a considerable number escaped on horseback; but they, too, were attacked wherever they appeared, until only one gentleman, Dr. Brydon, survived to tell the dreadful story, reaching Jelalabad on the 13th of January. It afterwards came out, however, that several other officers were detained in captivity.

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At Wilmington Lord Cornwallis remained about three weeks, uncertain as to his plan of operations. His forces amounted to only about one thousand five hundred men; he therefore determined, at length, to march into Virginia, and join the expedition there. He made his march without encountering any opposition, reaching Presburg on the 20th of May. Thereupon Lord Cornwallis found himself at the head of a united force of seven thousand men. Sir Henry Clinton's effective troops at New York amounted only to ten thousand nine hundred and thirty-one men, and the little detachment under Lord Rawdon only to nine hundred.

CARLTON HOUSE, LONDON (1812).