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Such, then, was the state of affairs at the meeting of Parliament in November, 1768. These events in America claimed immediate attention. The petition of the Convention of Massachusetts, on its arrival, was rejected indignantly. The Opposition called for the production of the correspondence with the civil and military authorities there on the subject, but this demand was negatived. In January, 1769, the House of Lords took up the subject in a lofty tone. They complained of the seditious and treasonable proceedings of the people of Boston and of Massachusetts generally; and the Duke of Bedford, affirming that it was clear that no such acts could be punished by the magistrates or tribunals of the colony, moved an address to the king recommending that the criminals guilty of the late outrages should be brought to England and tried there, according to an Act of the 35th of Henry VIII. On the 26th of January it was introduced to the Commons. There it excited a very spirited opposition. Pownall, who had himself been governor of Massachusetts, and knew the Americans well, accused the Lords of gross ignorance of the charters, usages, and character of the Americans; and Governor Johnstone as strongly condemned the motion, which was carried by one hundred and fifty-five to eighty-nine. On the 14th of March a petition from New York, denying their right to tax America in any way, was rejected, on the motion of Lord North; and, still later in the session, Governor Pownall moved that the revenue acts affecting America should be repealed forthwith. By this time everybody seemed to have become convinced of the folly of the attempt; but Ministers had not the magnanimity to act at once on the certainty that stared them in the face. Parliament was prorogued on the 9th of May, and did not meet again till the following January, as if there were nothing of moment demanding its attention.The same day it was carried by the Home Secretary to the House of Lords, accompanied by an unusual number of members. In introducing the measure in the Upper House the Duke of Wellington spoke with great force, and with all the directness and simplicity for which he was remarkable. One memorable passage deserves to be recorded in this history:"It has been my fortune," said the Duke, "to have seen much of warmore than most men. I have been constantly engaged in the active duties of the military profession from boyhood until I have grown grey. My life has been passed in familiarity with scenes of death and human suffering. Circumstances have placed me in countries where the war was internalbetween opposite parties in the same nation; and rather than a country I loved should be visited with the calamities which I have seenwith the unutterable horrors of civil warI would run any risk, I would make any sacrifice, I would freely lay down my life. There is nothing which destroys property and prosperity as civil war does. By it the hand of man is raised against his neighbour, against his brother, and against his father! The servant betrays his master; and the master ruins his servant. Yet this is the resource to which we must have lookedthese are the means which we must have appliedin order to have put an end to this state of things, if we had not embraced the option of bringing forward the measure for which I hold myself responsible."
The events that followed form part of the general history of that time. The Government well knew that they were more popular in the country than their opponents. In the few days that succeeded, during which men were doubtful if they would resign, the Minister had had time to feel the power of that popularity, and the value of the support of the Free Trade party. To satisfy the selfish expectations of the more bigoted of his own supporters must have seemed to him more and more helpless. To break with them, and to look elsewhere for the support which their vindictiveness would inevitably render necessaryto become less a leader of a class, and more a statesman seeking the true foundations of power in a steady regard to the welfare of the great bulk of the communitywere ideas naturally present to the Minister's mind. When he met Parliament again to announce the determination of the Government to ask the House to reconsider its decision, his tone was observed to be more bitter than before. His allusions to the defections of his own followers were significant; but they plainly indicated that his course was taken. "We cannot conceal from ourselves," he said, "that in respect to some of the measures we have proposed, and which have been supported, they have not met with that cordial assent and agreement from those for whose character and opinions we entertain the highest and sincerest respect. But I am bound to say, speaking here of them with perfect respect, that we cannot invite their co-operation and support upon the present occasion by holding out expectations that we shall take a middle or other course with regard to those measures which we believe to be best for the interests of the country, and consistent with justice." This modest but firm defiance of the ultra-Protectionist party was not lost upon the Free Traders in the House; neither were the Minister's further remarks"We have thought it desirable to relax the system of Protection, and admit into competition with articles of the domestic produce of this country articles from foreign lands. We have attempted to counsel the enforcement of principles which we believe to be founded in truth, and with every regard for existing institutions, and with every precaution to prevent embarrassment and undue alarm."
governor of Montreal was to have 1,800 francs, and the
The French army in Spain numbered more than two hundred thousand men, and of these more than one hundred and thirty thousand lay in the provinces bordering on Portugal, or between it and Madrid. Victor had thirty-five thousand in Estremadura; and close behind him, in La Mancha, Sebastiani had twenty thousand more. Northward, in Old Castile, Leon, and Asturias, Kellermann and Bonnet had ten thousand. Soult, in Galicia, was joined by Ney and Mortier, making his army again upwards of fifty thousand, with whom he contemplated returning into Portugal. General Dessolles had fifteen thousand men at Madrid to protect the intrusive King Joseph; and Suchet and Augereau, in Aragon and Catalonia, commanded fifty thousand. Almost all the strong fortresses in the country were in their hands. The only circumstances favourable to the Allies were that the French generals were at variance amongst themselves; that none of them paid any deference to the commands of King Joseph, who was nominally generalissimo; and that the Spaniards were, everywhere where woods and mountains favoured them, harassing the French in a manner that made them very sick of the country, and that often reduced them to a state of severe privation.
IRISH PRISONERS LIBERATED DURING LORD MULGRAVE'S PROGRESS. (See p. 396.)
In the course of his speech Lord John Russell stated that he had made inquiry with respect to the amount of relief afforded to wandering mendicants, and the result was that in most cases a shilling an acre was paid by farmers in the year, and he calculated that it amounted on the whole to perhaps 1,000,000 a year. Among those thus relieved, he said, the number of impostors must be enormous. It was not proposed, however, to prohibit vagrancy until the whole of the workhouses should be built and ready for the reception of the destitute. A lengthened discussion then took place in reference to the proposed measure, in which Mr. Shaw, Mr. O'Connell, Lord Howick, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Stanley, and other members took part. The Bill was read a first time, and on the 25th of April, 1837, Lord John Russell moved the second reading, when the debate was adjourned till the 1st of May. Notwithstanding a good deal of hostile discussion the second reading was carried without a division. On the 9th of May the House went into committee on the Bill. Twenty clauses were passed with only two unimportant divisions. The introduction of a settlement clause was rejected by a majority of 120 to 68. The vagrancy clauses were postponed for future consideration. The committee had got to the sixtieth clause on the 7th of June, when the king's illness became so serious that his recovery was highly improbable, and the business of Parliament was consequently suspended. He died on the 20th of June, and on the 17th of July Parliament was prorogued, so that there was an end for the present to the Irish Poor Relief Bill, and all the other measures then before Parliament.