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The great meeting had been intended to take place on the 9th of August; and on the 31st of July an advertisement appeared in the Manchester Observer calling on the inhabitants to meet on the 9th in the area near St. Peter's Church for the purpose of electing a representative to Parliament, as well as for adopting Major Cartwright's plan of Parliamentary Reform. This immediately drew from the magistrates a notice that such a meeting would be illegal, and that those who attended it would do so at their peril. The working men on this announced that the meeting would not take place, and a requisition was presented to the borough-reeve and constables, requesting leave to hold such a meeting. It was refused; and on its refusal the people proceeded with their original design, only appointing the 16th as the day of meeting, with Hunt in the chair. The Ministry were now involved in a transaction which produced them a plentiful crop of unpopularity. The country was already highly disappointed by the character of the financial measures, and now saw them engaged in an attempt to gratify the domestic resentments of the Prince of Wales. We have already alluded to the[520] disreputable circumstances attending his marriage with the Princess Caroline of Brunswick. After little more than a year's cohabitation they separated, but not before a daughter was born. So long as the Pitt Administration continued, all offensive measures of a public nature were warded from the unfortunate princess. The king had always been her decided protector; but now the Whigs came in, who had ever been in alliance with the Prince of Wales, and that exemplary gentleman conceived hopes that he might rid himself of her. The public had been for some time scandalised by disputes between the prince and princess as to a proper separate allowance for her, and concerning the prince's endeavours to deprive her of the company of her own child; but, as he had not succeeded in taking away the infant, rumours were soon industriously spread that the princess, at Blackheath, was leading a very disreputable life. All that they could gather up or construe to the princess's disadvantage was duly communicated to the Duke of Sussex, and by the duke to his brother, the prince. In 1805 they had supplied their employer or employers with a most startling story of the princess's having been delivered of a son, whom she was openly keeping in her house, under pretence that it was the child of a poor woman of the name of Austin, which she had adopted. Immediate steps were taken privately to get up a case. On the 24th of May Lord Chancellor Erskine read the written statements to the king, who decided that a private inquiry should take place; that the house of Lord Grenville should be selected as the proper scene, and that Lords Erskine, Spencer, Grenville, and Ellenborough should undertake the inquiry and report to him upon it. This meeting and inquiry took place, accordingly, on the 1st of June. Romilly attended. The servants were examined, and appear, according to Romilly's diary, to have uniformly given the most favourable testimony to the conduct of the princess. Further: the reputed mother of the child, Sophia Austin, was examined, and proved that the child was veritably her own; had been born at the Brownlow Street Hospital on the 11th of July, 1802, and had been taken to the princess's house on the 15th of November, adopted by her, and had remained there ever since. "The result," says Romilly, "was a perfect conviction on my mind, and, I believe, on the minds of the four lords, that the child was the child of Sophia Austin." This affair of the Princess of Wales was not terminated till the end of January, 1807. When the report was laid before the king, he referred it to the Cabinet, and they advised him to send a written message to the princess, acquitting her of the main charge, but observing that he saw in the depositions of the witnesses, and even in her own letter to him, defending her conduct, evidence of a deportment unbecoming her station. The odium excited against the Ministry by these un-English proceedings was intense, especially amongst women, all over the country.

The opening of the year 1840 saw no flagging in the efforts of the Manchester men to bring forward the question, which the Annual Register had just regarded as finally set at rest. It had[484] been determined that a great meeting of delegates should be held in that city. There was no hall large enough to hold half of the then members even of the local association, and it was therefore resolved to construct one. Mr. Cobden owned nearly all of the land then unbuilt on in St. Peter's Fieldthe very site of the Peterloo massacre of 1819. In eleven days one hundred men constructed on this spot a temporary pavilion, which afterwards gave place to the permanent Free Trade Hall, which long continued to be the favourite scene of great political meetings. The Manchester Times described the pavilion as comprising an area of nearly 16,000 square feet. It contained seats for dining 3,800 persons, and 500 more were admitted after the dinner. Among the most conspicuous speakers at the banquet were Daniel O'Connell, Mr. Cobden, and Mr. Milner Gibson; but perhaps the most interesting feature in the proceedings was the operatives' banquet, which took place on the following day. Five thousand working men, overlooked by their wives, sisters, and daughters in the galleries, sat down on that occasion. It was evident from this that the people were emancipating themselves from the advice of evil counsellors, and were beginning to see the importance to their interests of the movement of the League.

per cent., while the actual increase in England and Wales, in the same space of time between 1801 and 1831, as found by numeration, reached to 5,024,207 souls, or 56 The English Government, instead of treating Wilkes with a dignified indifference, was weak enough to show how deeply it was touched by him, dismissed him from his commission of Colonel of the Buckinghamshire Militia, and treated Lord Temple as an abettor of his, by depriving him of the Lord-Lieutenancy of the same county, and striking his name from the list of Privy Councillors, giving the Lord-Lieutenancy to Dashwood, now Lord Le Despencer.

All attempts at negotiation having failed, sealed green bags were laid upon the table of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons, with a message from the king to the effect that in consequence of the arrival of the queen he had communicated certain papers respecting her conduct, which he recommended to their immediate and serious attention. The bags contained documents and evidence connected with a commission sent in 1818 to Milan and other places to investigate chargesor rather to collect evidence to sustain charges which had been made against the Princess of Wales. The principal of these charges was that she had been guilty of adultery with a person named Bergami, whom she had employed as a courier, and afterwards raised to the position of her chamberlain and companion. The commission was under the direction of Sir John Leach, afterwards Vice-Chancellor.

FROM THE PAINTING BY P. JAZET.

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[399] 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."

United Mexican 35 0 0 1,550 0 0

The distress which had pressed so severely on the people, and which had set them thinking about the most perilous political changes, was intimately connected with the state of the country. Throughout the troubled period of almost incessant war and lavish expenditure between 1797 and 1815, the business of the nation was carried on with an inconvertible paper currency, the precious metals having nearly all departed from the country. Bank notes were issued in such quantities, to meet the exigencies of the Government, that the prices of all commodities were nearly doubled. The Bill which was passed in 1819 providing for the resumption of cash payments had reduced the currency from 48,278,070, which was its amount in 1819, to 26,588,000, in 1822. The consequence was the reduction of prices in the meantime, at the rate of fifty per cent., in all the articles of production and commerce. With this tremendous fall of prices, the amount of liabilities remained unchanged; rents, taxes, and encumbrances were to be paid according to the letter of the contract, while the produce and commoditiesthe sale of which was relied upon to pay themdid not produce more than half the amount that they would have brought at the time of the contracts. The evil of this sudden change was aggravated by the South American Revolution, in consequence of which the annual supply of the precious metals was reduced to a third of its former amount. It was peculiarly unfortunate that this stoppage in the supply of gold and silver occurred at the very time that the Legislature had adopted the principle that paper currency should be regarded as strictly representing gold, and should be at any moment convertible into sovereigns. A paper currency should never be allowed[238] to exceed the available property which it represents, but it is not necessary that its equivalent in gold should be lying idle in the coffers of the Bank, ready to be paid out at any moment the public should be seized with a foolish panic. It is enough that the credit of the State should be pledged for the value of the notes, and that credit should not be strained beyond the resources at its command. The close of 1822 formed the turning-point in the industrial condition of the country. The extreme cheapness of provisions, after three years of comparative privation, enabled those engaged in manufacturing pursuits to purchase many commodities which they had hitherto not been able to afford. This caused a gradual revival of trade, which was greatly stimulated by the opening of new markets for our goods, especially in South America, to which our exports were nearly trebled in value between 1818 and 1823, when the independence of the South American Republics had been established. The confidence of the commercial world was reassured by the conviction that South America would prove an unfailing Dorado for the supply of the precious metals. The bankers, therefore, became more accommodating; the spirit of enterprise again took possession of the national mind, and there was a general expansion of industry by means of a freer use of capital, which gave employment and contentment to the people. This effect was materially promoted by the Small Note Bill which was passed in July, 1822, extending for ten years longer the period during which small notes were to be issued; its termination having been fixed by Peel's Bill for 1823. The average of bank-notes in circulation in 1822 was 17,862,890. In November of the following year it had increased by nearly two millions. The effect of this extension of the small note circulation upon prices was remarkable. Wheat rose from 38s. to 52s., and in 1824 it mounted up to 64s. In the meantime the bullion in the Bank of England increased so much that whereas in 1819 it had been only 3,595,360, in January, 1824, it amounted to 14,200,000. The effect of all these causes combined was the commencement of a reign of national prosperity, which burst upon the country like a brilliant morning sun, chasing away the chilling fogs of despondency, and dissipating the gloom in the popular mind.

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