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[102] Mr. Villiers's annual motion, brought forward on the 25th of June, was scarcely more successful than that of Mr. Cobden. Lord John Russell still harped upon his fixed idea of a fixed duty. In his view the country suffered not from the Corn Law, but only from the form in which it was administered. He said he was not prepared to say either that the Corn Law should be at once abolished, or that the existing law should be maintained. While such was the feeble policy of the leader of that Whig party which had set up a claim to a sort of monopoly of Free Trade principles, it was no wonder that the country began to look for relief to the Minister who had introduced the tariff of 1842; but Sir Robert Peel as yet moved too slowly to rouse the enthusiasm in his favour of the Anti-Corn-Law League. "There were not," he remarked, "ten reflecting men out of the Anti-Corn-Law League, who did not believe that a sudden withdrawal of protection, whether it were given to domestic or colonial produce, would cause great confusion and embarrassment. In the artificial state of society in which we lived we could not act on mere abstract philosophical maxims, which, isolated, he could not contest; they must look to the circumstances under which we have grown up, and the interests involved. Ireland, dependent on England for a market for her agricultural produce, was a case in point. He was not prepared to alter the Corn Law of 1842, and did not contemplate it. Seeing that Lord John Russell had avowed himself a consistent friend to Protection, and was opposed to total repeal, he thought he was somewhat squeamish in flying from his difficulty, and declining to vote against the motion. As to the Corn Law, the Government did not intend to alter it, or diminish the amount of protection afforded to agriculture." On the division the numbers for the motion were[512] 124, and against it, 330. On the whole, the cause of Free Trade made but small progress in Parliament in this year, though out of doors the agitation was carried on with ever-increasing vigour. As regards Mr. Villiers's motion, the progress made was shown principally in the decrease of the majority against it. In 1842, when he first put the question of total repeal on issue before the House, he had 92 votes, and 395 against him; in 1843 he had 125 votes, and 381 against him; in 1844, 124 votes, and 330 against him. (From a Drawing by Gravelot engraved by W. J. White.)

The foreign relations of England at this period were, on the whole, satisfactoryas might be expected from the fact that our foreign policy was committed to the able management of Lord Palmerston, who, while sympathising with oppressed nationalities, acted steadily upon the principle of non-intervention. Considering, however, the comparative smallness o our naval and military forces, the formidable military powers of Russia and France created a good deal of uneasiness, which the king expressed in one of his odd impromptu speeches at Windsor. On the 19th of February there was a debate in the House of Commons on Eastern affairs, in which the vast resources and aggressive policy Of Russia were placed in a strong light. On that occasion Lord Dudley Stuart said, "Russia has 50,000,000 subjects in Europe alone, exclusive of Asia; an army of 700,000 men, and a navy of eighty line-of-battle ships and frigates, guided by the energy of a Government of unmitigated despotism, at whose absolute and unlimited disposal stand persons and property of every description. These formidable means are constantly applied to purposes of territorial aggrandisement, and every new acquisition becomes the means of gaining others. Who can tell that the Hellespont may not be subject to Russia at any moment? She has a large fleet in the Black Sea, full command of the mouths of the Danube, and of the commercial marine cities of Odessa and Trebizond. In three days she may be at Constantinople from Sebastopol; and if once there, the Dardanelles will be so fortified by Russian engineers that she can never be expelled except by a general war. She could be in entire possession of these important straits before any expedition could be sent from this country, even if such a thing could be thought of against the enormous military force at the command of Russia. That Russia is determined to have the Dardanelles is evident from the treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi, by which she began by excluding the ships of all other nations. The effect of this treaty was to exclude any ship of war from these straits, except with the permission of Russia. Russia might at any moment insist on the exclusion of our ships of war from the Dardanellesnay, she has already done so; for when Lord Durham, going on his late embassy to the Court of St. Petersburg, arrived at the Dardanelles in a frigate, he was obliged to go on board the Pluto, an armed vessel without her guns, before he could pass the straits; and when he arrived at Sebastopol no salute was fired, and the excuse given was that they did not know the Pluto from a merchant vessel. But both before and since Lord Durham went, Russian ships of war, with their guns out and their streamers flying, passed through the Black Sea to the Dardanelles, and again through[412] the Dardanelles to the Black Sea. Russia has now fifteen ships of the line and seven frigates in the Black Sea. Sebastopol is only three days' sail from the Hellespont. Turkey has no force capable of resisting such an armament; the forts of the Hellespont are incapable of defence against a land force, for they are open in the rear. Russia might any day have 100,000 men in Constantinople before England or France could even fit out expeditions to defend it."

[See larger version] Dr. Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury (b. 1643)[146] who figures so prominently in the reign of William and Mary, and who rendered such essential service to the establishment of religious liberty, is the great historian of his time. Without his narratives of his own period, we should have a very imperfect idea of it. With all his activity at Court and in Parliament, he was a most voluminous writer. His publications amount to no less than a hundred and forty-five, though many of these are mere tracts, and some of them even only single sermons. His earliest productions date from 1669, and they continued, with little intermission, to the time of his death in 1715a space of forty-six years. His great works are "The Reformation of the Church," in three volumes, folio, 1679, 1681, and 1715; and his "History of His Own Times," in two volumes, published after his death in 1724. Burnet lays no claim to eloquence or to much genius, and he has been accused of a fondness for gossip, and for his self-importance; but the qualities which sink all these things into mere secondary considerations are his honesty and heartiness in the support of sound and liberal principles far beyond the majority of his fellow prelates and churchmen. Whilst many of these were spending their energies in opposing reform and toleration, Burnet was incessantly, by word and pen, engaged in assisting to build up and establish those broad and Christian principles under which we now live. Besides the great works named, he wrote also "Memoirs of James and William, Dukes of Hamilton;" "Passages in the Life and Death of Wilmot, Earl of Rochester;" a "Life of Bishop Bedell;" "Travels on the Continent;" "An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles," etc. etc.

Before the conclusion of this treaty Pitt had made another effort to obtain peace with France. The fact that one ally, Austria, was engaged in separate negotiations gave him a fair excuse, and Lord Malmesbury was once more sent to negotiate. He went to Lille, presented his plan of a treaty, and at first all went well. Britain promised to restore all her conquests with the exception of Ceylon, the Cape of Good Hope, and Trinidad. But the Directory suffered the negotiations to drag on, and when intestine struggles in France had been terminated in the triumph of the Republican party on the 18th Fructidor (September 4), the negotiations were suddenly broken off on the ground that Malmesbury had not full authority. Once more the war party in France had gained the day, and the weary contest was resumed.

Amongst the prose writers of this period a lady stands prominent, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (b. 1690; d. 1762), the daughter of the Duke of Kingston, and mother of Lady Bute, the wife of the Earl of Bute, the celebrated Minister of George III. Lady Mary derives her chief fame from her Letters, which were not published till after her death. They are as remarkable for their wit, brilliancy, and clear, thorough sense, as any of the writings of the age. In these we have a most graphic picture of life in the East, as she had lived some years at Constantinople with her husband. She thence conferred one of the greatest boons on her country, by the introduction of inoculation for the smallpox. Lady Mary translated the "Enchiridion of Epictetus," and wrote many verses, including satirical ones, called "Town Eclogues;" but her fame must always rest upon her clear and sparkling letters. She was celebrated for her wit and beauty, and was a leading figure in the fashionable as well as the literary world. Pope and she were long great friends, but quarrelled irreconcilably.

In the manufacture of iron a most material discovery of smelting the ore by the use of pit-coal was made. The forests of England were so much reduced by the consumption of wood in the iron furnaces, that it was contemplated removing the business to our American colonies. This necessity was obviated by the discovery by Dud Dudley of a mode of manufacturing bar-iron with coal instead of wood. This discovery had been patented in 1619, yet, singularly, had been neglected; but in 1740 the principle was applied at Coalbrookdale, and iron thus made tough or brittle, as was wished. Iron works, now not confined to one spot by the necessity of wood, sprang up at various places in England and Wales, and the great works at Rotherham were established in 1750, and the famous Carron works in Scotland in 1760. The quantity of pig-iron made in 1740 was calculated at 17,000 tons, and the number of people employed in the iron trade at the end of this period is supposed to be little short of 300,000.

Wellington was quite prepared for the fiercest attack of Buonaparte. Notwithstanding his loss at Quatre Bras, he had still about sixty-eight thousand men, though the British portion did not exceed thirty-five thousand; and Buonaparte, as he had stated, had about seventy thousand, but most of them of the very best troops of France, whilst few of Wellington's army had been under fire before, and some of the Belgians and Hanoverians were of very inferior quality. In point of cannon, Buonaparte had more than double the number that Wellington had. But the Duke informed Blucher that he should make a stand here, and the brave old Marshal replied to Wellington's request of a detachment of Prussians to support him, that he would be there with his main army. Wellington therefore expected the arrival of the Prussians about noon; but though they lay only about twelve miles off, the difficulties of the route over the heights of Chapelle-Lambert, and the occupation of part of Wavre by the French division under Grouchy, prevented their advance under Bulow from reaching the field till half-past four. Wellington, however, rested in confident expectation of the support of the Prussians and of their numerous cannon.

The manner in which Hastings had executed the orders of the Directors in this business showed that he was prepared to go all lengths in maintaining their interests in India. He immediately proceeded to give an equally striking proof of this. We have seen that when the Mogul Shah Allum applied to the British to assist him in recovering his territories, they promised to conduct him in triumph to Delhi, and place him firmly on the grand throne of all India; but when, in consequence of this engagement, he had made over to them by a public grant, Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, they found it inconvenient to fulfil their contract, and made over to him Allahabad and Corah instead, with an annual payment of twenty-six lacs of rupeestwo hundred and sixty thousand pounds. The payment of this large sum, too, was regarded by the Company, now in the deepest debt, as unnecessary, and Hastings had orders to reduce it. It appears that the money was at no time duly paid, and had now been withheld altogether for more than two years. The Mogul, thus disappointed in the promises of restoration by the English, and now again in the payment of this stipulated tribute, turned to the Mahrattas, and offered to make over the little provinces of Allahabad and Corah, on condition that they restored him to the sovereignty of Delhi. The Mahrattas gladly caught at this offer, and by the end of the year 1771 they had borne the Mogul in triumph into his ancient capital of Delhi. This was precisely such a case as the Directors were on the watch for. In their letter to Bengal of the 11th of November, 1768, they had said: "If the Emperor flings himself into the hands of the Mahrattas, or any other Power, we are disengaged from him, and it may open a fair opportunity of withholding the twenty-six lacs of rupees we now pay him." The opportunity had now come, and was immediately seized on by Hastings to rescind the payment of the money altogether, and he prepared to annex the two provinces of Allahabad and Corah. These were sold to the Nabob of Oude for fifty lacs of rupees. This bargain was settled between the vizier and Hastings at Benares, in September, 1773.

Mr. Canning had been offered the Governor-Generalship of India. Before his departure, he was resolved, if possible, to make a breach in the system of Parliamentary exclusiveness. On the 29th of March he gave notice of a motion to bring in a Bill for the admission of Roman Catholic peers to seats in Parliament, and on the following day supported it by a speech of great power of argument and brilliant eloquence, illustrating his position very happily from the case of the Duke of Norfolk, and his official connection with the ceremonial of the coronation. He asked, "Did it ever occur to the representatives of Europe, when contemplating this animating spectacledid it occur to the ambassadors of Catholic Austria, of Catholic France, or of states more bigoted in matters of religionthat the moment this ceremony was over the Duke of Norfolk would become disseized of the exercise of his privileges amongst his fellow peers?that his robes of ceremony were to be laid aside and hung up until the distant (be it a very distant!) day when the coronation of a successor to his present most gracious Sovereign might again call him forth to assist at a similar solemnisation?that, after being thus exhibited to the eyes of the peers and people of England, and to the representatives of the princes and nations of the world, the Duke of Norfolkhighest in rank amongst the peersthe Lord Clifford, and others like him, representing a long line of illustrious ancestry, as if called forth and furnished for the occasion, like the lustres and banners that flamed and glittered in the scene, were to be, like them, thrown by as useless and trumpery formalities?that they might bend the knee and kiss the hand, that they might bear the train or rear the canopy, might discharge the offices assigned by Roman pride to their barbarian ancestors