But in spite of Bute's incapacity the expeditions planned by Pitt were uniformly successful. The British fleets were everywhere busy attacking[174] the Spanish colonies, and cutting off the Spanish ships at sea. A fleet had been dispatched, under Admiral Rodney, at the latter end of the last year, against Martinique, carrying nearly twelve thousand men, commanded by General Monckton. They landed on the 7th of January at Cas de Navires, besieged and took Port Royal, the capital, St. Pierre, and, finally, the whole island. This was followed by the surrender of St. Vincent, Grenada, and St. Lucia, so that the English were now masters of the whole of the Caribbees. A portion of this squadron, under Sir James Douglas, then proceeded to join an expedition, which sailed from Portsmouth on the 5th of March; the fleet commanded by Admiral Sir George Pococke, and the army by the Earl of Albemarle. The squadron arrived before Havana on the 4th of JuneKing George's birthdayand effected a landing without much difficulty. WILLIAM HOGARTH. (After the Portrait begun by Weltdon and finished by himself.) The manner in which a great deal of these vast sums, so freely voted, was spent, was, at this very moment, staring the public most fully in the face, through the military inquiry set on foot under the administration of Pitt, and continued under the present Ministry. It appeared that one Davison, being made Treasurer of the Ordnance by Pitt, had been in the habit of drawing large sums from the Treasury long before they were wanted, and had generally from three million to four million pounds of the national funds in his hands to trade with, of which the country lost the interest! Nor was this all: there had been an understanding between himself, Delauny, the Barrackmaster-General, and Greenwood, the army agent. All these gentlemen helped themselves largely to the public money, and their accounts were full of misstatements and overcharges. Those of Delauny were yet only partly gone through, but there was a charge of ninety thousand pounds already against him for fraudulent entries and impositions. As for Davison, there was found to be an arrangement between him and Delauny, by which, as a contractor, he was to receive of Delauny two-and-a-half per cent. on beds, sheets, blankets, towels, candles, beer, forage, etc., which he furnished for barrack use. Besides this, he was to supply the coals as a merchant. Having always several millions of the country's money in hand, he bought up the articles, got his profit, and then his commission, without any outlay of his own. Lord Archibald Hamilton gave notice of a motion for the prosecution of Davison at common law, but Ministers said they had put the matter into the proper hands, and that Davison had been summoned to deliver up all his accounts that they might be examined, and measures taken to recover any amount due by him to the Treasury. But Lord Henry Petty talked as though it was not certain that there were sufficient proofs of his guilt to convict him. The Attorney-General, however, was ordered to prosecute in the Court of King's Bench, but the decision did not take place till April, 1809, more than two years afterwards, and then only the miserable sum of eighteen thousand one hundred and eighty-three pounds had been recovered, and Davison was condemned to twenty-one months' imprisonment in Newgate.

The Duke of Wellington's declaration against Reform had all the effect of an arbitrary prohibition thrown in the way of a violent passion. The effect was tremendous; a revolutionary flame was kindled everywhere at the same instant, as if the whole atmospherenorth, south, east, and westwas wrapt in a sheet of electric fire. No words from any statesman in English history ever produced such an impression. The transports became universal; all ranks were involved; all heads, save the strongest and most far-seeing, were swept away by the torrent of excitement. John Bull's patience was gone. Parliamentary Reform was right; the time was come when it should be granted; and no man, not even the Duke of Wellington, should be allowed to withstand the nation's will. The unpopularity of the Duke with his own party swelled for the moment the current of the movement. High Churchmen declared that Reform would raise a barrier against Papal aggression, which they felt to be necessary, as experience had shown that the existing Constitution afforded no security. The old Tories, in their resentment on account of the concession to the Catholic claims, appeared to be ready to support the popular demands, if by so doing they could mortify or overthrow the Government. The inhabitants of the towns, intelligent, active, progressive, longed for Parliamentary Reform, because they believed it would remove the impediments which retarded the advancement of society. There were only two classes of the community who were believed at the time to be opposed to the Reform movement: first, the aristocratic Whigs, because Parliamentary Reform would destroy the influence by which they had for a century after the Revolution governed the country, but their accidental position as popular leaders obliged them for the time to go with the current; second, the class to whom Mr. Cobbett applied the term "borough-mongers," including all those who had property in Parliamentary seats, and could sell them, or bestow them, as they thought proper. The former, it was argued, were obliged to conceal their attachment to the old system, which had secured to a few great families a monopoly of government and its emoluments. The latter had become so odious to the nation that their opposition availed little against the rapid tide of public feeling and the tremendous breakers of popular indignation. While the Scottish Bill was passing through committee in the Commons the English Bill was being hotly contested in the Lords, and absorbed so much attention that only a few members comparatively voted in the divisions upon the former measure; seldom more than one hundred, often less. There had previously been no property qualification in Scotland for members of Parliament representing towns. A provision had been inserted in the Bill requiring heritable property to the extent of 600 a year for a county and 300 a year for a borough; but this was expunged on the third reading, on the ground that if the property qualification were rigidly enforced it would exclude some of the brightest ornaments of the House: for example, in past times, it would have excluded Pitt, Sheridan, Burke, and Tierney. The Scottish Bill was passed by the Lords on the 13th of July. It increased the number of members for that country from forty-five to fifty-three, giving two each to Edinburgh and Glasgow, and one each to Paisley, Aberdeen, Perth, and Dundee.

This was immediately made evident. The treaty was concluded on the 4th of April, 1769, and the first news was that Hyder had quarrelled with the Mahrattas, and called on the Presidency of Madras to furnish the stipulated aid. But the Presidency replied that he had himself sought this war, and therefore it was not a defensive but an offensive war. The Peishwa of the Mahrattas invaded Mysore, and drove Hyder to the very walls of Seringapatam, dreadfully laying waste his territory. Hyder then sent piteous appeals to his allies, the British, offering large sums of money; but they still remained deaf. At another time, they were solicited by the Mahratta chief to make an alliance with him, but they determined to remain neutral, and left Hyder and the Peishwa to fight out their quarrels. In 1771 the Mahrattas invaded the Carnatic, but were soon driven out; and in 1772 the Mahrattas and Hyder made peace through the mediation of the Nabob of the Carnatic, or of Arcot, as he was more frequently called. Hyder had lost a considerable portion of Mysore, and besides had to pay fifteen lacs of rupees, with the promise of fifteen more. The refusal of the English to assist him did not fail to render him more deeply hostile than ever to them.

In Ireland there was severe distress prevailing over an extensive district along the western coastno unusual visitation, for the peasantry depended altogether on the potato, a precarious crop, which sometimes failed wholly, and was hardly ever sufficient to last till the new crop came in. The old potatoes generally disappeared or became unfit for human food in June, and from that time till September the destitution was very great, sometimes amounting to actual famine. There was a partial failure of the crop in 1830, which, coupled with the rack-rents extorted by middlemen, gave to agitators topics which they used with effect in disquieting the minds of the peasantry.


On the 12th of February, 1823, the President of the Board of Trade said, in his place in Parliament:"The general exports of the country in the four years from 1815 to 1819 had decreased 14,000,000 in official value; and he took the official value in preference to the declared, because it was from the quantity of goods produced that the best measure was derived of the employment afforded to the different classes of the community. In the year from the 5th of January, 1819, to the 5th of January, 1820, the exports of the country fell off no less than 11,000,000; and in looking at that part of it which more completely embraced British or Irish manufacture, he found that the difference in four years was 8,414,711; and that in the year from the 5th of January, 1820, to the 5th of January, 1821, there was a decrease of 8,929,629. Nobody, therefore, could be surprised that, at that period, the industry of the country appeared to be in a state of the utmost depression; that our manufacturers were most of them unemployed; that our agriculturists were many of them embarrassed; and that the country, to use the phrase of a friend of his in presenting a petition from the merchants of London, 'exhibited all the appearances of a dying nation.' Though the condition of the agricultural interest was not as favourable as he could wish, still it was most satisfactory for him to state that not only did the exports of last year [1822] exceed those of all the years to which he had been alluding, but also those of the most flourishing year which had occurred during the continuance of the war. In all material articles there had been a considerable increase. The export of cotton had increased ten per cent., and hardware seventeen per cent.; of linens twelve per cent., and of woollens thirteen per cent.; and the aggregate exports of 1822 exceeded those of 1820 by twenty per cent., and of 1821 by seven per cent., notwithstanding a deduction was to be made from the exports of one great article, sugar, owing to a prohibitory decree of Russia, amounting to thirty-five per cent." The result of this prosperous state of things was that, in 1823, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer was enabled to present the best and most popular Budget that had been laid before Parliament for many years, remitting a large amount of taxes that had pressed most heavily on the springs of industry, and inflicted the greatest amount of inconvenience and privation upon the people. The revenue of the nation in that year was 57,000,000, and the expenditure was estimated at 49,672,999, leaving a surplus of upwards of 7,000,000. Of this surplus, 5,000,000 was set aside for the reduction of the National Debt, and the remainder for the remission of taxes. As the assessed taxes were most oppressive, they were reduced fifty per[239] cent., a reduction which was estimated on the window tax alone at 1,205,000. On the whole, the assessed taxes were reduced by 2,200,000. This included 100,000, the total amount of assessed taxes in Ireland. In England the whole of the window tax was removed from the ground floors of shops and warehouses.