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      de Casson, in his Histoire du Montral. Another ** Colbert a Talon, 5 Avril, 1666.

      ** Mmoire pour Denonville et Champigny, 8 Mars, 1688.The Irish Reform Bill, which had been introduced by Mr. Stanley, then Irish Secretary, became the subject of debate on the 26th of May, when the second reading was moved by him in a speech of great ability. His main object was to prove that the passing of the measure would not endanger the Established Church in Ireland; and that it would not increase the power of O'Connell, whom, instead of conciliating, he exasperated by the contemptuous and defiant tone of his remarks. As the great question of Reform had been conceded in the English Bill, it was only with regard to matters of detail, and to the extent and nature of the franchise, that the Tories maintained their opposition. The second reading was carried by a majority of 116, the numbers being, for the Bill, 246; against it, 130. O'Connell contended that the Bill was not calculated to benefit Ireland, and he said he was sure it was framed with no good feeling to the country; but, on the contrary, was dictated by narrow and bigoted feeling. He complained that certain classes of the forty-shilling freeholders were not restored by the Reform Bill. He was supported by a moderate and greatly respected Irish statesman, the venerable Sir John Newport, who complained of defects in the measure, especially in the mode of registration, which would go far to neutralise all its benefits. O'Connell's proposal was made on the 13th of June, and was rejected by a majority of forty-nine. The Irish Reform Bill, instead of being the means of conciliation, tending to consolidate the union, and taking away the arguments for Repeal, really furnished O'Connell with fresh fuel for agitation. In a series of letters which he addressed to the Reformers of England, he pointed out the defects of the Irish Bill. He objected to it on the ground that it diminished the elective franchise instead of extending it; that the qualification for a voter was too high; that the registration of voters was complicated; and that the number of Irish representatives was inadequate. The substitution in counties of the ten-pound beneficial interest franchise for the forty-shilling freehold caused the disfranchisement of 200,000 voters. He referred to population to prove the unfairness towards Ireland: thus the county of Cumberland, with a population of 169,681, got two additional members, and returned four to Parliament; while the county of Cork, with a population of 807,366, got no additional member, and sent only two to the Reformed Parliament. A similar contrast was presented between other English and Irish counties.

      It is impossible to conceive the extent of suffering and desolation inflicted upon society, almost every family being involved, more or less, in the general calamity. Flourishing firms were bankrupt, opulent merchants impoverished, the masses of working people suddenly thrown out of employment, and reduced to destitution; and all from causes with which the majority had nothing to docauses that could have been prevented by a proper monetary system. If Bank of England notes had been a legal tender, to all intents and purposes supplying the place of gold as currency; if these notes had been supplied to the country banks in any quantities they required, ample security being taken to have assets equal to their respective issues, then the currency would have had an elastic, self-adjusting power, expanding or contracting according to the requirements of commerce. Inordinate speculation would not have been stimulated by a reckless system of credit, and business would have been conducted in a moderate and judicious manner, instead of rushing on at a high pressure that rendered a crash inevitable. The Government, after anxious and repeated deliberations, supplied a remedy on this principle. They determined to issue one-pound and two-pound notes of the Bank of England, for country circulation, to any amount required. In the meantime the Mint was set to work with all its resources in the coining of sovereigns[244], which, for the course of a week, were thrown off at the rate of 150,000 a day. The notes could not be manufactured fast enough to meet the enormous demand for carrying on the business of the country. In this dilemma the Bank was relieved by a most fortunate discoverya box containing 700,000, in one- and two-pound notes that had been retired, but which were at once put into circulation. The people having thus got notes with Government security, the panic subsided, and the demand for gold gradually ceased. The restoration of confidence was aided by resolutions passed at a meeting of bankers and merchants in the City of London, declaring that the unprecedented embarrassments and difficulties under which the circulation of the country laboured were mainly to be ascribed to a general panic, for which there were no reasonable grounds; that they had the fullest confidence in the means and substance of the banking establishments of the capital and the country; that returning confidence would remove all the symptoms of distress caused by the alarms of the timid, so fatal to those who were forced to sacrifice their property to meet unexpected demands. The new measures so promptly adopted and so vigorously carried into effect, raised the circulation of the Bank of England notes in three weeks from 17,477,290 to 25,611,800. Thus the regular and healthful action of the monetary system was restored by an adequate circulation of paper money, on Government security, without specie to sustain it. There were at the time of the crash 770 country bankers; 63 stopped payment, 23 of them having subsequently resumed business, and paid twenty shillings in the pound; and even those that were not able to resume, paid an average of seventeen shillings and sixpence in the pound. It was estimated that the total loss to the country by this panic was one hundred million pounds. Walckenaer, Mmoires sur Madame de Sevign.

      The fleet sailed from the Downs on the 28th of July, 1809, and on the 30th it touched at the islands of South Beveland and Walcheren. The orders of the Government were, "the capture or destruction of the enemy's ships, building or afloat at Antwerp and Flushing; the destruction of the arsenals at Antwerp, Terneuse, and Flushing; the reduction of the island of Walcheren, and, if possible, the rendering of the Scheldt no longer navigable for ships." Nelson, who had contemplated this enterprise, had calculated that it would require four or five thousand men, and could be accomplished in a week. But now Buonaparte had rendered the task more difficult, and there was no Nelson to do it. The most sagacious of the officers pointed out that the first rush should be for Antwerp, as the extreme point of the expedition, so as to destroy or capture the vessels there before the French could come to the rescue. The places nearer to the sea could be taken in returning. Had the troops landed at Blankenberg, they could have made a rapid march along a paved road through Bruges and Ghent, and captured Antwerp, only forty-five miles distant, whilst the fleet ascended the Scheldt to receive them on their return; but no such common-sense ideas found acceptance with the commanders. They determined to reduce Flushing first, and the other forts on the Scheldt, as Lillo and Liefkenshoek, in succession, by which time it was certain that the French would appear at Antwerp in numbers sufficient to protect it. Flushing was attacked on the 1st of August, and did not surrender till the 16th. Had this been the reduction of Antwerp, the rest of the objects of the expedition would have followed of course; but Lord Chatham and Rear-Admiral Strachan were in no hurry. They remained signing the capitulation, securing six thousand prisoners that they had taken, and reducing two small islands to the north of the eastern Scheldt, till the 21st (three whole weeks virtually wasted!), and on the 23rd they landed at Ter Goes, on the neighbouring island of South Beveland. Here, again, they delayed another precious fortnight, whilst the[582] French were planting batteries at every turn of the river between them and Antwerp; had drawn a boom-chain across the channel between Lillo and Liefkenshoek; and had sunk vessels to obstruct the narrowest part of the channel beyond. They still talked of forcing their way to Antwerp; but according to a satiric rhyme of the time

      Mrs. Lippett detained her with a gesture; it was an oratorical


      CHAPTER XIIIWhen Parliament reassembled, Fox seized the very earliest moment to address the Chair and occupy the attention of the House. He rose at the unusually early hour of half-past two o'clock in the day, before the newly returned members had taken their oaths. Pitt himself was in this predicament, but, as soon as he had taken his oath, he rose to speak; but Fox contended that he was already in possession of the House, and, though Pitt announced that he had a message from the king, Fox persisted, and moved that the House should go into committee on the state of the nation. This allowed Pitt to speak, who declared that he had no objection to the committee; but he thought it more advisable to go into the question of India, on which subject he proposed to introduce a Bill. He then made some sharp remarks on the conduct of Fox in thus seizing, by artifice, a precedence in speaking, and on the petulance and clamour which the Opposition had displayed, and on the violent and unprecedented nature of their conduct, by which they hoped to inflame the spirit of the country and excite unnecessary jealousies. In truth, Fox and his party were now running a most unwise career. Possessed of a large majority, they were indignant that the king should have dismissed them, and thought that they could outvote the new Ministry, and drive them again from office. They had, no doubt, such a majority; but, at the same time, they had the king resolute against them. They had insulted him by their violent denunciations of his letter, and they had not, in their anger, the discernment to perceive that not only would this be made use of by their opponents to injure them, both in Parliament and out of it, but their proceeding with so much heat and violence was calculated to make them appear factiousmore concerned for their places than for the interests of the country. All this took place; the king and Ministry saw how all this would operate, and calmly awaited its effects. Fox and his party were, however, blind to the signs of the times, and carried no less than five resolutions against the Government.


      CHAPTER XV. REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).