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The Reign of George III. - (Concluded.) page 19

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It was deemed necessary, before the end of the session, which would close the term of parliament, to renew the alien act. It had been renewed in 1814, and again in 1816, each time for two years. It had on the last occasion been vehemently opposed, and as determined an opposition was now manifested against its renewal. From the 5th of May to the 29th the fight was continued, every opportunity and advantage which the for ms of parliament afforded being resorted to to delay and defeat it; but on the 29th it passed the commons, by ninety-four votes against twenty- nine. It was introduced into the lords on the 1st of June by lord Sidmouth. But it had been discovered that, by an act of the Scottish parliament of 1685, all foreigners holding shares in the Bank of Scotland to a certain amount became thereby naturalised; and, by the act of union, all subjects of Scotland became naturalised subjects of England. A clause, therefore, was introduced by the lords to obviate this, and passed; but, on the bill being sent down to the commons, it was Struck out: and ministers were compelled to allow the bill without this clause to pass, and to introduce their separate bill, which was passed on the 9th of June.

Ministers were in haste to close and dissolve parliament, in order to call a new one, before the very probable demise of the king - for though they had provided that in case of the decease of the queen the parliament should not reassemble, this did not apply to the decease of the king; and should this take place before the day fixed for the assembling of the new parliament, the old parliament - even though formally dissolved - would re-assemble: therefore, on the 10th of June - the very day after the passing of the supplementary alien bill - the prince regent came down to the house of lords, prorogued parliament, and then immediately the lord chancellor pronounced it dissolved. The members of the commons were taken by surprise - No such sudden dismissal had taken place since 1625, when Charles I. dismissed his Oxford parliament after a single week's session. On the return to their own house the speaker was proceeding, as usual, to read the royal speech, but he was reminded by Mr. Tierney that there was no parliament in existence, and by lord Castlereagh that, by so doing, he might render himself liable to a praemunire, and he therefore desisted, and the members withdrew.

The elections for the new parliament were carried on with much vigour, and there were upwards of a hundred contested ones. In some cases the contest was extremely violent, considering the death of the king was almost daily expected, and that the term of the parliament must necessarily be a short one. In Westminster there were no less than six candidates. Lord Cochrane was about to depart for Chili, to take the command of the naval forces of that state, and therefore did not offer himself again. There were Sir Francis Burdett again, the honourable Douglas Kinnaird, Sir Murray Maxwell, Sir Samuel Romilly, major Cartwright, and Mr. Henry Hunt, commonly called orator Hunt. Of these Sir Murray Maxwell was a tory, and received severe treatment. Major Cartwright and Hunt received very little support, and soon withdrew from the contest. The members returned were Romilly and Burdett, a whig and a radical. For London were returned four new members, all whigs, Wood, Wilson, Waithman, and Thorpe. Brougham patriotically stood for Westmoreland, to break, if possible, the influence of the Lowther family; but he was compelled to retire on the fourth day, and two of the Lowther family were returned. A hundred and ninety new members were returned, and the opposition gained considerably by it. An observer, well accustomed to party battles, remarked that government did not appear much beloved, and that they had almost spent all their war popularity; they were not destined to recover it in the coming year. The state of things in the manufacturing districts was gloomy; the spirit of reform, the child of distress, was everywhere gaining strength, and this cabinet was not of a temper to concede prudently to the pressure.

Scarcely were the elections over when a strike took place amongst the working cotton spinners in Manchester. Food was dear, and the rate of wages was not in any proportion to the dearness. The men who turned out paraded the streets, and, as is generally too much the spirit of strikes, endeavoured forcibly to compel the workmen of other factories to cease working too. The magistrates, on the 1st of September, issued a proclamation, that they were determined to resist such attempts, and to punish the offenders. Sir John Byng, the same who had favoured the endeavours of Oliver in Yorkshire, commanded the forces there, and every precaution was taken to secure the factories still in work. On the very next day, the spinners were joined by a great mob from Stockport, and they endeavoured to break into Gray's mill, in Ancoat's-lane, and force the men to cease. But there was a party of soldiers placed within in expectation of the attack, and they fired on the assailants, and killed one man, and wounded two others. The troops then dispersed the mob, which was said to have amounted to at least thirty thousand men. This ended the strike and the rioting for the time. The coroner's jury pronounced the death of the man justifiable homicide, and ministers congratulated themselves on the speedy end of the disturbance. But the elements of fresh ones were rife in the same districts. The country was by no means in the prosperous condition in which they had represented it.

After a partial recovery from, or rather, alleviation of her complaint, which was dropsy on the chest, queen Charlotte expired on the 17th of November, in her seventy-fifth year. Notwithstanding her own numerous issue, she died without any visible prospect of the continuance of the line into another generation, at least upon the throne. She had a considerable number of illegitimate grandchildren; for it is a singular fact that a king and queen of such exemplary morals had scarcely ever, perhaps, sate upon a British throne, yet few royal couples had so many licentious children. Charlotte has been justly said to have banished libertinism from her court, except amongst her own sons. She certainly had rendered the marriage tie by her example more respectable in the court in general, and perhaps her failure in her own family may have resulted from her conduct being more rigid than winning. She was parsimonious, severely correct, rather than amiable. She left the king sitting in darkness and aberration of mind, but she only preceded him about one year and two months.

The deaths of several individuals who had played a distinguished part preceded or immediately followed that of the queen. In August, at the age of eighty-five, died Warren Hastings; and towards the close of the year his implacable enemy, Sir Philip Francis, the reputed author of the pungent Letters of Junius. On the 2nd of November perished Sir Samuel Romilly, by his own hand, in a fit of insanity. In him the cause of law reform lost one of its earliest and most zealous champions. On the 13th of December lord Ellenborough breathed his last, having never recovered the mortification of his signal defeat by William Hone, in the court where he had so long presided with almost sovereign sway. He had been allowed, at his own desire, to retire from the bench, but only three months previous to his death.

In the autumn the great congress of sovereigns assembled at Aix-la-Chapelle. We have already anticipated their chief object - the final evacuation of France by the allied troops, and the settlement of compensations. They assembled about the middle of September, and remained together till the middle of November. Their business conferences, however, did not commence till the 30th of September. With regard to the evacuation of France, we need only state that it was greatly promoted by the exertions of the duke of Wellington; and we have pleasure in quoting the just tribute to the great duke on his conduct in this closing scene of his military duties, by a distinguished French historian, M. Capefique. " Sufficient justice," he says, " has not been generally done to the duke of Wellington, for the liberal and faithful manner in which he protected the interests of France throughout all the negotiations with foreign powers. The duke was highly favourable to France in everything that was favourable to the evacuation of her territory. His position as generalissimo of the army of occupation gave great weight to his advice on this question. He was consulted at every step, and his opinions were always given in terms expressive of an elevation of view and sentiment which did him honour." M. Capefique adds, " that this was the more meritorious, because the other English minister there, lord Castlereagh, was of a différent opinion, and because his more rigorous sentiments towards France were supported by a large portion of the English aristocracy. And this was his conduct, though his position of generalissimo, and an income of great amount, ceased with the evacuation."

A great number of persons of différent nations and characters crowded Aix-la-Chapelle during the congress: German students in their peculiar costumes, Cossacks, painters, singers, philanthropists, and eager hunters after dissipation. Sir Thomas Lawrence attended by the command of the prince regent, to take the portraits of the emperors of Austria and Russia, and the king of Prussia. Robert Owen was there to endeavour to enlist the sovereigns in his schemes of social reform, but did not make any proselytes amongst the crowned heads, though the czar Alexander told him he fully entered into his views, as he was generally accustomed to teil all reformers and religious professors, leaving them in the pleasing delusion that they had won him to their opinions. Clarkson was there to engage them to sanction the suppression of the slave trade, but with as indifferent result. This was the closing scene of the great European drama, which opened with the French revolution, and terminated with the capture of Buonaparte. The congress of Aix-la-Chapelle may be regarded as the recital of the epilogue.

We are not, however, to close the year 1818 without one more brush of war. This was in India. We had not enjoyed much perfect quiet, even after the destruction of Tippoo Sultaun and the power of Mysore. When the earl of Moira succeeded, as governor-general, to earl Minto, in 1812, he found the country still disturbed in différent directions, particularly on the north-west frontiere. The Burmese engaged his immediate attention, and after them the Nepaulese, who were not quietened till after two campaigns. But there was a far more troublesome enemy than either of these in the field. These were the Pindarrees, a multitude of horsemen made up of the scum of Hindostan - men who had either lost caste, or never had any - who formed themselves into wing bands, and with the swiftness of the wind rushed down on the cultivated districts, and swept away all before them, cattle, sheep, money, jewels, everything that could be made prey of. They decamped as rapidly as they came if any regular force appeared against them, and again made a fresh lubbur, or as the Scotch call it, a raid in another quarter. It was difficult, often impossible, for regular cavalry, even, to come up with them, for they had neither tents nor baggage, each horseman carrying a few cakes for his own food, and a little bag of corn for his horse. They were led by Chiefs called durras, and predatory forces often united under one commander, in bodies from three to twenty thousand. Of late years these terrible banditti had entered the service of the Mahrattas, who, though they regarded them as of the lowest stamp, and would hold no personal intercourse with them, used them to harass the districts of the English, or of their allies. They marched in advance of the Mahratta armies, and were allowed by them to plunder and ravage at their pleasure. By these armed and mounted hordes the company's territories westward, the Deccan, and the states of the peishwa, or chief of the southern Mahrattas, were kept in continual alarm. The two most celebrated chiefs of the Pindarrees were Kureem and Cheetoo, but Cheetoo managed to put down Kureem, and became the one great and formidable head of these robbers. In 1811 he rode at the head of twenty-live thousand cavalry. In 1814, whilst our troops were engaged in Nepaul, the Pindarrees, under Cheetoo, crossed the Nerbudda, the Godavery, and advanced to the Kistnah, ravaging the whole of the Deccan and the neighbouring territories; and in spite of our forces under major Frazer in one direction, and colonel Doveton in another, they effected their retreat across the Nerbudda again, loaded with enormous booty. In 1816 they made a still more extensive incursion, ten thousand in number, descending into the Madras presidency as far as Guntoor, and though colonel Doveton exerted himself to come up with them, it was in vain. In twelve days Cheetoo's marauders had plundered three hundred and ninety villages in the company's territory, put to death one hundred and eighty-two people, wounded five hundred and five, and tortured in various ways three thousand six hundred.

It was now found that our pretended Mahratta allies, the peishwa, Sindhia, and other chiefs, were in league with Cheetoo, and unless this conspiracy was broken the most fearful devastations might be expected on our states. The governor-general represented this to the authorities at home, and recommended that the Pindarrees should be regularly hunted down and destroyed. In the course of the year 1816 he received full authority to execute this scheme. At the end of October he posted lieutenant-colonel Walker along the southern bank of the Nerbudda, to prevent the Pindarrees crossing into the company's territories; but as the line of river thus to be guarded was one hundred and fifty miles in length, the force employed was found insufficient against such adroit and rapid enemies. In November Cheetoo dashed across the river between lieutenant-colonel Walker's posts, and his forces dividing, one part made a rapid gallop through forests, and over rivers and mountains, right across the continent, into the district of Ganjam, in the northern Circars, hoping to reach Juggernaut, and plunder the temple of its enormous wealth. But this division was met with in Ganjam by the company's troops, and driven back with severe loss; the other division descending into the Deccan, as far as Beder, where it again divided, and one portion being met with by major Macdonald, who had marched from Hyderabad, was completely cut up, though it was six thousand strong. The other body struck westward into Koncan, under a chief named Sheik Dulloo, and then, turning north, plundered all the western coast, and escaped with his booty beyond the Nerbudda, though not without some loss from the British troops on that river.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Concluded.) page 19

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