The success of the Duke of Wellington in carrying Emancipation was fatal to his Government. Almost to a man the Tories fell from him, and he found no compensation in the adhesion of the Whigs. The latter were glad that their opponents had been induced to settle the question, a result which they had long desired, but had not the power to accomplish. Their gratitude, however, for this great service to the public was not sufficiently warm to induce them to enlist under the banner of the Duke of Wellington, though they were ready to come to his assistance, to protect his Government for a time against the violent assaults of the party whose feelings and prejudices he had so grievously outraged. All parties seem, indeed, to have been exhausted by the violence of the struggle, and there was no desire to attempt anything important in the way of legislation during the remainder of the Session. There was nothing extraordinary in the Budget, and it was accepted without much objection. The subject of distress among the operatives gave rise to a debate which occupied two days, and a motion for inquiry into its causes was rejected. The trade which suffered most at the time was the silk trade. It was stated that, in 1824, there were 17,000 looms employed in Spitalfields; now there were only 9,000. At the former period wages averaged seventeen shillings a week, now the average was reduced to nine shillings. By the manufacturers this depression was ascribed to the relaxation of the prohibitory system, and the admission of foreign silks into the home market. On the other hand, Ministers, and the advocates of Free Trade, ascribed the depression to the increase of production, and the rivalry of the provincial towns of Congleton, Macclesfield, and Manchester. That the general trade had increased was shown by the vast increase in the quantity of raw silk imported, and in the number of spindles employed in the silk manufacture. The Government was firm in its hostility to the prohibitory system, and would not listen to any suggestion for relief, except a reduction in the duties on the importation of raw silk, by which the demand for the manufactured article might be augmented. While these discussions were going on in Parliament the silk-weavers were in a state of violent agitation, and their discontent broke forth in acts of lawlessness and destructive outrage. They were undoubtedly in a very miserable condition. It was ascertained that there were at Huddersfield 13,000 persons, occupied in a fancy trade, whose average earnings did not exceed twopence-halfpenny a day, out of which they had to meet the wear and tear of looms, etc. The artisans ascribed this reduction to the avarice of their employers, and they avenged themselves, as was usual in those times, by combination, strikes, and destruction of property. In Spitalfields bands of weavers entered the workshops and cut up the materials belonging to refractory masters. The webs in thirty or forty looms were sometimes thus destroyed in a single night. The same course was pursued at Macclesfield, Coventry, Nuneaton, and Bedworth, in which towns power-looms had been introduced which enabled one man to do the work of four. The reign of terror extended to Yorkshire, and in several places the masters were compelled to succumb, and to accept a list of prices imposed by the operatives. In this way the distress was greatly aggravated by their ignorance. What they demanded was a restrictive system, which it was impossible to restore. The result obtained was simply a reduction of the duties on raw silk. "'Partes ubi se via findit in ambas.'"

Mr. Baring, who represented the Duke in the House of Commons, seemed to regard this declaration from the high-minded member for Oxford University as fatal to the Tory scheme for recovering power. They came at length to understand that the new Premier would be equally unacceptable to the country, whether he appeared with a Reform Bill or a gagging Bill. Both Baring and Sutton, the late Speaker, sent in their resignations. The Duke at length confessed that he had failed in his attempt to form an Administration; and the king had no other resource but to submit to the humiliation of again putting himself in the hands of his late Ministers. He had before him only the terrible alternative of a creation of peers or civil war. Earl Grey was determined not to resume office, "except with a sufficient security that he would possess the power of passing the present Bill unimpaired in its principles and its essential provisions." The consequence was, that on the 17th of May the following circular was sent to the hostile Lords by Sir Henry Taylor:"My dear lord, I am honoured with his Majesty's commands to acquaint your lordship that all difficulties to the arrangements in progress will be obviated by a declaration in the House of Peers to-night from a sufficient number of peers, that in consequence of the present state of affairs they have come to the resolution of dropping their further opposition to the Reform Bill, so that it may pass without delay as nearly as possible in its present shape." Wellington, as usual, obeyed and withdrew from the House, but his seceding comrades prefaced their departure by defiant speeches in which they reserved to themselves the right of resuming their position. Then the Cabinet insisted on obtaining the royal[352] consent to an unlimited creation; and it was given on condition that they, in the first instance, called to the House of Lords the eldest sons of peers or the collateral heirs of childless noblemen. But Sir Henry Taylor's circular had done its work, and the extreme step was unnecessary.

A revolution of a similar character took place in France within a month of the fall of Ripperda in Spain. The Duke of Bourbon had exhibited a gross incapacity for governing France under the young king. He was replaced by Cardinal Fleury, whose pacific designs harmonised with those of Walpole. Thus Fleury's accession to power only strengthened the English alliance with France. As for Spain, notwithstanding the fall of Ripperda, Philip continued the same course of policyclinging firmly to the Emperor, and employing Palm, the envoy of the Emperor in London, through bribery to the Duchess of Kendal and the king's Hanoverian Ministers, Bothmar and the rest, who were averse from the Treaty of Hanover, as in their estimation too exclusively calculated for British interests. They even produced a strong feeling of this kind in the mind of George, and they managed to detach the King of Prussia from the British alliance. On the other hand, Sweden was won over, by British gold and diplomacy, from Russian interests. The Dutch also, with their usual slowness, came into the Hanover Treaty. Several British fleets were at sea during the summer, watching the different points of possible attack. One under Admiral Wager sailed to the Baltic to overawe the Russians, which it did effectually. Admiral Jennings, with another squadron, having on board some land troops, scoured the coasts of Spain, kept the Spaniards in constant alarm, and returned home safe before winter. A third fleet, under Admiral Hosier, was not so fortunate. He was ordered to sail to the West Indies, and the shores of the Spanish Main, to obstruct or capture the galleons; but he was attacked off Porto Bello by the yellow fever, and lost a great number of his men.

On the 16th of June, just as the House was growing impatient for prorogation, Lord North, who earlier in the Session had made some unsuccessful negotiations with the Whigs, announced intelligence which put such prorogation out of the question. He informed the House that the Spanish Ambassador had delivered a hostile manifesto and had thereupon quitted London. On the 17th a Royal Message was delivered, asserting his Majesty's surprise at this act of Spain, and declaring that nothing on his part had provoked it. But it by no means took anybody else by surprise, and the Opposition strongly reproached Government for not giving credit to their warnings on this head. In the Commons, Lord John Cavendish, and, in the Lords, the Earl of Abingdon and the Duke of Richmond, moved that the fleet and army should be immediately withdrawn from America, that peace be made with those States, and all our forces be concentrated in chastising France and Spain, as they deserved, for their treachery and unprovoked interference. They called for a total change of Ministers and measures. There was no man in the colonies, nevertheless, who contributed so much to bring the open Declaration of Independence to a crisis as Thomas Paine, the celebrated author of "The Rights of Man" and of "The Age of Reason." Paine was originally a Quaker and staymaker at Thetford, in Norfolk. He renounced his Quakerism and his staymaking, became an exciseman, and then an usher in a school, reverting again to the gauging of ale firkins. In 1772 he wrote a pamphlet on the mischiefs arising from the inadequate payment of the excise officers, laying them open to bribes, etc. This pamphlet having been sent to Franklin, induced him to recommend the poor author to emigrate to America. Paine adopted the advice, and settled at Philadelphia in 1774. He there devoted himself to political literature, wrote for the papers and journals, finally edited the Philadelphia Magazine, and, imbibing all the ardour of revolution, wrote, in January of the year 1776, a pamphlet called "Common Sense." This pamphlet was the spark that was needed to fire the train of independence. It at once seized on the imagination of the public, cast other writers into the shade, and flew, in thousands and tens of thousands of copies, throughout the colonies. It ridiculed the idea of a small island, three thousand miles off, ruling that immense continent, and threatening, by its insolent assumption, the expanding energies of three millions of men, more vigorous, virtuous, and free, than those who sought to enslave them.

ABBOTSFORD AND THE EILDON HILLS. (From a Photograph by Valentine & Sons, Dundee.)

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