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      * See Jesuits in North America, chap. xv.


      If any point should ever arise where an answer would seem ** Ragueneau, Vie de Catherine de St. Augustin, Liv. IV.


      During this time Britain was suffering severely from the effects of the war. The nation was indignant under the disgrace of the complete defeat of its army on the Continent, at the defection of those very Allies who had been so profusely subsidised, at the perfidy by which these despot Powers had made Britain the efficient party in the dismemberment of Poland, and at the heavy taxes imposed in consequence. Political meetings were held in most large towns and in the metropolis, expressing the most decided disapprobation of the policy of Ministers and at the refusal of all reforms. At the end of June a monster meeting had been held in St. George's Fields, and on the 26th of October, another, of fifty thousand people, near Copenhagen House, at which the lately prosecuted but acquitted agitators, Thelwall, Gale Jones, and others, were the speakers. The numbers and tone of these meetings, which were accompanied with loud cries of "Bread! Bread!" and "Down with Pitt!" greatly alarmed Government, and there was a summons of Parliament at the unusually early date of October 29th, only three days after the meeting in Copenhagen Fields. On going to the House to open the session, the kingwho had become very unpopular from his eager support of the war, and his going about saying, "The French won't leave a single crowned head in Europe!"was shot at with an air-gun in Margaret Street, opposite to the Ordnance Office, the ball from which passed through the windows of the carriage, between his Majesty and the Earl of Westmoreland. The king on entering the House, exclaimed to the Lord Chancellor, "My lord, I have been shot at!" As the king returned, he was again furiously hissed; there was the same vociferous shouting of "Bread! Bread!" and "No Pitt!" Stones were thrown at the royal carriage; and, in the haste and confusion to escape into the palace of St. James's, one of the royal grooms was thrown to the ground, and had his thigh broken. The king got into a private coach to regain Buckingham House, where his family was; but he was recognised, and pursued by the same cries of "Bread! Bread!" and "Peace!" That evening the king, who had[449] behaved throughout with great courage, accompanied the queen and three of his daughters to Covent Garden Theatre, where he was received with zealous acclamations; the actors sang "God save the king!" three times over. Some of the people in the gallery were, however, pretty vehement in their hisses, but were attacked and turned out. * La Motte-Cadillac -, 28 Sept., 1694.

      extremely careful not to provoke them; and one of his first acts was to restore to the council the bishops adherents, whom Mzy had expelled. * And if, on the one hand, he was too pious to quarrel with the bishop, so, on the other, the bishop was too prudent to invite collision with a man of his rank and influence.The next day the debate was resumed. It appeared that the Prince had been hooted at, and a stone, or other missile, flung through the window of the carriage. The Ministerial party endeavoured to raise the occurrence into an attempt on the Prince's life; the Opposition hinted at the expression of public disgust with the tone which Government was assuming towards the distresses of the people, called zealously for stringent reductions of expense, and moved an amendment to that very effect. But the Government had yet much to learn on this head; and Lord Sidmouth announced that the Prince Regent in three days would send down a message on the disaffection of the people. It would have been wise to have added to this measure a recommendation of serious inquiry into the causes of this disaffection, for disaffection towards a Government never exists without a cause; but the Government had carried on matters so easily whilst they had nothing to do but to vote large sums of money for foreign war that they had grown callous, and had been so much in co-operation with arbitrary monarchs that they had acquired too much of the same spirit; and they now set about to put down the people of England as they, by means of the people of England, had put down Buonaparte. It was their plan to create alarm, and under the influence of that alarm to pass severe measures for the crippling of the Constitution and the suppression of all complaints of political evil.


      [See larger version]A question was opened in the House of Commons, on a motion of Mr. Western, which often subsequently occupied its attention. It referred to the effect on prices of Mr. Peel's Act of 1819 for the resumption of cash payments. According to the views of Mr. Western and Mr. Attwood, the value of money had been enormously increased by the resumption of payments in specie by the Bank, and its necessary preliminary, a diminution of the circulation. Prices had in consequence fallen; rents, taxes, annuities, and all fixed[225] payments become more onerous. These views were opposed by Huskisson, Peel, and Ricardo, and, on the motion of the first-named, a resolution was carried, by one hundred and ninety-four to thirty, "That this House will not alter the standard of gold or silver in fineness, weight, or denomination."

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      Napoleon had so far executed his plans with wonderful success. He had rescued Bavaria, reduced the enemy's army and prestige at once by the capture of Ulm and Vienna, and had driven the Austrians simultaneously from Upper Italy and the Tyrol. But still his situation, for any general but himself, was very critical. The defeated army of the Emperor Francis had united itself to that of the young Emperor of Russia, in Moravia; the two archdukes were mustering great bodies of troops on the confines of Hungary, ready to rush forward and swell the Austro-Russian army; and the King of Prussia was watching the movements of the two parties, ready to strike, if France met with a reverse. Napoleon saw that his only security lay in a bold and decisive blow. He therefore crossed the Danube on the 23rd of November, and began a brisk march into the heart of Moravia, to attack the main body of the Allies under their two Emperors. He was soon before Brünn, its little capital, and the Allies retreated, at his approach, as far as Olmütz. This movement was, however, made to form a junction with the twenty-four thousand men under Benningsen. This being effected, they amounted to about eighty thousand men, but of these, many of the Austrians were troops already discouraged by defeat, and many more were raw recruits. The French were in number about equal, but consisting of veteran soldiers flushed with victory. On the 2nd of December Napoleon brought on the battle of Austerlitz, and before the close of the day the forces of the Coalition were completely beaten, losing upon the field some 27,000 killed and wounded, 20,000 prisoners, and 133 pieces of cannon.Parliament was opened by commission on the 29th of January, four days after the formation of the Wellington Ministry. The Royal Speech referred chiefly to the affairs of the East, to the rights of neutral nations violated by the revolting excesses of the Greeks and Turks, to the battle of Navarino with the fleet of an ancient ally, which was lamented as an "untoward event;" but hopes were expressed that it might not lead to further hostilities. The Speech alluded to the increase of exports and the more general employment of the people as indications of returning prosperity. The phrase "untoward" was objected to by Lords Lansdowne and Goderich. Lord Holland denied that our relations with Turkey were those of an alliance; but the Duke of Wellington contended that the Ottoman empire was an ancient ally of Great Britain, that it formed an essential part of the balance of power, and that the maintenance of its independent existence was more than ever necessary as an object of European policy.

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      The Ministers being duly informed of all, the preparations for the dinner were carried on ostensibly as though nothing was suspected. On the 23rd of February, when the evening had arrived, carriages began to collect about the house of Lord Harrowby, and the scouts who were sent out to see that there were no soldiers or police stationed there, reported all right. But the carriages were driving to the house of the Archbishop of York, which adjoined Lord Harrowby's, and this had deceived the conspirators. The Ministers had remained at home to dine, and then had assembled at Lord Liverpool's to await the news of the result. The police, conducted by the spies, meanwhile reached the rendezvous of the conspirators, which was a stable in Cato Street, near the Edgware Road. The soldiers had orders to be in readiness, and surround the place immediately, and assist in securing the desperadoes. But it seems that the soldiers were not ready at the moment, and on the police entering the stable they found that the conspirators were in the hayloft over it. They were proceeding up the ladder to the loft, and Smithers, one of the police, had just entered it, when Thistlewood, seeing that they[155] were betrayed, stabbed the man to the heart, blew out the light, and made his escape. There was a confused firing of pistols in the dark, and the soldiers coming up, nine of the conspirators were secured, with a quantity of arms and ammunition; but fourteen were said to have succeeded in escaping.


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