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      [45]


      CHAPTER XIX. THE REIGN OF GEORGE III. (continued).The mesquites were directly ahead. A horseman came out from behind them and placed himself across the road. There was a sheen of moonlight on a revolver barrel and a shouted "Halt there!"


      They had been doing that for three days. They came down the chimney, made across the floor in a line that never changed direction, nor straggled, nor lessened, up the wall and out a crack in the window. They did no harm, but followed blindly on in the path the first one had taken. And the minister had said they should not be smoked back or thwarted.


      In July, 1814, whilst the struggles were going on upon the Canadian frontiers, the British projected an expedition against the very capital of the United States. This was carried into execution about the middle of August. Sir Alexander Cochrane landed General Ross, and a strong body of troops, on the banks of the Patuxent, and accompanied them in a flotilla of launches, armed boats, and small craft up the river itself. On entering the reach at Pig Point they saw the American flotilla, commanded by Commodore Baring, lying seventeen in number. They prepared to attack it, when they saw flames begin to issue from the different vessels, and comprehended that the commodore had deserted them; and it was firmly believed that he had so timed the setting fire to his vessels that they might blow up when the British were close upon them, if they had not already boarded them. Fortunately, the flames had made too much progress, and the British escaped this danger. The vessels blew up one after another, except one, which the British secured. Both soldiers and sailors were highly incensed at this treachery, and prepared to avenge it on Washington itself. On the 24th of August they were encountered at Bladensburg, within five miles of Washington, by eight or nine thousand American troops, posted on the right bank of the Potomac, on a commanding ridge. Madison was on one of the hills, to watch the battle, on the event of which depended the fate of the capital.Lord Redesdale in a letter to Lord Eldon, written in 1821, soon after the king's visit, gave expression to some important truths about the Government of Ireland. "Ministers," he said, "have fancied that Ireland would do better without a Lord-Lieutenant, and some of them have called his office a useless pageant, but under the present circumstances they would govern the colonies as well without governors as they can govern Ireland without that pageant. If the pageant is useless, it is because they make it useless, because they give him a Secretary to thwart him, or to be a viceroy over him. The office of Lord-Lieutenant requires, in my opinion, a considerable portion of ability, sound judgment, discretion, firmness, good temper, and conciliating[246] manners. Such a Lord-Lieutenant ought to be supreme. If Ministers think fit to appoint to such an office a man wholly unqualified for it, they must put him in leading-strings, and give him a Secretary with all the qualities the Lord-Lieutenant ought to have; and, moreover, with a disposition to conceal rather than display his power over his superiorto lead, and not to command, the Lord-Lieutenant. In England the machine goes on almost of itself, and therefore a bad driver may manage it tolerably well. It is not so in Ireland. The country requires great exertion to bring it into a state of order and submission to law. The whole populationhigh and low, rich and poor, Catholic and Protestantmust all be brought to obedience to law; all must be taught to look up to the law for protection. The gentry are ready enough to attend grand juries, to obtain presentments for their own benefit, but they desert the quarter-sessions of the peace. The first act of a constable in arrest must not be to knock down the prisoner; and many, many reforms must be made, which only can be effected by a judicious and able Government on the spot. Ireland, in its present state, cannot be governed in England. If insubordination compels you to give, how are you to retain by law what you propose to maintain while insubordination remains? It can only be by establishing completely the empire of the law."

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      Delay was demanded, to hear what was the feeling of merchants and manufacturers in England, and these soon poured in petitions against these concessions, from Liverpool, Manchester, and other places; one of them, from the Lancashire manufacturers, being signed by eighty thousand persons. After two months had been spent in receiving these petitions, hearing evidence and counsel, Mr. Pitt introduced his propositions on the 12th of May. It was then found that British interests, as usual, had triumphed over the Ministerial intentions of benefiting Ireland. Not only was Ireland to be bound to furnish, in return for these concessions, a fixed contribution out of the surplus of the hereditary revenue towards defraying the expenses of protecting the general commerce, but to adopt whatever navigation laws the British Parliament might hereafter enact. Lord North and Fox opposed these propositions, on the ground that the cheapness of labour in Ireland would give that country an advantage over the manufacturers in this. The[312] resolutions were at length carried both in the Committee and in the House at large on the 25th of July.

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      On the 1st of February, 1831, the Birmingham Political union held its anniversary. It had been established some years, first to denounce the circulation of a metallic currency, and then for the purpose of agitating for Reform, organised somewhat on the principle of the Irish Catholic Association, and exerting a mighty influence on public opinion in the northern counties. Mr. Attwood stated that at this time it had on its books 9,000 members, paying from 4s. to 2 2s. a year each. Other unions of a similar kind were established in many cities and towns throughout the kingdom.[See larger version]

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      THE MOB BOARDING THE GRAIN SHIP AT GARRY KENNEDY. (See p. 484.)[See larger version]


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