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    Meeting of ParliamentLord Chatham's Amendment to the AddressThe News of SaratogaTreaty between France and AmericaWashington in Valley ForgeIntrigues against himViolation of Burgoyne's ConventionDebates in ParliamentAttempt to bring Chatham into the MinistryLord North's Conciliation BillsThe French NotePatriotism of the NationThe King refuses to send for ChathamHis last Speech and DeathHonours to his MemoryBurke's Measure of Irish ReliefRepeal of Laws against Roman CatholicsExplosion of Scottish BigotryTurgot's WarningsNaval Engagement off UshantFailure of Lafayette's Canadian ExpeditionClinton compelled to evacuate PhiladelphiaFailure of Lord North's CommissionersD'Estaing and Sullivan attempt to take Rhode IslandSubsequent Proceedings of D'EstaingCourts-martial of Keppel and PalliserThe Irish VolunteersSpain declares WarMilitary PreparationsJunction of the French and Spanish FleetsThey retire from the ChannelD'Estaing in the West IndiesHis Attempt on SavannahWeakness of Lord North's MinistryMeeting of ParliamentLord North's Irish BillRichmond, Shelburne, and Burke attempt Economic ReformsThe Meeting at York petitions for Reform of ParliamentBurke's Economic SchemeNorth's Man?uvreFurther Attempts at ReformThe Westminster MeetingDunning's MotionDefeat of his later Resolutions"No Popery" in ScotlandLord George Gordon's AgitationThe Riots and their ProgressTheir SuppressionTrial of the PrisonersRodney relieves GibraltarDestruction of English MerchantmenDisputes with HollandThe Armed Neutrality of the NorthCapture of CharlestonDeclaration of South CarolinaBattle of CamdenExpedition into North CarolinaArrival of the French SquadronRodney in the West IndiesArnold's TreacheryTrial and Death of AndrBreach with HollandAttacks on Jersey and GibraltarMutiny in the Army of WashingtonArnold's Raids in VirginiaCornwallis in North CarolinaHis Engagements with GreeneHis March into VirginiaRawdon and GreeneBattle of Eutaw SpringsSiege of York TownThe American Armies close round himCornwallis compelled to Surrender.Braves, with broad sail, the immeasurable sea;In the course of this commercial madness the imports greatly exceeded the exports, and there was consequently a rapid drain of specie from the country. The drain of bullion from the Bank of England was immense. In August, 1823, it had 12,658,240, which in August, 1825, was reduced to 3,634,320, and before the end of the year it ran as low as 1,027,000. Between July, 1824, and August, 1825, twelve millions of cash were exported from Great Britain, chiefly to South America. During the Revolutionary war, which had lasted for fourteen years, the capital of the country had been completely exhausted, while all productive labour had been abandoned. The unworked mines were filled with water. They were accessible, it is true, to English speculators, but they were worked exclusively with English capital. The South American mining companies were so many conduits through which a rapid stream of gold flowed from Great Britain. The catastrophe that followed took the commercial world by surprise; even the Chancellor of the Exchequer failed to anticipate the disaster. On the contrary, his Budget of 1825 was based upon the most sanguine expectations for the future, and on the assurance that the public prosperity was the very reverse of what was ephemeral and peculiar, and that it arose from something inherent in the nation. Even at the prorogation of Parliament in July, the Royal Speech referred to the "great and growing" prosperity on which his Majesty had the happiness of congratulating the country at the beginning of the Session. The commercial crisis, however, with widespread ruin in its train, was fast coming upon Britain. Vast importations, intended to meet an undiminished demand at high prices, glutted all the markets, and caused prices to fall rapidly. Merchants sought accommodation from their bankers to meet pressing liabilities, that they might be enabled to hold over their goods till prices rallied. This accommodation the bankers were unable to afford, and sales were therefore effected at a ruinous loss. The South American mines, it was found, could not be worked at a profit, and they made no return for the twenty million pounds of British money which they had swallowed up. The effect was a sudden contraction of the currency, and a general stoppage of banking accommodation. The country banks, whose issues had risen to 14,000,000, were run upon till their specie was exhausted, and many of them were obliged to stop payment. The Plymouth Bank was the first to fail, and in the next three weeks seventy banks followed in rapid succession. The London houses were besieged from morning to night by clamorous crowds, all demanding gold for their notes. Consternation spread through all classes. There was a universal pressure of creditors upon debtors, the banks that survived being themselves upon the edge of the precipice; and the Bank of England itself, pushed to the last extremity, peremptorily refused accommodation even to their best customers. Persons worth one hundred thousand pounds could not command one hundred pounds; money seemed to have taken to itself wings and fled away, reducing a state of society in the highest degree artificial almost to the condition of primitive barbarism, which led Mr. Huskisson to exclaim, "We were within twenty-four hours of barter."The complaints of agricultural distress prevalent in England, with the sudden reaction from war prices at the establishment of peace, had become so loud and general this year that Parliament undertook to find a remedy. An agricultural committee had been appointed to inquire into the subject, and had produced a report which was far from satisfactory. On the 29th of April the House of Commons resolved itself into a committee to consider the report. Three different schemes were proposed for the relief of the farmers and landlordsthe first by the Marquis of Londonderry, the second by Mr. Ricardo, and the third by Mr. Huskisson. There was no scarcity of produce in England; on the contrary, it was very abundant, and the evil that oppressed the farmers was excessive cheapness, by which they were disabled from paying the high rents and heavy taxation entailed by the war. Some of the remedies proposed were sufficiently radical in their character. The most natural was the reduction of taxation by means of retrenchment in the public expenditure. Some proposed that the tithes should be alienated from the Church, and used for the purpose of reducing the national burdens. The largest party insisted upon the reduction of the interest of the National Debt, which was defended as an equitable measure on the ground of the increased value of the currency since the passing of Peel's Bill for the resumption of cash payments. The plan of relief proposed by Lord Londonderry consisted of the repeal of the annual malt tax, and the loan of a million by Exchequer Bills to the landed interest upon the security of warehoused corn.
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    To assist the Governor-General, the British Government had sent out Sir Eyre Coote in 1780 to the scene of his former fame, not only as Commander of the Forces in place of Clavering, but also as member of Council. Coote usually supported Hastings in the Council, but he greatly embarrassed him by the insatiable spirit of avarice which had grown upon him with years; and in making arrangements with the Nabob of Oude and others to supply the means of accommodation to the old commander, Hastings largely augmented the grounds of his future persecutions. The war with the Mahrattas and the announcement of the speedy arrival of a French armament on the coast of Coromandel induced the Company's old enemy, Hyder Ali, to think it a good opportunity to recover some of his territory from the Company. He saw that the present opportunity was most favourable for taking a signal revenge on the English. For years he had concerted with the French a grand plan for the destruction of the British power; and even whilst he remained quiet, he was preparing with all his energies for its accomplishment. He had squeezed his treasurers and collectors to the utmost for the accumulation of money, and mustered an army of nearly ninety thousand men, including twenty-eight thousand cavalry and two thousand artillery and rocketmen, besides four hundred engineers, chiefly French. Hyder suddenly poured down from his hills with this host into the plains of Madras. To the last moment the authorities there appear to have been wholly unconscious of their danger. Besides this, the army in the presidency did not exceed six thousand men, and these were principally sepoys. This force, too, was spread over a vast region, part at Pondicherry, part at Arcot, part in Madras, but everywhere scattered into cantonments widely distant from each other, and in forts capable of very little defence. As for the forces of their ally, the Nabob of Arcot, they ran at the first issue of Hyder's army through the ghauts. On came the army of Hyder like a wild hurricane. Porto Novo on the coast, and Conjeveram near Trichinopoli, were taken; and Hyder advanced laying all waste with fire and sword, till he could be seena dreadful apparitionwith his host from Mount St. Thomas, his progress marked by the flames and smoke of burning villages.
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    The Ministry had, as a matter of course, been much weakened by the retirement of Lord Grey; but, having got through the Session, it might have survived to the next meeting of Parliament but for the death of Earl Spencer, which occurred on the 10th of Novemberan event which removed Lord Althorp to the House of Peers. It was supposed that this would lead only to a fresh modification of the Cabinet, by a redistribution of places. For example, Lord John Russell was to succeed Lord Althorp as the leader of the House of Commons. Lord Melbourne's Administration seemed to be quietly acquiesced in, as sufficient for a time; the nation evidently assuming that, in any case, a Liberal Government was the necessary consequence of a reformed Parliament. The public were therefore startled when it was announced on the 15th that the king had dismissed his Ministers. It appeared that Lord Melbourne had waited upon his Majesty at Brighton, on the 14th, to take his commands as to the new arrangements he was about to make. But the king said he considered that Government dissolved by the removal of Lord Althorp; that he did not approve of the intended construction of the Cabinet; that Lord John Russell would make "a wretched figure" as leader of the House, and that Abercromby and Spring-Rice were worse than Russell; that he[378] did not approve of their intended measure with regard to the Irish Church; and concluded by informing Lord Melbourne that he would not impose upon him the task of completing the Ministerial arrangements, but would send for the Duke of Wellington.
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    The queen closed the session on the 9th of July, assuring the Parliament that her chief concern was for the preservation of our holy religion and the liberty of the subjectthis liberty having been most grievously invaded by her through the Schism Bill. But the dissolution of her Ministry was also fast approaching. The hostility of Oxford and Bolingbroke was becoming intolerable, and paralysed all the proceedings of Government. As for Oxford, he felt himself going, and had not the boldness and[20] resolution to do what would ruin his rival. He coquetted with the WhigsCowper, Halifax, and others; he wrote to Marlborough, and did all but throw himself into the arms of the Opposition. Had he had the spirit to do that he might have been saved; but it was not in his nature. He might then have uncovered to the day the whole monstrous treason of Bolingbroke; but he had himself so far and so often, though never heartily or boldly, tampered with treason, that he dreaded Bolingbroke's retaliation. Bothmar, the Hanoverian envoy, saw clearly that Oxford was lost. He wrote home that there were numbers who would have assisted him to bring down his rival, but that he could not be assisted, because, according to the English maxim, he did not choose to assist himself. Swift endeavoured, but in vain, to reconcile his two jarring friends; and Oxford finally utterly lost himself by offending the great favourite, Lady Masham. He had been imprudent enough to oppose her wishes, and refuse her some matter of interest. He now was treated by her with such marked indignity, that Dr. Arbuthnot declared that he would no more have suffered what he had done than he would have sold himself to the galleys. Still, with his singular insensibility to insult, he used to dine at the same table with her frequently, and also in company with Bolingbroke, too.

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    Telford, under the commission for Scotland, thoroughly revolutionised the roads of that country. From Carlisle to the extremity of Caithness, and from east to west of Scotland, he intersected the whole country with beautiful roads, threw bridges of admirable construction over the rivers, and improved many of the harbours, as those of Banff, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Fortrose, Cullen, and Kirkwall. The extent of new road made by him was about one thousand miles, and he threw one thousand two hundred bridges over rivers, some of them wild mountain torrents.
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