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Sir Robert Peel began by saying, "Sir, the honourable gentleman has stated here very emphatically, what he has more than once stated at the conferences of the Anti-Corn-Law League, that he holds me individually responsible for the distress and suffering of the country; that he holds me personally responsible." This was pronounced with great solemnity of manner, and at the word "individually" the Premier was interrupted by a loud cheer from the Ministerial benches of a very peculiar and emphatic kind. Sir Robert then continued, "Be the consequences of those insinuations what they may, never will I be influenced by menaces to adopt a course which I consider" But the rest of the sentence was lost in renewed shouts from the Ministerial benches. Mr. Cobden immediately rose and said, "I did not say that I held the right honourable gentleman personally responsible;" but he was interrupted by shouts from the Ministerial benches of, "You did, you did!" mingled with cries of "Order!" and "Chair!" The further remark from Mr. Cobden, "I have said that I hold the right honourable gentleman responsible by virtue of his office, as the whole context of what I said was sufficient to explain," brought renewed shouts from the same quarter of "No, no," accompanied by great confusion. When Sir Robert, says a newspaper of the day, gave the signal for this new light, then, and not till then, the sense so obtained burst forth with a frantic yell, which would better have befitted a company of savages who first saw and scented their victim, than a grave and dignified assembly insulted by conduct deemed deserving of condemnation. Sir Robert afterwards so far recovered from his excitement as to say, "I will not overstate anything. Therefore I will not say I am certain the honourable gentleman used the word 'personally';" but the debate created a painful impression, which was increased by an article in the Times of the following day, deliberately attempting to connect Mr. Cobden with the doctrine of assassination. The friends of the Anti-Corn-Law movement, however, immediately held meetings throughout the country, at which they expressed their indignation at the attempt to fix a calumny upon the man whose arguments in favour of Free Trade in food were unanswered and unanswerable.

JOHN WILKES.

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Such, then, was the state of affairs at the meeting of Parliament in November, 1768. These events in America claimed immediate attention. The petition of the Convention of Massachusetts, on its arrival, was rejected indignantly. The Opposition called for the production of the correspondence with the civil and military authorities there on the subject, but this demand was negatived. In January, 1769, the House of Lords took up the subject in a lofty tone. They complained of the seditious and treasonable proceedings of the people of Boston and of Massachusetts generally; and the Duke of Bedford, affirming that it was clear that no such acts could be punished by the magistrates or tribunals of the colony, moved an address to the king recommending that the criminals guilty of the late outrages should be brought to England and tried there, according to an Act of the 35th of Henry VIII. On the 26th of January it was introduced to the Commons. There it excited a very spirited opposition. Pownall, who had himself been governor of Massachusetts, and knew the Americans well,[195] accused the Lords of gross ignorance of the charters, usages, and character of the Americans; and Governor Johnstone as strongly condemned the motion, which was carried by one hundred and fifty-five to eighty-nine. On the 14th of March a petition from New York, denying their right to tax America in any way, was rejected, on the motion of Lord North; and, still later in the session, Governor Pownall moved that the revenue acts affecting America should be repealed forthwith. By this time everybody seemed to have become convinced of the folly of the attempt; but Ministers had not the magnanimity to act at once on the certainty that stared them in the face. Parliament was prorogued on the 9th of May, and did not meet again till the following January, as if there were nothing of moment demanding its attention.