[See larger version] However, the agitation of the working classes continued; and, when Parliament met in February, 1839, the concluding paragraph of the Speech referred to the disturbances and combinations among the working classes: "I have observed with pain the persevering efforts which have been made in some parts of the country to excite my subjects to disobedience and resistance to the law, and to recommend dangerous and illegal practices. For the counteraction of all such designs I depend upon the efficacy of the law, which it will be my duty to enforce, upon the good sense and right disposition of my people, upon their attachment to the principles of justice, and their abhorrence of violence and disorder." In the course of the debate in the Commons Sir Robert Peel adverted to the paragraph referring to illegal meetings. Having read several extracts from the speeches of Mr. Stephens, Dr. Wade, and Mr. Feargus O'Connor delivered at Chartist meetings, he quoted, for the purpose of reprehending, a speech delivered by Lord John Russell at Liverpool in the previous month of October, when, alluding to the Chartist meeting, the noble lord said, "There are some perhaps who would put down such meetings, but such was not his opinion, nor that of the Government with which he acted. He thought the people had a right to free discussion which elicited truth. They had a right to meet. If they had no grievances, common sense would speedily come to the rescue, and put an end to these meetings." These sentiments, remarked Sir Robert Peel, might be just, and even truisms; yet the unseasonable expression of truth in times of public excitement was often dangerous. The Reform Bill, he said, had failed to give permanent satisfaction as he had throughout predicted would be the case, and he well knew that a concession of further reform, in the expectation of producing satisfaction or finality, would be only aggravating the disappointment, and that in a few years they would be encountered by further demands.

Amongst the foremost of the promoters of science, and the most eloquent of its expounders, was Sir David Brewster, who died full of years and of honours in 1868. Arrived at manhood at the opening of the present century, having been born in 1781, he continued his brilliant course during fifty years, pursuing his investigations into the laws of polarisation by crystals, and by the reflection, refraction, and absorption of light, in which he made important discoveries. The attention of the British public was forcibly arrested by an able treatise on "Light," contributed by Sir John Herschel, in 1827, to the "Encyclop?dia Metropolitana." Its excellent method and lucid explanations attracted to the theory of Young and Fresnel men of science who had been deterred by the fragmentary and abstruse style of the former. This was followed four years later by a most able and precise mathematical exposition of the theory, and its application to optical problems, by Professor Airy, who became Astronomer-Royal in 1835. Gilbert's Act, (22 Geo. { 12 unions 200 [See larger version]


Here all further progress became impossible. The Spaniards having reduced their debt to less than one half the original sum, were fighting stoutly to reduce it to nothing. There appeared no chance but for arms to decide it. Cardinal Fleury, with his usual pacific disposition, made an effort to avert the war by guaranteeing to undertake the payment of the ninety-five thousand pounds by Spain, provided that the British fleet was withdrawn from the Mediterranean. But English spirit, even in Walpole, had now reached its limit of patience. The king and the nation were equally in a mood for war. Walpole, therefore, ceased to listen any longer to the Spanish objections, but took his stand on the true British ground of resistance to the right of search, and on that of an acknowledgment of all British rights and claims in North America. Instead of withdrawing the Mediterranean fleet, he ordered its reinforcement, sent Sir Chaloner Ogle with fresh ships to the West Indies, and Sir John Norris was ordered to put to sea with a third squadron. The above demands being peremptorily made from the Court of Madrid, and being rejected, war was proclaimed in London on the 19th of October. Walpole, who had reluctantly resorted to this master evil, as he heard the rejoicings, exclaimed, "They may ring the bells now, but they will soon be wringing their hands!" The first symptoms of the consequences which the war was likely to produce were seen in the new hopes which it awoke in the ranks of the Jacobites. Large numbers of them met at Edinburgh, and drew up a bond of association, pledging one another to take arms and venture life and fortune for the restoration of the Stuart. On the other hand, those nations on which England calculated for aid hung back and remained neutral. The Dutch were bound to furnish certain troops in case of war, and, before the declaration of it, Horace Walpole was despatched by his brother to demand their production; but they pleaded the menaces of France, which threatened them with invasion by fifty thousand men if they assisted the English, and which held out to them the prospect of their obtaining that trade to the Spanish colonies which England had enjoyed. As for France herself, she assumed an air rather ominous of war than of peace, and thus Britain was left alone in the contest. 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.

[See larger version]