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      JEDBURGH ABBEY. (After the Painting by Sir George Reid, P.R.S.A.)


      The House then adjourned for the Easter holidays, till the 7th of May. The interval was one of the greatest possible public excitement. The narrowness of the majority made the Reformers tremble for the fate of the Bill in committee. The awful silence was now broken, and the voice of the nation was heard like peals of thunder. The political unions which had been resting on their arms, as if watching intently the movements of armies at a distance, now started to their feet, and prepared themselves for battle. At Leeds, at Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, meetings were held, strong resolutions passed, and imperative petitions adopted. At Birmingham an aggregate meeting of the political unions of the surrounding districts was held on the 7th of May at the foot of New Hall Hill. Of this vast and formidable assembly, the northern division alone was estimated at 100,000 men, who marched with 150 banners and eleven bands of music, their processions extending over four miles. The total number of bands in attendance at the meeting was 200, and the number of banners 700. The commencement of the proceedings was announced by sound of bugle. A number of energetic and determined speeches was delivered, and a petition to the Lords was adopted, imploring them not to drive to despair a high-minded, generous, and fearless people, nor to urge them on by a rejection of their claims to demands of a much more extensive nature; but rather to pass the Reform Bill into law, unimpaired in any of its great parts and provisions, more especially uninjured in the clauses relating to the ten-pound franchise. The council of the Birmingham union declared its sitting permanent, and the vast organisation throughout the United Kingdom assumed an attitude of resolution and menace truly alarming.


      The British Parliament accepted the measure without much debate, regarding it as a simple case of necessity. It passed the House of Lords with only three non-contentsLords Derby, King, and Holland. In the Commons it was passed by a majority of two hundred and thirty-six against thirty. Mr. Grey moved an amendment, praying his Majesty to suspend the question till the sentiments of the Irish people at large could be ascertained regarding this measure. He said that twenty-seven counties had petitioned against the measure; that seven hundred and seven thousand persons had petitioned against it, and only three thousand for it. But this amendment was swept away by a vast majority; the Act was passed, and received the royal assent on the 2nd of July. This and the vote of the necessary moneys being the great business of the Session, Parliament was prorogued on the 29th of the same month.In England Parliament met on the 31st of October, and Lord North now moved, in a Committee of Supply, for forty-five thousand seamen for the service of the following year; and in a warm debate, in which Mr. Luttrell made a severe charge of maladministration at the Admiralty, and of the most shameful corruptions and peculations in that department and in the Commissariat, he called for the production of the necessary papers to enable him to substantiate these charges.


      Lord Fitzgerald, a pension and peerage.

      But in February the long-expected armament from France arrived on the Coromandel coast. Suffren, the admiral, was one of the ablest sea-commanders of France. On his way he had secured the Cape of Good Hope against the English, and he now landed at Porto Novo two thousand French soldiers to join the army of Hyder Ali. Tippoo, flushed with the recent capture of Colonel Braithwaite, invited the French to join him in an attack on Cuddalore, an important town between Porto Novo and Pondicherry. This was done, and Cuddalore was wrested from the English in April. Whilst these events were taking place on land, repeated engagements occurred with the British fleets on the coasts. That of Admiral Hughes was reinforced by fresh ships from England, and between February, 1782, and June, 1783, the British and French fleets fought five pitched battles with varied success. In none of these was any man-of-war captured by either side, nor any great number of men lost; but, eventually, Suffren succeeded in retaking Trincomalee, in Ceylon, from the British.

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      So the captain and the first sergeant took up the money and the loose papers, together with a couple of rings from the hands, and wrapping them in a poncho, carried them off to serve as possible means of identification, for it had got beyond all question of features. Then two men moved the bodies from the[Pg 137] trail, with long sticks, and covered them with a pile of stones. Landor found a piece of board by the mouth of the claim and drew on it, with an end of charred stick, a skull and cross bones with a bow and arrow, and stood it up among the stones, in sign to all who might chance to pass thereby that since men had here died at the hands of the Apaches, other men might yet meet a like fate.

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      Whilst the American colonies were thus stimulated, by unwise taxation, into a temper which never again could be entirely allayed, the king was suddenly attacked with an illness, that startled himself and the kingdom from that security which his apparently robust constitution had inspired. He was said to labour under cough and fever; but it became pretty well understood, after a time, that it was something more[186] alarmingthat it was, in fact, an attack of that insanity which recurred again and again, and held him for years, during the latter part of his reign, in its fearful power. This time it was of short occurrence; and the moment it was past, George held a levee at St. James's, and appeared at it with a cheerful air, as if to dissipate all alarm. But the king himself immediately proposed a measure, which showed that it had excited grave thoughts in him. He submitted to Ministers the propriety of a provision for a regency, in case of any recurring malady which should incapacitate him for business. The matter was discussed in the Cabinet, and it was agreed that such a bill should be prepared, empowering the king to name, if deemed necessary, "either the queen, or any other person of the royal family usually residing in Great Britain."

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