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      [425]Before Lord Howe advanced farther, he received a deputation from Congress. He had sent the captured American General, Sullivan, on his parole to Philadelphia to endeavour to induce Congress to come to terms, and save the further effusion of blood. He assured them that he was not at liberty to treat with them as a Congress, but he would willingly meet some of them as private gentlemen, having full powers, with his brother, General Howe, to settle the dispute between them and Great Britain, on advantageous terms; that, on finding them disposed to agree to honourable conditions, he would seek for the acknowledgment of their authority to treat with him, so as to make the compact valid. The delegates appointed were sufficiently indicative of the little good that was to be hoped from the interview. They were Dr. Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge. Franklin had returned a most insulting answer to a private letter sent to him by Lord Howe. It was in vain that Lord Howe assured the deputies that England was disposed to forget all, to pardon all, and to repeal all the obnoxious taxes, and that inexpressible calamities would be avoided by the Colonies simply returning to their allegiance. The deputies replied, that the only terms on which America could make peace was as independent states. This put the matter beyond accommodation.


      The excitement, both at Court and in the country, was far beyond the then apparent value of the islands; but there had been an insult to the British flag, and both Government and Opposition demanded expiation. Lord North displayed a bold and determined tone on the occasion. Orders were sent over to the British ambassador, at Madrid, to demand an immediate disavowal of Buccarelli's act, and instant measures were taken for war, in case of refusal. Ships were refitted, their commanders named, stores were put on board, and orders for pressing men, according to the custom of the time, were issued. But in London these preparations met with resistance from the opposition spirit of the Corporation. Things, however, seemed tending strongly towards war. Our Charg d'affaires at Madrid, in absence of the ambassador, was Mr. Harris, the son of the author of "Hermes." He was but a youth of four-and-twenty, but already displayed much of the talent which raised him to the title of Malmesbury. He wrote home that the King of Spain and some of his Ministers were averse from the idea of war, and unprepared for it; but that others were influenced by Choiseul, the French Premier, and demanded a vigorous attack on England.The remainder of the parliamentary session was occupied with royal marriages and settlements. George III. and his queen, though pious and decorous in their own lives, had the misfortune to have amongst their sons some of the most dissolute and debauched men that ever figured in the corrupt atmosphere of courts. The Prince of Wales was become a very byword for his profligacy and extravagance. The Duke of York was but little better, so far as his means allowed him; and the Duke of Sussex, wishing to marry a woman to whom he was really attached, found the Royal Marriage Act standing in his way.

      65. This was a fief en roture, as distinguished from a fief


      It was not only in the wild and dreary west, always the most neglected part of Ireland, without resident gentry, without a middle class, without manufacturers, and almost without towns, that the desolating effects of the famine were felt. In Ulster, even in the best counties and most thriving manufacturing districts, where the people were intensely industrious, orderly, and thrifty, some of its worst horrors were endured. In the county of Armagh, where the very small farmers kept themselves in comfort by weaving linen in their own houses, they were obliged to work their looms by night as well as by day in order to keep hunger from their homes. They worked till, by exhaustion and want of sleep, they were compelled to lie down. Many of them were obliged to sell or pawn all their clothes. In many cases, and as a last resource, those stout-hearted Presbyterians had to sell their Bibles in order to purchase a meal of food for their children. A clergyman of the Church of England in that county wrote to the Committee of the Society of Friends that he had seen the living lying on straw by the side of the unburied dead, who had died three days before. Not only the aged and infirm, not only women and children, but strong men, he had known to pine away till they died of actual starvation. Strong, healthy girls became so emaciated that they could not stand or move a limb. He visited[540] houses, once comfortable homes, in which not an article of furniture remained. The poor-house of Lurgan was shut. Seventy-five persons died there in one day. In Armagh poor-house forty-five died weekly. The poor-houses became pest-houses, which sent forth the miasma of death into every parish, already full of dysentery and fever. The congregations in the various churches were reduced to almost nothing. Deaths occurred so rapidly that the Roman Catholic priest ceased to attend funerals in his graveyard. The most deplorable accounts came from Cork, and especially from Skibbereen, a remote district of that county. In December, 1846, Father Mathew wrote to Mr. Trevelyan, then Secretary of the Treasury, that men, women, and children were gradually wasting away. They filled their stomachs with cabbage-leaves, turnip-tops, etc., to appease the cravings of hunger. There were then more than 5,000 half-starved wretches from the country begging in the streets of Cork. When utterly exhausted they crawled to the workhouse to die. The average of deaths in that union were then over 100 a week. At Crookhaven the daily average of deaths was from ten to twelve; and as early as the first Sunday in September a collection was made to purchase a public bier, on which to take the coffinless dead to the grave, the means to procure coffins being utterly exhausted in that locality. Earlier still in Skibbereen numerous cases had occurred of the dead being kept for several days above ground for want of coffins. In some cases they were buried in the rags in which they died. Throughout the entire west of the county of Cork it was a common occurrence to see from ten to a dozen funerals in the course of the day during the close of 1846. Versailles) it is plain that the court, in giving a

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      As soon as the Ministry had been restored, the House reassembled for the election of a new Speaker in the room of Mr. Abercromby, who had declared his intention of resigning, having no longer sufficient strength to perform the arduous duties imposed on him by his office. When his intention was announced, he received, through Sir Robert Peel and Lord John Russell, the highest testimony of the esteem in which he was held by the two great parties, not only for his conduct in the Chair, but also for his strenuous exertions to improve the mode of conducting the private business of the House. This was in accordance with precedent, but as a matter of fact Mr. Abercromby was a very weak Speaker, and his ruling had been repeatedly questioned by the House. He was chosen Speaker in 1835. On his resignation of that office he was raised to the peerage as Lord Dunfermline. Mr. Handley nominated Mr. Shaw Lefevre, member for North Hants, as a person eminently qualified to succeed to the vacant chair. Mr. Williams Wynn, a member of great experience and reputation in the House, proposed Mr. Goulburn, member for the University of Cambridge. The motion was seconded by Mr. Wilson Patten. It was a party contest, and tested the strength of the Ministry and the Opposition. The House divided on the motion that Mr. Shaw Lefevre do take the Chair, which was carried by a majority of eighteen, the numbers being 317 and 299.Nor were the fears of Cobbett imaginary. The Ministry at this time were such fanatics in tyranny, that they would have rejoiced to have thus caged the great political lion, and kept him in silence. At this very moment they had pounced upon one who was equally clever in his way, and who had, perhaps, annoyed them still more, but whom they did not so much fear to bring into a court of justice. This was William Hone, who had for some time been making them the laughing-stock of the whole nation by his famous parodies. Hone was a poor bookseller in the Old Bailey, who had spent his life in the quest after curious books, and in the accumulation of more knowledge than wealth. His parodies had first brought him into notice, and it did not appear a very formidable thing for the Government to try a secluded bookworm not even able to fee counsel for his defence. His trial did not come on at the Guildhall till the 18th of December, and then it was evident that the man of satirical fun meant to make a stout fight. The judge, Mr. Justice Abbott, and the Attorney-General, Sir Samuel Shepherd, from their manner of surveying the accused, did not apprehend much difficulty in obtaining a verdict against him. But they very soon discovered their mistake. The charge against Hone was for having published a profane and impious libel upon the Catechism, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, thereby bringing into contempt the Christian religion. The special indictment was for the publication of John Wilkes's catechism. The Attorney-General did not very judiciously commence his charge, for he admitted that he did not believe that Hone meant to ridicule religion, but to produce a telling political squib. This let out the whole gist of the prosecution, though that was very well perceived by most people before; and it was in vain that he went on to argue that the mischief was just the same. Hone opened his own defence with the awkwardness and timidity natural to a man who had passed his life amid books, and not in courts; but he managed to complain of his imprisonment, his harsh treatment, of his poverty in not being able to fee counsel, of the expense of copies of the informations against him, and of the haste, at last, with which he had been[129] called to plead. The judge repeatedly interrupted him, with a mild sort of severity, and the spectators were expecting him to make a short and ineffective defence. Hone, on the contrary, began to show more boldness and pertinacity. He began to open his books, and to read parody after parody of former times. In vain Mr. Justice Abbott and the Attorney-General stopped him, and told him that he was not to be allowed to add to his offence by producing other instances of the crime in other persons. But Hone told them that he was accused of putting parodies on sacred things into his books, and it was out of his books he must defend himself. The poor, pale, threadbare retailer of old books was now warmed into eloquence, and stood in the most unquestionable ascendency on the floor of the court, reading and commenting as though he would go on for ever; and he did go on for six hours. He declared that the editor of Blackwood's Magazine was a parodisthe parodied a chapter of Ezekiel; Martin Luther was a parodisthe parodied the first Psalm; Bishop Latimer was a parodist; so was Dr. Boys, Dean of Canterbury; so was the author of the "Rolliad;" so was Mr. Canning. He proved all that he said by reading passages from the authors, and he concluded by saying that he did not believe that any of these writers meant to ridicule the Scriptures, and that he could not, therefore, see why he should be supposed to do so more than they. Nay, he had done what they never did: as soon as he was aware that his parodies had given offence he suppressed themand that long ago, not waiting till he was prosecuted. They, in fact, were prosecuting him for what he had voluntarily and long ago suppressed. The Attorney-General, in reply, asserted that it would not save the defendant that he had quoted Martin Luther and Dr. Boys, for he must pronounce them both libellous. The judge charged the jury as if it were their sacred duty to find the defendant guilty; but, after only a quarter of an hour's deliberation, they acquitted him.

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      Ministre, 20 Oct., 1699.) Two years later the governorMeanwhile, Washington and Rochambeau were mustering for the march to the Chesapeake. On the 14th of September Washington reached the headquarters of Lafayette, and took the supreme command, Rochambeau being second, and the especial head of the French. The next day Washington and Rochambeau held a conference with the Comte de Grasse. De Grasse told them that what they did they must do quickly, for that he could not remain on that station longer than the 1st of November; and it was resolved to act accordingly.

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