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This appeal did something to strengthen them, but not permanently. The fact that Parliament might terminate any day from the death of the king did much to keep members in remembrance of their constituents; but the great cause of Ministerial decay of popularity was that the circumstance and spirit of the times demanded more liberal legislation than such men as Liverpool, Sidmouth, and Eldon could comprehend, much less originate. The manufacturing districts were especially in a depressed condition. The efforts which had been made to force a trade had failed. The excessive exportation of manufactured goods had resulted exactly as Brougham had prognosticated: the foreign markets had been glutted before the people were capable of buying, and the fall in prices had been ruinous. The equally great importation of raw material to continue the supply of fabrics for which the demand was inadequate, had made matters worse. The bankruptcies during the first half of this year were double the average number, credit was severely shaken, and numbers of workmen were thrown out of employment or reduced to very low wages. Wheat, though not so high as a year or two ago, averaged eighty shillings per quarter. The consequence was a renewed political action, and meetings were called by the workmen in various parts of the manufacturing districts to consider both their unsatisfactory position and the governmental as well as commercial causes of it. The Corn Laws were justly denounced as one potent cause of their sufferings, and the popular leaders of Reform were called upon to assist them in getting rid of it. So early as the 18th of January a meeting of this character was held at Manchester. Application had been made to the borough-reeve to summon a meeting to petition Parliament for this object, but he declined, the Manchester authorities of that day standing strangely aloof from the people in their endeavours for relief from this enactment, which was as inimical to their own interests as manufacturers, as it was to the comfort of their work-people.
The Duke of Richmond made a feeble reply, and then Chatham rose, in the deepest indignation, to answer the Duke, but the violence of his feelings overcame him; he staggered and fell in a swoon, and would have been prostrated on the floor but for the assistance of some friendly hands. He lay apparently in the agonies of death. The whole House was agitated; the Peers crowded round him in the greatest commotion; all except the Earl of Mansfield, who beheld the fall of his ancient rival almost as unmoved, says Lord Camden, "as the senseless body itself." His youngest son, John Charles Pitt, was there, and exerted himself to render all possible assistance. The insensible orator was carried in the arms of his friends to the house of Mr. Sargent, in Downing Street. By the prompt aid of a physician, he was in some degree recalled to consciousness, and within a few days was conveyed to his own dwelling at Hayes. There he lingered till the morning of May 11th, when he died in the seventieth year of his age.[See larger version]
Buonaparte, in his bulletin of June 21st, found a reason for this utter defeat in a panic fear that suddenly seized the army, through some evil-disposed person raising the cry of "Sauve qui peut!" But Ney denied, in his letter to the Duke of Otranto, that any such cry was raised. Another statement made very confidently in Paris was, that the Old Guard, being summoned to surrender, replied, "The Guard dies, but never surrenders!"a circumstance which never took place, though the Guards fought with the utmost bravery.During the recess considerable changes took place in the Cabinet. Lord Halifax died on the 8th of June; the Earl of Suffolk succeeded him as Secretary of State, and the remainder of the Grenville party thereupon supported the Ministry. Suffolk introduced his friend, Lord Hyde, afterwards Earl of Clarendon, to the post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with an augmented salary. The administration of Lord North was considerably strengthened, too, by the abilities of Thurlow, as Attorney-General, and of Wedderburn, as Solicitor-General. But the addition to the Cabinet of Lord North which occasioned the greatest surprise, was that of the Duke of Grafton. He received the Privy Seal.
Frontenac and Duchesneau.
* Le Ministre a Duchesneau, 15 Mai, 1678.On the 16th of June, just as the House was growing impatient for prorogation, Lord North, who earlier in the Session had made some unsuccessful negotiations with the Whigs, announced intelligence which put such prorogation out of the question. He informed the House that the Spanish Ambassador had delivered a hostile manifesto and had thereupon quitted London. On the 17th a Royal Message was delivered, asserting his Majesty's surprise at this act of Spain, and declaring that nothing on his part had provoked it. But it by no means took anybody else by surprise, and the Opposition strongly reproached Government for not giving credit to their warnings on this head. In the Commons, Lord John Cavendish, and, in the Lords, the Earl of Abingdon and the Duke of Richmond, moved that the fleet and army should be immediately withdrawn from America, that peace be made with those States, and all our forces be concentrated in chastising France and Spain, as they deserved, for their treachery and unprovoked interference. They called for a total change of Ministers and measures.
The select committee of the Commons appointed at the instance of Lord Castlereagh, to inquire into the state of the national income and expenditure, now presented its report on the 3rd of June, and it was agreed to. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated on its authority that, since 1815, taxation had been reduced eighteen million pounds per annum; that in 1816 the revenue of Great Britain and Ireland had been consolidated, and that, at that time, the interest of the Debt of Ireland, including the Sinking Fund provided for its reduction, exceeded the entire revenue of that part of the United Kingdom by one million nine hundred thousand pounds. He then announced that supplies for the present year would be required to the amount of twenty million five hundred thousand pounds; that the existing revenue would only furnish seven million pounds towards this; and that it would be necessary to have recourse to the Sinking Fund to make up the deficiency of thirteen million five hundred thousand pounds. This Sinking Fund was fifteen million five hundred thousand pounds, so that it would leave only two million pounds; but as it was necessary to have a tolerable surplus in hand to meet exigencies, it was proposed to raise this reserve fund to five million pounds by fresh taxes to the amount of three million pounds.GEORGE CANNING.