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"I recommend you to take into your early consideration whether the principles on which you have acted may not with advantage be yet more extensively applied; and whether it may not be in your power, after a careful review of the existing[521] duties upon many articles, the produce or manufacture of other countries, to make such further reductions and remissions as may tend to ensure the continuance of the great benefits to which I have adverted, and, by enlarging our commercial intercourse, to strengthen the bonds of amity with foreign Powers." During the summer a French squadron stretched away across the Atlantic with six sail of the line, and finding our Newfoundland coasts almost wholly unprotected, destroyed and plundered the fishermen's huts and fishing stages, as well as their vessels, and then, returning, picked up a considerable number of our merchantmen at sea, and was lucky enough to make a retreat, by favour of a fog, through our watching squadrons, into Brest. After this clever exploit, they joined the great Brest fleet, which sailed for Ireland on the 15th of December. This consisted of no fewer than forty-three sail, seventeen of them of the line, four frigates, six corvettes and brigs, with six transports. On board the transports were twenty-five thousand men, who had been well tried in the war of La Vende, and abundance of arms and ammunition, as well as extra arms to put into the hands of the disaffected Irish, for to Ireland the armament was bound. General Hoche, who had terminated the Vendan war, was appointed to terminate all the woes of Ireland, and convert that sacred island into another French paradise. Besides Hoche, Generals Grouchy, Hombert, and Bruix were attached to the expedition. The fleet sailed out and anchored in Camaret Bay, but no British fleet was visible to intercept them. But no sooner did the armament put out to sea again the next day, than it was assailed by a tempest and the ships were driven different ways. One of them was forced immediately on the Grand Stenet rock, and wreckedout of one thousand four hundred souls on board only sixty were rescued. Seven ships of the line, and ten of the vessels commanded by Rear-Admiral Bouvet, managed to reach Bantry Bay on the 24th of December, but there the storms continued to batter them. There being no sign of an insurrection, and no other part of the fleet appearing, they sailed back and reached Brest on the 1st of January, 1797. When they were gone, another portion of the fleet arrived in Bantry Bay, but only to be tossed and driven about without rest, to lose several of the ships, and to put back again. As for Hoche, he never saw Ireland; the greater part of the fleet being driven about and swamped in the Channel. Of the forty-three sail, only thirty-one returned, and thousands of the soldiers were drowned in the foundering transports. Sir Edward Pellew, in the Indefatigable, of forty-four guns, and Captain Reynolds, in the Amazon, of thirty-six guns, fell in with the Droits de l'Homme, of seventy-four guns, and after a severe fight close in Audierne Bay, south of Ushant, left her a wreck aground, where, of the one thousand eight hundred men aboard, scarcely more than three hundred were saved, notwithstanding the greatest exertions of the British seamen to rescue them.

After a week's popular tumult in his capital, the King's eyes were opened, and he conceived the idea of putting himself at the head of the popular movement, with a view, no doubt, of directing and controlling it. On the 18th of March he issued an ordinance against convoking a meeting of the Diet which had closed its Session only a fortnight before. In this document he stated that he demanded that Germany should be transformed from a confederation of States to one Federal State, with constitutional representation, a general military system after the Prussian model, a single Federal banner, a common law of settlement for all Germany, and the right of all Germans to change their abode in every part of the Fatherland, with the abolition of all custom-house barriers to commercial intercourse, with uniformity of weights, measures, and coinage, and liberty of the press throughout Germany. Thereby he placed himself at the head of the United Germany movement.

After passing a Factory Act of some importance, which, however, was only the forerunner of much subsequent legislation, the House of Commons engaged in Poor Law Reform. In the winter of 1832-3 a very startling state of things was disclosed. In a period of great general prosperity, that portion of England in which the Poor Laws had their most extensive operation, and in which by much the largest expenditure of poor-rates had been made, was the scene of daily riot and nightly incendiarism. There were ninety-three parishes in four counties of which the population was 113,147 and the Poor-Law expenditure 81,978, or fourteen shillings and fivepence per head; and there were eighty parishes in three other counties the population of which was 105,728 and the Poor-Law expenditure 30,820, or five shillings and ninepence a head. In the counties in which the Poor-Law expenditure was large the industry and skill of the labourers were passing away, the connection between the master and servant had become precarious, the unmarried were defrauded of their fair earnings, and riots and incendiarism prevailed. In the counties where the expenditure was comparatively small, there was scarcely any instance of disorder; mutual attachment existed between the workman and his employer; the intelligence, skill, and good conduct of the labourers were unimpaired, or increased. This striking social contrast was but a specimen of what prevailed throughout large districts, and generally throughout the south and north of England, and it proved that either through the inherent vice of the system, or gross maladministration[362] in the southern counties, the Poor Law had a most demoralising effect upon the working classes, while it was rapidly eating up the capital upon which the employment of labour depended. This fact was placed beyond question by a commission of inquiry, which was composed of individuals distinguished by their interest in the subject and their intimate knowledge of its principles and details. Its labours were continued incessantly for two years. Witnesses most competent to give information were summoned from different parts of the country. The Commissioners had before them documentary evidence of every kind calculated to throw light on the subject. They personally visited localities, and examined the actual operation of the system on the spot; and when they could not go themselves, they called to their aid assistant commissioners, some of whom extended their inquiries into Scotland, Guernsey, France, and Flanders; while they also collected a vast mass of interesting evidence from our ambassadors and diplomatic agents in different countries of Europe and America. It was upon the report of this commission of inquiry that the Act was founded for the Amendment and Better Administration of the Laws relating to the Poor in England and Wales (4 and 5 William IV., cap. 76). A more solid foundation for a legislative enactment could scarcely be found, and the importance of the subject fully warranted all the expense and labour by which it was obtained. THE ADMIRALTY, LONDON.

Soon after his marriage Buonaparte made a tour with his Imperial bride. It was very much the same that he had made with Josephine shortly before their coronationnamely, through the northern provinces of France, through Belgium and Holland. He decided, during this journey, on the occasion of his uniting the part of the Low Countries called Zealand with the Department of the Mouths of the Scheldt, on annexing the whole country to France for ever. But whilst conversing with Louis Buonaparte, his Holland king-brother at Antwerp, he suddenly stumbled on a discovery of some daring proceedings of Fouch, his Minister of Police, which sent him back to Paris in haste, and ruined that subtle diplomatist with him. The arbitrary disposition displayed in this arrangement very soon produced consequences between Napoleon and his brothers which made more than ever manifest to the world that no law or consideration could any longer influence Napoleon; that his self-will was, and must be, his only guide. His brother Lucien, who had from the first refused to become one of his puppets, and who was leading a private life in Italy, received an intimation from Fouch that Napoleon meant to arrest and shut him up. In consequence of this friendly hint, Lucien fled from the Continent, and ultimately took refuge in England, where he purchased an estate near Ludlow, and there resided till 1814, when the fall of his brother permitted him to return to France. Lucien Buonaparte (the ablest of the family next to Napoleon), now styled the Prince of Canino, from an estate which he purchased in Italy, and which the Pope raised to a principality, spent the three years in England in writing a poem entitled "Charlemagne; or, the Church Delivered."

The Opposition was in ecstasies: it was the first defeat of Ministers on a financial question since the days of Walpole, and in our time the Chancellor would have resigned. The blow seemed to rouse Chatham. Three days after this event, on the 2nd of March, he arrived in town, though swathed in flannel, and scarcely able to move hand or foot. He declared that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and himself could not hold office together. A few days, and Townshend would have been dismissed from office, and the country might have escaped one of its greatest shocks; but, unfortunately, the malady of Chatham returned with redoubled violence, and in a new and more terrible form. He was obliged to refuse seeing any one on State affairs.